Changing times

Sparks First Christian Church

Pastor Steve Wren and a prayer-gathering assistant at Sparks First Christian Church.

Pastor Steve Wren and a prayer-gathering assistant at Sparks First Christian Church.

Photo By D. Brian Burghart

Sparks First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), 560 Queen Way, Sparks, meets for regular worship at 10:30 a.m. Sundays. For more information, call 358-0507 or check out

As I mentioned about a million times in the last few weeks, I had hand surgery. I can type, as you can see, but I can’t really take notes, so this Filet will be a bit more about impressions than specifics. Bear with me. Sparks First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is a great little “Heart of America” kind of church.

This week’s service was different in character than usual. The congregation was, like us all, thinking about the disasters in Japan. Last week, too, the church’s youngest member, Kylie, was Care Flighted to U.C. Davis. Pastor Steve Wren thought this would be a good week for contemplation, prayer, music and scripture. “In the times of silence,” the pastor said, “let the Holy Spirit wash over you.”

The church itself is small, with 16 wood pews in the sanctuary. There were 19 people there Sunday. There was a communion table at the front, with a cross, candles, a couple of loaves of bread, and cups with wine. On the walls, there were crosses, and a series of banners that read, “Hope,” “Love,” “Joy,” “Peace.” Downstairs is the Toddlers’ Church, and out back is a place for classes, offices and storage. There’s a “big ass cross out front made of telephone poles,” as my friend Randy Siever wrote me.

At the beginning of the service, the pastor told a little anecdote about getting in an argument with a woman about whether today was the day to “spring forward.” He left, convinced of his rightness that it was too early to make the change. “She’s just confused.” That got a pretty good chuckle from the congregation, and it illustrated a big part of what I think this church is about. While today was a fairly somber experience, the people exuded an aura of good humor and acceptance. At one point near the start, they played a song called “Be Thou My Vision” that had a slide show with cartoony drawings of Jesus Christ doing human things—chasing chickens, throwing rocks, praying, contemplating death—the kind of stuff it always bothers me when churches gloss over. I think it’s symbolic of this group that they can appreciate the rubber-to-the-road kind of guy that Jesus must have been.

The offertory, too, was different. There was a separate envelope set up to help to defray Kylie’s medical expenses.

Before the service, somebody placed little purple scraps of paper on the backs of the pews for special prayers to be written upon. The cutest little girl, who was wearing white tights and a red, white and blue dress, gathered them up in a basket. During the service, I chuckled to myself as she was generally making a nuisance of herself, and I thought it was so cool that she was just wandering around, acting according to her nature. What are little girls supposed to be but a distraction?

The final difference from the church’s usual services—though, again, I just have to take other people’s word for it—is the entire congregation gathered around the communion table, holding the cup and plate for their neighbors. As is my custom, and my only abeyance to objectivity, I abstained.

This, though, is the kind of place where I felt a bit guilty for my pretense. It’s a family, the kind of situation like Thanksgiving dinner where someone might get their feelings hurt if you don’t eat more than you should. Get it?