Covenant Presbyterian Church
Reno, NV 89523
Don’t you love it when a plan comes together? This was one of those weekends where—without any schedule, any forethought, any precautions—one moment just kind of slid into the next. Effortlessly. Even when there were little blips in timing, the blips became fortuitous detours.
Take Sunday morning, for example. Hunter and I had planned on going to a 10 a.m. service, but due to circumstance—blips—we weren’t going to make it. I did a quick internet search and realized that Covenant Presbyterian had an 11 a.m. service, and if I hurried, I’d get there in plenty of time.
The church is in the Northwest off Mae Anne Avenue. Since I just made it in under the wire, I put on my name tag and sat down immediately. There was something about the sanctuary that didn’t feel like a Presbyterian church. In retrospect, I think it was the seating of the choir in the congregation instead of a reserved area on the chancel, or maybe it was the lack of pews. I’m not sure. At any rate, it felt more contemporary than the Presbyterian churches I’ve been in. It’s a tall sanctuary, lit by fluorescent lighting. The seating is padded burgundy chairs. There’s a glass brick cross naturally backlit by sunlight above and behind the chancel. There were banners with pictures and slogans—“I look up at your heavens shaped by your fingers” or “What are human beings that you spare a thought for them”—on the sanctuary’s walls.
There’s a small brass instrument and keyboard band area to the right front of the church, and what looks like music stands for the more modern services on the chancel.
All in all, a very pleasant space. The service proceeded as Presbyterian services do: musical prelude, announcements, a hymn, Apostles’ Creed, confession, reading and sermon, and communion. The church’s bulletin outlined the service, beginning to end. I think the bulletin is one of the things the Presbyterians do very well—I never feel uncomfortable, or not quite sure what’s coming, unsure of where things are.
The children’s choir gave a performance this particular Sunday. I’m not sure if this is a regular thing, but it was quite charming. After the song, they repaired to the children’s church. I guess it’s an indication of the family nature of the congregation, which seemed fairly representative as far as ages, races and styles of dress. I was dressed in blue jeans and a pullover sweater, which may have been slightly under-formal. I saw a fair amount of what I call “church casual,” slacks, dresses and ties.
The reading was from Matthew 27:1-10, which is the story of the “repentance” of Judas Iscariot, the disciple who betrayed Jesus Christ. I’ve always found this story fascinating and horrible. In these passages, when he saw that Jesus was condemned to death, Judas was seized with remorse, tried to give his payment back to the priests, was told, “What is that to us? That’s your responsibility,” and then hanged himself.
Senior Pastor Jay Hull gave quite an interesting sermon on the subject. He’s the sort of pastor who speaks with an intellectual style, like a parent or teacher, and unlike many ministers who see Judas as the devil incarnate, Pastor Hull sees Judas as a tragic character, and he emphasizes that the final word on Judas’ redemption was between him and his maker.
“Everybody is going to change their minds about Jesus,” he said. “If you do not yet know that Jesus Christ is the lord of everything, if your neighbor does not yet know that Jesus Christ is lord of everything—you will.”