Family ties

High Desert Christian Center

High Desert Christian Church is at 2285 Oddie Blvd., Sparks. Worship services are at 10 a.m. Sundays.

High Desert Christian Church is at 2285 Oddie Blvd., Sparks. Worship services are at 10 a.m. Sundays.

Photo By D. Brian Burghart

I love the personal invitations I receive to join people in their spiritual practice. Partly because I never know what I’m going to get, since generally it’s members of the congregation, not the pastors, who invite me and Hunter to come along. Sometimes, the pastors have something special planned or take the week off or what have you, so I end up with a non-representational experience, but I don’t much care—every experience is a detail of the elephant’s character.

This week, Greg Friederich came by the office with a hand-written personal invitation for Hunter and me to visit the High Desert Christian Center Sunday service at 10 a.m. Sunday. It happened to be my birthday—48—so I was pretty happy that it was a mid-morning service. We were greeted at the door and made welcome by Jack.

The sanctuary is huge. It’s the old space that the Church of Jesus Christ—Spirit Filled was in. I’m sure 500 people could fit in the converted movie theater. The chancel/stage held the spots for a nine-piece band, a simple cross draped with red cloth and a lectern. The walls were draped with black cloth and above it all hung a 20-some feet wide screen.

The service began with an opening prayer by Pastor Rob Bagley who remarked that people need to appreciate God’s consistency: “He’s consistently loving—every minute, every hour, every day. Lord, we thank you for your holiness this day.”

Then the music began. There were nine musicians onstage, including the pastor on trombone. There were also acoustic and electric guitars, two keyboards, a flute, electric bass and a lady singing the high end. The music was good and energizing.

Aside from the musicians, there were about 20 people in the congregation, dressed mostly casually, but there were also people in dresses or ties. As the music played, a woman in a blue dress, pink sweater and bare feet took up a purple silk banner waving it and a palm frond—Palm Sunday—to the music. She was soon joined by Greg with lavender and red banners and Jack the greeter with a yellow fading to red one. It was beautiful.

After announcements, which included plans for the citywide day of prayer, Monday, April 5, at 7 p.m. at this venue, and the National Day of Prayer, noon, at Washoe County Complex, Pastor Rob’s mom took over for a personal testimony regarding her son.

She said that she’d been shown a vision by God that her son was destined to be a prophet for the church, and that he would be assisted in his destiny by certain people in the church, most notably his wife, Teri, and his friends who are pastors in the church. She reminded the pastor of a time in his youth when he was told, “If you can control your spirit, you will control a city someday.”

“You are not just called to be a pastor; you are called to be a prophet of God,” she said.

She reminded the congregation of the story of Elijah who passed on the “mantle” of prophet to Elisha. She then performed a simple ceremony in which she symbolically passed on the mantle with gold cloths and three-fold cords to her son, his wife, and their partners in the church.

For the sermon, Pastor Bagley continued a discussion of the covenants made between God and his people. In this instance, he spoke on the Abrahamic covenant, and of Christians’ responsibility to bless Israel or to risk curses from God.

“It’s in our commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ that we rise and fall,” he said. “There is cursing going on today that will give you insight into current events. When God shows up, we can have a little bit of a mess, but I’d rather have a little bit of mess than not have God in what we’re doing.”