Calvary Baptist Church
Reno, NV 89502
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the story of the plagues brought upon Egypt when the Hebrews were trying to escape enslavement, but Pastor Fred Jordan showed me a couple new points to the story that added new dimensions. Jordan was sermonizing on Exodus; it was Part 4 of the series he called “War of the Gods.” You never know what you’re going to pick up when you get out on Sunday morning.
But I get ahead of myself.
Hunter and I made it to the 10:45 a.m. Sunday morning worship service at the church, which is visible from Plumb Lane. We accidentally stumbled into the education building next to the church but were quickly redirected. The church is pretty small, but the sanctuary was plainly cleaned and maintained by someone with an eye for detail. It’s of a fairly standard design, with about two dozen padded wood pews. There’s a very simple cross on the back wall, a couple of benches below and a good many floral arrangements leading up to the large wooden lectern/pulpit on which the words “Do this in memory of me” are emblazoned. Toward the back left is a large screen onto which are flashed related scriptures and song lyrics. Two singers lead the congregation. There’s a large audio-visual booth at the rear of the sanctuary.
Pastor Jordan opens the service, quickly turning it over for announcements, most particularly the call for volunteers to help with the Harvest Festival, which will take place on Oct. 25 from 1-4 p.m.
It’s a pretty informal group, people are dressed in everything from jeans and T-shirts to suits and dresses.
Pastor Jordan showed his quick wit when during the introductory prayer when a cell phone rang: “Thank You for Your love, grace and mercy … [help us ignore] those things that distract us. Let our minds be fully focused on you.”
The music was prerecorded and, at times, it seemed a little rocking for this 50-person congregation, you know, those dramatic guitars and pounding drums that can be so inspiring in the right circumstances.
The service began in earnest when Pastor Jordan prayed, “We are glad to come before you to bask in your love … we are eternally grateful for this country. … Freedom isn’t free. There are people around the world who would strip us of everything we have.” He then continued to pray for the military, Zelda at the retirement center, unity to bind hearts together and the fruit of our labor.
Pastor Jordan brought those battles between Pharaoh and Moses to life, describing the dramatic moments when the opposing staffs were turned to snakes before the serpent that came from Aaron’s staff ate the others.
“That must have been kind of an unusual situation,” he said. “I’ll bet the electricity of spiritual warfare was thick.”
But the part of this story that I didn’t learn from Charlton Heston was that the plagues represented a direct battle between the gods of Egypt and Yahweh. Each of those plagues—blood, frogs, gnats, flies, livestock disease, boils, hail, locusts, darkness, and finally the death of the firstborn—had an associated Egyptian god. For example, the frog was Heget, who also represented childbirth. Darkness showed the triumph of the Hebrew God over Ra, the sun god.
I always like it when a minister takes the printed words in the Bible and adds a new literary, metaphorical dimension to it. I don’t know that Pastor Jordan always offers these informational facets, but I wouldn’t be surprised. I got a strong feeling of family from this congregation, and I think Pastor Jordan is the undisputed leader of this family.