Pick me up

Holy Cross Lutheran Church

Photo By D. Brian Burghart

Pastor Jonathon Yurk leads the Wednesday, 6:30 p.m. service at Holy Cross Lutheran Church, 4895 S. McCarran Blvd. More information can be found by calling 827-4822 or at www.holycrosslutheranreno.org. The Sunday worship service is at 9:30 a.m.

Please allow me to point out some really obvious stuff to the peanut gallery. After writing about churches since April 2007, even though I can see nuances where I couldn’t before, sometimes it’s hard to remember the individual churches. Second, no single-experience review of a church begins to tell a church’s story. Basically, about all I think people get out of this column is an idea of the diversity of Northern Nevada spirituality, and enough of a clue to decide whether a particular church is worth a visit.

What I’m trying to say is I don’t have to go to the busiest service to have the best experience in any spiritual setting. Here’s the reason: People can take a second to interact with you when it’s not busy, and I remember people, not buildings. I’m never just a face in a crowd of seven. A stranger sticks out like a seventh finger.

I was frankly excited to see a church that had services on Wednesday. If I was a spiritual leader in this community, I’d make sure there was a service of some denomination every evening because you just never know when someone might have a crisis.

I was met in the entryway of the Holy Cross Lutheran Church by Joey Ginnetti, who turned out to be the keyboardist for the service. “Oh, you want to come to the Sunday service,” he said when I explained my mission. He was soon joined by Pastor Jon Yurk: “Oh, you want to come to the Easter Sunday outdoor service. I don’t know if anyone will be here tonight.”

I had a great time at the Wednesday evening service. At a half-hour, it was a great little midweek pick-me-up. I think a lot of people would feel that way. The service was nothing ostentatious. The sanctuary was a warm yellow and simple, with wood furniture on the chancel and in the nave. There was a cool carved cross, with sort of a bas relief Jesus on it, hanging above the altar. While Ginnetti played admirably, the singers … well, you know the whole, “if you can’t say something nice.” I should mention I was one-fifth of the choir.

Pastor Yurk has been at the church for only 10 months, and he said the Wednesday night service is new. I got the impression there are a lot of new things going on at the church. I also got the impression that Pastor Yurk’s youthful energy is enough to see a lot of new things through.

He talked a little about the church’s changes, launching from Exodus 3:1-11, 14-20, the story of how Moses came to lead the Israelites out of bondage. The pastor said that the Israelites cried to God, and he answered.

“Then there is change, and the change begins with God hearing the cries of the Israelites. … Where is justice? Who will come and rescue us? … God always hears the cries of the oppressed. … Think about your life. What are the moments that shaped you most? How many came when you reached the end of your rope? For many people, it was their cry that was the beginning of their liberation.

“The question for us here at Holy Cross is what do we do with this?” the casually dressed minister continued, bringing his point home. “What do we do with this grace? With this love? These are questions that we must decide this year as we figure out where we’re going. … Our God is a god who hears the cries of people in need. And acts. Amen.”