State of grace
You know the story where the 10 blind men describe the elephant? One, feeling the trunk, describes it as a snake. Another, feeling the leg, describes the elephant as a tree.
That’s how I feel when I go to one spiritual get-together and write about that single experience: I’m a blind man describing one part of an organism. Have faith, though. I’ve been doing experiential journalism for a while now, and I know, over the coming months, Filet of Soul will grow into a useful database, in which the individual ideas may be shallow, but the overall picture will be an ever-deepening portrait of Reno’s spiritual life. Just think of it as one blind man getting hundreds of opportunities to describe the elephant.
Donald Zimmerman was the first brave soul to call and invite me to his church. He’s the lead guy with the band Anchordown and also a leader within the Living Stones ministry. Living Stones is the young-adult arm of Grace Church.
I made it to the Living Stones service for the Sunday 7 p.m. gathering. Even as I approached the front door, I was surprised by the number of people between the ages of 20 and 35. The feeling grew as I entered the main hallway, where the vibe was similar to a rock concert with young people milling around, greeting each other with hugs and handshakes. There were cookies for sale, a bookstore and a coffee stand.
I was greeted by Harvey Turner, teaching pastor. He introduced me to Zimmerman. Everyone I met introduced me to at least one other person—although I don’t think that was by design.
The church is a maze with lots of side rooms for small-group discussions and prayer rooms. Doors to the main room opened promptly at 7:15. That room is large and oblong with a high, black ceiling. There are three large, community-oriented posters on either side of the room on creamy yellow walls. The seating is comfortable, straight-backed chairs, and there are some tables. The front of the room is dominated by a band stage with three screens, flanked on either side by a trio of hanging, stylized crucifixes. The back had a raised platform for a video camera.
Zimmerman and band were on the stage. Rockin'. Music plays a huge part in the service of this nondenominational, evangelical church. People throughout were moving appreciatively, not like a mosh pit, but there were people in the front who moved their feet. The atmosphere was electric. The lyrics flashed on the screen. The room was packed; they kept bringing in more chairs for the overflow participants.
The service began with community announcements, enumerating things like the “Now” project, which will create an even larger assembly room for services, among other things.
Most of the scripture came from Luke, beginning at Chapter 14:15, which is mainly the parable where Jesus told people to invite the poor and the crippled to their parties rather than their rich friends (who could return the favor).
After introducing his new daughter, Pastor Turner took off on the Luke riff in his sermon. He’s a powerful speaker, who’s well-adjusted for ministering to young adults. He uses words familiar to the MTV audience to really bring home the meaning of what he was saying. While it wasn’t hellfire and brimstone, he had a serious message to pass along: God doesn’t come in second to career, family or life itself. God demands complete surrender and is not satisfied by churchgoers who don’t live the Christian life outside the church as exemplified by Jesus.
Want to take Brian to church? Call 324-4440 ext. 3525.