This morning Tom and I worshiped at Oasis Church – a worship service held at the RV resort where we are staying. The church location was the Hollywood Room in the clubhouse and we weren’t sure what to expect. We didn’t know what denominational flavor it would have, but it was close and the time was right, so we decided to give it a try.
When we entered the room, there were several people deep in conversation and another person who was setting up the computer system. We took our seats and waited for church to start. The pastor, Rev. Eduardo Fernandez, introduced himself and gave a short resume. He has been a pastor for 30 years, was originally from the Philippines, was raised Catholic but left the Roman Catholic Church to pursue his calling after his marriage. He got his Master of Divinity in the Netherlands, received a Ph.D. in Practical Theology from Princeton, and now lives in Las Vegas with his family. The 20 people in the room took a few minutes to also introduce themselves. Rev. Fernandez’s congregation at Oasis Church changes every week as different people come to the resort.
To begin the service, we sang some praise songs. I enjoyed singing them because they were all songs we knew. The first one, “Blessed Be the Name,” really struck me as appropriate because it was a rare rainy day in the middle of the desert.
Blessed be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name
Blessed Be Your name
When I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name
The sermon was based on the story of Jesus’ baptism by John at the Jordan River from Mark. Two of the points Rev. Fernandez lifted up made me think. First, he said that John was a man of the wilderness and the people had to come out of Jerusalem in order to hear his message of repentance. Maybe we have to leave behind our “civilization” in order to hear God calling us to repentance. Can the forms of religion that are familiar and comfortable keep us from acknowledging our sin?
The second point he made was a syllogism. I used to love these when I took logic courses in college. A syllogism is a form of reasoning in which a conclusion is drawn (whether validly or not) from two given or assumed propositions (premises), each of which shares a term with the conclusion, and shares a common or middle term not present in the conclusion. The syllogism Rev. Fernandez used was this:
God is love
We are created in God’s image
We are created to love God and others
The Oasis church service was a good one and I found the music especially uplifting. The sermon gave me some things to think about. I also liked being a part of this congregation: we were from all over the world – the Philippines, the Netherlands, Florida, Indiana, Ohio, Las Vegas – but we all came together to worship our one Lord and Savior in the one faith that we share.