I was walking with my wife, Sue, to the Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve near Palm Desert, CA. The trail stretched over a mile across relatively flat terrain with warning signs along the way telling us to stay on the sandy trail to avoid dangerous four legged and slithery wildlife that live in the nearby scrub brush. As we continued to our destination, with desert all around, we saw in the distance a stand of palm trees – the Oasis.
By one definition an oasis is: a fertile or green area in an arid region. The outcropping we approached fit that description with a large cluster of palm trees encircling a broad shaded area with man-made benches available to rest and reflect. Abundant water was nearby. It was extremely peaceful and beautiful there and well worth the time to venture out into the desert to experience it.
There is another definition of an oasis, though, that makes me think of our congregation and the worship space we provide for those who choose to join our community of believers. That definition is: something that provides refuge, relief, or pleasant contrast. In that context our sanctuary is an oasis from the turmoil of our world, from the uncertainties of the pandemic, from the ebb and flow of our daily lives. To paraphrase a recent statement from a member of our congregation, our church is the place he comes to find peace and to just sit in the sanctuary to recharge himself to carry on his life outside our walls. I believe he sees our sanctuary as his oasis.
To me, it is wonderful to think of St. Stephen’s as an oasis, a place where we can recharge, where we can find “water in the desert” to satisfy our thirst (communion), where we can find refuge and peace through the ever-flowing gift of God’s grace. Join us on Sundays so you too can enjoy our oasis to be recharged to do God’s work in our faith community.