Our Cross is Out

Al, who lives eight blocks up Market Street, was one of the first to notice. He is homebound most days but has a good view from his second story window. He takes daily visual solace in that ten-foot red cross that adorns the bell tower of Calvary Church as it has since February 1958. The cross marks the place where Al worshipped God until his health crisis, the place he intends to return to someday. A neighbor was the second person to notice. “Did they make you turn it off?” They didn’t, though that is an interesting commentary on the place of the church in contemporary society, that a person could imagine the powers-that-be ordering us to turn off our light, like police ordering a blackout during wartime.

No, what happened wasn’t anywhere near that dramatic. A bird or something ran into one of the sections of neon lights attached to the aluminum cross and shattered the neon tube and a connector or two. Other parts are simply showing signs of wear. It would take several hundred dollars to repair the neon lit cross properly. The Trustees have decided it is time to replace the neon tubing with energy efficient LED lights on the cross. They are much less vulnerable to the elements and much easier to replace. The order has been placed. We have about 25% of what we need so far. We are receiving donations from members and a surprising number of persons who want to see the cross lit even though they have no relation to the church, or perhaps any church. It is a symbol that speaks across lines.

The cross was dedicated in 1958 to Mr. Charles LeRew who was the much loved teacher of the Fellowship Class. The original cross was built of wood. It was replaced in 1981 with an aluminum one designed and constructed by Clair Amsbaugh. Several of our members have maintained the cross through the years. It is not an easy workspace to get to nor work in.

According to the research by Sandy Mentry, Calvary Historian, the dedication service of the first cross, with Rev. Arthur Stambach presiding, ended with the congregation singing, “Beneath the Cross of Jesus.” It is my hope that we will have the third edition of the red cross lit for our Christmas Eve service and be able to rededicate it as part of that service. One of our five prayers for Calvary goes like this: May we be a blessing to the Lower West Shore! The red cross is the powerful symbol of that prayer. It can be seen from certain vantage points crossing one of the bridges over the Susquehanna River. It can be seen coming east on Market Street from Camp Hill. Some have spotted it when their planes were landing at HIA. It speaks of the self-sacrificing God whose love enfolds us. It speaks of rescue and hospitality to those who stumble in the darkness. It offers direction to the lost. It summons disciples of Jesus Christ to take their stand beneath it.

Pastor Lew

 

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