Vandalia United Methodist Church

From the Pastor's Study

A Beacon of Love

Navigating by landmarks is a fairly common phenomenon in rural America where house numbers are impractical and GPS is still unreliable. I’ve received directions to turn “Where the barn used to be,” or “Where the pool used to be.” To a veteran of the area those landmarks are useful. To the new guy in town, they didn’t do a thing for me. Sometimes landmarks can be so ingrained in our memories that we can still see them even though they have been absent for decades, and we assume everyone else can envision them as well.

In one small community I served, a beacon stood over the town for decades. The neon blue light called generations home to the small community of White Hall, just north of Apple Creek in Greene County. It’s glow in the night was a welcome sight when returning from a long journey. Once spotted in the sky, it made the statement that you were almost there, with just a few miles more, and you would soon be home. At other times, traveling was dangerous with heavy fog, blowing snow, or driving rain. Once spotted in the sky that blue beacon said that God had guided you safely through the night. And then there were the times that I had to fight to keep my eyes open after spending another exhausting day at the hospitals in Springfield. Spotting that blue beacon said my day was almost over, and it gave me renewed energy to complete my journey.

Even today, almost twenty years after leaving that parish, spotting a similar blue light in the sky over the community of Oakford, north of Springfield, reminds me of the days when I called Greene County home. Spotting it in the sky evokes the same feelings of security and peace that I felt long ago.

That blue light is from the neon cross that stood approximately six stories in the sky atop the bell tower of the United Methodist Church in White Hall. Through the imagination and effort of Ennis Tunison, my friend Mary Frances’ father, that cross came to be an important symbol of that community. It is considered a landmark of the White Hall skyline. It has welcomed countless residents home and witnessed to thousands of travelers. It is always a welcome sight.

All of us, at some point in our lives, will travel through experiences that will challenge our faith. We may not be able to see very far into the future, and we have to take the journey one day at a time, one hour at a time, even moment by moment. Some of us have wandered from the path and have gotten lost along the way. Others might be weary or burned-out from the many demands placed upon us. To all of us the cross stands as a beacon to guide us. When the way seems uncertain, we are reminded that Jesus has provided the means by which we will arrive safely to our destination. Through his sacrificial love we are given the example by which we are to live our lives. Our energy can be revived and our spirits renewed when we see the light of Jesus standing with open arms at the end of our journey.

The cross represents the beacon of love that God has for you and me. Let it guide you along your way, providing renewal of our souls, and ultimately welcoming you home.

In Christ’s love,


9:30 AM Worship Service
10:40 AM Sunday School

First United Methodist Church of Vandalia :: 618.283.3684