Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Hebron Crossroads 11-23
By Jeff Gill

Anniversaries are piling up thick and fast; last Wednesday was the 140th of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, Saturday was of course the 40th commemoration of the Kennedy assassination, and in the next few weeks the centennial of flight by the Wright brothers plus another number 160, which I’ll let you guess at since the last two will be noted in a future column.
Let’s turkey-trot through some other local business before we gather at the Hebron Crossroads to talk about Nov. 22, 1963, and the two passings we do well to remember this weekend.
This Sunday night, at the Lakewood High School auditorium, our Community Thanksgiving Service led and presented by local youth is at 7:00 pm. Come and see a dramatic presentation called “The Northside Orphanage” done by youth from Jacksontown United Methodist, along with their tone chimes, a bell choir from Hebron Christian Church, a chorus out of Lakewood High singing Ohio State’s anthem in its original Christian hymn form, “Come, Christians, Join To Sing” thanks to help from Judith Rauch, and readings by youth from Hebron United Methodist. Licking Baptist Church and Hebron Church of the Nazarene along with others already mentioned have refreshments ready for after.
This is a joyful, thoughtful, and always well-attended service in the Lakewood area, and a time for us to support our local Buckeye Lake LEADS food pantry through the offering, so please plan to join us.
Across the road in two more weeks, on Sunday Dec. 7 at 5:30 pm in the cafeteria of the Intermediate School, our area’s newest church will have their first “public preview” worship with a meal and brief service. New Life Community, a church-start of the United Methodist Church, is getting going with this preview, which will grow into a monthly Sunday morning experience and, finally, weekly worship.
There will be no offering taken at this worship time, just a meal for all and a chance to experience some contemporary Christian music and a short dramatic message by actors you’ll probably recognize from our neck of the woods. Child care is provided.
“We’re here to help bring a whole generation of unchurched families back into a community of faith,” says Brian Harkness. As an experienced Methodist pastor, he and his wife Melissa (who works at Hebron Elementary with Donita McFarland in the office) moved into the Lake Forest subdivision a few months ago as part of a plan by the Newark District of the United Methodist Church to plant a church somewhere between Pataskala and the Lakewood area.
“Somewhere near the end of January we’ll begin our monthly Sunday morning service, which will be more like an hour, but this is a very brief version we’re offering on Dec. 7 of how we intend to share worship,” Brian adds.
Welcome to New Life Community, and they may add a few guitars to our hymn singing at the Thanksgiving service as part of their arrival to the area. A small group has been meeting for weeks on Sunday evenings to discuss membership and leadership issues, so they can hit the ground running.
Monday, Nov. 24, a tenth anniversary is celebrated by the Licking County Coalition for Housing. Cherry Valley Lodge is hosting this very special edition of LCCH’s annual meeting at noon, with a great lunch and a MC who we hope is funnier than his Hebron Crossroads columns!
I do have to admit that, as one of the original three “incorporators” and part of a virtual “cast of thousands” that got this amazing effort off the ground in 1993, I really cannot believe that it has been ten years since we assembled the requisite wing and accompanying prayer to get going. There have been state and federal grants and generosity unbounded in the years since, but at the beginning was very little but a whole lot of faith and a deep belief that we could help keep people out of emergency shelters piled on bunk beds to the ceilings.
If you want to get an overview of this program that has helped thousands of families get from crisis to confidence, from homelessness to homeownership, drop by Cherry Valley Lodge on Monday. It’s quite a story, one that will give you hope.
And if you need help, call 345-1970. Someone at the Coalition will get you pointed in the right direction if you’ll work with them.
And about that much sadder day 40 years ago. . .
Young as I was back then, all I remember is the funeral procession a few days later, with my mother explaining the meaning of the boots backward in the stirrups, and the sight of John-John saluting, which I’m sure I remember because we were the same age. The sadness of the adults and the mournful atmosphere wherever we went that week, all that I remember, but of the day itself when President Kennedy was shot, I have not a clue.
In years since, like most of us, I’ve learned so much about those days in Dallas and DC that where my memories end and the endless documentaries begin is hard to trace anymore.
But I know for sure that I, like pretty much everyone else, didn’t know a thing then about a death on Nov. 22, 1963 which may have been as large a loss as JFK, but it took much longer for the rest of us to know it. A minor celebrity died in Oxford, England, whose obituary, noting him largely as a children’s book author, was shoved aside by the torrent of wire service copy about the assassination.
Clive Staples Lewis, known as C.S. to the public or Jack to friends like J.R.R. Tolkien, died the same day as Kennedy, and was buried the day before his majestic state funeral. The Anglican ceremony was attended by few, who recall the single candle burning steadily on the coffin-lid in the churchyard, despite the steady breezes blowing on a chill autumn day.
As the years have passed, the significance of C.S. Lewis as a theologian and a thinker, as well as author of the Narnia Chronicles and the Space Trilogy, has become clearer and clearer. His stature and significance to Christians and even to those who would argue against Christianity is greater today than it was the day he died, and continues to grow. And the Narnia books, starting with “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe” are second only to those “Ring” novels by his friend Tolkien, to whom Lewis dedicated “The Screwtape Letters.”
As you remember Jack Kennedy on Nov. 22, as well we ought, perhaps you would light a candle for Jack Lewis, too. Thanks, and a blessed Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Jeff Gill is pastor of Hebron Christian Church and a fan of the Inklings (you could look ‘em up); if you have obscure British authors to chat about, or news of local interest, call 928-4066 or e-mail