Like a Christmas miracle, one day out of the blue a 10-foot-tall cross adorned with sparkling lights appeared — seemingly floating over the lake by Thompson Bridge Road near Gainesville First United Methodist Church.
As mystical as it seems, the appearance is no miracle — it was the brainchild of Dick Huff.
"I’ve been working on the idea for some time," said Huff, a church member.
"With the help of a few church members, we were able to build and erect it."
The concept for the cross was born as much out of necessity as creativity.
"The main reason for the cross is to identify where the (church’s) dock is. We have lakeside services several times a year, but there was no way to identify where the church’s cove is," said Huff.
"A lot of time people come by boat to the church and if they aren’t familiar with the area and where the church is by the lake then they wouldn’t know where the dock is."
The cross was strategically erected last week, just in time to herald Christmas.
"This is a special time of year — the season to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ," Huff said. "I thought it would be a beautiful sight to have the cross there now."
In order to make the project happen, Huff says it took a lot of assistance from family, friends, church members and church staff. As much planning as it required, church senior pastor Terry Walton says Huff’s hard work paid off.
"What excited me the most was seeing someone have the passion to do something like this — to envision it in their mind and to then see it become a reality. What a real joy to see how it all came together," Walton said.
"I’m really proud of them."
Both Huff and Walton say that the community’s response to the lighted cross has been overwhelmingly positive. And as many residents sit around their Christmas trees, enjoying the gifts that they have received, Walton says he hopes that the cross serves as a reminder of the true reason for this holiday season.
"I hope when people see it that it causes a moment of holy pause," said Walton. "I hope they remember that it started in a manger — that lead to a cross and then an empty tomb. I hope it puts everything into context."