Reflection on Chardon’s Loss
The Rev. Eric L. Miller
Words can’t begin to express the pain and grieving the community of Chardon, Ohio is experiencing. What was going through T.J.’s mind as he shot Demetrius, Russell, and Daniel? That’s right, these young men have names. They are real people with parents experiencing grave loss. All three young men were killed leaving their families with gut-wrenching devastation.
Indeed, our children grow in an unsteady and changing world. Where do we turn in times such as these? To be certain, school guidance counselors and community therapists and organizers play a pivotal role in Chardon’s communal life, but where does the Church fit in?
In my experience and understanding, the Church is to serve the world as reconcilers. Blaming and accusations may temporarily feel good, but they never seem to build the body of Christ and bring true healing. No, God calls us to love those we deem unlovable, the down-trodden, those with whom we greatly differ. Christian living is difficult because it calls us out of our comfort zones and into a vast world of misunderstanding and judgement.
We are called to build God’s family one relationship at a time. We may very well not want to spend time with another because of opposing ideologies, but as baptized Christians, women and men, boys and girls, marked as Christ’s own forever, we are called to not only respect the dignity of every human being, but to foster communities of love and respect and building common ground. This kind of work draws us out of ourselves and into the light of God’s compassion.
So, what do we do for the Chardon community? For starters, we honestly pray for them; for the victims and for the shooter. We take the time to consider what their pain must be like. What would we be feeling and thinking if it was one of our children shot? What would we be feeling if one of our children was the shooter?
Our action must go further than prayers, though. We must daily choose to see common ground with our neighbors and our communities. We cannot accept bullying as “kids being kids.” Our children will model their community’s behavior. Are we modeling love and patience and acceptance? What are we teaching our children in how we address our differences and how we treat one another? Seek to be God’s kingdom and help others to be mindful of the love of Christ manifest in each of us.
Let us pray: Almighty God, heavenly Father, you have blessed us with the joy and care of young people. Help us to show them that your ways give more life than the ways of the world, and that following you is better than chasing after selfish goals. Help them to take failure, not as a measure of their worth, but as a chance for a new start. Give them strength to hold their faith in you, and to keep alive their joy in your creation; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.