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We arrived at the candlelight service last night at St. Mary’s Church in our hometown of Chardon a good thirty minutes early. We couldn’t even get near the door. And that turnout of thousands is what I would expect from Chardon. The people of Chardon make it easy to believe in America. They are people of faith. And because of that faith, Chardon will rise.

As we huddled in the cold, damp night surrounded by the first responders still hard at work with crowd control in the glow of national media klieg lights — and pricks of flickering candlelight that dotted the night — we listened to the angelic voices within the church. Thanks to someone’s excellent foresight, we could see on a large viewing screen and hear with great clarity on portable speakers the choir singing a collection of hymns including my favorite — “Let There Be Peace on Earth.” And I knew that Chardon will rise.

We heard the Word of God read. The promise that some day there will be no more death or dying. The warning that life is fleeting. We must always count it as precious. The comfort that God is near to those who mourn. And the hope that God through faith can make all things new. And we knew that Chardon will rise.

As my kids huddled for warmth while balancing on the back of an ambulance from Burton to see above the crowd,they saw and heard of Governor John Kasich reflect on his own tragic loss of both of his parents decades ago. They heard him recall that Chardon square once burned to the ground about 150 years ago. The courthouse that we see today rose again in a year’s time. And we were reminded that Chardon will rise.

The words of a heartfelt song by recording artist Steven Curtis Chapman ran through my head last night. He knows a little about losing children in tragic circumstances. Here’s his faith-based perspective that I think captures the spirit of the evening:

It was the day the world went wrong, / I screamed til my voice was gone / And watched through the tears as everything / came  crashing down.

Slowly panic turns to pain / As we awake to what remains / and sift through the ashes that are left / behind. But buried deep beneath / All our broken  dreams / we have this hope:

Out of these ashes beauty will rise / and we will dance among the ruins / We will see Him with our own eyes / Out of these ashes beauty will rise / For we know, joy is coming in the morning / in the morning, beauty will rise.

So take another breath for now, / and let the tears come washing down, / and if you can’t believe I will believe for you. / Cuz I have seen the signs of spring! / Just  watch and see….

Today we join with Governor Kasich, Superintendent Bergant, and our friends and neighbors of Chardon to grieve. And that will take a while. But we rest in this confidence by God’s grace. Out of these ashes, Chardon will rise. 


UPDATE: In case you missed my earlier perspective on the shooting.

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