For those not from the area, we woke up to the news that Jeff Hutchison and his nine-year old son Jeremy died in a plane crash last night, just off the coast of Kellys Island. Jeff is the son of Dave and Marty Hutchison, long-time friends and members of Shawnee United Methodist Church, and two people I consider good friends. As a matter of fact, I prayed for five years that Marty would come to Shawnee so that we could work together in youth ministry. My prayer was answered but only one year before the Bishop at the time moved me to Toledo Epworth UMC. It was a prayer though, that Shawnee United Methodist Church benefited greatly from, as scores of children got to experience Marty's deep faith, and Dave's steady guiding hand as she filled in as the Middle School Youth Director. They are wonderful people, cared for and loved by our church.
Jeff was a man who embodied the faith of his parents. The kind of guy who, when two people realize they both knew him, gush over what a kind, funny, loving, hard-working guy he is. He was the definition of "salt of the earth". I can't tell you how much this entire community will miss him.
And Jeremy... well, he had his whole life in front of him. Dreams to chase and love to find... I really can't say anymore about his passing. His untimely death will be hard for all of us to make sense of. Very hard.
Of course in a situation like this everyone really wants to do something. To do something that will somehow ease the family's pain and make their life a little easier. But right now, the best thing, and only thing really we can do is to pray for the family. For Jeff's wife Joyce, and his three surviving children, Joel, Jenny, and Josh. To pray for Marty and Dave, all their kids, grandkids, and everyone connected to them who hurts right now because a massive hole has been opened up that cannot be closed.
And don't pray like a person who just throws a prayer kind of out there. Pray like you know that your words count. They make a difference. Not one of them will be uttered in vain.
Pray, not cause it's the only thing to do, but cause it's the only thing to do that will really make a difference in people who desperately need to feel the love and warmth of their Lord and the community of faith right now. I promise that it will make all the difference. And just so you know we're in this together, here's the prayer I'm praying tonight.
A Prayer for the Hutchison Family
Ever-loving, Gracious Father
Master and Redeemer of us all
I beg you this day to shower your love and grace on the family of Jeff and Jeremy.
Because you are great,
you are the author of all healing,
you are life,
and have conquered death,
teach them, and us, what it means to join in that victory with you.
Oh Great Creator God,
fill that place where an empty desk now rests in a fourth grade classroom.
Dwell in the fields where the fruit of your bounty
awaits the kind man who now dwells in your house.
Fill homes of families who must face funerals and wakes and
a first Christmas or birthday or family picnic on a warm spring day.
Bring rest to a mother
life to a father
healing to a wife
a sense or rest to a child
strength to a family
hope to a congregation
and determination to a community
who will not allow these deaths to be in vain
but rather as fuel to live as if each day was their last
and as if your Kingdom was as near as our very breath.
I pray for those serving on the rescue and recovery team this evening
I thank you for their willingness to use the gifts you've given them
to ease the pain of a family.
Guide and protect them as they seek to bring home those who have been lost
so they might be celebrated as those now found by your son Jesus Christ.
Lord, I pray for the pastors and congregation of Gardendale Church of God
who not only have lost a brother and one of it's children
but who now will begin the kind of loving that helps people put pieces back together
I pray for young children who are being introduced to death for the first time in this tragedy
I pray for teenagers who not only hurt now for two of their peers who just lost their dad, but contemplate also the gift of those who love and care for them
I pray for wives who can't image living out this nightmare
Husbands who dearly love their wives
and countless friends who just still can't believe this has happened, and bow their heads to cry
Lord to you I lift these things
with much fear and trembling
knowing your promise
that nothing, not even death
can come between each of us and your love
and wanting to trust that promise
with all that I am.
Give me, and us, Lord, that kind of trust.
In your name
and of the son
and of the Holy Spirit