Two years ago today our small town of London, KY. and the whole state of Kentucky for that matter awoke on a Sunday morning to what seemed to be a nightmare.....Comair flight 5191 had taken the wrong runway at the Bluegrass Airport in Lexington, Ky. and crashed immediately after takeoff, killing 49 of the 50 passengers on board. Out of the many lives that were lost that day, five people had been from London, Ky. or had at one time resided there. Two of those people, Jon Hooker and Scarlett Parsley Hooker, had just been married the night before in a beautiful wedding ceremony, and were on their way to California to visit Disneyland, one of Scarlett's favorite places.
Scarlett and I became friends in middle school when my family moved to a new church. We found that we had many common interests, such as playing in the school band, singing in choir, participating in church and youth group activities and just having fun! Our friendship continued into high school, and though we didn't see each other much after we graduated, we stayed in contact through our annual Christmas party. Though I didn't know Jon as well, I was good friends with his younger sister who graduated with Scarlett and I, and thought very highly of their entire family. When the news of Scarlett's and Jon's engagement spread, everyone was so thrilled and excited for them! They made a beautiful couple, in many, many ways.
The last time I saw Scarlett was at her bridal tea. I did not attend the wedding, as we (Zack & I) had only been at our current church for a couple of months, and a large youth event was taking place that same day. I helped Zack, our youth minister, chaperon the event instead. I just knew I would have a change to congratulate Scarlett & Jon sometime after the wedding.
I still remember when I realized what had happened that morning. I was standing in the balcony at church and was watching the praise team warm up on the stage below. I noticed that many of the praise team members were crying. I was trying to piece together what was going on...I hadn't heard anything..... Then I remembered when I had arrived that morning, one of the youth asked me why our church librarian was crying. The young man said that she had said something about a plane crash. Nothing clicked with me at the time he had asked, but I suddenly remembered....Scarlett & Jon were flying this morning. I quickly found Zack and asked him if he could go find out what had happened. I stood in the balcony praying that nothing had happened. I waited. I prayed. I felt sick. I heard the balcony door open, and the moment I saw Zack's face, I knew. As I type this, I still get the same sick feeling I had the moment I saw his face. They were gone.
In the coming days, we had the chance to visit with both families. It was one of the most difficult things I have ever done, especially when we visited Scarlett's family, as I was closer to them. What do you say to a mother and father who just lost their youngest daughter the very morning after what was the happiest day of her life? How do you comfort a family who has gone from the highest of highs, to the lowest of lows? I just remember we prayed and prayed.
Needless to say, our whole community was in shock and disbelief. The grief was tremendous. Why? How? Memorial services were planned, vigils were held, and those first few months were pretty rough.
This would be an ever more more tragic and sad story except for one thing....both Scarlett and Jon were committed believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. They both knew the one who gave them forgiveness of sins and life everlasting! Praise God that in midst of this horrible tragedy, in the midst of our anger, hurt, confusion and grief, we could rest in the knowledge that Scarlett and Jon were in the presence our Lord. We were able to grieve with hope, and literally thousands of people have heard about the saving power of Jesus Christ through the lives of Scarlett and Jon. Praise God that we have a firm foundation in times when we feel like the whole world is caving in around us. Thank you Lord.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.