Thursday, November 17, 2011

Glimpses of Redemption at Penn State Last Saturday

Much has been written and talked about concerning the sexual abuse scandal which has enveloped Penn State University and its storied head football coach, Joe Paterno, in the past week. It seems that Paterno had knowledge of one of his assistant coaches molesting boys on the premises of the Penn State. Instead of immediately calling the police, he told his superiors at Penn State. For not being more proactive, Paterno, the winningest coach in college football, was fired a week ago Wednesday. With this in the background, the Penn State Nittany Lions and the Nebraska Cornhuskers took the field Saturday, November 12 at Beaver Stadium.

I am a Cornhusker fan, so I tuned in and what I saw at the beginning of the game was one of the most profound moments I've ever experienced as a fan of college football. After both teams took the field, they left their respective sidelines and met at the fifty yard-line. They knelt and prayed together in a show of solidarity about what was truly important that day, that this awful situation would be redeemed by the power of Christ. In the center leading the prayer was Nebraska assistant coach Ron Brown. As he prayed, the stadium of over 100,000 fans grew quiet and then responded as one as the gravity of the moment sank in. I had chills up and down my spine and a mist in my eyes, and as the cameras panned the crowd I knew I was not alone.

What an amazing picture of the grace and power of God coming to redeem and to help heal a tragic situation. There is certainly much more that needs to be done, but this seemed like a starting point for going forward. In the days leading up to the game, Nebraska Coach Bo Pelini contemplated if they should play the game for concern for his players. Nebraska fans were warned not to wear red for fear of violence from Penn State fans, but it seems that this moment changed the entire environment. Reports are that instead of responding violently, Penn State fans cheered both teams as they left the field that day. I believe that we witnessed, on national television, the power of God unleashed in the stadium last Saturday.

Coach Brown quoted John 1:14 in his prayer, the passage reads...
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John testifies concerning him. He cries out, saying, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ ” From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known. (NIV)
Jesus Christ was and is the full expression of grace and truth. In this broken world you and I can never live this out perfectly. But, I pray along with coach Brown that His power continues to be unleashed so that boys everywhere will grow up to true manhood. May we live lives that reflect the Lord Jesus to those who are watching us. May we live lives that are more and more full of grace and truth like the Lord Jesus.

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