By Steven Norris

      It is amazing how quickly folks can abandon their Christian convictions in the face of a piece of juicy gossip or a salacious scandal. No doubt, most of the readers of this column have heard about the circumstances surrounding the Spalding High School football coach. Social media has been awash with comments, opinions, and judgments from across our community. In the absence of details, many have been all-too-ready to make up stories of their own.

     Have we forgotten what our own scriptures teach? In the epistle of St. James, we read, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” Or what about the letter to the Ephesians? “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Or what about the Proverbs? “With their mouths the godless destroy their neighbors, but through knowledge the righteous escape.”

     This is not a time for judgment, but a time for lament. We lament the loss of life. We lament the impact that this incident will have on countless families connected to those involved. We lament the impact that this will have on the players and students of Spalding High School, on our school system as a whole, and on the community. We lament for Mr. Kearneys church family, our brothers and sisters in Christ.

     Only a week has gone by, and I’m afraid that many of us have forgotten the reading from our Ash Wednesday service: “Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. Who knows? He may turn and relent and leave behind a blessing” (Joel 2:13-14).

     Yet, as we approach the Easter season, we find that it is all too easy to follow the lead of the crowd. It’s too easy to rush forward without acknowledging, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” It’s too easy to abandon our convictions because we have been whipped up by the crowd and find our own voices crying out with the mob, “Crucify! Crucify!”

     On Monday night, I sat at my kitchen table with a family that has known Mr. Kearney since he was a boy. This family said that he had been in their house countless times over the years. We did not spend our time speculating about things of which we had no knowledge. What we did was to grieve and lament together.

     There will come a time for us to discern an appropriate and just response to this situation, but this is not it. This is a time for lament. This is a time for us, as the people of God, to cry out to God on behalf of our students and community. I pray that you will join me.