Love Wins

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Contributing Writer
Pastor Shawn Hannon
Hope Lutheran Church, Arcade, NY

As I write this I am packing up for a quick family trip to Florida. My sister-in-law just had a baby, so we decided to visit.
Naturally, while we are there we are going to the most magical place on earth. No, not Disney World. The actual most magical place on earth: Harry Potter World.
In the spirit of that, I invite you to hear with me a brief conversation from the end of the very first Harry Potter book, The Sorcerer’s Stone. After defeating Quirrell/Voldemort, Harry heard this from his school’s headmaster, Dumbledore, concerning just how the 11 year old wizard prevailed against the most powerful wizard of all time:
Dumbledore said, “Your mother died to save you. If there is one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love. He didn’t realize that love as powerful as your mother’s for you leaves its own mark. Not a scar, no visible sign … to have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever.” (emphasis mine)
When Harry Potter came out many churches were concerned about children’s books about magic. They feared it would lead children down the path of sorcery and away from God. And to the extent that, in a fantastic and make-believe sense, that happened, there can be no doubt. People of all ages love diving into the world of Harry Potter, but few expect the actual incantations
to work. Instead, what Harry Potter can teach us is not an alternative to the gospel, but a parable of it. An illustration of the power of love. The baby Harry Potter—the boy who lived—defeated the deadliest wizard the world had ever seen… through love.
The same boy 11 years later armed only with a handful of spells triumphed yet again. And he would continue to triumph over hewho-must-not-be-named 6 times by the series end. Each time he was ‘out-gunned, out-manned, out-numbered, and out planned,’ but he had one thing the dark wizard couldn’t understand and repeatedly underestimated: Love.
In 1 Corinthians, Paul famously describes the power of love. Smack dab in the middle of his explanation he says, “Love bears all things, love believes all things, love hopes all things, love endures all things. Love never ends” (1 Cor. 13:7). In Jesus, as we remembered just recently, love was born, and on the cross that love will be poured out for the life of the world. Love always wins.
Harry Potter hasn’t taught anyone actual magic, *SPOILER ALERT* because magic is makebelieve. But it can remind us that there is a force God has given this world more wonderful and powerful than any spell. A force with the ability to heal, to reconcile, to bring peace, and to save. A force that cannot and will not be stopped. A force that will always prevail. Love.
In the new year, my prayer for us is simple: that we will always remember that God’s love has been poured into our hearts (Romans 5:5), and that we will embody that love and share it in all we do.

For more inspiration and insights from Pastor Scott and Pastor Shawn’s past columns, please visit www.jamestowngazette.com and click on the Faith Matters page. The Jamestown Gazette is proud to present our county’s most creative and original writers for your enjoyment and enlightenment.

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Pastor Shawn Hannon
Pastor Shawn is a 2010 graduate of the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, South Carolina, and he began his call at Hope Lutheran Church, Arcade NY that summer. While he spent four years learning and serving churches in South and North Carolina, as a Jamestown, NY native, Western New York has always been home. He is glad to be here. Pastor Shawn and his wife Carol Hannon met while attending SUNY Geneseo in the mid-2000s. They have enjoyed making their home together in Arcade with their daughters Quinn and Perry.   Pastor Shawn has a background in youth and outdoor ministry. He is a former camper and staff person at Lake Chautauqua Lutheran Center in Bemus Point, NY. He has also served camps in urban settings and oversees in Madagascar. In seminary he was recognized for gifts in Greek and New Testament, and in his senior year was recognized with awards in both Preaching and Biblical Studies. Pastor Shawn continues to emphasize the youth in his ministry, but not simply because they are the future church, but because they are the church of today.  He also enjoys working on service projects, and takes the role of planning meaningful and engaging worship seriously.  He loves helping people find ways to put their passion and energy to work making their community and other people’s worlds a better place. When he is not working at church, Shawn enjoys remodeling and construction projects around his family’s home.  But as busy as he gets, PS always has time for a quick nine (okay, 18) on the golf course. He enjoys playing sports of all kinds and fiddling with his guitar.