My Cup Overflows

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Contributing Writer
Pastor Shawn Hannon
Hope Lutheran Church Arcade, NY

Arguably the most famous psalm of all is Psalm 23. It earned its favor by its beautiful poetry comforting us at the time of death. From movies to the real thing, David’s words “the Lord is my Shepherd” and “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…” are a hallmark of how the faithful remember their departed loved ones. But who says those words only ring true at funerals?

As I woke up on Thanksgiving last week and began listening for a word from God to help focus the holiday and my celebration, Psalm 23 kept sounding in my head. I’d try to dismiss it while focusing on one of the several hundreds of verses actually about thanksgiving. It was pointless. Psalm 23 took hold of my spirit and wouldn’t let go. So I prayed:

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name sake…

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff—they comfort me…

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.

Perhaps it is because of the way that the poem is laid out, but as I got to the end and sat reflecting on it three phrases kept ringing in my ear. I shall not want. I will not fear. My cup overflows. I began repeating them to myself. I shall not want. I will not fear. My cup overflows. I shall not want. I will not fear. My cup overflows… They brought me clarity and peace.

I’m telling you all of this because I know firsthand how easy it is to miss the mark when it comes to celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas. There’s no judgement, but just look what we have done commercially with the days. We have taken days about our blessings and peace and spend most of our time and money looking for blessing and peace in all the wrong places.

I don’t know if it will help you, but it’s worth a try. Repeat after me:

I shall not want. The Lord is my shepherd. God, not the Black Friday ads in the newspaper, will lead me to exactly what I need. Green pastures and still waters restore my soul.

I will not fear. War, natural disasters, mass shootings, violence, sexual assault, and more threaten to devour. But even in the darkest valley, I will not fear because I am not alone. God is with me.

My cup overflows. God’s blessings in my life run over. My existence cannot contain or measure the goodness God has in store for me. How can I worry about what I think I need, when I still cannot comprehend all that God has provided?

This is the most wonderful time of the year. At least it can be. But how we celebrate it as followers of Jesus matters. The good news is God has already given us everything we need to celebrate another way. God’s given us everything we need in this life and the next, and God’s given us God’s Word to remind us. So when you find yourself slipping just remember to repeat after me:

I shall not want.

I will not fear.

My cup overflows.

Amen.

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.