Not Afraid

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Contributing Writer
Pastor Shawn Hannon
Hope Lutheran Church Arcade, NY

This reflection is written in light of the events in Brussels with ongoing prayers for all those affected and that God’s reconciliation and peace might be made ever known this Easter season there and around the world.

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? –Psalm 27:1

Those were the first words of the first reading of the Good Friday worship at my church. If God is who we say God is, what do we have to be afraid of? Nothing. And I believe that… in my heart. But if I’m honest, my head occasionally needs a little more convincing. You see my heart knows that God is sovereign Lord of all and holding me in the palm of his hand, but my head? My head sees blown up train stations and airports. My head remembers 9-11. My head needs a little convincing. But, and here’s the problem, my head’s not interested in being convinced. What my heads wants is not to know that God is in control, but that we are.

I’m certain I’m not alone because I’ve heard the discourse this week. Every presidential candidate is now telling us how they will defeat ISIS… how they will win peace in the Middle East. Political pundits are praising or critiquing anti-terrorism efforts in Belgium as well as the US response. All of us are longing for something… anything… that will defeat the forces that stand against us and that will deliver us from the terror that oppresses us, so that we can, as the Psalmist said, live without fear.

But what the Easter story shows us is what happens when we, humans, try to be in control. They took Jesus just days after shouting Hosanna as he entered Jerusalem, and had him crucified because he no longer resembled the messiah they were looking for. But the good news for us is that even when we try to be in control and even when we think we are, God reigns.

Good Friday doesn’t look like a victory. God on a cross doesn’t look like a mark in the win column. At least not how we would draw it up. But this is God’s decisive act for the redemption of the whole world. This is how God brings reconciliation and peace.

We will again be inundated with reasons to fear and reminders of how dangerous our world can be. And we will again be tempted to think that we have the power to win our peace. But before we do, may we remember that peace is never won, it is accomplished… when Jesus on the cross breaths his last saying, “It is finished.” And when God says it is finished. It really doesn’t matter what our heads think. For our hearts will know:

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? –Psalm 27:1

For more inspiration and insights from 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.