Surnamed Children of God

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Contributing Writer
Pastor Shawn Hannon
Hope Lutheran Church Arcade, NY

Last weekend my son, Kelly William Hannon, was baptized. One of the greatest blessings for me was to be able to share that day with my grandfather. Kelly, you see, is named after my grandfather (who it turns out is named after his). William Hannon was the first American born Hannon in 1869 in NYC. Since then, William Hannon has been handed down to my grandfather, father, me, and now my son. It’s sort of a family affair.

But as I reflected on how special that was, a Bible reading jarred me awake. It was the Isaiah text assigned for the day. In the passage God talks a lot about names, but perhaps the most notable mention came in Isaiah 45:4. God said, “I call you by name, I surname you…

As I was thinking about how special it was that Kelly had my family name, God reminded me that Kelly bears a far more important one. The best name Kelly bears does not claim him as a Hannon, but instead as a child of God.
That’s what the surname is, right? It’s the family name. It’s the name that tells people who your people are. It’s the name that tells people where you come from. And God says that that surname comes from Him.

So Kelly’s birth certificate might name him as another William Hannon, which is cool, I suppose, but Kelly’s baptismal certificate names him something else: Kelly, child of God. And that’s more than cool. That’s transformative, graceful, and life-giving.

And the same promise God made for Kelly last week, God makes for us. 1 John 3:1 says, “See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are.”

A lot of people have told me lately that my family is complete now that we have a son. Frankly, I find that offensive. Like the rest of my life, I have never found it to be lacking anything at all, and yet God continues to pour more blessing into it. And in the end I truly believe the Hannon surname pales in comparison to surname God gives him, and I say that speaking from personal experience. Being a Hannon has been alright, but being a child of God has been way better.

Ancestry DNA, 23 and Me, and more will try to tell you where you come from, and they certainly won’t be wrong, but they won’t be 100% correct either. Remember who surnames you. Remember who your people are. Remember where you come from. Remember the most important name you have doesn’t come from your parents, but that you should be called a child of God—and that is what you are.

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.