“Don’t worry, but…”

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

Several years ago I received a scary phone call from my wife. It was the kind that started by saying, “Don’t worry, but…” And we all know what happens when we hear those words… we worry. She continued, “Perry and I were in an accident… we’re okay, but… well… you better come here.” As I drove to the accident scene there was already a line of cars a mile long. I drove on the shoulder, and when I got the accident the first thing I saw was my car smashed like an accordion in the side panel of a flat bed delivery truck. Admittedly, I didn’t look too closely as I really didn’t care about the car at that point. After a moment I saw my wife and daughter, and to my relief they were okay. So was the other driver. Whew.

After a check-up at the hospital and some x-rays we drove to the collision shop our car was towed to in order to get a couple of things from the car. It was at this point that reality sunk in for me. The car was demolished. Every airbag deployed. The hood was through the windshield. The engine was a crumpled up mess of steel and hoses. I couldn’t believe that my wife and child were sitting in the car just moments before. And even more than that, I couldn’t believe that they just walked away.

And in a moment time changed. Immediately every second that passed seemed way more precious than all of the seconds before, and suddenly I had a sense of urgency. With every ‘what if’ that crossed my mind, I focused on the immediacy of the time at hand.

But then I felt guilty. I felt guilty for the ways I typically squander my time. For the hours I spend watching Facebook instead of spending quality face time with my kids. For the times I find myself sitting at the dinner table thinking about all of the things I have to do, in a rush to get up, instead of being present with my family. For the ways I can go through the motions instead of living in moment.

And I know I’m not alone. Life has a way of lulling us to sleep. Next thing we know we look at our watch or the calendar, and we wonder what happened? “Lost time” is an expression for a reason. And it’s nothing new.

It’s why I need to hear Jesus’ words from the gospel of Luke. Jesus said, “Be dressed for action. Have your lamps lit. Be like those who are waiting for their master to return… ready at any moment… so they can open the door when he comes and knocks.” The preciousness and urgency of time may be lost on us, but it’s certainly not lost of Jesus. He calls us to be ready at any moment. To live expecting him to come walking through the door any minute.

But we’re not always dressed for action are we? In fact most of the time we are a “later” people. We push life off like a diet we are going to start next Monday. It doesn’t matter what day of the week it is, even it if is Monday, we’re starting that diet next Monday. The problem, of course, is that there’s always a next Monday. We push life off that way too. And so time slips… we sleep… and in the end we miss out. And all because we’re not dressed for action. We’re not engaged in the moment with God, with each other, or even with ourselves. But Jesus invites us to light our lamps and watch.

The night of the accident it fell upon me to give our daughter a bath. Now, I’ve given her countless baths before, but somehow this one was different. As I washed her belly I noticed the bruises that had formed on her shoulders and chest. But, strangely, do you know what I saw? I saw God’s grace and life. The bruises told the story of God holding my family in the palm of his hand, and I was overcome by the moment..

Life is precious and time is urgent, so be dressed for action. Light your lamps and live in this moment. Keep watch! God is coming. And may we live alert… aware… and present. God is all around us, in every moment, and in everything. May we heed Jesus’ words, and live life ready to greet him.

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 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.