Faith Matters: Always Be Reforming

Pastor Shawn Hannon
Contributing Writer Pastor Shawn Hannon

For at least the last 503 years October 31st has held a different significance in the life of the church than in, say, popular culture. On the date in 1517 Martin Luther (not the King), posted 95 problems with the church on a church door in a German town called Wittenberg. While he always maintained he wasn’t trying to start a new church, simply reform one, following the theologian’s protests, the church never look the same—in most ways, for the better.

Sometime later, the date October 31 began to be celebrated by the church. Today we call the day Reformation Day. Chances are, last Sunday many of your churches celebrated the date yesterday. Chances are, especially if you are Lutheran like me, yesterday you heard sermons about the church’s need to always be reforming, always be changing, always be looking new. But chances are, especially if you are Lutheran like me, yesterday you heard sermons that missed the mark.

Somewhere along the line we lost track of what the 95 Theses Martin Luther posted were actually about. Somewhere along the line we started celebrating what the theses did (that is, changed things), and forgot that what we were supposed to be celebrating wasn’t the change. What we are called to celebrate is the content of that which changed them. We are called to celebrate God’s Word and God’s Grace. Perhaps part of the problem is that we call the day Reformation Day emphasizing the change. Maybe we better call it, Grace Day or something (nah, not as catchy).

I leave you this Reformation Week with this thought. When Martin Luther was asked later in his life how he reformed the church he allegedly responded, “I didn’t reform the church. The word of God reformed the church, even while I drank a beer.” Martin Luther never lost sight of the significance of what we now call the Protestant Reformation, and may that be so today—amongst Lutherans and the church universal. The significance of the Reformation is not that things changed, but that God’s Word that tells us the story of God’s love and grace changed.

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.