Faith Matters: Giving

Pastor Shawn Hannon
Contributing Writer Pastor Shawn Hannon

(Giving When the Going Gets Tough)

OR (Giving Thanks and Giving Back)

Well, there is no mistaking it. This year’s Thanksgiving is going to look different than year’s past. The realities of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to make gathering with one another difficult and risky. Many of our tables will be set for less people than we hoped.

But there are some things about Thanksgiving COVID can’t touch. Among them are spending money (do not get me started) and counting our blessings. Let’s stick with the latter. Thanksgiving, after all, is a time to stop and take inventory of the many ways we are blessed.

As I was thinking about the Thanksgiving holiday recently, a reading I heard at church just a couple of weeks ago came to mind. It was of a landowner who gave his servants an incredible amount of wealth then took off to a distant land. To one he gave a century’s worth of wages, to another 4 decades, and even the last got 20 years worth of daily wages. No matter how you break it down, the landowner showered his servants with his abundance (Matthew 25). The expectation was that the servants would use the wealth wisely and then it would grow. We know that was the idea because when the landowner returned to find that two of the servants had but the last had not, he held none of his disappointment back.

In reading Jesus’ parables, we remember of course that stories about farming aren’t actually about seeds, stories about vineyards aren’t about making better wine, and stories about lost coins aren’t commercials for treasure hunts. In the same way, this really isn’t about straight up money or investing in the market. Instead this is an invitation for us to consider all of the things that our Lord has given us and to ask ourselves what are we doing with them? Are we sharing them, growing them, and spreading them? Are we risking our own comfort, giving when it is hard, and prepared to return what we have to our maker? Or are we paralyzed by fear, driven by mindsets of scarcity, and convinced we have been given what we have to hold on to for ourselves?

Of course, there is no better time to consider not only what we have been blessed with but how we are using it than right now. Thanksgiving is not merely about giving thanks, but about giving back.

And in a world where worry abounds and risk shrouds every decision, may we not forget to continue to embody generosity and share from the abundance we have been given even when it is hard. The world needs that witness from us now more than ever.

Pastor Shawn

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.