Faith Matters: Water

Pastor Shawn Hannon Hope Lutheran Church, Arcade, NY
Pastor Shawn Hannon Hope Lutheran Church, Arcade, NY
  • ¾ of the world is covered in water.
  • ⅔ of the human body is made up of water.
  • 15,000 gallons of water fall over Niagara Falls every second.
  • And 20 gallons of water go into making every pint of beer.

Water really is ALL around us.

Which always makes me wonder, what then makes Holy Water so special?

I mean, water’s everywhere. We drink it. We clean with it. We play in it. We garden with it. It’s all around us. In fact, every year the average American uses 100,000 gallons indoors and out. What then makes the shot glass worth at the back of every Catholic Church so special?

I asked some folks at my church that question the other day, and their answer didn’t surprise me. “That water,” they said, “has been prayed over by a pastor. That’s what makes it Holy Water.” And, I suppose they are correct. Pastors and priests do give thanks over the water, but here’s the little secret not every pastor will want you to know. What makes Holy Water holy is not some pastors magic hands or special prayer. No, what makes Holy Water holy is that it has been set apart from all other water, to serve a special purpose. It’s not there to clean, hydrate, or grow. Holy Water has been set apart to save and restore.

That’s the simple truth. What makes Holy Water holy is that it has been set apart, so that with the grace of God it might claim people through baptism and refresh others who need the reminder.

We forget that these days. We talk about “holy” things as if they are supernatural (and what we end up becoming is superstitious), but holy things aren’t supernatural. Holy things are super regular—regular things that have been set apart.

And the reason I need you to know that is because sometimes we have the same tendency to do that to people. We assume that God only wants super apostles (side note: God’s never wanted super apostles, so beware of them), when what God is really doing is setting ordinary apostles like us aside for his work and his purpose.

What makes us different? What makes the water in the font different from the water for your lawn? Nothing. Nothing except, we have been set aside. We have been set aside, and now joined with God’s grace we have the ability and the responsibility to help people in this life as we point people to salvation in the next.

You are holy, because God is holy (1 Peter). In a world that tells you to fit in, remember to stand out.

Joke: What do you call a cow standing by himself? Holy Cow!

For more inspiration and insights from Pastor Scott and Pastor Shawn’s past columns, please visit 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.