IN Out… In Out

Contributing Writer
Rev. Dr. Scott D. Hannon
St. John Lutheran Church, Amherst, NY

The tide is coming in. In about an hour it will start to go out again. Later, it will come back in. And then it will go out again. It all happens so effortlessly – yet powerfully. The tide is undeniably undeterred – yet also unassuming. It is just following the principle order of creation.

In. Out. In. Out. As I watch the tide, I play along (unconsciously, of course). My breath finds rhythm. In. Out. My heart beats. In. Out. Even my mind transitions from activity to stillness.

In. Out. My kids are forced to play along. They try to play, go, do, splash, run, throw, jump, and swim. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. But they inevitably crash. Their bodies insist they slow down. John falls asleep in the car. Delaney crashes on the couch. Matthew passes out on the boat. Molly falls asleep on her towel. In. In. In. In.

Martin Luther wrote, “The gospel is not written in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers, and clouds and stars.” The Psalmist writes, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” (Psalm 19:1-4)

In other words, everything we need to know is right there in front of us. In the trees, in the sky, in the waters, in the wind, and, I would add, even in our own bodies. They all proclaim – in, out. They proclaim a cycle of resurrection, of dying and rising, of resting and running, of light and shadow. No sound is heard from them, they use no words, but their message goes out into all the earth.

Our Lord Jesus modeled this holy reality in his own life and called his disciples to do the same. Jesus frequently retreated from the crowds and demands of this world to be by himself.

When Jesus was baptized, he went to the wilderness for forty days. In. He emerged to call disciples and heal a man with leprosy. Out. When John the Baptist was beheaded, Jesus withdrew to a deserted place. In. Then, he fed 5,000. Out.

When Jesus knew the time of his Passion was near, he prayed. In. He then demonstrated the greatest act of love and sacrifice the world has ever seen. Out.

Like the tide, Jesus’ life models this effortless yet powerful rhythm of in and out. And it should be no surprise that his call to the disciples invited them to do the same. Jesus met his disciples with exhortations to go, do, heal (others), and proclaim. He balanced those invitations with calls to abide, rest, heal (for themselves), and pray.

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 Scott serves the people of St. John by helping the congregation welcome everyone, care for one another, and grow in the joy of God’s love through Jesus Christ. Pastor Scott earned his bachelor’s degree at the University at Buffalo and went to seminary at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, SC. He is currently pursuing his Doctor of Ministry degree with an emphasis in preaching from Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. Pastor Scott and his wife, Kate, live in Bowmansville, NY with their children Molly, Delaney, and John Scott. Scott and Kate love Western New York for many reasons, not the least of which are the changing seasons, wonderful people, and of course the Buffalo Bills. Pastor Scott’s ministry priorities are worship, preaching and teaching. Scott’s hobbies are guitar, golf, and reading. To read some of Scott’s musings visit his blog Way-ward at