Language and Fire

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

An article from the Smithsonian Magazine says, “Wherever humans have gone in the world, they have carried with them two things, language and fire.” Along the same lines, Charles Darwin wrote that with the exception of language, fire is the most important discovery in the history of humanity.

Fire gives humans life. Indeed, even though a people could theoretically survive in some regions of this world without the need for fire for light or food or warmth, in the history of the world, no such people has ever been found.

Wherever people have been, so there has been…

Fire to bring the warmth through the coolness of night.

Fire to see in the dark places.

Fire to turn things that would be a certain poison into sustainable food.

Fire to forge the tools that advanced our civilization.

Fire, although we don’t always think of it this way, may be as essential for human life as the air we breathe, the water we drink, & the food we eat.

Each year, 50 days after Easter it is customary for the church to observe a new take on an ancient festival. We call it Pentecost. It is the day where we remember and celebrate God giving us the Holy Spirit. And what is interesting about God giving God’s people the Holy Spirit, is that when the Holy Spirit showed up, it showed up with the two things humans have carried with them wherever they have gone: Language and Fire. As the Spirit raced in, tongues of fire rested on the heads of those present as they began to speak in the various languages so that all who were gathered there—and there were folks from “every nation under heaven”—and all of them were able to hear in their own language about God’s deeds of power.

As we remember how God has given us the Holy Spirit as well, may we remember that this gift comes with fire and language. May the Spirit lead us to share the good news with those who long to hear in words they can understand. All the while, may the Holy Spirit continue to set our hearts on fire with the saving grace of Jesus our Lord.

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 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.