Shoot! into Shoots

Contributing Writer
Pastor Shawn Hannon
Hope Lutheran Church Arcade, NY

We recently cut down a couple of ash trees at Hope to make room for the Community and Ministry Center we plan to build over the next 18 months. We left the stumps a bit higher than you might expect so that a bull dozer can help take them out. Perhaps that’s why I noticed.

Initially the stumps were just as you’d expect. Bare bark leading up to a sawed-off top. But as the weeks passed, something began to happen. Although the stumps were destined for the dozer, apparently, they didn’t get the message. At first a shoot shot off the side of each of the stumps, and if you look at them today it looks like they each have a bush growing directly were the rest of the tree used to be.

It’s no secret I love this image, and I was delighted to see it spring to life at Hope. The prophet Isaiah wrote, “A shoot shall rise from the stump of Jesse” (Isaiah 11:1). What a message of hope.

Isaiah was talking to the kingdom of Israel. They had experienced greatness. They inherited a promised land and God established them as a kingdom. But through the course of history they were conquered, this time by Assyria. They were cut down. The end. Or so they thought.

Isaiah wrote, “A shoot shall rise…” Isaiah reminded them of God’s power to bring life out of death, victory out of conquest, and hope out of despair. God has the power to turn our “game overs” into new life. The Assyrians may have cut down the tree, but they forgot about the roots.

“…God turns all the times we want to say ‘shoot’ into shoots of life.”

There are times in all of our lives where we feel cut down. Perhaps the ax strikes with news of death or illness. Perhaps the blow comes with uncertain employment or financial crisis. Maybe a relationship is falling apart or the darkness of depression is creeping in. We’ve all been there. But the good news for us is that no circumstance of our life gets the final word. Even when we feel like a stump, God’s plan is always to spring up newness of life in us. In short, God turns all the times we want to say “shoot” into shoots of life.

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.