Pastor Scott Hannon
St. John Lutheran Church Amherst, NY
I have had a terrible case of writer’s block. My issue is not that I can’t think of something to write about. I am not at a loss of topics. I’ve read countless scripture verses that all seem worthy of attention. My problem is quite the opposite.
My mind is flooded with thoughts. My heart is filled with emotions.
I’m really struggling with what is happening in the world. Specifically, I’m wracked by the terror that recently struck San Bernardino. On Sunday, I said I was at a loss for words, but that is not quite true. Actually, I have too many words. I have too many conflicting thoughts. I feel as though the person I want to be is at odds with the person I am becoming. I’m angry and sad. I’m scared and disappointed.
I’m really struggling with what is happening in our country. Specifically, I’m worn out by the baloney surrounding this election. As a person who identifies as Christian first and American second, I wish I saw a little more of Jesus in this process. I’m bothered that all the candidates seemingly claim Jesus as a savior, merely so He can work as another facet of their political profile. I’m confused and skeptical. I’m feeling hopeless and irritated.
I’m really struggling with this holiday season. Specifically, I’m bothered with all the attention that is given to commercialism. Our intern, Jill, recently shared her frustration with the phrase: “Stop Thanksgiving and Start Thanks-Getting.” That is terrible. So is a commercial I recently watched. The commercial exhorts the viewer to reorient this holiday season toward what really matters – things like family and love. I got sucked in. “Yes,” I said, “I want that. I want Christmas to be about Christmas again!” And then they offered their solution… buy from them. I’m blue and bothered. I’m disheartened and disillusioned.
I’m worried about my kids and the world they will grow up in. I’m worried about our church and each of our members and families. I’m praying that all of our many struggles – surgeries, tests, travels, jobs and family dynamics – all find a positive ending.
But I’m not just struggling; I’m also excited! I’m excited for my family as we await the new baby. I’m excited for my wife who continues to amaze me with her grace, patience and love. I’m excited for Molly who is four going on fourteen. I’m excited for Delaney who will have her first real Christmas experience this year.
I’m excited for our church that with each passing day seems more and more blessed. I’m excited for Christmas – both in the sanctuary on the 24th and in my home on the 25th.
I’m struggling and I’m excited.
My heart is filled with joy and sorrow. My head is swirling with positive and negative thoughts. Even as I write this tears are forming in my eyes, and I can’t tell if they’re good tears or bad!
One of my favorite hymns is Take Up Your Cross by Dakota Road. While it is much more of a Lenten hymn than an Advent one, for some reason I can’t get it out of my head. Specifically, the opening line:
“In a world of many voices calling at me, it’s hard to hear the one that’s true.”
This world is filled with loud voices; each one vies for our attention. The louder one voice gets, the louder the others become. Our days are filled with politicians riling up crowds and stores riling up customers. Work is filled with the voices of our coworkers, boss and clients. At home the TV blares with angry pundits spinning facts. In the car, in between commercials, Christmas carols seek to remind us of the reason for the season. Somewhere behind all of that, we hear the muffled voices of our loved ones. And quieter still is the voice of God.
The other morning while changing the flat tire on my wife’s car (when it rains, it pours), I had an epiphany. “It’ll be okay,” I told myself, “You’ll have a bit of peace at midnight on Christmas Eve.” On that HOLY NIGHT – on that SILENT NIGHT – the true voice will be heard.
And that voice will proclaim to a terror filled world:
“Glory to God and Peace on Earth!” Luke 2:14
And that voice will proclaim to our nation:
“Jesus will be great, and will be called Son of the Most High and the Lord God will give to him the throne… and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” Luke 1:32
And that voice will proclaim to a world swept up with commercialism that the greatest gift we receive is Jesus.
“…for he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21
It took a flat tire to quiet the voices.
In a world of many voices calling at you, may you hear the one that is true.
In the Way,
Pastor Scott Hannon
For more inspiration and insights from Pastor Scott’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.