Turn Around

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

Several years ago my wife, Carol, and I went to NYC to watch some tennis and visit some friends. We took a train in, and we made our way through the 5 burrows using the subway. These were the days before our cell phones told us everything including exactly where to go, so we were dependent on our friends’ direction and our own intuition. We were making out okay until we had to make our way from a friend’s place in Brooklyn to another friend’s place in Queens.
We made our way to Queens using the train, and we arrived at our stop. Carting our luggage through the streets we navigated at last to street we were looking for. Now for the number: 512. We knew it would be a couple of blocks and started to walk. As we moved the numbers got closer: 300s… then 400s… at last we were almost there. When we got to his block we started looking for the specific number: 512. As we walked close we knew that we were close… really close… like right on top of it… it should have been there. Yet as we looked at all the houses there was no 512. It was as if the person numbering the houses decided to skip that one.
We stood there looking at the numbers for several minutes before we finally decided to call our friend to break the news to him that his place didn’t exist. He was as surprised as we were to hear that. He said, “Hang on, let me go to the window.” We held on until we heard two incredibly embarrassing words, “Turn around.”
Apparently there was a 512… on the even side of the street.
We have recently begun the season of Lent. Lent is a season of reflection and renewal. It is a season of preparation and discipline. And it all starts with two words: Turn around.
We are invited to turn from our selfish and self-centered ways to think of others. We’re beckoned to turn from our greed, and look for opportunities to give, to turn from our over indulgence, and look for things to fast, and to turn from our busy lives that make our faith the thing we hope to have time for, and reprioritize our lives so that the maker of heaven and earth comes first. But above all we’re invited to turn from our sin. Our sin rebels against God, it tries to separate us from our neighbor, and it burdens us with shame and grief and worry.

Lent invites us to turn around.

My prayer for you is that the Lenten call to turn around will not sound like the embarrassing words my wife and I heard staring at the wrong side of the street, but instead will sound as they truly are: words of forgiveness and life. God’s call to turn around is a life giving, forgiveness bearing, joy bringing, salvation ringing reminder of just how much God loves us and longs for our redemption.
Have a blessed Lent full of renewal. May you be strengthened in your discipline. May you be prepared and awake to the promises of the resurrection that await us on Easter morning. And as it starts may you remember, Turn around. Grace and mercy await.

For more inspiration and insights from Pastor Scott and Pastor Shawn’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.

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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.