Nancy H. Sehested Sermons & Writings

Fire and Fury

Reading Elijah in light of Charlottesville

Nancy Hastings Sehested
Text: 1 Kings 19:9-18
Circle of Mercy Congregation, Asheville, NC
August 13, 2017

Friends, I still believe that when history beams its light on these treacherous times, that we will be known less by the battles we won and lost, and more by the stories we loved and lived.

The stories from long ago and the stories from headline breaking news is one of fire and fury. The ancient story gives us the full array of human choices in the midst of struggles. Read more ›

That big sound inside you

Prison life and the language of sighs

by Nancy Hastings Sehested

I was driving my three-year-old grandson from preschool when he asked me from the back seat,

“What that sound, Ja-Ja?”

I thought for a moment. The radio was off. There were no sirens or honks. I was puzzled. Read more ›

Caught in the mess, caught in the mercy

A tale from maximum security

Call to the table, by Nancy Hastings Sehested

It was field day on the prison yard. A couple hundred inmates were competing in basketball and volleyball games and relay races. The cooler of fruit punch ran out, but they had a water fountain on the side of the building. But Montel was in a wheelchair and couldn’t reach the fountain. He wheeled over to the staff tent and asked for a cup of water from the staff cooler. Several staff said no. Then he turned to me, the chaplain, and asked for water. I said no.

I couldn’t sleep that night. Why didn’t I give a man a cup of water? Jesus said something specific about that, and if anyone gives a cup of cold water. . . .

First thing the next morning, I went to his housing unit to see him. Read more ›

¡Las bienaventuranzas! (Good adventure)

Matthew 5's beatitudes in paraphrase

by Nancy Hastings Sehested
(the name for the Beatitudes in Spanish, literally “Good adventure to you”)

Good adventure to you when you don’t have it all together.
God is in the middle of the mess.

Good adventure to you who mourn life’s sorrows.
God is handing courage and comfort to you. Read more ›

All's wild with the world

A sermon on Mary's "Magnificat"

by Nancy Hastings Sehested

The stories this time of year are so familiar that we might be lulled into the idea that they are tame and reasonable. There is nothing much tame in these stories, in spite of the fact that Luke begins his storytelling to most excellent Theophilus, “friend of God," by giving a really good reason for it all: "I decided after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you (Luke 1:3)."

Really, Luke? After investigating everything carefully, this is your orderly account? Aren’t you glad he told us?

Luke expected us to know quite a bit about the backdrop of the stories. His very first line after his introduction: In the days of King Herod of Judea. Read more ›