Nancy H. Sehested Sermons & Writings

When the Wine Runs Out

Sermon on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday

by Nancy Hastings Sehested
Text: John 2:1-11, the wedding at Cana

It was Martin Luther King Jr. weekend and I was preaching at the prison. There was a shortage of officers that day, so I was on my own with 70 inmates for the worship service.

All was going well. The choir singing. The prisoners praying. The chaplain preaching. The gang members whispering. Read more ›

Companions for the journey

The Ruth and Naomi story

by Nancy Hastings Sehested

As people of God we are called to a journey. Sometimes we are pilgrims. Sometimes we are refugees. For the pilgrim, there is a choice. For the refugee, there is no choice. For the pilgrim, there is freedom. For the refugee, there is no freedom. The biblical story offers us Ruth, the pilgrim and Naomi, the refugee. Both step into an uncertain future.

In the days when the Judges ruled, chaos reigned. The times were severe. Famine devastated the land. Bethlehem, the name that means “house of bread,” had become an empty house. Elimelech and Naomi became refugees. They left their homeland of Bethlehem with their two sons. They found a way to survive in the foreign land of Moab.

They started over. After ten years in their land of adoption, it was beginning to feel like home. Their two sons married Moabite women, Ruth and Orpah. Then the worst that could happen did happen. Naomi’s husband died. Her two sons died. Read more ›

Netting the Absurd

Fishing on the other side of what we think possible

Nancy Hastings Sehested
John 21:1-14

While standing in line at a bookstore a small girl in front of me turned around, looked up at me and said, “I’m scared of spiders.” I’m not accustomed to such forthright honesty in a check-out line. As far as I could tell there wasn’t a spider in sight. I thought I should be bold and confess my fears too.

“I’m scared of lightning,” I said. Read more ›

Astounded by Forgiveness

by Nancy Hastings Sehested
Mark 2:1-12

Jesus was in demand as he made his way into the villages along the Sea of Galilee. After a dizzying schedule of healing the sick and casting out demons, he arrived in the fishing village of Capernaum. There it was reported that he was at home. The home was easy enough for a crowd to find. It was probably one or two rooms, made of the dark stone of the region stuck together with mud. The thatched roof of straw and clay was made strong with crossbeams of wood.

Then as now people were desperate for healing and inspiring teaching. The people smushed in as close as possible, but they couldn’t all get in the doorway. While Jesus was teaching, four people arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a pallet. They wanted to place the man in front of the healer Jesus, but there was no way to get in. Read more ›

Pursuing God’s Presence

An annotated review of selected authors

by Nancy Sehested

My sermon this week is not on a particular biblical text but a review of other texts which have deeply influenced my personal formation as a follower of Jesus. My preparation involved lingering at my bookshelf, pulling out those books that were the most worn, the ones I return to again and again. It is not an exhaustive list, of course, but it offers a window into the writers who have become my companions for the inner journey. I spoke about them as God’s gardeners of my soul, people who have inspired me to live more fully and deeply. As you can see they are from a wide range of religions and from no particular religion at all. I have found them an encouragement to go more deeply into my own chosen path as a Christian. My hope is that this list will take you to your own reflection about the people who have deepened your soul.

Meditation by Eknath Easwaran (1910-1999)
In college and seminary I took courses on Eastern religions and Eastern mysticism. I was introduced to the Hindu teacher Eknath Easwaren. His 8-point program of meditation is a particularly helpful tool for someone like me who has difficulty quieting my mind. His method suggests meditating on sacred texts to begin your meditation. He thought memorizing St. Francis Prayer or the 23rd Psalm was ideal for beginners. His methods teach me still. He has many other books. Among them is an excellent biography of Gandhi, titled Gandhi the Man (1972). Read more ›