Nancy H. Sehested Sermons & Writings

Call to the Table

Remembering Hugh Thompson, US Army helicopter pilot who stopped the My Lai massacre

by Nancy Hastings Sehested

It is difficult to look at the suffering of people. But during the My Lai massacre there was an American soldier who looked. He was a helicopter pilot named Hugh Thompson. From his copter he saw the bodies of men, women and children on the ground dead and wounded. He realized that something horrific was going on. He then saw some people hiding in a bunker, cowering. He saw advancing American soldiers.

He landed his helicopter between the Americans and the Vietnamese. He told the Americans that if they opened fire on the Vietnamese, then his crew would stop them, and open fire on them.

Right: Hugh Thompson (at left) greeted by a Vietnamese women whose life he saved when he intervened to stop the US massacre of civilians in My Lai, 16 March 1968, on Thompson's trip back to My Lai in 1998.
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Imagine This

A story from prison

by Nancy Hastings Sehested
(Excerpt from an upcoming book of stories from work as a prison chaplain.)

            Forty inmates lined up for smudging to enter the sacred circle for the Native American prayers. I spotted Genaro and a little alarm went off in my head. “Genaro, can I talk to you for a minute?” He smiled and nodded.

            The shade of the building sheltered us from the blistering noonday sun and got us out of hearing range of the other men. “Genaro, you know that you must either go into the circle to smoke the pipe, or stay outside the circle by yourself. Last week I noticed that another guy sat with you outside the circle. If custody staff sees that, they assume you’re passing tobacco.” Read more ›

Shed a little light

Pastoral prayer in a season of madmen

by Nancy Hastings Sehested

Holy Light,

We stand somewhere in the shadows, in-between the battlefield of our struggles and the sanctuary of our souls.

Shed a little light on our way. Keep your lighted sanctuary within us portable, able to see clearly, to walk courageously, to withstand the forces that corrupt the truth of our belonging to your one world-wide family. Read more ›

Hope Remains

A story from prison

by Nancy Hastings Sehested
(excerpt from an upcoming book of stories from work as a prison chaplain)

            As I greeted the men at the door for the midweek Christian service I was surprised to see Blake, a regular in the Wiccan group.

            “Chap, I didn’t come for the service. I came to see you. I gotta see you now.” Read more ›

All saints

Call to worship and pastoral prayer

by Nancy Hastings Sehested

Today we observe All Saints, a tender time for the church to remember the saints who have died, and whose lives live in us still.

As part of my own spiritual practice, I read obituaries and eulogies. And have written quite a few eulogies in my ministry.

It is a practice that reminds me that death is a part of life. It is a way to keep choosing to live fully even as I am dying certainly. It places me in the river that flows with a life in love that knows no end. Read more ›