Sunday, March 22, 2020


Set a timer for 5 minutes and use a breath prayer.
On the inhale, mentally say: “Lord, Jesus Christ...”
On the exhale: “Have mercy on me.”


Psalm 32:6-7

Therefore all the faithful will make their prayers to you in time of trouble;
              when the great waters overflow, they shall not reach them.
You are my hiding-place;
you preserve me from trouble;
              you surround me with shouts of deliverance.


Elenyi (length 6:12)

Lectio Divina—“divine reading”—a way of slowly reading a Scripture story, three times in a row, and hearing it speak to you

First reading: What word or phrase touches your heart? Listen for the still, small voice of God in a word or phrase that somehow sounds louder to you than all the others.

Second reading: Continue to “drink in” the word/phrase that touches your heart. Take it into yourself, memorize it, repeat it slowly.

Third reading: Speak to God in return. Give to God what you have found within your heart.

(For more on Lectio Divina, click here.)



              I remember doing Lectio Divina with this passage while sitting on a dock, looking out at Bogue Sound off the Carolina coast. I was on a Sabbath retreat with lots of silence. The skies were gray, and I hugged my knees, trying to get warm.
When I heard Jesus’s question in the passage above, I felt it in my bones—and I also felt a distinct answer: “Give me a child.” It was as though Jesus was speaking to me, and from some mysterious place within, I answered.
              But this was Oct. 2017. Jordan and I had only been married three months. I didn’t know if I wanted children at all, and I certainly wasn’t interested in them so soon into newlywed life. I forgot about Jesus’s question, and my answer, until more than a year had passed: Jan. 2019, when the child I wanted didn’t live long enough to grow its little cells and split into more cells and finally, fully form.
              Then what I wanted most of all was Jesus himself, and he came and sat with me in my suffering.
              Whichever word/phrase stands out to you from the story in Matthew, I pray it brings healing where you need healing and breaks your heart where needed, too.

Take time to reflect upon the many ways God has blessed you this day. Ask yourself the question: How will I give back to God today for all that God has already given to me?

John 20:24-29


Rev. Sarah Swandell
originally preached April 8, 2018

This sermon is about a time of panic and anxiety, and a time of seeking Jesus during the season of Lent. It’s our hope that it ministers to you during this unique season as well.

Thank you for your beautiful word, these stories that live on and keep changing us. Help us truly be different because of the difference you make. Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

We continue to pray for all people around the world suffering from the coronavirus illness, or any other ailment, knowing they, too, desire healing. We believe you can still bring healing today. Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

We pray for all service workers and hourly employees who feel desperate in these scary times. Protect hungry families and insecure parents. Help us care for each other in this new economy, thinking no longer of profit and self but of our brothers and sisters around us. Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Thank you for our church, continuing to worship you no matter where we find ourselves. Inspire us to serve in creative ways, touching those around us even if we can’t do so tangibly. Open our eyes to the needs of Moore County and how we might bring your healing here. Let these not be empty words—let us live this out for once. Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Forgive us, Lord, for our focus on ourselves and our irritation with petty things. Forgive us for our attachment to luxuries and convenience. You are the God of daily bread. You provide what we need, and that’s all we could want. Help us hold our belongings loosely and give everything back to you. Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.