The Commons

empty tomb
April 19, 2017

Easter Reflection

Each year, I return to the Easter event as told by one of the gospel writers. I wonder if I will have anything new to say after so many years of presenting the same narrative....

Pastor Ben preaching
March 22, 2017

What Do You Do for a Living?

“What do you do for a living?” I don’t like answering this question. I don’t like telling people I am a pastor because I have no idea how they will respond. I do know that...

Mercy Commons Tanzania trip
October 19, 2016

Tanzania Trip 2016

“Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor” (Romans 10:9-10). I counsel pre-married couples to attempt to...

October 12, 2016

Tanzania and America

In many ways Tanzania and America are opposites. In Tanzania the people talk loudly, laugh loudly and yell louder still. Nightclub music resonates through the villages as the separation of commercial and residential areas seems...

10,000 foot view
July 20, 2016

10,000 Foot View

At our Annual Meeting, the Leadership Team asked me to give a 10,000 foot view of the church. They asked me to present what I see from my vantage point. Here is an outline of...

sand through fingers
May 18, 2016

On the Way

I heard a radio personality claim to have “figured out” the slot machines at a local casino. He claimed that a bank of four machines always paid out at a certain time of day on...

Mercy Commons sanctuary
May 11, 2016

A Place of Rest

I really don’t care if you fall asleep in church—especially if it’s during the sermon. Jodi and I used to decide whether or not to go to church on Sunday morning. These days I have...

renewal blossoms
May 04, 2016


As the trees around us transform from their bare and seemingly lifeless winter state into the vibrant color and fragrance of spring, I am reminded of God’s intention to make all things new. When we...

worship music
April 13, 2016


A few weeks ago, I walked into church on Sunday with a certain set of expectations. When I left I was confused, disappointed and even a little frustrated. I wondered what I could have done...

winter trees
March 16, 2016

Winter Can be Hard

Have a case of cabin fever? Struggling with seasonal affective disorder? Tired of our long and cold Minnesota winters? Call it what you may, but winter can be hard. Don’t get me wrong; our beautiful...

baby birth
March 02, 2016

A Year in Review

It’s hard to believe that a year ago I was impatiently waiting out the last few weeks of my first pregnancy. It is such a cliché, but this year has gone by so fast. As...

Pastor Ben Swanson preaching
February 17, 2016

10 Years of Mutual Ministry

The calendar says I’ve been your pastor for 10 years. Jodi and I have a saying, “Five minutes forever.” We use it for things that seem like they only just started but also seem like...

Pastor Ben Swanson
February 03, 2016

From Revitalization to Living Out Vitality

Ten years into Pastor Ben’s tenure as leader and shepherd of Mercy Commons Covenant Church, this community is not the same—nor should it be. Pastor Ben was originally called to this congregation with the challenge of...

life group
January 20, 2016

Doing Life Together

We started our journey as a Life Group over five years ago as a mix of singles and newlyweds. In the beginning, our meetings would be spent leisurely discussing Scripture and our lives in the...

Happy New Year
January 06, 2016

What Does the New Year Mean to Us Spiritually?

Throughout history, nearly all cultures have observed the end of one year and the beginning of another. New Year’s traditions and celebrations have been going on since Ancient Rome. It’s a time for us to...

Mercy Commons cross
December 09, 2015

Routine and Sacrifice

I sprained my shoulder three weeks ago and have needed physical therapy in order to return to form. It hasn’t been fun, but it is good. Enduring repetitive exercises and stretches builds up the tissues...

traffic jam
November 18, 2015

From Gripes to Gratitude

’Tis the season to give thanks, but why other than for our national holiday? Simple, because God specifically asks us to. “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ...