The Commons

mercy closet
July 30, 2020

Mercy Closet

I have three kids and pretty much since birth, I’ve dressed them in hand-me-downs from friends, neighbors and families. It’s always just made sense to me – if I have something extra and my neighbor...

2020 day planner
January 02, 2020

New Year Renewal

As we settle into the new year, many of us have high hopes for the next twelve months. We make goals for exercise routines, career advancements, water consumption, home organization… you name it, we declare...

outrageous generosity
August 24, 2019

Being Outrageously Generous

Budget. Debt. Retirement. Those words used to fill me with boredom and anxiety, simultaneously. Personal finance to me was something other people worried about, and I was “normal” and “doing just fine”. As a natural...

big swing
August 16, 2019

Me and We

Like a pack of huskies connected to the bridle of a sled, a group of men, women and children pulled a rope that lifted a harness-and-hard-hat-wearing June and me high into the air. On the...

july 4th parade 2019
July 09, 2019

Jumping into July

We had another amazing 4th of July celebration at Mercy Commons Covenant Church this year. As has been our tradition, we keep it simple and fun with a few bounce houses, freezies, and cold water...

daniel lukas
June 26, 2019

Meet Our New Pastor, Daniel Lukas

Welcome! First off, should we call you “Daniel” or “Dan”? Daniel. I used to go by “Danny” through high school. When I graduated, I thought it was too childish and asked others to simply call...

God Likes Us
April 17, 2019

IF:Gathering 2019

I don’t have time for God. Yes, I said it out loud. I feel horrible and ashamed writing that statement. But God already knows my heart and how I feel sometimes; I cannot hide. He...

never pray for patience
April 05, 2019

Never Pray for Patience

“You should never pray for patience,” a good friend once told me, “because if you do, God will really give you something to be patient for. This was meant half-jokingly, of course, and has since...

leading worship
March 27, 2019

Sometimes I Feel Nothing

It’s not uncommon for me to get emotional while leading a song or sharing something from my heart during our worship services at Mercy Commons. Music has always been a primary mode of expression for...

lent reading
March 19, 2019

A Challenge for Lent: The Gospel of John

In the days before Easter it is often spiritually helpful to engage in various spiritual exercises to help us draw nearer to Jesus and consider all that he has done for us. The cross and...

raking leaves
October 24, 2018

Love Your Neighbor as Yourself

It was a gorgeous sunny autumn day. The fallen leaves from the neighborhood’s mature trees were adding up. Yards and sidewalks were transformed from green and grey into a collage of autumn colors. It was...

4th of july parade
July 11, 2018

Can’t Rain on Our Parade

Our annual 4th of July celebration came off a little differently this year. Every year, the church sets up two huge bounce houses on the front lawn, a prime spot on the Edina 4th of...

family camp
May 15, 2018

Come to Family Camp, Y’all!

I grip the rope tightly, close my eyes and jump. I feel a swoosh of air, my stomach drops and then I splash into the water. I lift my hands up high and sing as...

church history
March 28, 2018

Loving the Church

It’s the first day of Church History 101. I choose a seat on the left side of the classroom in the middle. Dr. John Thompson enters the room and begins the semester with a question,...

Ben Swanson in Tanzania
January 19, 2018

Tanzania Wisdom Tour

On February 12th, I will be traveling with my Dad (Larry) to Tanzania for two weeks. This will be my fourth trip and his first. This trip comes out of our church’s relationship with COSAD...

January 02, 2018

Let’s Talk Now

Sometimes when I go to my doctor, I’m afraid she will say that I’m wasting her time, like my presenting condition is obviously not a big deal and needs to be treated with rest and...

gingerbread house
December 18, 2017

Christmas Traditions

Our family loves traditions. Okay, maybe it’s mostly that I LOVE traditions, but I think my love is rubbing off on them! There are lots of events that come around year after year – all...

December 04, 2017

Actively Waiting

This time of year is steeped in traditions. Each day in December, we’re surrounded by traditions and the nostalgia that comes with them: the perennial holiday specials on TV, the annual parades and neighborhood festivals,...

not the hero
November 26, 2017

I’m Not the Hero

A couple of weeks ago, we had a church service with some extra songs and written prayers. One of the prayers was focused on repentance and remembering to orient our lives towards God. And during...

youth group foosball
November 18, 2017

Mercy Commons Youth Group

This year Mercy Commons launched a new youth program focused on, but not limited to, middle schoolers. We met for the first time on September 17th and have continued to meet weekly on Sundays from 6...

November 04, 2017


Want to know what my least favorite thing in the world is? Anticipation. I HATE not knowing what is going to happen. Yes, I am that person in the movie theater, reading the Wikipedia entry...

Joshua Tree
October 18, 2017

My Heroes are Friends?!

My favorite band growing up was U2. The first CD I ever heard played (we only had tapes until then) was The Joshua Tree. The first big concert I ever went to was U2. I can...

lord's prayer
October 04, 2017

The Lord’s Prayer

The Lord’s Prayer can be prayed as it is written or it can be expanded on based on our current experiences. Below is an example of how I prayed just a few days ago: Our...

fall is in the air
October 02, 2017

Fall is in the Air

Step outside and take a deep breath: it’s here, Fall. This season connects to our senses in a way that others fall short. The smell of dried leaves and the scents of baking spices are...

September 27, 2017

Forgiving the Little Things

It happens every day – someone doesn’t wait their turn at a four way stop, our boss is rude, our spouse forgets to call or doesn’t text us back, a friend stands us up, or...

Covenant Pines sunset
August 16, 2017

Peace Among the Pines

I’ve written this article several times now, and deleted each version immediately upon reading it back. I think I have unknowingly been trying to use this post to pitch the idea of going on the...

July 19, 2017

Serving God or Money?

One of the most difficult areas of life to submit to God is the area of finance. How does our relationship with God affect our spending? Does our faith impact how we save money for...

Edina 4th of July parade
July 10, 2017

Freezes, Balloons, 4th of July, Oh My!

This year’s heavily-attended 4th of July celebration was blast for all involved! For years, this congregation has opened up our building and our hearts to the community during the Edina 4th of July parade that...

abandon to Jesus
May 30, 2017


As a person who suffers with an anxiety disorder, discerning between the illness and a lack of faith proves difficult. There are times when I feel like nothing is right, everything bad will happen, nothing...

women's life group dinner
May 05, 2017

Women’s Life Group

“A place to gather women and share a simple meal and dive deep with people over real stories and Christ centered conversations. A time for a whole lot of laughter – and maybe a few...

yellow flowers
April 28, 2017

A Fresh Start

“For behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.”...

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...

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...