Advent, Christmas, Epiphany calls to worship

by Ken Sehested

First Sunday advent

Blessed be your name, Beloved, who makes a way out of no way. Draw near unto us, for we live in a season of darkened sun, veiled moon, scattered stars, embattled news. Heaven itself shudders. Our bread is kneaded with sighs, and tears fill our cup. Let the light of your countenance return, with the grain and the grape, communion’s feast whereby we remember your purpose, your promise, your provision, and we again rejoice in your illuminating presence and resplendent glory.


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Is there a hierarchy of pain?

Further reflections on the war in Gaza

Ken Sehested

Invocation. “Tango,” featuring jazz songstress Dianne Reeves. When the Spirit transcends human language, and faith, hope, and love join in a brawl with all who would foreclose history’s predicted demise.

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The ambiguous history of Thanksgiving

Invocation. “Give Thanks,” Abyssinian Baptist Church choir, New York City.

The cultivation of gratitude and the practice of thanksgiving
From a 2018 article

        The topic of gratitude has become a marketing trend in publishing over the past decade—confirmed, most recently, in Diana Butler Bass’ best-selling Grateful: The Transformative Power of Giving Thanks, not to mention a score of books written by and for the “positive psychology” school of authors and readers.

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A bold testimony to interfaith conciliation

Peace Cathedral, Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia

Ken Sehested

Invocation. “Psalm 51,” Choir of St. Simon the Leper, Republic of Georgia (sung in Aramaic)

§  §  §

Among the most important practices in the life of faith is lifting up and celebrating hopeful stories—however small or localized—where flourishing life pushes back the boundaries of grief’s shadow. This work is particularly important in the context of erupting racial-ethnic-religious hostilities.

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‘Long term capital decisions’ are the root cause of the US epidemic of gun violence

by Ken Sehested

Now that the search for the mass shooter in Maine is completed (though the trauma of Lewiston’s citizens will carry on for who-knows-how-long), this is a timely moment to turn public attention to the culprits that escalate the capacity for such carnage.

Two weeks ago the New York Times ran a review of a new book by Cameron McWhirter and Zusha Elinson, “American Gun: The True Story of the AR-15.”

Here are two key paragraphs:

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A collection of musical requiem and lament

After posting my “Trenched by sorrow” prose poem, I found myself recalling favorite musical requiems and laments. And minutes turned to hours as I compiled an expansive list of those available for online listening. (I found short excerpts from some of the longer classical requiems.) The list below is limited by my own subjectivity, of course; but it does include wide variety of musical genres.

What are yours? I encourage you to make your own list. Pull one or more up to guide your prayers when hope gets hard to come by.

Our capacity to grieve is directly related to our capacity for hope, much like the circumference of a tree's canopy is proportionate to its root system. The work of lament contains in its very performance the generative power of assurance that siphons away the rule of fear. (For more on this see "The labor of lament") —Ken Sehested

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Trenched by sorrow, tracked by joy

Is assurance believable in the face of trauma?

by Ken Sehested

How is it that the heart, trenched by sorrow, can be, at the same
time, enlarged in its capacity for empathy and compassion: the
qualities that trigger the work benevolence and the labor
of advocacy?

Grief can be lethal, of course. Survival typically requires the
tender stroke of many comforters: hands in hands, around
shoulders, full embrace, skin on skin; whispered
encouragement in the face of grief’s wake; assurance of the
sun’s resolve to arise despite the fright of darkest night.

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Gaza, Israel, history

Commentary on yet another savage war in a war weary land

Ken Sehested
10 October 2023

Psalm 135: Arabic Orthodox Chant,”
from St. George Church, Aleppo, Syria.

[caption id="attachment_14116" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Above: "Mother's Embrace," painting by Palestinian artist Nabil Anoni[/caption]

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