Resurrection’s approach

A poem for Holy Week

by Ken Sehested

In praise of the Blessed One who
refuses to be named and tamed,
Who emboldens those previously
bearing no name—no privilege,
no recognition, the illegitimi of
the world—to rise up with
astonishing courage and against
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News, views, notes, and quotes

Signs of the Times  •  1 March 2018 •  No. 154

Processional.Adiemus,” composed by Karl Jenkins and performed by the Angel City Chorale. (There are no lyrics as such, instead the vocalists sing syllables and "words" invented by Jenkins.)

Above: A small sea horse grabs onto garbage in Indonesia. California nature photographer Justin Hofman snapped the picture late last year off the coast of Sumbawa, an Indonesian island in the Lesser Sunda Islands chain.
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News, views, notes, and quotes

Signs of the Times  •  21 February 2018 •  No. 153

Processional. Thousands of students and faculty from the Catholic-run St. Scholastica’s College dance en masse to protest violence against women and children on 14 February 2018, in Manila, Philippines. The annual dance, dubbed One Billion Rising, is held every Valentine’s Day. (1:15 video.)

Above: Son Doong cave is world's largest cave, located in Quang Binh province, Vietnam. It was first found by a local man named Ho Khanh in 1991 but not publicly know until 2009 when Khanh led Howard Limbert and a group of British cavers to the site. Scientists estimate the cave was created 2-5 million years ago by river water eroding away the limestone underneath the mountain. Where the limestone was weak, the ceiling collapsed creating huge skylights. For more photos and background see “Son Doong Cave.”

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A Village Named My Lai

A Post-war Reflection

by Earl Martin

         I sit by the ditch.

         The slight breeze murmurs through the tropical pines at the ditch’s edge. Sugar cane sparrows and swallows fill the air with their own chirps and warbles. Roosters crow at distant farmsteads, and conical-hatted farmers scratch the sandy ground with broad-bladed hoes. A sleek iridescent lizard makes her way down the ditch’s side toward a few inches of water at the bottom. She looks casually for some insects to make her a mid-morning snack.

         Despite the rustles, all is quiet at My Lai this morning. Read more ›

When Scripture gets testy

A rant and riff on Jeremiah 7–8:3

by Ken Sehested

Remember that time when Jeremiah failed to accentuate the positive?

“The word from On High came to crotchety Jeremiah: Stand in the gate of the YHWH’s house and announce: Thus says the Lord. Assess your days and amend your ways. Do not rely on deceptive marketing campaigns, or say ‘God bless America,’ ‘God bless America,’ ‘God bless America.’

“For if you do well, if you do not oppress the alien, the orphan and the widow, or shed innocent blood, then I will dwell with you. But see how my sanctuary has become an altar for violent design—Torah’s and Psalmist’s, Prophet’s and Gospel’s place usurped by gunmetal steel. Read more ›

Penitential Opportunity

A Liturgy of Grief and Resolve over the My Lai Massacre in Vietnam

Prelude – “Symphony of Sorrowful Songs” (Henryk Gorecki, Symphony No. 3, first movement, part two; Zofia Kilanowicz, soprano, Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, directed by Antoni Wit)

{10 minutes. Begin playing 5 minutes before the service’s starting time.}    

*Opening Song – “Come, Ye Disconsolate”

Cantor: Come, ye disconsolate, where’er ye languish,
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A Litany of Reflection and Resolve

In Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the My Lai Massacre

by Paul C. Hayes

Moral shame and injustice bear long legacies. Fifty years after the horrific massacre of Vietnamese villagers by U.S. soldiers this egregious crime of war has not faded from the memories of the living or the dead. The blood of the innocent still cries out from their graves, and the surviving generations of victims and offenders alike carry the burden of this loss. In the words of Kim Phuc, whose anguished escape as a child from a napalm attack was captured in a photograph and seen around the world, “I will always remember that day when we ran from life to death.”

Thus says YHWH: “A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and bitter weeping.  Rachel, weeping for her children, refuses to be comforted, for her children are no more.” (Jeremiah 31:15)

To name the pain is the beginning of accountability, and to sense remorse for the harm done is the genesis of forgiveness. Remembering the sorrow awakens the heart to re-engage in the search for justice. Read more ›

The Ties That Bind

The Integrity of Penitence, on the 50th Anniversary of the Massacre at My Lai

Ken Sehested

The following essay appears in a worship resource packet, "A Penitential Opportunity," created for (and soon to be available from) the Vietnam Peace Commemoration Committee to call attention to the 50th anniversary of the 16 March 1968 massacre by US troops of more than 500 civilians in My Lai, Vietnam.


"Concealment makes the soul a swamp. Confession is how you drain it."
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Included in the "Penitential Opportunity" worship resource

An Outline for a Service Acknowledging War Crimes
Has the United States ever apologized? Or are we too big to apologize?”
—Warrant Officer Hugh Thompson, helicopter pilot, U.S. Army

The Chaplains Handbook has no prayer or rite,
Nor Book of Common Prayer nor missalette,
For scrutinies that beg forgiveness from Read more ›

Quotes from Jewish, Christian and Islamic scripture and tradition

Supplement to the "Penitential Opportunity" worship resource

§ The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble gird on strength. Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger. . . . [God] raises up the poor from the dust [and] lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with the rulers and inherit a seat of honor. —1 Samuel 2:4-5, 8a

§ You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.” But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also. . . . You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say unto you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. —Matthew 5:38-39, 43-44

§ The Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him) said: Whoever is untrustworthy in his dealings has no faith, and whoever is not committed to his promises has no religion. —Bayhaqi

§By three things the world is preserved, by [restorative] justice, by truth, and by peace, and these three are one: if [restorative] justice has been accomplished, so has truth, and so has peace. —JT Ta'anit 4:2 Read more ›