Voting – What it does and does not do

13 suggestions to help clarify decisions

by Ken Sehested

As has been said,
if you think you're too small to be effective,
you've never been in bed with a mosquito.

From all appearances, we in the United States are at one of the most dangerous moments in our nation’s political history. We have a president who thinks that “when someone is president of the United States the authority is total.”  Someone who winks at white supremacist terror plots to assassinate public officials. Who repeatedly suggests that he won’t leave office voluntarily—and by so saying may in fact unleash a hail of street violence after the election. Read more ›

All saints

Call to worship and pastoral prayer

by Nancy Hastings Sehested

Today we observe All Saints, a tender time for the church to remember the saints who have died, and whose lives live in us still.

As part of my own spiritual practice, I read obituaries and eulogies. And have written quite a few eulogies in my ministry.

It is a practice that reminds me that death is a part of life. It is a way to keep choosing to live fully even as I am dying certainly. It places me in the river that flows with a life in love that knows no end. Read more ›

All Saints Day

A litany for worship

by Ken Sehested

The saints of old don’t wear golden crowns, or sit on lofty perch, mouthing caustic comments on how poorly we yet-mortal souls measure up to the glory of days past.

They, too, knew about keeping hope alive while getting dinner on the table, faucets fixed, carpools covered, and budgets balanced.

After the ecstasy, there’s always the laundry.* Read more ›

Make us audacious

A Reformation Sunday prayer, inspired by John 3:1-8

by Ken Sehested
Note: On Reformation Sunday, 1981, my wife Nancy and I were jointly ordained to the ministry. The choice of Reformation Sunday was intentional.

Beloved, Who beckons us with the aroma of baking bread, Whose breast offers milk and sweet honey, Who showers manna in the wilderness, with fresh water from sheer rock, and instruction from the mountain.

We give thanks for our baptismal trek through the sea, on the road from slavery to freedom. Read more ›

Hearts over heads

A Reformation Sunday ordination story

by Ken Sehested

My wife Nancy and I were jointly ordained on Reformation Sunday, 1981, at Oakhurst Baptist Church in Decatur, Georgia. As you might guess, the choice of the date was intentional—not simply to align ourselves to that dissenting ecclesial movement of a half-millennium ago, but to affirm that the community of faith is always and everywhere called to reform and refine its vision and mission, to realign itself at the intersection of the abiding Word and the ever-shape-shifting words whose purpose are to confuse and deceive and vandalize the common good.

The days leading up to that Sunday were glad ones, with one misgiving. My parents made a long car trip to be present for the occasion, and we didn’t know how my traditional-minded Dad was going to take being present for a woman’s ordination.

There was no doubt that he adored Nancy—elegant, funny, generous, not to mention beautiful. In fact, Dad’s opinion of me improved significantly when we married. He would never say as much, but I imagined him thinking, “If a quality person like Nancy thinks he’s pretty good, my boy must be OK.” Read more ›

Buttered hot biscuits

Inspired by Romans 12:9-21

Sisters and brothers: Before we get down to business, wrestling with what the Spirit has to say today, let’s do some stretching exercises. Don’t want any muscle strains in the house of the Beloved. Easy does it—bend and stretch and tip-toe fetch.

Love from your devotion, not from your ambition.

Be quick to praise, slow to blame.

Don’t quit in hard times. Show what you’re made of. Read more ›

Labor’s bread and lovers’ roses

A Labor Day meditation

by Ken Sehested

My primary Labor Day memory comes from seminary days. I was assistant pastor at a church in New York City [Think: Typing a stencil and mimeographing the Sunday worship bulletin, etc., etc.], and for several years running I was the designated preacher on Labor Day weekend. The congregation shrank to 8-10 people that Sunday, given the New Yorker tradition of leaving town in August, returning on September’s first Monday evening.

Right: Art by Ricardo Levins Morales

My favorite Labor Day tradition (unfortunately cancelled this year) is also a churchly affair. Members of my congregation hike in the Black Mountains east of Asheville, then convene under a picnic shelter in a nearby park for a leisurely, intergenerational potluck dinner and conversation, with plenty of playground equipment and a gentle stream for wading. Read more ›