Such is the journey

A call to Jesus' memorial table

by Ken Sehested

We are free to act boldly because we are safe.

We are safe because we are at rest.

We are at rest because we have been forgiven. Read more ›

News, views, notes, and quotes

Signs of the Times  •  25 April 2017  •  No. 117

Processional.Testimony,” Voices of Hope, acclaimed women's choir made up of inmates at Lee Arrendale State Prison in Georgia.

Above: Wisteria tree, Kawachi Fujien Wisteria Garden, Japan, photo by Peter Lourenco.
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When was the last time you heard a tourism expert talk about land redistribution and debt forgiveness?

TV travel program host Rick Steves donates $4 million apartment complex for homeless woman and children

by Ken Sehested

        Years ago, when I first heard Rick Steves’ squeaky voice, channel flipping late on night, I thought it was satire. This being my last resort of delaying bedtime, I continued watching. And then later, in my night owl habit of TV diversion to put my brain in neutral to (hopefully) coast toward sleep, I would stumble across his show again. Over time, I actually began to look for the “Rick Steves’ Europe” program.

        Why? I don’t remember exact details now, but interspersed with touristy stuff, he actually made a few honest comments about some of the history that had occurred in that place which the local chamber of commerce doesn't mention, the kinds of things travel brochures will never say.

        Then there’s his talking about travel as an education in global awareness (and not just voyeurism), talking about “Travel as a Spiritual Act”  and as a “political” act, about the way travels helps us “challenge truths we were raised to think were self-evident and God-given,” and his desire that travel help us “become better citizens of our planet.” He has initiated multiple fundraising efforts to support things like Habitat for Humanity, and is an active member in his hometown Lutheran Church. Read more ›

Loosed for life and love’s consent

A litany for worship inspired by Acts 2:42-47

by Ken Sehested

Following the dramatic response to Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost, the text reports that the newly-formed People of the Way devoted themselves to listening and learning, to lingering in each other’s presence, to potluck dinners, and to prayer—with praise and pintos, songs and salads, received and given ’round the Bountiful Table.

Hands and hearts, bound together, loosed for life and Love’s consent.

The Promised Pardon freeing furrowed brow and anxious gaze alike. Read more ›

Holy Saturday 2017

by Ken Sehested

Betwixt and between. Jesus’ disciples and followers are bereft and adrift. The world seems to be coming apart.

As are we.

North Korea’s Kim Yong-un, among whose titles is “Fate of the Nation,” has finished his nation’s 15 April “Day of the Sun” founding day parade with its “North Korea First” bluster; and US “Fate of the Nation” Donald Trump—who requested but was denied tanks and missile launchers in his inauguration parade—is ensconced in his luxury resort, fresh off his “mother of all bombs” strike in Afghanistan, following our heightened entanglement with the escalated cycle of violence in Syria. Read more ›

Funeral songs

by Ken Sehested

When I was in seminary I remember thinking that all of us, as part of our final year of study, should be required to build our own casket, hauling it around as a storage chest wherever we lived, until the day for its final use. Odd as it sounds, the “remember you are dust” charge provokes an intensity and a freedom to the living of our days, chipping away at the anxiety that too often drives our frenetic habits.

Along that same line, one element of our congregation’s seven-week Lenten reflection group was beginning and ending each meeting by listening to songs participants’ want at their funeral service, in keeping with the season’s invitation to reflect on our own mortality.

Below is our list. Feel free to add your own suggestion, in the “comment” section at the page’s bottom or by sending it directly to me: (I’ll add it to the list on an ongoing basis.) These are in random order. Read more ›

The United States at War

There have been only 17 years that the US has not been involved in a war since 1776

“We’re at War!”
And We Have Been Since 1776: 214 Years of American War-Making

Danios, blog, 20 December 2011

Year-by-year Timeline of America’s Major Wars (1776-2011)

1776 – American Revolutionary War, Chickamagua Wars, Second Cherokee War, Pennamite-Yankee War Read more ›

Follow-up on the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Beyond Vietnam” speech.

by Ken Sehested

¶ Connecting the dots—or, as we now say, intersectionality. “But when, exactly, did the post-civil rights era begin? Arguably it was fifty years ago today when in a speech [‘Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence,’ aka ‘Declaration of Independence From the War in Vietnam’] at Harlem’s Riverside Church Martin Luther King Jr. definitively broke ranks with the liberals he once considered allies. . . .
         “The very liberals who supported and signed civil rights legislation while waging war in Vietnam would wind up in the years ahead being the chief promulgators of new laws that criminalized the daily lives of the urban poor and authorized the militarization of municipal police forces. The 1968 Safe Streets Act, signed by Johnson, poured hundreds of millions of dollars into building up law enforcement and the criminal justice apparatus—astronomically more than was ever spent on the same president’s anti-poverty programs. This legislation would lead to a slew of other law-and-order policies that together helped lead us into the age of mass incarceration.” —Eric Tang, “‘A Society Gone Mad on War’: The Enduring Importance of Martin Luther King’s Riverside Speech,” The Nation

¶ Can’t turn back now. “At first blush it may seem counterintuitive to elevate [the ‘Beyond Vietnam’] speech above the watershed ‘I Have a Dream’ speech delivered four years earlier, or the "[I Have Been to the] Mountaintop’ speech he would give on the eve of his death. But if King's address at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom made him into an American icon, his Riverside Church speech announced him as a genuine prophet for social justice, one who willingly sacrificed his hard-won status to defy an empire.” —Peniel Joseph, “This speech made Martin Luther King Jr. revolutionary,” CNN Read more ›