Conflicting memorials

The Lord’s Table of remembrance vs. the nation’s vow of preeminence

Violence is evangelism for the Devil

by Ken Sehested

            My earliest memory of Memorial Day is of my Dad, puttering in his garage shop (he was a mechanic and jack-of-all-trades fixer-upper) on a rare day off from work, listing to the Indianapolis 500 car race on a portable radio. On one of those occasions I remember using a hammer, and the concrete garage floor, helping him straighten nails for reuse.

            Both my parents were children of the Depression. Thrift was a primal virtue even when it was no longer a necessity.

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In the Shadow of a Steeple

Time for a post-national church?

by Ken Sehested
Texts: Matthew 5:1-12, Micah 6:1-8, Psalm 15, 1 Corinthians 1:18-31

      This coming week I’ll be applying to start early retirement Social Security benefits. Those of you who’ve already past that marker know what a milestone it is. It’s intimidating, and can make you anxious. The good thing it does is make you focus your attention. That’s why I relinquished more than half my pastoral job description. I want to give significantly more time to analyzing the reality in which we live, both as citizens of the United States and as followers of Jesus.

      In preparation for today I’ve scoured my electronic and print files for how we in the Circle have broached the topic of “empire.” I was surprised. I’d forgotten how many times sermons from this podium have addressed the question of empire. It’s a conversation that’s come up fairly frequently in our meetings and gatherings and retreats, as well as here in our worship services. It’s not a new topic.

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In praise of Ordinary Days

A meditation on Ordinary Time on the church's liturgical calendar

by Ken Sehested

“He who would do good to another must do it in Minute Particulars.”
—William Blake

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We don’t have anything if we don’t have stories

Preface to 11 July 2019 special edition of Signs of the Times devoted to brief stories

by Ken Sehested

"If you want to change people's obedience then you must change their imagination."
—philosopher Paul Ricoeur

By the time I finished my cum laude undergraduate work and with distinction seminary degree, my analytical powers were sharply honed. I was capable of researching, selecting, and presenting large troves of factual material; which I immediately put to work as an advocate for justice, peace, and human rights shaped by a passionate theological ethos.

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We Say No, Again

Baiting Iran toward a dangerous collision

 by Ken Sehested
15 January 2012

        On the first Sunday on Lent in 2007, when tensions between the US and Iran were escalating, Circle of Mercy Congregation unanimously adopted a statement (“We Say No: A Christian statement in opposition to war with Iran—see below”) opposing an attack on Iran. With the recent assassination of another Iranian scientist—the fourth to be targeted in the past two years—tensions between our two countries are again at a boiling point.

      This is an appropriate time, on this observance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, to reaffirm our earlier convictions.

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Memorial Day: A historical summary

Why being for peace is not enough

by Ken Sehested

        As a child I wasn’t aware that Memorial Day observances were intended for those felled on the battlefield. I though of it as a day of familial remembrance, honoring relatives gone before us—veterans and non-veterans alike—something akin to a low-church All Saints Day, but with flowers. Lots of flowers.

        For decades, to this day, one of my uncles in southern Oklahoma assumes the duty of trimming grass, pulling weeds and placing wreaths on the Rowell, Sehested and Young burial plots in the small town of Marlow, where I was born and where my own name is carved—with only a birth day for now—in a granite slab that stretches across my immediate family’s plot, where both my father’s body and my sister’s ashes are buried.

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The outing of the church

by Ken Sehested

       Some years ago, writing in the days leading up to Easter, I realized important though tragic anniversaries arrived in the days immediately following that Sunday.

        “Even before our resurrection flowers have wilted, we will be confronted again with the presence of evil. Since Easter falls early in the calendar this year, in the coming resurrection week we will be forced to remember the enduring power of death. In 1945, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor and theologian, was executed by the Nazis two days after Easter Sunday. This next Thursday, April 4, we will remember the 1968 assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. right here in Memphis.” —continue reading “Open Letter to My Daughter: Easter morning, with the stench of death still in the air

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Find a trailhead to the ministry of reconciliation

What should the Christchurch massacre prompt from us?

by Ken Sehested

        What can you do to abate the harm caused by the mass murders in New Zealand mosques? Not much, in the scheme of things.

        Which is not to say there’s nothing at all to do.

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There is a new creation

The Apostle Paul’s vision of the ministry of reconciliation

by Ken Sehested

So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything
has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given
us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself,
not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.
—2 Corinthians 5:17-19

        Few things are more uniform among Protestant churches the world over than Sunday school. Many are surprised to learn that this organized form of Bible study began in Britain in the 18th century. And its specific purpose was to provide literacy training for poor children. It was a ministry of reconciliation in an age when industrialization was deepening the chasm of poverty.

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Essay in celebration of the global Youth Strike 4 Climate movement

Choosing between Wednesday’s penitential ashes vs. the scorched aftermath of Earth’s burning

by Ken Sehested

“God gave Noah the rainbow sign / No more water but the fire next time.”
—lyrics from the Negro spiritual “Mary Don’t You Weep”

        I haven’t been able to get Greta Thunberg’s face out of my mind, especially since Ash Wednesday.

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