Watching and Waiting in a Half-Spent Night

A sermon prior to covenant Sunday

Ken Sehested
Circle of Mercy, 28 November 2004
Matthew 24:36-44

Background to this sermon. Circle of Mercy Congregation has no indefinite members.
Each year, on the anniversary of our founding, both new and renewing members join
in a covenant reaffirming our vision and mission, on the first Sunday of Advent
(or second, if the first falls on Thanksgiving holiday weekend).
See "Covenant Vows for new and renewing members.")
Read more ›

Listening for whispering hope

Polling the electoral "whitelash"

by Ken Sehested

“The parents have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.”
—Ezekiel 18:2

        “What on earth are you going to write [about the election outcome]?” a friend wrote this week. Read more ›

Isaiah 65 coloring book & “After Tuesday” pastoral prayer

Reaffirming rainbow promises in light of an electoral deluge

This week members of my congregation are adding artistic colors to one or more of the 22 pages of an “Isaiah 65 coloring book.” Adults have been encouraged to decorate one or more page as they watch elections results Tuesday night.

Each of the pages has a phrase pointing to a profoundly different future, taken from Isaiah 65 (plus one from a similar text in Isaiah 11 and from Mary’s hymn of praise in Luke 1) each against a rainbow background, the sign of God’s re-creational covenant in Genesis 9.

This coming Sunday, 14 November, featuring the Isaiah 65 text, will be our first post-election gathering to discern what “After Tuesday” looks like and what it means for the living of these days. Artwork created by members will be displayed in our sanctuary next Sunday.

You can download the 22-page Isaiah 65 coloring book by clicking on the icon below. Read more ›

Confrontation at the Cannonball

The Dakota Access Pipeline controversy

Introduction to a special issue of “Signs of the Times” (4 November 2016, No. 94)

by Ken Sehested

        By now, DAPL (Dakota Access Pipeline) has become a familiar acronym to many in the US. The confrontation near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, where the Cannonball River joins the Missouri River, is cleft by a thin barricade.

        On one side is law enforcement: Morton County sheriffs, augmented with state police, National Guard troops, sheriffs from other states and oil company private security personnel, all heavily armed and supported by surveillance airplanes and helicopters, armored vehicles, even “sound cannons” (“Long Range Acoustical Devices” emitting ear-splitting noise). Read more ›

Longing from below

An Advent meditation

by Ken Sehested

      Advent is a season of great longing, specifically for those longing “from below.”

      The longing is a revolutionary one, however, and frightening to those in charge, who have much to lose if existing hierarchies are breached. Such anxiety is what fueled Herod’s terror against male babies.

      This narrative parallels the ancient scene in Egypt when Pharaoh, sensing an internal threat, orders the Hebrew midwives to kill the baby boys. (That narrative is the first case of civil disobedience recorded in Scripture.) Read more ›

The baptist impulse

Notes toward a renewal of baptist identity

by Ken Sehested

Address to the "Coalition for Baptist Principles" breakfast meeting,
American Baptist Churches USA Biennial, 21-23 June 2013, Overland Park, Kansas

      You’re a hardy group, I must say—to get up early on a muggy summer morning, on a Saturday, for an outrageously expensive 7:30 breakfast, to reflect on Baptist identity. To say the least, “Baptist identity” is a contested topic, sometimes a boring topic, and often an embarrassing one. Read more ›

Learning to see

Why communities of conviction are important

by Ken Sehested

“The reason I speak to them in parables is that ‘seeing they do not perceive. . . .”
—Matthew 13:13

        President Barack Obama, speaking at the opening ceremony of the African American Museum in Washington, DC, said: “Hopefully, this museum can help us talk to each other, and more importantly listen to each other, and most importantly see each other.” Read more ›

The Zacchaeian Encounter: Tell the whole story

A sermon about the wee little man

by Ken Sehested
Text: Luke 19:1-10

            It seems like we’ve turned to the story of Zacchaeus on several occasions during this past year. I was surprised when it showed up as the lectionary reading for this Sunday; and I almost chose an alternate text, since we’ve given so much attention to the “wee little man.” But I decided to stay with it, to see what new vistas it might open up.

            We’ve given a good deal of attention to questions of economic justice since January. Andy Loving, a friend from Louisville, preached for us in February when he was coming through Asheville, and he spoke about “The God of Maximum Return.” Andy is a certified financial planner and an advocate for socially responsibly investing; and his commentary was so stimulating that several of you asked if we could get him back, to help us think about how we can invest our savings in ways that support our values. He did come back in the spring, to do a forum on alternative investing; and quite a few of you signed up for personal consulting on how to align your investments with your faith commitments. Read more ›