Remembering the Future: Bright with Eden’s dawn

A World Communion Sunday sermon

Ken Sehested,
Text: Hebrews 2:5-12 (The Message)

      The main title of this sermon, “remembering the future,” is a nonsensical notion. How can you remember the future since it hasn’t happened yet? Maybe if you love science fiction, or if you’re a fan of the actor Michael J. Fox, you can imagine going “back to the future.” But remembering the future?

      How silly is that, in a grown-up world?

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Water texts

In Scripture, water can symbolize either deliverance or death

In Scripture, water can symbolize either deliverance or death, salvation or destruction, healing or harm, prosperity or peril, blessing or curse, assurance or threat. What follows is a selection of such texts.

§ . . . the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.  —Genesis 1:2 

§ So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good. —Genesis 1:21

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You Might Be a Redneck If . . .

. . . Yuppies Get Rich Making Fun of You

by Ken Sehested

This article was originally published in Baptist Peacemaker magazine in 1995. The version below is slightly edited.

      One of the up-and-coming stars on the humor scene in the U.S. is Jeff Foxworthy's "You Might Be a Redneck If . . ." standup comedy (now in multiple illustrated book form and soon, I'm told, to be a television offering).

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We are Charlottesville

The fact that we are shocked about today’s news from Emancipation Park is part of our problem.

by Ken Sehested

        I recall my first trip to South Africa, leading a delegation of US and European Christians for a first hand look at the apartheid regime. Over the course of 10 days we met with a host of groups and individuals, and even participated in an impromptu, multi-racial prayer vigil on the grounds of the South African parliament in Pretoria, something that was still illegal in 1989.

        It was, as you might imagine, a stunning and profoundly revelatory journey. Four things still burn bright in my memory.

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Religious liberty, or social mischief?

Understanding the "wall of separation" between church and state

by Ken Sehested
9 July 2017, Circle of Mercy Congregation, Asheville, NC
Text: Psalm 72

(The text below has been expanded from the original sermon.)

        Not so long ago a sermon on religious liberty would likely provoke yawns. The widespread and diverse claims of “religious freedom” are so common and unquestioned in our culture, they mostly go without notice. (Which, if anything, may be testimony to how tamed our assumptions have become.)

        In recent years, however, a new crop of claims of religious freedom has arisen to give credence to some very old forms of discrimination.[1] Some claims to religious liberty disguise social mischief. How do we distinguish the two?

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Loyalty Test: The Case of Chaplain Robertson

by Ken Sehested

Originally printed in the 2 March 1994 issue of The Christian Century

      Lieutenant Colonel Garland Robertson is an Air Force chaplain at Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene, Texas. He is endorsed by the Southern Baptist Convention's chaplaincy office. His military record includes a Distinguished Flying Cross for rescue of a reconnaissance team in Vietnam during the war there. He has commanded a nuclear missile site. A native Mississippian, he is self-effacing, almost shy.

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Precious indeed

Reflections on a post-bin Laden world

by Ken Sehested
4 May 2011, on the fifth anniversary of my grandson’s birth

        I spent more than an hour pouring over the newspaper Monday morning, whose oversized front page headline boldly proclaimed “A nation united” above its story of Osama bin Laden’s death. Rarely have I felt more disunited, disheartened, discomforted. Literally dispirited, the Holy Spirited-pledge to make all things new now mocked by Sunday crowds awash in frenzied rejoicing over assassination. All this, barely a week after Eastern morning, with its renewal of baptismal vows “to renounce Satan, and all his works, and all his promises.”

        Locally, the newspaper included theological justification in the words of a local pastor, who suggested that the military’s raid “sends a message that their lives [those killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks] counted and their lives were precious.”

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Jonathan & ee cummings

The secret of freedom

by Ken Sehested

Recently, when Nancy picked up our 3-year-old grandson Jonathan from preschool, out of the blue he said, “Ja-Ja (her grandmotherly nickname), e e cummings wrote poem.”

“Did you learn that at school, Jay?” Nancy asked. “No,” he said from the back seat.

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Is an attack on one an attack on all?

The brutal consequences of our nation’s gun fetish

by Ken Sehested

       We are a nation awash in guns, increasingly inured to violence that doesn’t happen on our street or zip code or time zone, and increasingly addicted to militarized response to threat at home and, especially, abroad. The recent shooting of legislators in a public park, of those practicing for a charity baseball game, could be a teachable moment in how we might disentangle ourselves from these deathly habits.

       Will it?

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Baptized into death?

Father's Day, and a whole lot more

Ken Sehested
Texts: Genesis 21:8-21; Psalm 86:1-10; Jeremiah 20:7-13; Romans 6:10-11; Matthew 10:24-39

Circle of Mercy, 19 June 2005

In case you missed it, it’s power-tool weekend across the nation. Father’s Day, that bastard child of a holiday, commemorated only slightly more than President’s Day. My best gift was the arrival this past week of my first-born, Jessica, and her beloved, Rich. They’ve moved to Asheville, living with us for the time being, and I couldn’t be happier.

Like most holidays, Father’s Day has its competing histories. The dominant one seems to be the story of Sonora Smart Dodd, a woman who in 1909 wanted to honor her father, a Civil War veteran whose wife died giving birth to their sixth child. Ironically, Ms. Dodd came up with the inspiration after hearing a Mother’s Day sermon in her church and later convinced her pastor to dedicate a Sunday to fathers. Later U.S. presidents endorsed the idea, with Lyndon Johnson signing a declaration in 1966 and, in 1972, Richard Nixon signing legislation making it a permanent holiday. Some say his action was to distract the nation’s attention away from information then emerging from a secret source who, until a few weeks ago, was known only as “Deep Throat.”

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