Nerve Us Up

By Ken Sehested

This past Sunday one of our members, Stan Wilson, offered the “call to the table” in our congregation’s zoom worship screen-gathering. He led with a suggestion that was equivalent, in my hearing, to a thunderclap.

“How about for Lent this year we give up Donald Trump?”

It was a table invitation (we celebrate the Eucharist every week) and an altar call rolled into one. And it certainly had my name on it.

The last four years in the US have been a national demolition derby, a Three-Stooge-esque comedy of incompetence and disrepute, a racketeer’s paradise and grifter’s playpen—only with real-world torment, particularly for those here and abroad with little shelter from the abuse.

Continue reading “Nerve Us Up”

Lamentation to Adulation: Every Psalmist’s Perilous Journey

By Ken Sehested

“If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.” —Psalm 139:8

Blessed One, whose name we dare not speak, but of whose
Presence we dare not remain silent, we stand before you
with hearts in shreds and hands frozen.

We know that we creatures were made for praise and
thanksgiving. We recognize that gratitude is our natural
home.

But these are unnatural days. Instead of Heaven’s jubilation
at Creation’s unfolding, most of what we hear are the arias
of agony and the cornet’s sounding of retreat.

Sighs hover; cries haunt. And still your Face eludes.

Continue reading “Lamentation to Adulation: Every Psalmist’s Perilous Journey”

Dr. King and the Constellating Light

By Ken Sehested

Admiring Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream is not the same as being captured by it. Too many find it possible to respect the man but relinquish the mission. It has become too easy to revere the dreamer but renege on the dream. So let us now recall the deep roots of that vision as spoken in ages past:

We remember when Hannah praised God by saying: The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble gird on strength.

We dream of the day when the wolf shall dwell with the lamb. For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord.

We long for the day when all shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord.

Continue reading “Dr. King and the Constellating Light”

Kindred, The News is Bleak

California Wildfires
AP Photo/Noah Berger

By Ken Sehested

Kindred, the news is bleak. For we live in the valley of the shadow, when:

  • the stock market reaches record-breaking levels in the midst of near-record-breaking rates of unemployment;
  • when 1% of US citizens control $30 trillion of assets while the bottom half is saddled with more debts than assets;
  • when the median wealth of Black households is a tenth of that of whites;
  • when yet another unarmed Black man is shot—in the back, seven times, while getting in his car where his children are sitting—by police;
  • when polls show 57% of Republicans (along with 33% of Independents and 10% of Democrats) believe our nation’s COVID-19 death toll (many times greater than any other nation) is “acceptable”—despite ours being the wealthiest nation in recorded history, purportedly with the world’s most advanced health care system;
  • when wildfires in California set yet another record in size and destructive infernos, and similar flames in the Amazon are on track to eclipse 2019’s record;
  • when 30 million families lacked sufficient nutrition last week, yet the suicide rate among farmers—who provide our food—is five times greater than the national average;
  • when the federal hourly minimum wage is $7.25 (lowest it’s been since the 1960s when adjusted for inflation), yet Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos earns approximately $8,961,187 per hour;
  • not to mention a monarch aspirant in high office; and our oldest living president, Jimmy Carter, having
    described our political economy as “moving toward an oligarchy.”

Continue reading “Kindred, The News is Bleak”

You Corrupted Wisdom for the Sake of Splendor

KenBy Ken Sehested

I will likely be considered antiquated, maybe maniacal, even apoplectic when I say we in the US (with derivative outbreaks elsewhere) are under the spell of the demonic, of those who worship death’s malicious craving, specifically the sacrificial scalp of dissenters, of those who do not genuflect in its presence, of any and all who stand in the way of imperial designs, who claim authority to divide the world into makers and takers, to shape all reality in service to the ruthless pursuit of power’s conceit, arrogance being the elixir of indefinite, everlasting rule of the strong over the weak, the privileged over the disdained, the worthy over the maimed. Continue reading “You Corrupted Wisdom for the Sake of Splendor”

More is at Work than Passes for the News

SehestedBy Ken Sehested

Almost every breakthrough begins with a breakdown. Goodness is not thereby assured; then again, neither is our breath, day by day.

We hope to be effective; but our perseverance is not hitched to efficacy. We insert ourselves, compassionately and intelligently, because that’s who we are. (Or at least who we are becoming.) Continue reading “More is at Work than Passes for the News”

Another Story

17123251389_bed3c3a1ba_w
Pictures of Money, flickr, cc

By Ken Sehested

We have a lot of competition for our attention these days. I urge you to give a little space for this matter, which is unfolding right now in Congress.

“Any time there is a crisis and Washington is in the middle of it is an opportunity for guys like me.” —industry lobbyist on Capitol Hill

“Take Boeing. The aerospace giant of course wants a $60bn bailout. Financial problems for this corporation predated the crisis, with the mismanagement that led to the 737 Max as well as defense and space products that don’t work (I noted last July a bailout was coming). The corporation paid out $65bn in stock buybacks and dividends over the last 10 years. . . . Continue reading “Another Story”

Prepping for Ash Wednesday A supplication

ash-wednesday-4823377_960_720By Ken Sehested, borrowing from St. Augustine and Isaiah 55:12

Return to your heart, O you transgressors,
and hold fast to the One who made you.
Stand with the Beloved and your footing
shall be firm. Rest in the Merciful One
and you shalt be buoyed.

Where do you go along these rugged
paths, pilgrim, so far from home yet so
winsomely loved? Be clear about what
you seek, and where you seek, for the
beatific life cannot be found in the land
of illusion. Continue reading “Prepping for Ash Wednesday A supplication”

Joseph

Rembrandt_Dream_of_Joseph
Rembrandt, Dream of Joseph, 1645, Gemäldegalerie, Berlin

By Ken Sehested

Obscured brother
consigned to the margins
of Incarnation narrative.
Carpentry-calloused hands
now shield the shame
of sagging face, drooping, disgraced.
Chiseled lines prematurely sculpting
age in youthful countenance.
Thoughts of Mary smudge the heart
as tears smear the face.
Mary. Beloved. Betrothed. Betrayed?
Mary. With child. Whose? How, and why?
Joseph, companion in confusion
over God’s intention.
No multi-colored coat for you as for
your scoundrel namesake of old.
But who dares answer, much less complain? Continue reading “Joseph”