Eucharistic conventions: Why we practice these (somewhat) odd manners at the Lord’s Table

SehestedBy Ken Sehestedthe author/editor of prayerandpolitiks,org

When three of us began daydreaming about a starting a new congregation, during long hikes in the Blue Ridge Mountains in the first year of the new millennium, one of the things we immediately imagined was worship centered around communion, including placing the table in the center of our seating. Every Sunday—which is unusual in Protestant bodies. None of us were raised that way. This tangible ritual act—of re-membering in the midst of a dismembered world—is poignantly expressive of our theological vision. Continue reading

Sermon: She was not: The Bible’s most vividly brutal story, and why we must read and remember it

 

concubine in Judges 19Ken Sehested, Circle of Mercy, 9.19.05
Judges 19:1-30

There have been two special occasions in my life when I have become agonizingly aware of the special fear women feel over the threat of sexual assault.

The first happened when Nancy and I were counting the days before our wedding in 1973. Every couple weeks she came in from where she went to school in New Jersey to meet me in a chaplain’s office in New York City. We were doing a series of premarital counseling sessions. Continue reading

Another Word is in the Wind: A Psalm of Complaint and Avowal

prayer and politiksBy Ken Sehested, the curator of Prayer & Politiks

Have mercy upon us, O Lord.
Our soul has had more than its fill
of the scorn of those who are at ease,
of the contempt of the proud.
—Psalm 123:3-4

In the end, if we are left to our own devices—to our
own amalgam of brains and brawn, of ingenuity and
charisma, sleight of hand and strength of arm, in
mobilizing sufficient force to bend the will of others
to our own, in accordance to self-ordained vision
masquerading as fate’s foreordained history—then
nothing is forbidden. All authority is subsumed in
the will to power. Continue reading

Sermon: Religious liberty, or social mischief? Understanding the “wall of separation” between church and state

indexBy 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.) Continue reading

Conflicting Memorials: The Lord’s Table of Remembrance vs. The Nation’s Vow of Preeminence

Ken SehestedBy 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.

I have no doubt Dad would silently recall some of his war-time experience while enduring the monotony of listening to race cars doing 200 laps around an oval track at speeds in excess of 200 mph. He managed to survive being in the first wave of troops landing at Omaha Beach in the 1944 D-Day invasion of Europe, though I can remember only once in my life when he talked about those days. I was an adult before I knew he carried a bit of 88mm German artillery shrapnel, bone-embedded, behind his right ear.
Continue reading