Easter’s Aftermath

ResurrectionBy Ken Sehested, the editor and author of prayerandpolitiks.org, an online journal at the intersection of spiritual formation and prophetic action

Easter resurrection is never as assured
as the arrival of Easter bunnies.

Clothiers and chocolate-makers alike yearn
for the season no less than every cleric.

And yet, in my experience, the Spirit
rarely blows according to the calendar,
much less on demand. Continue reading

Lamentations’ call to arms

kenA poem inspired by the book of Lamentations (especially chapter three)

by Ken Sehested

Turn off (what passes for) the news.
Boycott the season’s electoral charades.
Don’t give in to Pokémon’s promise of
“augmented reality.” Attend instead to
unmitigated reality: bloodied, stricken
and strewn. Offer grief the hearing it
demands, the voice it obliges, and
the risk it assumes. Continue reading

The Labor of Lament

TearsBy Ken Sehested, of Prayer & Politiks, written for an ecumenical “Service of Lament and Healing” following the August 2014 killing of Michael Brown by police in Ferguson, MO. Inspired by Ps 6:6; 42:3; 80:5; 102:9; Luke 7:38

Who among you believe that
grieving and lamentation
are symptoms of despair.
Not so!
Only the hopeless are silent
in the face of calamity—
silenced because they no
longer aspire even to be heard,
much less heeded. The labor
of lament, on the other hand,
is premised on the expectation
that grief’s rule will be bound
by the Advent of Another. Continue reading

Shoah

shoahFrom Ken Sehested of Prayer & Politiks:

Yom HaShoah (aka “Holocaust Remembrance Day,” more formally “Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day”) is observed one week after the end of Passover, this year beginning at sundown on Wednesday 15 April, the date linked to the anniversary of the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto uprising. Increasingly, the word Shoah (“calamity”) is preferred because holocaust has historical roots in the Hebrew word olah, meaning “completely burnt offering to God,” with the implication that Jews and other “undesirables” murdered by the Nazis during World War II were a sacrifice to God…

Sehested included this powerful quote from Etty Hillesum, a Dutch Jew, Hillesum who died at age 29 in Auschwitz, the Nazi concentration camp, in 1943:

I have looked our destruction, our miserable end, straight in the eye and accepted it into my life, and my love of life has not been diminished. I am not bitter or rebellious, or in any way discouraged. . . . My life has been extended by death, by accepting destruction as part of life and no longer wasting my energies on fear of death or refusal to acknowledge its inevitability. It sounds paradoxical: by excluding death from our life we cannot live a full life, and by admitting death into our life we enlarge and enrich it.

The Real St. Valentine

ValentineFrom Ken Sehested on his wonderfully illuminating Prayer & Politiks site. Subscribe to his weekly e-newsletter here.
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Every year, prior to Valentine’s Day (celebrated in a surprising number of countries), children in our church create homemade Valentine’s cards to send to inmates, observing St. Valentine’s Day as the occasion to remember those in prison. Here is a little background.

While the existence of St. Valentine is not in doubt—archeologists have unearthed a chapel built in his honor—reliable accounts of his life are scarce. Which is why, in 1969, the Vatican removed St. Valentine from its official list of feasts.
Continue reading

Advent Longing

light-in-the-darknessFrom author and activist Ken Sehested, a resident of the French Broad watershed of the Southern Appalachian Mountains in Asheville, NC. Ken just launched a subversively informative site called Prayer & Politiks:

Oh Wondrous One, Who rides the skies and consorts with the earth— haunting the heavens, hounding mere mortals with the expectation of ecstasy—come and rouse hungry hearts with the aroma of your Presence.

Let the song of angels sound again, announcing glory to God and peace for the earth.

Give your people wombs of welcome to the news of reversal: the annulment of enmity and the Advent of promise.

Let every lip echo the jubilant manifesto of creation’s destiny with justice and with joy.

Set our hearts on the edge of our seats, shivering in hope, longing, longing for the age when bitter memory dissolves into Magnificat.

Holy One of heaven, mark these dark nights with the brilliance of your star to guide emissaries of exclaiming grace.

The grace of contradiction and scandal to the insolent innkeepers of this age.

The grace of blessing and bounty to the indigent, and to all who find no lasting home save in the age to come.