Sacramental Operative in a Sullied World

KenBy Ken Sehested, originally published last month at Ethics Daily, a publication of the Baptist Center for Ethics

We need to recognize, and adjust in appropriate ways, to the
fact that we humans maintain a perverse fascination with
disaster. I’ll leave it to psychologists to explain why, precisely;
but this habit is easily illustrated: From “rubber-necking” on
the highway (slowing down to view the scene of a wreck), to
the media’s 24/7 coverage of hurricane news. We rarely recall
the car trips made without incident, or the sunny days that
predominate in the Bahamas’ and Outer Banks’ weather
patterns. Continue reading

In Praise of Ordinary Days

Ken SehestedBy Ken Sehested

A meditation on Ordinary Time on the church’s liturgical calendar

“He who would do good to another must do it in Minute Particulars.”—William Blake

When people of faith speak of God, and how the love of God leads to the flourishing of souls and soil alike, such language appears on the surface as something being done to us, as from the outside.

Merely being acted upon—being objectified—hints at coercion, manipulation, feeble dependency, indignity. As if we are to be kept in chains and, moreover, taught to love those chains—lovely as they may appear, but chains, nonetheless. As if we are merely utensils in a cosmic drama. As if we are chess pieces on a divine board game. Continue reading

Dad’s “Heart Shield” Bible

By Ken Sehested

Pictured below is my Dad’s “Heart Shield” Bible, a copy of the New Testament on to which a metal plate front cover has been attached. The engraved cover, now smudged by corrosion, reads “May this keep you safe from harm.” It was sold by the Know Your Bible Sales Company of Cincinnati, Ohio, manufactured by the Whitman Publishing Company, Racine, Wisconsin, and was designed to fit into a soldier’s uniform shirt pocket. Multiple stories exist of soldiers reportedly spared serious injury when bullets struck this tiny piece of body armor.

Dad's _Shield and New Testament_

An inscription inside the cover indicates that Dad’s sister, my Aunt Juanita, gave him this gift. No date is listed, but it was sometime before Dad landed with the first wave of soldiers storming Omaha Beach in the June 1944 Allies’ D-Day invasion on the French coast in World War II. Dad was among the fortunate survivors, though he carried for the remainder of his life a piece of German artillery shrapnel embedded in bone behind his right ear. Continue reading

Eastertide: the Outing of the Church

KenBy Ken Sehested (photo right with grandchildren), curator of prayerandpolitiks.org

Some years ago, writing in the days leading up to Easter, I realized important though tragic anniversaries arrived in the days immediately following that Sunday.

“Even before our resurrection flowers have wilted, we will be confronted again with the presence of evil. Since Easter falls early in the calendar this year, in the coming resurrection week we will be forced to remember the enduring power of death. In 1945, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor and theologian, was executed by the Nazis two days after Easter Sunday. This next Thursday, April 4, we will remember the 1968 assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. right here in Memphis.” —continue reading “Open Letter to My Daughter: Easter morning, with the stench of death still in the air

What it is

We have entered Eastertide, the liturgical season beginning with Easter and ending 50 days later on Pentecost (aka Whitsunday). The formulation of this season parallels the period in Judaism between the first day of Pesach (Passover, marking their liberation from Egypt) and the feast of Shavu’ot (Feast of Weeks, both a harvest festival and a commemoration of the giving of Torah at Mount Sinai). Parallel resurrection moments, setting the stage for resulting resurrection movements. Continue reading

For What Do We Hope

Ken SehestedBy Ken Sehested (right with grandchildren), whose fluency tends toward poetic expression, in response to our 2019 question, “What is your definition of radical discipleship?”

 “Always be ready to make your defense to anyone
who demands from you an accounting for the hope
that is in you: yet do it in gentleness and reverence.”
—1 Peter 3:15-16

To your feet, you pilgrims of faith’s long journey! Stand and pledge your allegiance to that nation-supplanting Realm to come.

For what do we hope?

We hope for the Beloved’s Promise to overtake the world’s broken-hearted threat. Continue reading

Send me

imagesBy Ken Sehested

It was a time of great turmoil in the land. The Spirit of God bypassed all the famous leaders and came to me with a dream.

And I saw the Ruler of All Creation sitting on a throne, high and lofty, with majesty filling the sky as far as the eye could see.

Angels filled the air, shouting, “Holy, holy, holy! Just and Righteous and Merciful is God’s name!” Continue reading