Articles, Essays & Sermons

Pulling back the veil: The call to penitential living

(In light of the 50th anniversary of the My Lai massacre)

Ken Sehested
Circle of Mercy, Asheville NC
18 March 2018
Texts: Psalm 51:10-19, Jeremiah 6:14-15

         Most of you know I’m a pretty mild mannered sort of guy. I was reared to be nice. “Y’all be nice” was what my parents said any time I went out. Occasionally they would say “y’all be good.” But we were never told “y’all be truthful.”

         Being truthful is not always nice. And tonight I’ve decided to come out swinging. Read more ›

Plastic Jesus

A Lenten meditation on plastic

by Ken Sehested

        My wife’s eyebrows first raised, then furrowed, when I answered her question, “What’s your column focus for this week?

        “Plastic,” I said.

        I knew immediately from her response that I needed to do some explaining as to why, in the middle of Lent, plastic is a relevant topic. [For more on this, see the 28 February 2018 edition of “Signs of the Times.”] Read more ›

The Ties That Bind

The Integrity of Penitence, on the 50th Anniversary of the Massacre at My Lai

Ken Sehested

The following essay appears in a worship resource packet, "A Penitential Opportunity," created for (and soon to be available from) the Vietnam Peace Commemoration Committee to call attention to the 50th anniversary of the 16 March 1968 massacre by US troops of more than 500 civilians in My Lai, Vietnam.


"Concealment makes the soul a swamp. Confession is how you drain it."
Read more ›

Thirty-five interesting facts about Cuba and its US relations

To commemorate US President Barack Obama’s stunning announcement on 17 December 2014 of executive action reestablishing formal diplomatic relations with Cuba, here are a few facts that might surprise.

by Ken Sehested

1. The worlds’ smallest hummingbird and smallest frog are found in Cuba.

2. Christmas did not become an official holiday in Cuba until 1997.

3. Cuba sent more medical professionals to combat the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa than any other country. Read more ›

Epiphany: The queerness of God

A sermon for Epiphany Sunday

by Ken Sehested
Text: Matthew 2:1-12

            It wouldn’t surprise me if you’ve never heard of the Naga people, whose ancestral homeland straddles the border area of northeast India, southern China and northwest Burma. In the early 19th century, when British colonizers exerted control over the region, the Nagas were the one people they were never able to fully subdue. The Nagas were known as fierce warriors, and in fact they were headhunters until the first Christian missionaries reached them in the mid-19th century. Naga history before this period is unwritten and barely known; more than likely they migrated from the area now known as Mongolia.

            Ever since the British were expelled from India in 1947, there has been a low-intensity war going on in Northeast India. The Naga people actually declared their independence from Britain one day before the new Indian government did so. Both Gandhi and Nehru, the first Indian premier, promised independence for the Nagas. That promised was never kept, and the region has seen sporadic civil war ever since. What makes it even more complicated is the fact that the Naga political party suffered several splits, so that now there are four rival parties, two of which have substantial guerilla armies—often shooting at each other as much as fighting Indian security forces. Read more ›