Articles, Essays & Sermons

Commentary on Colossians 3:12-17

1st Sunday after Christmas Day, Year C

by Ken Sehested

 

        Mohandas Gandhi is popularly known as one who confronted empires. Yet those who knew him, or have studied him since, acknowledge the Mahatma spoke often of a more complex struggle against tyranny. The conflict is not only with the British, he would say, but also within our own communities and “with myself.”  The Pauline vision generally, and the specific pastoral advice in this text, is rooted in just such a multidimensional understanding of reconciliation. There’s a seamlessness to the task which communities of faith are forever separating and assigning graded priority.

        Empires do dominate, then as now. But such domination has its claws in us, too. Which is why the struggle is not merely against “flesh and blood”—against particular personalities or ideologies which guide the beastly ravaging of governing regimes. The struggle is also against what Paul elsewhere spoke of as “principalities and powers,” the spirit of those regimes whose cunning capacity transcends political structures. We, too, who claim allegiance to God’s Reign, are standing in the need of prayer. Read more ›

The contentious legacy of George H.W. Bush as mirror of our conflicted national soul

by Ken Sehested

        “I’ve slept since then.” That’s my Mom’s go-to line when trying, unsuccessfully, to remember something. After 90 trips around the sun, she says it more frequently.

        “I’ve slept since then” also describes much of the public’s waning attention to the life and legacy of President George H.W. Bush. Given the information overload of our 24/7 news cycles and multiplicity of sources, that marker in our nation’s history is just so yesterday.

        By and large, media arbiters were flush with floral bouquets in their remembrance of the elder Bush. By large consensus, he was a genuinely kind, honest, generous, and loyal man in his interpersonal affairs. Read more ›

Bold confession amid bitter complaint

Sermon anchored in Job 23:1-17, Psalm 22:1-15, Hebrews 4:12-16 & Mark 10:17-31

by Ken Sehested
Circle of Mercy Congregation, Sunday, 12 October 2003
Texts: Job 23:1-17; Ps. 22:1-15; Heb. 4:12-16; Mark 10:17-31

This summer I learned from a mutual friend that William Sloan Coffin is dying. His doctor has given him a year.

Some of you know of Bill’s legacy: a CIA operative who got saved, began a ministerial career as the Chaplain at Yale University and from that post undertook a nationally-recognized leadership role in the movement to end the war in Vietnam; then, for many years, the beloved pastor as Riverside Church in New York City. Read more ›

Old Wounds, New Visions

Sermon anchored in Job 1:1, 2:1-10

by Ken Sehested
Circle of Mercy Congregation, 8 October 2006
Text: Job 1:1; 2:1-10

            Several things converged to inform my reflection this evening. One is that I simply want to take advantage of the wake of Marc Mullinax’s excellent sermon last week, when he preached on the topic “This I disbelieve.” Disbelieving is a crucial part of our vocation, as Marc so eloquently said. Afterward, I remembered a quote I heard years ago: The reason ancient Rome oppressed the early Christian community was not because Christians proclaimed that “Jesus is Lord.” The Roman authorities were actually quite tolerant of a variety of religious expressions. The thing that got them mad is that when Christians say “Jesus is Lord,” they were also saying “Caesar is NOT Lord.” In Rome, as in lots of places, it’s OK to be religious as long as you don’t threaten the existing order.

            So I decided to flip the coin over to talk about “This I Believe.” As Marc and all our teachers know, students sometimes have to “unlearn” certain things in order for good learning to occur. In the same way, “disbelieving” is integral to deciding what we do in fact believe. Read more ›