Articles, Essays & Sermons

Lovers in Dangerous Times

Ken Sehested
Text: Romans 8:12-25

“We are lovers in dangerous times.” —Bruce Cochburn

“Faith is not belief in spite of the evidence. Faith is life lived in scorn of the consequences.” —Clarence Jordan Read more ›

Carpe Noctem—Seize the Night

The struggle for spiritual vision in a dark time

by Ken Sehested
Texts: Psalm 181-11; Habakkuk 1:1-11; Revelation 12:1-18
Sermon for the annual joint worship service of FOCUS, an ecumenical, congregationally-based community ministry, Albany, NY, 23 November 2003.

         Earlier this fall I was asked to address a gathering of Christians on the of “peacemaking in a post-9/11 world.” Let me begin here as I did there, with a reminder of an earlier policy which has helped bring us to where we are—struggling for spiritual vision in a dark time. The “Kennan Doctrine,” as it is now called, was articulated in 1948 shortly after the very first use of weapons of mass destruction. It was written by George Kennan who directed the U.S. State Department’s planning staff and was later credited as the intellectual architect of the “Cold War” with the Soviet Union.

         "We have about 50% of the world's wealth but only 6.3% of its population.  This disparity is particularly great as between ourselves and the peoples of Asia.  In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment.  Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security.  To do so we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and day-dreaming; and our attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives.... Read more ›

The Promise of Pentecost

A sermon for Pentecost

by Ken Sehested
Texts: Acts 2:1-21; Ezekiel 37:1-14; Romans 8:22-23

      Word association: What images or associations come to your mind when you hear the word “Pentecostal”?

      Three texts intersect for today’s service: Read more ›

The Worst Alternate Ending Ever

The story of Jonah

Sermon by Ken Sehested

      Along with the weekly columns for my online journal, I’m also slowly adding other material I’ve written in the past. Back in February I decided to add four columns I wrote for the Asheville Citizen-Times a dozen years ago: one just prior to my last trip to Iraq and three written while I was in Baghdad. I left on that three-week trip in early February 2003, shepherding the last group of volunteers with Christian Peacemaker Teams to enter the country prior to the US “shock and awe” invasion.

      One of the most unusual stories from that trip started with dinner one evening at the hotel where I stayed. I sat down to eat with Charles, another team member, who had been in Baghdad several weeks. As we finished, he casually asked me, “Would you like to go bowling tonight?”

      Bowling? In Baghdad?! On the verge of a massive invasion?!? (“Bowling in Baghdad” sounds like a Jon Stewart Daily Show skit.) Read more ›

A brief history of Mother’s Day

by Ken Sehested

Mother’s Day is celebrated in many cultures. Although others are given credit for founding the observance, Julia Ward Howe led in establishing what some believe to be the first observance of Mother’s Day in the U.S. (2 June 1872) after witnessing the carnage of the U.S. Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War in Europe. The Mother’s Day festival, she wrote, “should be devoted to the advocacy of peace doctrines.”

Born in New York City in 1819, Howe—author of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic”—was a published poet, author, and advocate of better treatment for prisoners and those living with mental and physical disabilities.

Howe’s concept of Mother’s Day was considerably different from today’s celebration. Her idea was to mobilize women as agents of resistance against the policies that led to injustice and war. In her Reminiscences she wrote: “Why do not the mothers of mankind interfere in these matters, to prevent the waste of human life which they alone bear and know the cost?” Realizing it would require fundamental change to end war, she later wrote: “Let the fact of human brotherhood be taught to the babe in the cradle, let it be taught to the despot on the throne. Let it be the basis and foundation of education and legislation. . . .” Read more ›