Articles, Essays & Sermons

We Say No, Again

Baiting Iran toward a dangerous collision

 by Ken Sehested
15 January 2012

        On the first Sunday on Lent in 2007, when tensions between the US and Iran were escalating, Circle of Mercy Congregation unanimously adopted a statement (“We Say No: A Christian statement in opposition to war with Iran—see below”) opposing an attack on Iran. With the recent assassination of another Iranian scientist—the fourth to be targeted in the past two years—tensions between our two countries are again at a boiling point.

      This is an appropriate time, on this observance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, to reaffirm our earlier convictions. Read more ›

“The Top 10 Reasons You Know It’s the Sunday After Easter”

Sermon by Ken Sehested
Texts: Hosea 6: 1-3, Luke 24: 36-53

Every now and then I stay up late enough to catch David Letterman's talk show. You Letterman fans know about his "Top Ten" list which he does each evening. He starts with some kind of zany statement or conclusion to a question and then lists ten possible and equally zany variations of questions that fit the conclusion.

Well, I've got my own "Top Ten" list. Question: How can you tell it's the Sunday after Easter? Read more ›

Open Letter to My Daughter

Easter morning, with the stench of death still in the air

by Ken Sehested
Eastertide 1991

Background. In 1991, after hearing that the bombing had begun in Iraq, I knew I had to respond—respond in a way like never before. After discussing it with my family and then with a clearness committee of trusted friends, I began a bread-and-water fast. It started on Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, and lasted until Easter morning.

To prepare for the breaking of the fast I invited friends in Memphis to join me in a sunrise eucharistic service at the “Yellow Fever Martyrs Memorial and Mass Grave” park (right) on the banks of the Mississippi River, honoring those who died while tending the sick during several yellow fever epidemics that swept through the city in the 1870s. I asked my oldest daughter, 14 years old at the time, to preside at the meal. During the following week I wrote her the following open letter to further interpret the season just past. Read more ›

If You Do Well: The Vanity of Vengeance and the Restoration of Righteousness

by Ken Sehested
Texts: Genesis 4:1-16; Psalm 133; Matthew 18:1-22

        "Why do we kill people to show that killing people is wrong?"

        The logic of that bumper-sticker aphorism sounds so simple. Is it simplistic? If you think so, ponder this more complex quote in 1994 by former Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun, who died earlier this year: Read more ›

Confrontation in Jerusalem

by Ken Sehested
Mark 11:1-11

This week we come to the dramatic events of Lent’s finale. Holy Week. Jesus’ so-called triumphal entry into Jerusalem. In order to figure out where this parade is taking us, we need to remember some clues that have been given earlier in the story.

The first thing we need to remember is that the nativity stories of Jesus’ birth were not originally sung as lullabies. Rather, they were provocative hints at the political intrigue unfolding with the birth in Bethlehem. Read more ›