Articles, Essays & Sermons

Trouble is where we go

A sermon for Lent, following the death of my Mom

by Ken Sehested
Circle of Mercy Congregation, first Sunday of Lent 2020
Text: Matthew 4:1-11

(The first draft was written late night of 25 February 2020, Shrove Tuesday, following the death of my Mom early that morning.)

“Isn’t there anything you understand?
It’s from the ash heap God is seen.
Read more ›

14 tentative conclusions on the U.S. presidential primary process

by Ken Sehested

1. Save us, Lord Jesus.

2. We reap what we sow. We have not sown righteously. Looking through a wide lens, we citizens really do get the politicians we deserve. We need to prepare for the possibility that things will get worse before it gets better—regardless of November’s election results.

3. We invest far too much in what happens in Washington, DC, or state capitols, or county seats, or city commissions. Long-term change begins with grunt work in neighborhoods. All politics—as former House Speaker Tip O’Neill said a lifetime ago—is local. Systemic change is dependent on the patient, persevering work of shifting the conversation in nearby streets. Read more ›

What to do when your grandchild’s Sunday school teacher is arrested?

by Ken Sehested

“Oh Lord, I’ve made you a place in my heart,
and I hope now you leave it alone.”
—Greg Brown, sung by Dar Williams, Richard Shindell & Lucy Kaplansky

It’s not what you think. (The arrest.) Nothing salacious or seedy here. My friend BJ was handcuffed for committing an act of civil disobedience to call attention to our worsening climate crisis. Read more ›

A Broadman Hymnal story

by Ken Sehested

The story begins on a Saturday, before dawn, while still in high school. I began my 12-hour shift of pumping gas, doing oil changes, and washing cars in my hometown along the South Louisiana bayous.

First thing when we opened was to transfer product displays and stacks of new tires outside. The radio was on—the station owner loved the Cajun and Zydeco music on the local station. Then the music stopped, momentarily, for a bit of news. The announcer was saying something about Martin Luther King Jr.

“That Martin Luther Coon, he ain’t no Christian,” Mr. Dediveaux muttered toward the radio in an emphatically derogatory tone. “Everywhere he go there’s trouble.” Read more ›

Hearts over heads

A Reformation Sunday story

by Ken Sehested

My wife Nancy and I were jointly ordained on Reformation Sunday, 1981, at Oakhurst Baptist Church in Decatur, Georgia. As you might guess, the choice of the date was intentional—not simply to align ourselves to that dissenting ecclesial movement of a half-millennium ago, but to affirm that the community of faith is always and everywhere called to reform and refine its vision and mission, to realign itself at the intersection of the abiding Word and the ever-shape-shifting words whose purpose are to confuse and deceive and vandalize the common good.

The days leading up to that Sunday were glad ones, with one misgiving. My parents made a long car trip to be present for the occasion, and we didn’t know how my traditional-minded Dad was going to take being present for a woman’s ordination.

There was no doubt that he adored Nancy—elegant, funny, generous, not to mention beautiful. In fact, Dad’s opinion of me improved significantly when we married. He would never say as much, but I imagined him thinking, “If a quality person like Nancy thinks he’s pretty good, my boy must be OK.” Read more ›