Articles, Essays & Sermons

Imagination and transformation

Do not be conformed

by Ken Sehested

            Imagination is one of our age’s feel-good words, and if you use it (and I do, a lot), first pause to consider the term’s shadow side.

            Imaginary, a linguistic cousin, can be used to describe a life removed from the vicissitudes of history, e.g., pipe dreams sprinkled with pixie dust, also known as magical thinking. To call such living childish is an insult to children. Imagination is not escapism. Spiritual life is not evacuation to another world.

            Also, imagination is not exempt from human manipulation for domineering purposes. Scientific and technological imagination created weapons of mass destruction and facilitated the rapacious assault on the ecosphere. We now live in what is now being called the Anthropocene, the epoch when human extraction from the biosphere exceeds nature’s capacity for replenishment. Read more ›

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 1 March 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 ›

Epiphany of the Lord

Commentary on Ephesians 3:1-12

by Ken Sehested

(From "Feasting on the Word: Year C, Volume 1," David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor, editors. Westminister John Knox Press, 2009)

Although the Apostle doesn’t use epiphany (“manifestation”) in this text, he likely had something similar on his mind. Something new has happened in Jesus. Better yet, the Word—God’s “eternal purpose” (v. 11)—can now be “seen” (v. 9) in ways previously unimagined. This “mystery” is news even to the heavenly hosts (v. 10). There is something of a Copernican Revolution underway. The entire universe of God’s Providence has been revised: not only in the context of a Roman imperial venue (the Apostle is again writing from jail) but also in the redemptive story centered in Israel’s promise.

In the church’s history, Epiphany has three traditions. One is to commemorate Jesus’ baptism. Another, signifying his birth. And the third, the arrival of the magi, of “We Three Kings” fame, so often enacted in annual congregational Christmas pageants by children in bathrobes. In each case, though, the context inaugurates a confrontation with the way things are, between the Incarnate One and those who presently define reality. Read more ›