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Jesus wasn’t lynched because he talked about getting right with God

A Holy Week meditation*

by Ken Sehested
Maundy Thursday 2019

        The week beginning with Palm Sunday and ending with Easter Eve is arguably the most volatile and conflicted period on the liturgical calendar. Even the lectionary suggestions for Scripture readings gives the options of celebrating a coronation or lamenting a crucifixion. Do we give priority to the cross or the crown?

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The war in Yemen

Why it matters*

by Ken Sehested
*For more background, see the 11 April 2019 (No. 190) issue of “Signs of the Times.”

        The news was easy to miss. I saw it in several media, but never “above the fold” or in the opening lineup of topics for cable news shows. And there is reason to debate how significant the news is, depending on your level of political optimism or pessimism.

        But the fact that Congress recently voted to exercise its never-before-used War Powers Act to cut off US funding for the Saudi-led  war in Yemen is at least unusual. The face that both the House and the Senate approved the measure is significant; though the margin in the Senate makes it unlikely they can override an anticipated veto by President Trump.

        Created in 1973, after the disclosure of a mountain of governmental lies deployed to sustain the war in Vietnam, the Act was supposed to return to Congress the constitutional mandate for declaring war. The Act has gathered dust ever since, despite the fact that the US has undertaken military action in at least 14 countries since then, including the war in Afghanistan, which has now lasted nearly as long as all our other wars combined. Read more ›

The imposition of Ash Wednesday

by Ken Sehested

           The imposition of Ash Wednesday, inaugurating the practice of Lenten lament, is the preparation for and anticipation of the exultation of Easter Morning.

            The ashen smudge is not accusation but recognition of our frenzied and frantic efforts at braggadocios living; it is the call to reclaim our true selves in the leisure of Sabbath’s composure aligned with Creation’s intent.

            To live in this sort of leisure, this sort of rest, comes by acknowledging Creation’s gravitational sway on history’s alignment with the Creator’s assignment. Read more ›

What a friend

The influence—for good and ill—of the Wesleyan tradition of faith

by Ken Sehested

Correction. In the original post of this commentary, I mistakenly attributed authorship
of "What a Friend We Have In Jesus." The correct author is Joseph M. Scriven.
That's a big goof on my part—but an instructive one, since the story behind
Scriven's writing is a dramatic and compelling narrative. I've posted
a summary at the bottom of this page.

The recent decision by the United Methodist Church policymakers to retain (and harden) its rejection of lgbtq pastors and matrimonial blessings is, for many inside and out of that confessional body, a bitter pill. The news prompted me to push everything aside and compose a pastoral note. (“A humble word of encouragement to my Wesleyan friends: On the United Methodist Church’s General Conference decision to ostracize queerfolk") Read more ›

A humble word of encouragement to my Wesleyan friends

On the United Methodist Church’s General Conference decision to ostracize queerfolk

by Ken Sehested
24 February 2019

Today’s hard news from the United Methodist General Conference made me remember something a friend (and United Methodist pastor) wrote some years ago about another travesty in the Wesleyan tradition.

“John Wesley recognized such violence hidden in the clean and tidy profits of slave traders and owners. He exposed it, addressing them with the fire of a prophet: ‘Thy hands, thy bed, thy furniture, thy house, thy lands are at present stained with blood.’ Read more ›