Pilgrim Pathways: Notes for a Diaspora People

Incarnational Discipleship

Pentecostal Passion: A Poem by Ken Sehested

My friend, Rev. Ken Sehested, is a bit of an odd duck. (No wonder we’re friends. 🙂 ) A Texas Baptist by conviction and upbringing, he swam upstream enough to quit football when a student at Baylor so that he could devote more time to his studies! (A male athlete voluntarily quitting FOOTBALL–the REAL dominant religion of the South–in order to be more studious is unheard of in the South. In Texas, the debate would be over whether to call in the psychiatrists or begin a heresy trial!) He then bucked tradition further by studying for the ministry NOT in one of the six Southern Baptist seminaries, but in the ecumenical Union Theological Seminary, a school with a reputation for liberalism in that most un-Southern of places, NEW YORK CITY! He not only married a woman minister (Rev. Nancy Hastings Sehested), but put her calling first–moving to her pastoral placements in Atlanta, then Memphis, and, finally, Asheville, SC.  Ken was the founding Director of the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America and led that fine organization for two decades. Today, is one third of a co-equal pastoral team (along with Joyce Hollyday and Nancy Hastings Sehested) of the ecumenical congregation, Circle of Mercy, in Asheville, NC–a self-declared peace church jointly affiliated with the United Church of Christ and the Alliance of Baptists.  Ken is also a poet and writer on theologically-related topics.  This poem of Ken’s was inspired by his study of Ezekiel 34:1-14; Acts 2:17; Romans 8:22.

Pentecostal Passion

Pentecostal power has little to do with

exaggerated religious emotion. But

such power, when granted,

has everything to do

with passion, with conviction.

It’s not your head that

you lose4–it’s your heart,

which falls head-over-heals

in love with the vision of dry bones

re-sinewed and aspired to life.

When such power erupts, they

probably will call you crazy.

“Have you lost your mind?!”

Yes, we will say, because

these days the mind has

become acclimated to a culture

of war; has become inured to

the ravages of poverty in a culture

of obesity; has become numb

to ecological wreckage.

When Pentecostal power erupts, all

heaven’s gonna break loose.

The boundaries will be compromised;

barriers will be broken; and

borders will be breached.

Economies of privilege will be fractured

and the politics of enmity will be impeached.

The revenge of the Beloved is the

reversal of Babel’s bequest.

“I will pour out my Spirit,”

says the LORD; Poured out

not for escape to another

world beyond the sky but

here, amid the dust. Poured out

not on disembodied spirits but

“upon all flesh.”  It is to the

agony of abandonment that Heaven

is aroused.  Queer the One Who

fashions a future for the disfavored.

The groaning of creation is both

an ache and an assurance.  We

dare not insulate ourselves from

the one, lest we be deafened to

the other.  Birth is at work.

Though the labor is prolonged,

provision is tendered.

Pentecostal power is the wherewithal

by which we wager our lives on

the surety of this promise.


Ken Sehested

August 13, 2011 - Posted by | Biblical interpretation, liturgy, peace, Pentecost, poetry, worship

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