Thursday, September 23, 2021

Queerying 18th after Pentecost B

ID: a white magen David on a golden yellow background says "Happy Purim". There are two large round lollipops in the lower right hand corner.
River Needham, MA ThM queeries the Tanakh reading.

Tanakh: Esther 7:1-6, 9-10; 9:20-22
So the king and Haman came to feast with Queen Esther.

On the second day, the king again asked Esther at the wine feast, “What is your wish, Queen Esther? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to half the kingdom, it shall be fulfilled.”

Queen Esther replied: “If Your Majesty will do me the favor, and if it pleases Your Majesty, let my life be granted me as my wish, and my people as my request. For we have been sold, my people and I, to be destroyed, massacred, and exterminated. Had we only been sold as bondspeople, I would have kept silent; for the adversary is not worthy of the king’s trouble.”

Thereupon King Ahasuerus demanded of Queen Esther, “Who is he and where is he who dared to do this?”

“The adversary and enemy,” replied Esther, “is this evil Haman!” And Haman cringed in terror before the king and the queen.


Then Harbonah, one of the eunuchs in attendance on the king, said, “What is more, a stake is standing at Haman’s house, fifty cubits high, which Haman made for Mordecai—the man whose words saved the king.” “Impale him on it!” the king ordered.

So they impaled Haman on the stake which he had put up for Mordecai, and the king’s fury abated.


Two chapters later

Mordecai recorded these events. He sent dispatches to all the Jews throughout the provinces of King Ahasuerus, near and far, charging them to observe the fourteenth and fifteenth days of Adar, every year— the same days on which the Jews enjoyed relief from their foes and the same month which had been transformed for them from one of grief and mourning to one of festive joy. They were to observe them as days of feasting and merrymaking, and as an occasion for sending gifts to one another and presents to the poor.

Queeries for the text:
What is missing from this text?
Why did Haman want to kill the Jews?
How is this celebrated today?
When is genocide okay?
How are Jews oppressed today?


Queerying Mark 9:38-50
ID: Shells&Emotions @anna_bayla posts "My favorite bible story is when instead of telling women to dress modestly, Jesus tells his dudes to avoid lust by plucking their eyes out". This is followed by further commentary challenging victim blaming and calling people to responsibility for their own feelings.
What are your queeries?

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Queerying 17th after Pentecost B

ID: the Boov from the movie Home is visible in six panels immitating what is listed: He's a frog, He's a salesman, He's a letterbox, He's a fugitive, He's an optimist, He's a pessimist.  Along the bottom, the image reads: And the Boov says HUMANS are complicated!

Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Gospel reading.

Gospel: Mark 9:30-37
30Jesus and his chosen family went on from there and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know it; 31for he was teaching his chosen family, saying to them, “The Human One is to be betrayed into human institutions, and they will execute him, and three days after being executed, the Human One will rise again.” 32But they did not understand what Jesus was saying and were afraid to ask him. 

33Then they came to Capernaum; and when Jesus was in the house he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” 34But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. 35Jesus sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.”

36Then Jesus took a little child and put them among his chosen family; and taking them in his arms, Jesus said to the chosen family, 37“Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”

Queeries for the text:
Where are they coming from?
Who is the Human One?  What makes them human?
How are human institutions involved in betrayal?
Why were they afraid to ask?
How do children receive welcome?

What are your queeries?


Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Queerying 16th after Pentecost B

River Needham, MA ThM queeries the Tanakh reading.

ID: Sophia with dark skin, sitting between two pillars in the style of the Waite-Smith High Priestess.

Tanakh: Proverbs 1:20-33
Wisdom cries aloud in the streets,
raises her voice in the squares.

At the head of the busy streets she calls;
at the entrance of the gates, in the city, she speaks out:

“How long will you simple ones love simplicity,
you scoffers be eager to scoff, you willfully ignorant hate knowledge?

You are indifferent to my rebuke;
I will now speak my mind to you, and let you know my thoughts.

Since you refused me when I called,
and paid no heed when I extended my hand,

you spurned all my advice,
and would not hear my rebuke,

I will laugh at your calamity,
and mock when terror comes upon you,

When terror comes like a disaster, and calamity arrives like a whirlwind,
When trouble and distress come upon you.

Then they shall call me but I will not answer;
they shall seek me but not find me.

Because they hated knowledge,
and did not choose fear of the Becoming One;

They refused my advice,
and disdained all my rebukes,

They shall eat the fruit of their ways,
and have their fill of their own counsels.

The tranquillity of the simple will kill them,
and the complacency of the willfully ignorant will destroy them.

But she who listens to me will dwell in safety,
untroubled by the terror of misfortune.”

Queeries for the text:
Who is Wisdom?
What advice and rebukes are being rejected and ignored?
What is the terror of misfortune?
Does God punish us?


Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Gospel reading.
ID: a purple ribbon, known to represent domestic violence victims and survivors is visible in its characteristic loop.
Gospel: Mark 8:27-38
27Jesus went on with his chosen family to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his chosen family, “Who do people say that I am?”

28And they answered Jesus, “John the Baptizer; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”

29Jesus asked them, “But who do you say that I am?”

Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.”

30And Jesus sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him. 31Then Jesus began to teach them that the Human One must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the religious authorities, and the legal authorities, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32He said all this quite openly. And Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him.

33But turning and looking at his chosen family, Jesus rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”

34Jesus called the crowd with his chosen family, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. 36For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? 37Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? 38Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Human One will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Caregiver with the holy angels.”

Queeries for the text:
What did we skip?
Why John the Baptizer, Elijah, or one of the prophets?
What is a messiah?
Who "must" undergo great suffering?
What does it mean to deny yourself and take up your cross?  What doesn't it mean?
Who gains the world to lose life?
What does it mean to be ashamed?  What doesn't it mean?

What are your queeries?


Thursday, September 2, 2021

Queerying 15th after Pentecost B

River Needham, MA ThM queeries the Tanakh reading.

ID: a clothes hanger, with text that reads "Warning: This is not a surgical instrument. Keep abortion safe and legal."

Tanakh: Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23
Repute is preferable to great wealth,
Grace is better than silver and gold.

Rich human and poor human meet;
The Becoming One made them both.


The one who sows injustice shall reap misfortune;
Their rod of wrath shall fail.

The generous one is blessed,
For she gives of her bread to the poor.


Do not rob the wretched because ze is wretched;
Do not crush the poor human in the gate;

For the Becoming One will take up their cause
And despoil those who despoil them of life.

Queeries for the text:
What is missing? Why?
What is grace?
When will the rich and poor meet?
What does it mean to give bread to the poor?
Who are the poor and wretched?
What gates are crushing the poor?
What does it mean to despoil of life?


Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Gospel reading.

Gospel: Mark 7:24-37
24From there Jesus set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, 25but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about Jesus, and she came and bowed down at his feet. 26Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27Jesus said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.”

28But she answered Jesus, “Your Honor, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”

29Then Jesus said to her, “For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter.” 30So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.

31Then Jesus returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. 32The crowd brought to Jesus a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. 33Jesus took the man aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. 34Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” 35And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly.

36Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 37They were astounded beyond measure, saying, “Jesus has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”

Queeries for the text:
Who else cannot escape notice?
Who are syrophoenicians?
Who else are dogs?
Who bests whom in this battle of wits?
Who brought the deaf man to Jesus?
When do we need privacy?
When do we respond with challenge?
How is society responsible for ableism?
Who is stuck with crumbs today?

What are your queeries?

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Queerying 14th after Pentecost B

River Needham, MA ThM queeries the Tanakh reading.

IDL a photograph of a bronze statue of David and Jonathan. An undressed man is undressing another man from behind.

Tanakh: Song of Solomon 2:8-13
Hark! My beloved! There she comes, leaping over mountains, bounding over hills. My beloved is like a gazelle or like a young stag. There she stands behind our wall, gazing through the window, peering through the lattice. My beloved spoke thus to me, “Arise, my darling; my fair one, come away! For now the winter is past, the rains are over and gone. The blossoms have appeared in the land, the time of pruning has come; the song of the turtledove is heard in our land. The green figs form on the fig tree, the vines in blossom give off fragrance. Arise, my darling; my fair one, come away!

Queeries for the text:
Who is my beloved?
Who speaks in this text?
What blossoms are we waiting for?
What are green figs?
What's going on?


Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Gospel reading.

ID: a two-year-old with pale skin, light brown hair, and rolled up sleeves holds a hand under a faucet of running water.

Gospel: Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23
Now when the religious authorities and lawyers who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus, 2they noticed that some of Jesus' chosen family were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them. 3(For the religious authorities, and all the Jewish people, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands, thus observing the tradition of the ancestors; 4and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it; and there are also many other traditions that they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles.) 5So the religious authorities and lawyers asked Jesus, “Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the ancestors, but eat with defiled hands?”

6Jesus said to them, “Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written,
‘This people honors me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me;
7in vain do they worship me,
teaching human precepts as doctrines.’
8You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.” 


14Then Jesus called the crowd again and said to them, “Listen to me, all of you, and understand: 15there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.”


21For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: immoral sex, theft, murder, 22adultery, greed and extortion, wickedness, deceit, shameless excess, envy, slander, pride, folly. 23All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

Queeries for the text:
What's missing?  How is it problematic?
What kind of handwashing is traditional?
How is washing good?
Why is Jesus so reactive towards these religious authorities? When else is Jesus reactive?
Which human traditions have taken over God's commands?
When else is defilement addressed?
What does immoral sex consist of?  Shameless excessEnvy?
What else defiles from within?

What are your queeries?


Thursday, August 19, 2021

Queerying 13th after Pentecost B

River Needham, MA ThM queeries the Tanakh reading.

ID: an oval sign that reads in white text on a light green background "Home" it is surrounded by hearts. The sign is hanging from a green cactus.

Tanakh: 1 Kings 8:22-30, 41-43
Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Becoming One in the presence of the whole community of Israel; he spread the palms of his hands toward heaven and said, “O Becoming God of Israel, in the heavens above and on the earth below there is no god like You, who keep Your gracious covenant with Your servants when they walk before You in wholehearted devotion; You who have kept the promises You made to Your servant, my father David, fulfilling with deeds the promise You made—as is now the case. And now, O Becoming God of Israel, keep the further promise that You made to Your servant, my father David: ‘Your line on the throne of Israel shall never end, if only your descendants will look to their way and walk before Me as you have walked before Me.’ Now, therefore, O God of Israel, let the promise that You made to Your servant my father David be fulfilled.

“But will God really dwell on earth? Even the heavens to their uttermost reaches cannot contain You, how much less this House that I have built! Yet turn, O Becoming One my God, to the prayer and supplication of Your servant, and hear the cry and prayer which Your servant offers before You this day. May Your eyes be open day and night toward this House, toward the place of which You have said, ‘My name shall abide there’; may You heed the prayers which Your servant will offer toward this place. And when You hear the supplications which Your servant and Your people Israel offer toward this place, give heed in Your heavenly abode—give heed and pardon.
“Or if a foreigner who is not of Your people Israel comes from a distant land for the sake of Your name— for they shall hear about Your great name and Your mighty hand and Your outstretched arm—when he comes to pray toward this House, oh, hear in Your heavenly abode and grant all that the foreigner asks You for. Thus all the peoples of the earth will know Your name and revere You, as does Your people Israel; and they will recognize that Your name is attached to this House that I have built.

Queeries for the text:
What's missing?
What house does this text talk about?
What is home?
How long did this temple stand?
Does this home exist today?
Where do you find home? How is it constructed?
How do we care for our home?


Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Gospel reading.

ID: a black and white print shows a person of African descent breaast feeding a child below a cross with a circle around it and the words *TAKE AND EAT*THIS IS MY BODY*
Gospel: John 6:56-69
Jesus continued:
56“Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. 57Just as the living Caregiver sent me, and I live because of the Caregiver, so whoever eats me will live because of me. 58This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.” 59Jesus said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum.

60When many of Jesus' community heard it, they said, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?”

61But Jesus, being aware that his community was complaining about it, said to them, “Does this offend you? 62Then what if you were to see the One Born of Woman ascending to where They were before? 63It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64But among you there are some who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him. 65And Jesus said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Caregiver.”

66Because of this many of Jesus' community turned back and no longer went about with him. 67So Jesus asked the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?”

68Simon Peter answered him, “Leader, to whom can we go? You have the words of everlasting life. 69We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”

Queeries for the text:
How do we eat people?
How do we drink blood?
What teaching is difficult for you?
Does cannibalism offend you?
How is flesh useful?
What doesn't Jesus know?
From what are you tempted to turn back?
To whom can we go?
What does Jesus taste like?

What are your queeries?

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Queerying 12th after Pentecost B

River Needham, MA ThM queeries the Tanakh reading.

ID: a statue of the deity El, stolen by academics from the Levant--now known as Syria, Palestine, and Israel--and currently held at the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois.

Tanakh: 1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14
So David slept with his ancestors, and he was buried in the City of David. The length of David’s reign over Israel was forty years: he reigned seven years in Hebron, and he reigned thirty-three years in Jerusalem, then Solomon sat upon the throne of his father David, and his rule was firmly established.
Then, Solomon, though he loved the Becoming One and followed the practices of his father David, also sacrificed and offered at the shrines. The king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, for that was the largest shrine; on that altar Solomon presented a thousand burnt offerings. At Gibeon the Becoming One appeared to Solomon in a dream by night.

God said, “Ask, what shall I grant you?”

Solomon said, “You dealt most graciously with Your servant my father David, because he walked before You in faithfulness and righteousness and in integrity of heart. You have continued this great kindness to him by giving him a son to occupy his throne, as is now the case. So now, O Becoming One, my God, You have made Your servant king in place of my father David; but I am a young lad, with no experience in leadership. Your servant finds himself in the midst of the people You have chosen, a people too numerous to be numbered or counted. Grant, then, Your servant an understanding mind to judge Your people, to distinguish between good and bad; for who can judge this vast people of Yours?”

The Becoming One was pleased that Solomon had asked for this.

God said to him, “Because you asked for this—you did not ask for long life, you did not ask for riches, you did not ask for the life of your enemies, but you asked for discernment in dispensing justice— I now do as you have spoken. I grant you a wise and discerning mind; there has never been anyone like you before, nor will anyone like you arise again. And I also grant you what you did not ask for—both riches and glory all your life—the like of which no king has ever had. And I will further grant you long life, if you will walk in My ways and observe My laws and commandments, as did your father David.”

Queeries for the text:
What's missing from this reading?
Who was worshipped at the shrines?
Was she God's spouse?
Is God monogamous?
Did God care about the shrine?


Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Gospel reading.

ID: against a red background, the (Horror) Nerds at Church glasses and forehead cross logo is visible with a smile that includes protruding vampire teeth.  At the top white lettering reads: "sleep all day, listen all night. It's fun to be a horror nerd" and in the bottom right corner is: HORROR NERDS AT CHURCH

Gospel: John 6:51-58
Jesus continued:
51“I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

52The Judeans then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this person give us his flesh to eat?”

53So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you gnaw on the flesh of the One Born of Woman and drink Their blood, you have no life in you. 54Those who gnaw on my flesh and drink my blood have everlasting life, and I will raise them up on the last day; 55for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. 56Those who gnaw on my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. 57Just as the living Caregiver sent me, and I live because of the Caregiver, so whoever gnaws on me will live because of me. 58This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.”

Queeries for the text:
What is given for the life of the world?
Who eats flesh?
Where is life?
When did Jesus become a vampire?
Why do we live? How?
What bread comes down from heaven?

What are your queeries?