Friday, August 14, 2020

Queerying 11th after Pentecost A

ID: small- and medium-sized crumbs of bread are scattered against a light gray background.
 

Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Gospel reading.

Gospel: Matthew 15:[10-20]21-28

[10Then Jesus called the crowd to him and said to them, “Listen and understand: 11it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.” 

12Then the disciples approached and said to Jesus, “Do you know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard what you said?” 

13Jesus answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Creator has not planted will be uprooted. 14Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if one blind person guides another, both will fall into a pit.” 

15But Peter said to Jesus, “Explain this parable to us.” 

16Then Jesus said, “Are you also still without understanding? 17Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth enters the stomach, and goes out into the sewer? 18But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. 19For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. 20These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.”]

21Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.” 

23But Jesus did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.” 

24Jesus answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 

25But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” 

26Jesus answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” 

27She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” 

28Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

Queeries for the text:
How are the first and second parts connected?
How is what Jesus says ableist? What kind of guides are blind people?
What comes from the heart? How do words defile?
Why is hand-washing important?
Who else are Canaanite women?
Who has privilege and power in this text?
Who else is called dog?
Who receives crumbs?
How do words empower and resist?

What are your queeries?




Friday, August 7, 2020

Queerying 10th after Pentecost A

River Needham M.A., queeries the Tanakh reading.

ID: a human person walking onto a stage. The stage is painted and their costume is designed in such a way that it looks like one garment spreads out across the entire stage in several colors.

Authors Note: In the narration in this text, pronouns for Joseph are inconsistent and changing, while in the spoken words the classical he/him pronouns for Joseph are retained. How does this enhance or distract from the reading of this text? What queeries does it prompt in your mind?

Tanakh: Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28

Now Jacob was settled in the land where his father had sojourned, the land of Canaan.

This, then, is the line of Jacob: At seventeen years of age, Joseph tended the flocks with her brothers, as a helper to the sons of faer father’s wives Bilhah and Zilpah. And Joseph brought bad reports of them to their father.  Now Israel loved Joseph best of all his sons, for fae was the child of his old age; and he had made them a princess dress. And when her brothers saw that their father loved faer more than any of her brothers, they hated them so that they could not speak a friendly word to her.

[...]

One time, when faer brothers had gone to pasture their father’s flock at Shechem, Israel said to Joseph, “Your brothers are pasturing at Shechem. Come, I will send you to them.” 

Joseph answered, “I am ready.”

And Israel said to Joseph, “Go and see how your brothers are and how the flocks are faring, and bring me back word.” So he sent faer from the valley of Hebron. When they reached Shechem, a man came upon her wandering in the fields. 

The man asked them, “What are you looking for?”

She answered, “I am looking for my brothers. Could you tell me where they are pasturing?”

The man said, “They have gone from here, for I heard them say: Let us go to Dothan.” So Joseph followed faer brothers and found them at Dothan. They saw them from afar, and before she came close to them they conspired to kill faer.

They said to one another, “Here comes that dreamer!

Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; and we can say, ‘A savage beast devoured him.’ We shall see what comes of his dreams!”

But when Reuben heard it, he tried to save them from them. He said, “Let us not take his life.”

And Reuben went on, “Shed no blood! Cast him into that pit out in the wilderness, but do not touch him yourselves”—intending to save her from them and restore faer to their father.

When Joseph came up to her brothers, they stripped Joseph of faer dress, the princess dress that they were wearing, and took her and cast faer into the pit. The pit was empty; there was no water in it.

Then the brothers sat down to a meal. Looking up, they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, their camels bearing gum, balm, and ladanum to be taken to Egypt.

Then Judah said to his brothers, “What do we gain by killing our brother and covering up his blood? Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, but let us not do away with him ourselves. After all, he is our brother, our own flesh.” His brothers agreed.

When Midianite traders passed by, they pulled Joseph up out of the pit. They sold Joseph for twenty pieces of silver to the Ishmaelites, who brought Joseph to Egypt.

Queeries for the text:
What is missing from this passage?
What does it mean to be the favorite son? What are the consequences?
What's that about a princess dress? Why is that important?
What is the difference between Ruben's intention and impact?
What are current responses to human trafficking?
Who is most affected by human trafficking?

-----

Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Gospel reading.

ID: water varying in color from with foamy white caps to deep teal.

Gospel: Matthew 14:22-33

22Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them.

25And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. 26But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is an apparition!” And they cried out in fear.

27But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”

28Peter answered him, “Guide, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”

29Jesus said, “Come.”

So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. 30But when Peter noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Guide, save me!”

31Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught Peter, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32When they got into the boat, the wind ceased.

33And those in the boat worshiped Jesus, saying, “Truly you are the Divine One.”

Queeries for the text:
Who values solitude?
How did the disciples think Jesus would catch up with them on the sea?
What ghosts haunt us today?  What messages do they have for us?
Why does Peter need proof?
How is the strong wind blowing today?
Who is beginning to sink now?
Who else has little faith?  What good is little faith?

What are your queeries?





Thursday, July 30, 2020

Queerying 9th after Pentecost A

River Needham M.A., queeries the Tanakh reading.

ID: the Jabbok River in the near east, on either side it is surrounded by lush plant life, and in the background is a mountain.

Tanakh: Genesis 32:22-31
That same night [Jacob] arose, and took his two wives, his two maidservants, and his eleven children, he crossed the ford of the Jabbok. After taking them across the stream, he sent across all his possessions. Jacob was left alone and a man wrestled with him until the break of dawn. When the man saw that he had not prevailed against Jacob, he wrenched Jacob’s hip at its socket, so that the socket of his hip was strained as the man wrestled with him.

Then the man said, “Let me go, for dawn is breaking.”

But he answered, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.”

Said the other, “What is your name?”

He replied, “Jacob.” 
 
The man said, “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with beings divine and human, and have prevailed.” 
 
Jacob asked, “Pray tell me your name.” 
 
But he said, “You must not ask my name!” The man took leave of Jacob there. 
So Jacob named the place Peniel, meaning, “I have seen a divine being face to face, yet my life has been preserved.” The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping on his hip. That is why the children of Israel to this day do not eat the thigh muscle that is on the socket of the hip, since Jacob’s hip socket was wrenched at the thigh muscle.

Queeries for the text:
What is wealth in this text? What about today?
What does it mean to be alone? How long had it been since Jacob was alone?
Who do we fight at nighttime?
Are there erotic overtones?
How are names important? What names do you wear?
How do we change names?

-----

Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Gospel reading.


Gospel: Matthew 14:13-21
13Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from his hometown in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. 14When Jesus went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick.

15When it was evening, the disciples came to Jesus and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.”

16Jesus said to them, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.”

17They replied, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.”

18And Jesus said, “Bring them here to me.” 19Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, Jesus looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. 21And those who ate were about five thousand cisgender men, not to mention the women, children, queer folks, and transgender people.

Queeries for the text:
What did Jesus hear?
Why did the disciples wait until the hour was late?
Who tries to hoard or protect resources?
Who is giving them something to eat?
What is nothing?
When else does Jesus bless and break bread?

What are your queeries?






Thursday, July 23, 2020

Queerying 8th after Pentecost A

River Needham M.A., queeries the Tanakh reading.

ID: a Chuppah set up at the front of a synogogue. A stained glass Magen David looks over the Chuppah and the unpictured congregation.
Tanakh: Genesis 29:15-28

Laban said to Jacob, “Just because you are kin, should you serve me for nothing? Tell me, what shall your wages be?”

Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older one was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. Leah had weak eyes; Rachel was shapely and beautiful. Jacob loved Rachel; so he answered, “I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.” 

Laban said, “Better that I give her to you than that I should give her to an outsider. Stay with me.” 

So Jacob served seven years for Rachel and they seemed to him but a few days because of his love for her. Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife, for my time is fulfilled, that I may cohabit with her.” Laban gathered all the people of the place and made a feast. When evening came, he took his daughter Leah and brought her to him; and he cohabited with her.— Laban had given his maidservant Zilpah to his daughter Leah as her maid.— When morning came, there was Leah! So he said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? I was in your service for Rachel! Why did you deceive me?” 

Laban said, “It is not the practice in our place to marry off the younger before the older. Wait until the bridal week of this one is over and we will give you that one too, provided you serve me another seven years.”

Jacob did so; he waited out the bridal week of the one, and then he gave him his daughter Rachel as wife.

Queeries for the text:
Where is God?
What kinds of exchanges occur for weddings?
Who do we call weak? What does weakness mean?
What does a Jewish Wedding look like?
What is agency?
What cultural influences shape weddings today?
What tradition did this story create that continues to this day?

What are your queeries?






Thursday, July 16, 2020

Queerying 7th after Pentecost A

River Needham M.A., queeries the Tanakh reading.

ID: a map with the routes of Jacob's journey's highlighted.

Tanakh: Genesis 28:10-19a

Jacob left Beer-sheba, and set out for Haran.

He came upon a certain place and stopped there for the night, for the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of that place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place. He had a dream; a stairway was set on the ground and its top reached to the sky, and angels of God were going up and down on it. And the Becoming One was standing beside him and Xe said, “I am the Becoming One, the God of your ancestor Abraham and the God of Rebecca: the ground on which you are lying I will assign to you and to your offspring. Your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All the families of the earth shall bless themselves by you and your descendants. Remember, I am with you: I will protect you wherever you go and will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you."
Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Becoming One is present in this place, and I did not know it!”

Shaken, he said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the abode of God, and that is the gateway to heaven.”

Early in the morning, Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. He named that site Bethel; but previously the name of the city had been Luz. 

Queeries for the text:
Where did this story take place?
When did this story take place?
Did this story take place?
Who are angels?
Who are God's Messengers Today?
What does the assigning of the land mean? Who is captivated by the land?
Why did Jacob anoint the Rock?

-----

Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Gospel reading.

ID: close up of a Gardiner's frog, smaller than a fingernail.  The frog has red eyes and its warm brown body blends with the environment in warm hues.

Gospel: Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

24Jesus put before the disciples another parable: “The reign of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in their field; 25but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. 26So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. 27And the slaves of the owner came and said to them, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?’

28They answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’

The slaves said to them, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’

29But they replied, ‘No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. 30Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”

...

36Then Jesus left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.”

37Jesus answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Human One; 38the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the reign; the weeds are the children of the evil one, 39and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. 41The Human One will send Their angels, and they will collect out of Their reign all causes of sin and all evildoers, 42and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the reign of their Maker. Let anyone with ears listen!”

Queeries for the text:
What's missing?
What makes you uncomfortable in this passage?
What needs uprooting?
Who is human?
What is the difference between consequences and punishment?
How does listening happen without ears?

What are your queeries?






Thursday, July 9, 2020

Queerying Break for 6th after Pentecost A

This week we're taking a break from queerying, but providing the Gospel reading and a few questions that are always good ones to use in your queerying.

Gospel: Matthew 1:1-9, 18-23
That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. 2Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. 3And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. 4And as they sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. 5Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. 6But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. 7Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9Let anyone with ears listen!”

...

18“Hear then the parable of the sower. 19When anyone hears the word of the reign and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. 20As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. 22As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. 23But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

What are your queeries?
What is missing?
Whose voices are you hearing?
Whose perspective is missing?
How else could you interpret the parable?





Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Queerying 5th after Pentecost A

River Needham M.A. queeries the Tanakh reading.

ID: a yellow/orange camel drinking from an earthen vessel held up by a light skinned hand on a teal background.

Tanakh: Genesis 24:34-38, 42-49, 58-67

“I am Abraham’s servant,” Eliezer began. “The Becoming One has greatly blessed my employer, and he has become rich: Xe has given him sheep and cattle, silver and gold, servants of many genders, camels and asses. And Sarah, my employer’s wife, bore my employer a son in her old age, and he has assigned to him everything he owns. Now my employer made me swear, saying, ‘You shall not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites in whose land I dwell; but you shall go to my father’s house, to my kindred, and get a wife for my son.’
[...]
“I came today to the spring, and I said: O Becoming One, God of my employer Abraham, if You would indeed grant success to the errand on which I am engaged! As I stand by the spring of water, let the young woman who comes out to draw and to whom I say, ‘Please, let me drink a little water from your jar,’ and who answers, ‘You may drink, and I will also draw for your camels’—let her be the wife whom the Becoming One has decreed for my employer’s son.’ I had scarcely finished praying in my heart, when Rebekah came out with her jar on her shoulder, and went down to the spring and drew. And I said to her, ‘Please give me a drink.’ She quickly lowered her jar and said, ‘Drink, and I will also water your camels.’ So I drank, and she also watered the camels. I inquired of her, ‘Whose daughter are you?’ And she said, ‘The daughter of Bethuel, son of Nahor, whom Milcah bore to him.’ And I put the ring on her nose and the bands on her arms. Then I bowed low in homage to the Becoming One and blessed the Becoming One, the God of my employer Abraham, who led me on the right way to get the daughter of my employer’s brother for his son. And now, if you mean to treat my employer with true kindness, tell me; and if not, tell me also, that I may turn right or left.”
[...]
They called Rebekah and said to her, “Will you go with this man?” And she said, “I will.” So they sent off their sister Rebekah and her nurse along with Abraham’s servant and his men. And they blessed Rebekah and said to her, “O sister! May you grow into thousands of myriads; May your offspring seize the gates of their foes.” Then Rebekah and her maids arose, mounted the camels, and followed the man. so the servant took Rebekah and went his way. Isaac had just come back from the vicinity of Beer-lahai-roi, for he was settled in the region of the Negeb. Isaac went out walking in the field toward evening and, looking up, he saw camels approaching. Raising her eyes, Rebekah saw Isaac. She alighted from the camel and said to the servant, “Who is that man walking in the field toward us?” And the servant said, “That is my employer.” So she took her veil and covered herself. The servant told Isaac all the things that he had done. Isaac then brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he took Rebekah as his wife. Isaac loved her, and thus found comfort after his mother’s death.

Queeries for the text:
What's missing?
What parts of this pericope might be objected to today? Why?
What's wrong with the women of Canaan?
What kinds of labor are valued or devalued?
What is the significance of a nose ring?
How is consent valued?
Why does he take Rebekah to Sarah's tent?

-----

Rev. Emily E. Ewing and River Needham, M.A. queery the Gospel reading.

ID: a photo of a light colored wood carving of Lord Krishna, playing a flute and dressed extravagantly, as if going to dance.

Gospel: Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30

Jesus said:
16“But to what will I compare this generation? It is like young ones sitting in the marketplaces and calling to one another, 17‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.’ 18For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon’; 19the Human One came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”

20Then he began to reproach the cities in which most of his deeds of power had been done, because they did not repent. 21“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22But I tell you, on the day of judgment it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 23And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? No, you will be brought down to Hades. For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. 24But I tell you that on the day of judgment it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom than for you.”

25At that time Jesus said, “I thank you, Parent, Boss of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; 26yes, Parent, for such was your gracious will. 27All things have been handed over to me by my Parent; and no one knows the Child except the Parent, and no one knows the Parent except the Child and anyone to whom the Child chooses to reveal Xem.

28“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Queeries for the text:
What's missing?
What are young ones doing without response today?
How are behaviors being policed?
What literary and rhetorical devices are at play in the woes?
What are the sins of Sodom?
What does rest feel like?
Who calls us to rest today?

What are your queeries?