Thursday, December 27, 2018

Queerying Christmas 1 Year C

Periodic queerier, River Needham, queeried the reading from the Tanakh.

Tanakh: 1 Samuel 2:18-20, 26
Samuel was engaged in the service of the Becoming One as an attendant, girded with a linen ephod. Hir mother would also make a little robe for hir and bring it up to hir every year, when she made the pilgrimage with her husband to offer the annual sacrifice. Eli would bless Elkanah and eir wife, and say, “May the Becoming One grant you offspring by this woman in place of the loan she made to the Becoming One.” Then they would return home.
Young Samuel, meanwhile, grew in esteem and favor both with God and with humans.

Queeries for the text:
What is missing from this text?
What does it mean to be an attendant?
What is an ephod?
What pilgrimages do we make today?
What does it mean to bless someone?
Where is home? What is home?
What does it mean to grow in esteem and favor?


Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeried the reading from the Gospel.

Gospel: Luke 2:41-52
41Now every year Jesus' parents went to Jerusalem
for the festival of the Passover.
42And when Jesus was twelve years old,
they went up as usual for the festival.
43When the festival was ended and they started to return,
the child Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem,
but his parents did not know it.
44Assuming that he was in the group of travelers,
they went a day’s journey.
Then they started to look for Jesus among their relatives and friends.
45When they did not find Jesus,
they returned to Jerusalem to search for him.

46After three days they found Jesus in the temple,
sitting among the teachers,
listening to them
and asking them questions.
47And all who heard Jesus were amazed
at his understanding and his answers.
48When Jesus' parents saw him they were astonished;
and his mother said to him,
“Child, why have you treated us like this?
Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.”
49Jesus said to them,
“Why were you searching for me?
Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”
50But they did not understand what Jesus said to them.

51Then Jesus went down with them and came to Nazareth,
and was obedient to them.
His mother treasured all these things in her heart.
52And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years,
and in divine and human favor.

Queeries for the text:
How hard is it to get to Jerusalem every year for the Passover?
What were Mary and Joseph doing during the festival?
What system of family care-giving did Jesus grow up with?
Where did Jesus sleep after Mary and Joseph began to head home?
Why does everything happen after three days?
If Jesus was listening and asking questions, how could people be amazed at his answers?
Who is responsible for anxiety?
How often do we not understand Jesus?  Children?
When else did Mary treasure things in her heart?
What does it mean to increase in wisdom? years? divine favor? human favor?

What are your queeries?

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Queerying Holy Innocents

Periodic queerier, River Needham, queeried the reading from the Tanakh.

Tanakh: Jeremiah 31:15-17
Thus said the Becoming One: A cry is heard in Ramah—wailing, bitter weeping—Rachel weeping for her children. She refuses to be comforted for her children, who are gone.
Thus said the Becoming One: restrain your voice from weeping, your eyes from shedding tears;
for there is a reward for your labor—declares the Becoming One:
They shall return from the enemy's land. And there is hope for your future—declares the The Becoming One: your children shall return to their country.

Queeries for the text:
Who weeps today?
Who weeps today?
Who weeps today?
Who weeps today?
Where is Ramah? What is its importance?
Where are the children gone to?
How can God offer a reward for such a horrible deed?
Where are we waiting for people to return to their country?


Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeried the reading from the Gospel.

Gospel: Matthew 2:13-18
13Now after the magi had left,
an angel of God appeared to Joseph in a dream
and said,
“Get up,
take the child and their mother,
and flee to Egypt,
and remain there until I tell you;
for Herod is about to search for the child,
to destroy them.”
14Then Joseph got up,
took the child and their mother by night,
and went to Egypt,
15and remained there until the death of Herod.
This was to fulfill what had been spoken by God
through the prophet,
“Out of Egypt I have called my child.”

16When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi,
he was infuriated,
and he sent
and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem
who were two years old or under,
according to the time that he had learned from the magi.
17Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:
18“A voice was heard in Ramah,
wailing and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be consoled,
because they are no more.”

Queeries for the text:
What are magi?
How are our dreams guiding us today?
Who provided refuge for those who were fleeing?
What happens when powerful people are tricked?
Who are slaughtered today?
Who are slaughtered today?
Who are slaughtered today?
Who are slaughtered today?
How are we carrying out Herod's orders?
How are we we weeping without consolation?

What are your queeries?

Friday, December 21, 2018

Queerying Christmas Eve

Periodic queerier, River Needham, queeried the reading from the Tanakh.

Tanakh: Isaiah 9:2-7
The people that walked in darkness have seen a brilliant light; on those who dwelt in a land of gloom, light has dawned. You have magnified that nation, have given it great joy; they have rejoiced before you as they rejoice at reaping time, as they exult when dividing spoil. For the yoke that they bore and the stick on their back—the rod of their taskmaster—you have broken as on the day of Midian. Truly, all the boots put on to stamp with and all the garments donned in infamy have been fed to the flames, devoured by fire. For a child has been born to us, a son has been given us. Authority has settled on his shoulders. He has been named "The Mighty God is planning grace; The Eternal Father, a peaceable ruler"—in token of abundant authority and of peace without limit upon David's throne and kingdom, that it may be firmly established in justice and in equity now and evermore.

Queeries for the text:
What is happening to the brilliant light right now?
How do you live on a land of gloom?
What spoils do specific groups of us [unfairly] divide today?
Which taskmasters do we serve today?
How do you plan grace?
What about eternal peace?
Who is this ruler?


Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeried the reading from the Gospel.

Gospel: Luke 2:1-14[15-20]
In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus
that all the world should be registered.
2This was the first registration
and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.
3All went to their own towns to be registered.
4Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee
to Judea,
to the city of David called Bethlehem,
because he was descended from the house and family of David.
5Joseph went to be registered with Mary,
to whom he was engaged
and who was expecting a child.
6While they were there,
the time came for her to deliver her child.
7And she gave birth to her firstborn
and wrapped him in bands of cloth,
and laid him in a manger,
because there was no place for them in the inn.

8In that region there were shepherds living in the fields,
keeping watch over their flock by night.
9Then an angel of God stood before them,
and the glory of God shone around them,
and they were terrified.
10But the angel said to them,
“Do not be afraid;
for see—
I am bringing you good news of great joy
    for all the people:
11to you is born this day
in the city of David a Savior,
who is the Messiah, the Sovereign.
12This will be a sign for you:
you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth
and lying in a manger.”
13And suddenly there was with the angel
a multitude of the heavenly army,
praising God and saying,
14“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom God favors!”

[15When the angels had left them
and gone into heaven,
the shepherds said to one another,
“Let us go now to Bethlehem
and see this thing that has taken place,
which God has made known to us.”
16So they went with haste
and found Mary and Joseph,
and the child lying in the manger.
17When they saw this,
they made known what had been told them about this child;
18and all who heard it were amazed
    at what the shepherds told them.
      19But Mary treasured all these words
     and pondered them in her heart.

20The shepherds returned,
glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen,
as it had been told them.]

Queeries for the text:
Why do people get registered?
Who is Quirinius?
Why was Jesus born at that time?
What sort of place was Jesus born?
What do shepherds do with their time?
What happened to the sheep when the shepherds went to Bethlehem?
Who else did the shepherds find with Mary, Joseph, and the child?
How do we treasure and ponder words in our hearts?
How can we glorify and praise God?

What are your queeries?

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Queerying Advent 4 Year C

Our reading from the Tanakh is queeried by periodic queerier River Needham.

Micah 5:2-5a
And you, O Bethlehem of Ephrath, least among the clans of Judah, from you one shall come forth to rule Israel for meone whose origin is from of old, from ancient times. Truly, ze will leave them helpless until she who is to bear has borne; then the rest of hir countryfolk shall return to the children of Israel. Ze shall stand and shepherd by the might of the Becoming One, by the power of the name of the Becoming One hir God, and they shall dwell secure. For lo, ze shall wax great to the ends of the earth; and that shall afford safety.

Queeries for the text:
What does it mean to be least or most?
Who rules the days? What is happening to these days during this time?
Who rules Israel? Why does the ruler need to be replaced?
Who is the ancient one? Who bears hir?
Why does the ruler leave them helpless?
Who is divine in this text? Where does it change through the passage?
How does a ruler make people safe?
Where are the ends of the earth? Where else do they come up in Tanakh?
How do Jewish people respond to Christian appropriation of this text?


Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeried the gospel reading.

Luke 1:39-45[46-55]
39In those days Mary set out
and went with haste to a Judean town
in the hill country,
40where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth.
41When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,
the child leaped in her womb.
And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit
42and exclaimed with a loud cry,
“Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
43And why has this happened to me,
that the mother of my Lord comes to me?
44For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting,
the child in my womb leaped for joy.
45And blessed is she
who believed that what the Becoming One said to her
would be accomplished!”

46And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Becoming One,
47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48who has looked with favor on me,
a lowly servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is God's name.
50God's mercy is for those who fear Them
from generation to generation.
51God's arm is filled with strength,
scattering the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
52God has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
53God has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
54God has helped Their servant Israel,
in remembrance of mercy,
55according to the promise God made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

Queeries for the text:
Where does Mary's song come from?
Why was Mary in such a hurry?
Who is Elizabeth?
What happens in a person's body when the fetus is in the sixth month?
Why do Elizabeth's words sound so familiar?
Who is the she who is blessed and believed?
Which powerful need to be brought downWhen?
How does God lift up the lowly?
Who are Abraham's descendants?
Where is Love?

What are your queeries?

Monday, December 10, 2018

Queerying Advent 3 Year C

Today's text from the Tanakh was queeried by periodic queerier River Needham.

Tanakh - Zephaniah 3:14-20
Shout for joy, fair Zion, cry aloud, O Israel! Rejoice and be glad with all your heart, fair Jerusalem!
The Becoming One has annulled the judgment against you, Xe has swept away your foes. Israel's Sovereign the Becoming One is within you; you need fear misfortune no more.
In that day, this shall be said to Jerusalem: Have no fear, O Zion; let not your hands droop!
Your God the Becoming One is in your midst, a warrior who brings triumph. Xe will rejoice over you and be glad, Xe will shout over you with jubilation. Xe will soothe with Xyr love those long disconsolate. I will take away from you the woe over which you endured mockery.
At that time I will make an end of all who afflicted you. And I will rescue the lame sheep and gather the strayed, and I will exchange their disgrace for fame and renown in all the earth.
At that time I will gather you, and at that time I will bring you home; for I will make you renowned and famous among all the peoples on earth when I restore your fortunes before their very eyes —said the Becoming One.

Queeries for the text:
What is the Judgment against Israel?
Who were Israel's Foes?
What does it mean for The Becoming One to be within us?
Where else is The Becoming One a warrior?
Why do the lame sheep need rescuing?
What is the exchange rate for fame?
What is God's home like? Why does God bring people home?


Luke 3:7-18
7John said to the crowds
that came out to be baptized by him,
“You brood of vipers!
Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
8Bear fruits worthy of repentance.
Do not begin to say to yourselves,
‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’;
for I tell you,
God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham.
9Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees;
every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit
is cut down
and thrown into the fire.”
10And the crowds asked John,
“What then should we do?”
11In reply John said to them,
“Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none;
and whoever has food must do likewise.”
12Even tax collectors came to be baptized,
and they asked John,
“Teacher, what should we do?”
13John said to them,
“Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.”
14Soldiers also asked John,
“And we,
what should we do?”
John said to them,
“Do not extort money from anyone
by threats or false accusation,
and be satisfied with your wages.”

15As the people were filled with expectation,
and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John,
whether he might be the Messiah,
16John answered all of them by saying,
“I baptize you with water;
but one who is more powerful than I is coming;
the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.
This one will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
17With a winnowing fork in hand,
this one will clear the threshing floor
and gather the wheat into the granary;
burning the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
18So, with many other exhortations,
John proclaimed the good news to the people.

Queeries for the text:
What fruits are worthy of repentance?
Does John like puns as much as I do?
How do we rely on our ancestors for justification or worth?
How is John advocating for good stewardship of fruit trees and wheat?
Is John a socialist?
How are we sharing coats and food?  How are we hoarding them?
How are John's words to soldiers, words for police today?  What does John think about collusion with Empire?
How do you untie the thong of a sandal?
If the chaff is to be burned, and baptism is with the Holy Spirit and fire, are we supposed to be chaff?
What exactly is the "good news" John is proclaiming?
Where is Joy?

What are your queeries?

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Queerying Advent 2 Year C

This week all three Advent queeries are gathered in one spot!

Today's text from the Tanakh was queeried by periodic queerier River Needham.
Tanakh - Malachi 3:1-4
Behold, I am sending my messenger to clear the way before me, and the ruler whom you seek shall come to faer Temple suddenly. As for the angel of the covenant that you desire, they are already coming. But who can endure the day of faer coming, and who can hold out when fae appears? For fae is like a smelter’s fire and like fuller’s lye. Fae shall act like a smelter and purger of silver; and fae shall purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they shall present offerings in righteousness. Then the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem shall be pleasing to the Becoming One as in the days of yore and in the years of old.

Queeries for the text:
Who is the ruler this text seeks?
What is an angel of the covenant?
What covenant? Who desires it?
Where else is silver in the Minor Prophets?
Why just Levi's descendants?
Why are Judah and Jerusalem placed in opposition?
Why is it important to separate Jesus from this text?


Today's special guest queery of Philippians is brought to you by Katy Wallace with collaboration from Rev. Emily Ewing.

Philippians 1:3-11
3I thank my God every time I remember you, 4constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, 5because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. 6I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.
7It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because you hold me in your heart, for all of you share in God’s grace with me, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. 8For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus.

9And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight 10to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, 11having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.

Queeries for the text:
What does sharing in the gospel look like?
What is the good work brought to completion and who began it?
How does imprisonment impact grace?
What is God witnessing in Paul's longing?  What does God witness in us?
How does God's compassion show up throughout the bible?
What does it mean to share in the defense and confirmation of the gospel?  How does it relate to love and longing?
How does love overflow with knowledge?
What does it mean to be pure and blameless?
What does a harvest of righteousness look like?


Today's queery from the Gospel is brought to you by Rev. Emily E. Ewing.

Jordan River Basin, including the upper catchment north of Lake Tiberias and the lower catchment south of the lake. The upper catchment is shared between Lebanon, Syria and Israel, the lower catchment is shared between Syria (Yarmuk), Jordan, Palestine and Israel. Map source: ESRI Data & Maps, 2006. 

Luke 3:1-6
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius,
when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea,
and Herod was ruler of Galilee,
and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis,
and Lysanias ruler of Abilene,
2during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas,
the word of God came to John
son of Zechariah in the wilderness.
3John went into all the region around the Jordan,
proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins,
4as it is written
in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah,
“The voice of one crying out
in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Becoming One,
make straight the paths of God.
5Every valley shall be filled,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth;
6and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”

Queeries for the text:
Why does Luke care so much about the people in power?
Who else was John son of?
What did Zechariah have to say about his son?
What was John already doing in the wilderness?
Why is the Jordan so important?
What public testimonies of repentance like John's baptism are happening now?
How is Isaiah calling us to increase accessibility in communities?
What if God doesn't want to be straight?  What if God is crooked?
What is the salvation of God like?
Where is Peace?

What are your queeries?

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Queerying Advent Music

The season of Advent is upon us and I've cultivated another playlist!

Over the last several years, I have begun to cultivate playlists based on the seasons of the church year.  One of the things I love about doing that is that I get to incorporate explicitly religious songs and hymns (O Come, O Come, Emmanuel and Toda la tierra, for example) as well as what is considered more "secular" or even "profane" music that speaks to the themes and season (Dance Apocalyptic and For Today I Am a Boy, for example).  In this way, the playlists queer the binary that we have set up between what is holy and what is profane, what is sacred and what is secular.

This is definitely a labor of love for me as I am not particularly musically oriented, so I owe particular thanks to various friends who have suggested songs over the past couple of years.

The themes of Advent that I focused on for this playlist are: waiting and anticipation as well as impatience; hope and fulfillment of promises; despair and lament or longing; sun and light; darkness and night; love and the end times.  Some of these themes are more prevalent than others, but all of them were in my heart when cultivating and should come through in the playlist. While the playlist is quite intentional, the order isn't. So, unlike Holy Week, but similar to Easter, it would probably be better if set to shuffle. As always, it is an ongoing work in progress, so let me know if you have any suggestions to add to the list or questions about what is on the list or why!

What are your suggestions for queerying Advent music? 


Monday, November 26, 2018

Queerying Advent 1 Year C - Luke

Luke 21:25-36
25“There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars,
and on the earth distress among nations
confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves.
26People will faint
from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world,
for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
27Then they will see ‘the Human One coming in a cloud’
with power and great glory.
28Now when these things begin to take place,
stand up and raise your heads,
because your redemption is drawing near.”

29Then Jesus told them a parable:
“Look at the fig tree and all the trees;
30as soon as they sprout leaves
you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near.
31So also, when you see these things taking place,
you know that the reign of God is near.
32Truly I tell you,
this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place.
33Heaven and earth will pass away,
but my words will not pass away.
34“Be on guard
so that your hearts are not weighed down
with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life,
and that day catch you unexpectedly,
35like a trap.
For it will come upon all who live
on the face of the whole earth.
36Be alert at all times,
praying that you may have the strength
to escape all these things that will take place,
and to stand before the Human One.”

Queeries for the text:
What sort of signs will be in the sun and the moon and the stars?
Why are end times thought to be bad when the imagery is so positive?
What is distressing the nations today?
What is confusing us today?
What if we can't stand up or raise our heads?  How is ableism affecting this text?
What sort of time is Jesus talking about if the generation that "will not pass away" has passed away?
What sort of strength will we need?  What can we PrEPare for?
Where is Hope?

What are your queeries?

If you want to check out the sermon that came in part from this queery, you can find it here!

Queerying Advent 1 Year C - Jeremiah

This text was queeried by periodic queerier, River Needham

Tanakh - Jeremiah 33:14-16
See, days are coming—declares the Becoming One—when I will fulfill the promise that I made concerning the House of Israel and the House of Judah. In those days and at that time, I will raise up a true branch of David’s line, who shall do what is just and right in the land. In those days Judah shall be delivered and Israel shall dwell secure. And this is what she shall be called: “The Becoming One is our Vindicator.”

Queeries for the text:
What is the context of this passage?
Where is the house of Israel/house of Judah?
What are we waiting for in this passage?
How do these promises come to be?
What does this text refer to in its original context?
What about modern day controversies?
What kind of tree is David's branch from?
What looks just and right in the land?
What is the Becoming One vindicating? What does it look or feel like?

What are your queeries?

If you want to check out the sermon that came in part from this queery, you can find it here!

Monday, November 19, 2018

christ the queen/reign of christ year b - daniel

This text was queeried by periodic queerier, River Needham.

Tanakh - Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14
As I looked on, thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took Her seat. Her garment was like white snow, and the hair of Her head was like lamb's wool. Her throne was tongues of flame; its wheels were blazing fire. A river of fire streamed forth before Her; thousands upon thousands served Her; myriads upon myriads attended Her; the court sat and the books were opened.

As I looked on, in the night vision, one like a human being came with the clouds of heaven; ze reached the Ancient of Days and was presented to Her. Dominion, glory, and queenship were given to hir; all peoples and nations of every language must serve hir. Hir dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away, and hir queenship, one that shall not be destroyed.

Queeries for the text:
When was this text written? Who was it for?
What is missing, and to what does it refer?
Who is the Ancient of Days?
Where else do white or snow show up in the Tanakh? What might this be referencing? What color and texture is pure wool? How can these metaphors challenge racism in our context?
What is a River of Fire?
When have humans come from the clouds of heaven?
Who is this human one?
What is dominion? How is it different from glory and queenship? Why is this a bad idea?

What are your queeries?

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

26th after pentecost year b - mark

Mark 13:1-8
As Jesus came out of the temple,
one of his disciples said to him,
“Look, Teacher,
what large stones and what large buildings!”
2Then Jesus asked him,
“Do you see these great buildings?
Not one stone will be left here upon another;
all will be thrown down.”

3When Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple,
Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately,
4“Tell us,
when will this be,
and what will be the sign
that all these things are about to be accomplished?”
5Then Jesus began to say to them,
“Beware that no one leads you astray.
6Many will come in my name and say, ‘I am the one!’
and they will lead many astray.
7When you hear of wars and rumors of wars,
do not be alarmed;
this must take place,
but the end is still to come.
8For nation will rise against nation,
and country against country;
there will be earthquakes in various places;
there will be famines.
This is but the beginning of the birth pangs.

Queeries for the text:
How are we impressed by buildings instead of Jesus?
What do you want to be thrown down?
Why do these pairs of siblings wait to ask Jesus questions in private?
What signs are we looking for?
Who claims "I am the one!" today?
How are we being led astray?
If the violence of war is not the end, what is at the end?
What comes at the end of birth pangs?
How much struggle and hardship comes before the new life begins?

What are your queeries?

If you'd like to check out the sermon that came from this queery, you can find it here!

Thursday, November 8, 2018

We Are Church Confessing

On Sunday, an ecumenical group called We Are Church Confessing gathered at Cowles Commons in Des Moines to confess together the ways that we as the church, particularly the predominantly white churches, have not responded adequately to the injustices being perpetrated in the united states.  You can find the video of our gathering here.  This gathering occurs the first Sunday of the month at 1pm.
The Lutherans hosted this event and I wrote the liturgy with collaboration from Rev. Minna Bothwell and periodic contributor River Needham.  Below is the liturgy as it was written, designed for about a 20 minute service.  Each person received a large paper that was a bulletin on one side and had space to write a confession and a prayer on the other, so that is referenced during the liturgy.  Communal responses are in bold.

If you are interested in using or adapting this liturgy, please comment on the blog or contact me directly.

If you haven’t done so already, please write out a confession specific to you around power or privilege and a prayer specific to you for the world as it could be.  Liturgy is the work of the people and the work in this liturgy is complicated, heavy, and important.  As we work through this liturgy, you may find yourself to be among those who are oppressed by what we are confessing.  When that is the case, use your discretion to participate or refrain as appropriate.  

For those who hold identities of privilege and power, especially as relates to different points of confession, even if you don’t think you have specifically done what we are confessing, I invite you to recall not only active ways you may have oppressed others, but also the ways that you may not be aware of, by which you have contributed to others’ oppression and in that sense, please join in on the responses to confess our sins as a whole church.

People of faith, we gather on land originally inhabited by the Báxoj'e, or Ioway Nation, and the Sauk and Meskwaki peoples. People who were systematically targeted by white settler colonialism for extermination.  In the 1800s, through treaties, some of which were fraudulent and all of which were made under duress, the united states government took all of the Ioway and Sauk and Meskwaki lands and forced the tribes onto reservations.

Colonizers selected Two Spirit people, who were oftentimes held in places of high esteem within their tribes, as the first targets for extermination.  White settler colonialism still celebrates “Columbus Day” and calls Turtle Island the “new world.”   The genocide perpetrated against Native Peoples and their forced removal to reservations, justified by the Church’s Doctrine of Discovery, was a model for Hitler in the Holocaust.  We continue to destroy this land out of greed for oil, money, and power.  We join in Indigenous struggles for sovereignty only after we recognize how eminent domain abuse harms us.  

We pretend to celebrate Native peoples through hypersexualized costumes of Pocahontas who was kidnapped, raped, and died in another land at the age of 21.  We do not teach the history of the lands we live and worship on.  We do not acknowledge, let alone honor, respect, or learn from, the original inhabitants of this land we now occupy, pollute, and exploit.

These are sins of the Church. 
So, dear people,
do you confess? 
We confess that we have supported settler colonialism and native erasure by what we have done and by what we have failed to do. We are sorry for the harm this has caused and we repent.

People of faith, many of us trace our faith traditions back to the Protestant Reformation and, especially for Lutherans, Martin Luther.  Antisemitism and anti-Judaism are a part of our histories we would prefer to deny or excuse.  Martin Luther was antisemitic.  Churches have participated in and actively supported pogroms and the Holocaust, and the Inquisition and Crusades before that.  In Christianity’s push for power, we allied ourselves with Empires and remain tethered to our places of power. 

When we read Jesus into the Hebrew Bible, our supersessionism harms and undermines the faith of Jewish people.  When we set Jesus against faithful Jewish people, maligning Pharisees and Jewish leaders, we hide and yet reinforce our anti-Judaism.  When we refuse to honor the holy days of other faiths, allowing Christian holidays to be the standard for elected officials, school systems, and government schedules, our Christian supremacy harms and marginalizes people of every other faith and no faith—all in exchange for power and privilege.

The attack on the Tree of Life congregation in Pittsburgh and the vandalism that has taken place at synagogues before and since are our responsibility to atone for as the Church. 

These are sins of the Church. 
So, dear people,
do you confess? 
We confess that we have supported antisemitism, anti-Judaism and Christian supremacy by what we have done and by what we have failed to do. We are sorry for the harm this has caused and we repent.

People of faith, the same doors to church buildings that welcomed and were built by our immigrant ancestors now close and lock themselves off from immigrants whose skin is darker, whose language is different, who haven’t met the recent, unrealistic standards for official u.s. documentation.  

We eat and drink from what immigrants grow and harvest, yet we will not share a Table together.  We take mission trips to places we say we love and then demonize people from those same countries when they come here seeking a better life, fleeing violence, often a result of military dictatorships propped up by our own government.  

We lift up Jesus and the Holy Family as refugees and immigrants in Egypt, pretending our churches have never turned away immigrants or looked down on those from different cultures than our own.  We refuse to acknowledge our connections to people of other cultures and faiths, and by our silence we allow the demonization and encourage harmful stereotypes of Muslims from this country and around the world as well as immigrants from throughout the colonized parts of this world.

These are sins of the Church. 
So, dear people,
do you confess? 
We confess that we have supported xenophobia and Islamophobia by what we have done and by what we have failed to do. We are sorry for the harm this has caused and we repent.

People of faith, the Church legitimized slavery, institutionalizing racism in this country.  The church abused sacred scriptures to keep people of color, particularly people of African descent, as well as Native peoples oppressed and enslaved.  The church has worshiped whiteness and power instead of the God of the Oppressed.  We have whispered #BlackLivesMatter, if we’ve said anything at all.   

We have not stopped racist policing.  We remain oblivious to the ways whiteness makes life easier.  We do not put forth the effort to pronounce Laquan or Juliana that we do Dvořák.  We assume people of color are not from here.  We allow classism and racism to divide all who need economic justice from each other.  We reproduce images of God and Jesus as white and lift up whiteness as purity and cleanliness while calling darkness dirty and scary.  We perpetuate racism.

These are sins of the Church. 
So, dear people,
do you confess? 
We confess that we have supported racism and white supremacy by what we have done and by what we have failed to do. We are sorry for the harm this has caused and we repent.

People of faith, Christianity has created and enforced transphobia and cisheteronormativity as standard and “faithful.”  The church has and continues to persecute queer people throughout the world, both actively with violence and through more subtle means.  Churches support conversion therapy, bathroom bills, and book burnings.

Our worship spaces and liturgies are not accessible.  Churches refuse to hire or call queer and trans people, especially women, femmes, and nonbinary folks, into leadership positions; support discriminatory organizations like Focus on the Family and Thrivent Financial; segregate bathrooms and groups according to the false gender binary; and make unclear statements of “all are welcome.”  These contribute to the erasure, oppression, and hatred queer people experience in the church.  

These are sins of the Church. 
So, dear people,
do you confess? 
We confess that we have supported transphobia and transmisogyny and cisgenderism by what we have done and by what we have failed to do. We are sorry for the harm this has caused and we repent.

As you gathered you took time to write your own individual confessions and prayers on the sheets of paper that you have. At this time I invite you to state your confession aloud and after each confession we will join together to respond with “we confess”.

Dear people of God, we are all caught up in systems of oppression and violence. Our sins are both corporate and individual. Intentional and unintentional.  Yet God comes into the midst of it all with this good news: through the power of Christ, death, sin, violence, and oppression no longer have power over us. By the power of the Spirit, I now declare to you, the entire forgiveness of all your sins. 

Song and Offering “There is More Love Somewhere” 
[Our offering went to Iowa's American Friends Service Committee, specifically to support DACA recipients as well as family reunification for families separated at the border

Drawing on the Lutheran baptismal tradition, we will now enter into a time of renunciation—naming that which opposes the God whom 1 John 4 calls Love and renouncing it, turning away from it and towards Love.  When asked, please respond: I renounce them

Evil manifests itself in many ways: implicit bias, harmful stereotypes, ignorant questions, comments, and expectations, fear and perceived scarcity, and active prejudice and violence against others.
Do you renounce these manifestations of evil and all the forces that defy the God who is Love?
I renounce them.

Evil is insidious and works within systems and institutions to oppress and marginalize.  Evil manifests itself in the ongoing legacy of colonialism, slavery, and queerphobia perpetrated by this country and the church.  These evils, along with xenophobia and Islamophobia have been encouraged through the current administration and strengthened in legislation, policies, and plans put forward in governments and churches throughout this country and world.
Do you renounce the powers of this world that rebel against the God who is Love?
I renounce them.

We understand sin as separation—from the Divine, from each other, and from Creation.  Sin keeps us focused inward on ourselves, ignoring or fearing any who we deem as “Other,” putting our wants before others’ needs, and isolating ourselves.
Do you renounce the ways of sin that draw you from the God who is Love?
I renounce them.

Prayers for Help
Creator God, your sacred nature is in all things.  Help us to honor, respect, and support the Native peoples of this land and protect the earth and all its inhabitants.
Help us, O God.  Your mercy is great.

Holy One, you are worthy of praise.  Help us to affirm, celebrate, and support people of all faiths, especially Jewish people and Muslims, challenging antisemitism and Islamophobia whenever we encounter it.
Help us, O God.  Your mercy is great.

Sojourning God, you come to us as the stranger and foreigner.  Help us to create sanctuary for immigrants, provide for those in need, and challenge the fears of ourselves and others.
Help us, O God.  Your mercy is great.

God of the Oppressed, you join with the oppressed in life and death.  Help us to recognize your image in Black and Brown bodies, confront racism, and destroy white supremacy.
Help us, O God.  Your mercy is great.

Transgressing God, you break binaries between human and Divine, sinner and saint.  Help us to celebrate queer and gender expansive understandings of scripture, protect the rights and existence of trans and gender expansive people, and challenge gender segregation in every space.
Help us, O God.  Your mercy is great.

Liberating God, we need you.  We need your help to live into your liberating power, into the vision you cast of a world free from oppression.  We now lift up our prayers, those we have written down and those on our hearts. At this time I invite you to state your prayers aloud, ending each prayer with “Help us, O God,” to which we will join together to respond with “Your mercy is great.”

[Leader will end the prayer time with the following] 
God of hope, may all you know is needed be done, we pray in your holy and precious name.  Amen.

The news is that God’s wind is blowing.
It may be a breeze that
cools and comforts.
It may be a gust that
summons you to notice.
It may be a storm that blows you where you have
never been before.

Whatever the wind is in your life,
pay attention to it…
…Go in peace.  Live into God’s liberation.
Thanks be to God.