Saturday, June 23, 2018

6th after pentecost year b - mark

Mark 5:21-43
21When Jesus had crossed again in the boat
    to the other side,
         a great crowd gathered around him;
         and he was by the sea.
    22Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came
         and, when he saw Jesus,
              fell at his feet
              23and begged him repeatedly,
                   “My little daughter is at the point of death.
                        Come and lay your hands on her,
                             so that she may be made well,
                             and live.”

24So Jesus went with him.
And a large crowd followed Jesus and pressed in.
    25Now there was a woman
         who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years.
         26She had endured much under many physicians,
              and had spent all that she had;
                   and she was no better,
                        but rather grew worse.
         27She had heard about Jesus,
              and came up behind him in the crowd
              and touched his cloak,
                   28for she said,
                        “If I but touch his clothes,
                             I will be made well.”
              29Immediately her hemorrhage stopped;
                   and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease.
              30Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him,
                   Jesus turned about in the crowd and said,
                        “Who touched my clothes?”
                   31And his disciples said to him,
                        “You see the crowd pressing in on you;
                             how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’”
              32Jesus looked all around to see who had done it.
              33But the woman,
                   knowing what had happened to her,
                        came in fear and trembling,
                        fell down before him,
                        and told him the whole truth.
              34Jesus said to her,
                   “Daughter, your faith has made you well;
                        go in peace,
                        and be healed of your disease.”

35While Jesus was still speaking,
    some people came from the leader’s house to say,
         “Your daughter is dead.
              Why trouble the teacher any further?”
    36But overhearing what they said,
         Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue,
              “Do not fear,
                   only believe.”
37Jesus allowed no one to follow him
    except Peter, James, and John,
         the brother of James.
    38When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue,
         Jesus saw a commotion,
              people weeping and wailing loudly.
    39When he had entered,
         Jesus said to them,
              “Why do you make a commotion and weep?
                   The child is not dead but sleeping.”
         40And they laughed at him.
              Then Jesus put them all outside,
              and took the child’s parents and those who were with him,
                   and went in where the child was.
              41Jesus took her by the hand and said to her,
                   “Talitha cum,”
                        which means, “Little girl, get up!”
         42And immediately the girl got up
              and began to walk about
                   (she was twelve years of age).
              At this they were overcome with amazement.
43Jesus strictly ordered them that no one should know this,
    and told them to give her something to eat.

Queeries for the text:
What does it take for powerful people to beg?
How much does intention matter in power and healing?
What is the connection between desperation and faith?
When Jesus says "be healed of your disease" is he mansplaining to the woman who already knows in her body she is healed?
What is the connection between fear and belief?
What is the connection between laughter and disbelief?
Why did Mark include the Aramaic here?
Is food and eating part of the healing?

What are your queeries?

This week I preached a sermon based on this text.

This is the visual I used for the sermon.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

5th after pentecost year b - mark

Mark 4:35-41
35On that day,
    when evening had come,
         Jesus said to the disciples,
              “Let us go across to the other side.”
36And leaving the crowd behind,
    they took him with them in the boat,
         just as he was.
              Other boats were with him.
    37A great windstorm arose,
         and the waves beat into the boat,
              so that the boat was already being swamped.
         38But Jesus was in the stern,
              asleep on the cushion;
                   and they woke him up and said to him,
                        “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”
         39Jesus woke up
         and rebuked the wind,
              and said to the sea,
                        Be still!”
                             Then the wind ceased,
                             and there was a dead calm.
         40Jesus said to them,
              “Why are you afraid?
                   Have you still no faith?”

41And they were filled with great awe
    and said to one another,
         “Who then is this,
              that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

Queeries for the text:
Why is Jesus always going "across to the other side"?
Was this a "come as you are" boat ride?
Who were in the other boats?  Weer their boats being swamped also?
Did the boats get stuck where they were in their journey when the wind stopped?
What did the other boats think happened when the dead calm settled in?
What am I afraid of?  Where is my faith?
If only Jesus can calm the storm, what's the point in even trying to fight it?
Are we perishing right now?  How?

What are your queeries?

Sunday, June 17, 2018

from queerying to preaching: the 4th after pentecost year b

For a while now I've been sermonizing and preaching in a new way.  Now that I feel like I have a bit of a pattern to it, I thought I'd update you on the whole process.  

When I first preached this way, it was by accident and because the Holy Spirit made me do it (like she does).  Since then, I have preached several sermons with a similar sermonizing style as what that first one ended up being.

My sermons begin, about a week before preaching, with queerying the text.  This is a process I developed, after a fabulously queer text study (some might call it the queerest text study ever) with a friend, Rev. Caleb Crainer, at our annual Proclaim Gathering.  Queerying the text developed as a way for me to continue to engage devotionally with the lectionary, even as I was no longer preaching as regularly, and as a resource for others who were preaching or wanting to engage more deeply with one or more texts for the upcoming week.  

The heart of queerying is asking questions of the text, of us who engage with the text, and of the world, cosmos, and culture in which we live.  A lot of my queerying also comes with links that can problematize the text or the question, suggest answers, give examples, and more.  The particular perspectives I do my best to bring are a hermeneutic of suspicion, which I've learned from feminist theologians; a queer attention to those who are not heard and those who don't have power or names; and an attention to the intersectionality of identity, politics, power and liberation, learned from womanist, mujerista, and liberation theologians, among others.  

A lot of the time this involves google and more in-depth searches as well as cultivating from my ever growing list of resources and friends.  If you know of good connections (to resources or people) for me to make in my queeries, please let me know!  I try to do this Friday or Saturday a week before the reading(s) come up in the Revised Common Lectionary, but depending on the work (to pay the bills) that I have and other life events, sometimes it gets done and/or posted as late as Tuesday.  Sometimes I get more than one reading queeried, but many weeks it has just been one (lately, the gospel).

For this week, queerying the text looked like this:

Mark 4:26-34
26Jesus also said,
    “The reign of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground,
         27and would sleep and rise night and day,
              and the seed would sprout and grow,
                   the sower does not know how.
         28The earth produces of itself,
              first the stalk,
                   then the head,
                        then the full grain in the head.
              29But when the grain is ripe,
                   at once the sower goes in with a sickle,
                        because the harvest has come.”

30Jesus also said,
    “With what can we compare the reign of God,
         or what parable will we use for it?
         31It is like a mustard seed, which,
              when sown upon the ground,
                   is the smallest of all the seeds on earth;
              32yet when it is sown it grows up
                   and becomes the greatest of all shrubs,
                        and puts forth large branches,
                             so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”

33With many such parables Jesus spoke the word to them,
    as they were able to hear it;
         34Jesus did not speak to those around him except in parables,
              but he explained everything in private to his disciples.

Queerying the text:
What does the first parable mean in light of scientific knowledge?
Are we so distanced from the harvest that most of us no longer know how the earth produces?
How is God's reign like a weed?
What does mustard look like fully grown?
Does Jesus just want us to stop getting in the way of the reign of God?
Why does Jesus use riddles so much?  Why are the disciples the only ones that get explanations?

What are your queeries?


After queerying the text, I continued to sit with it as well as the other two readings for this weekend.  It percolated along with unfolding events and remembrances of recent history.  It simmered in conversations with others during the present Pride month of celebration, resistance, and rebellion.  It sparkled and shined as I looked ahead.

And then I began to sketch out the sermon—to really sermonize. This week I tried to be more intentional, so that I wouldn't end up redoing a "final" (read: colorful) sermon (but I redid it anyway, which is what I have done each of the past weeks).  

This was the draft I first sketched out.

Because I haven't figured out how to practice preaching out loud by myself, I then preached to my friend, River Needham, via Skype (as has become a delightful weekly occurrence for us both) for feedback and so that I could record a draft of my sermon.  This usually happens after my first colorful draft of my sermon, but this week it happened before.

This is what I had hoped would be my final draft, but was really just my first colorful one.

Following the brilliant practice of another friend, Rev. Corrine Haulotte, I have begun recording a sermon in draft form and then listening to it over and over again Saturday and Sunday to get the words and the flow into my head.  I used to hesitate about doing this, because with manuscripts I would tweak them the morning of preaching.  Once I started doing it, I realized that listening to them over and over again let me mentally tweak and realize where I wanted to change things, where it was good, and any other shifts I wanted to make.  This helped, rather than hindering, the sermonizing process.

This is the final visual for this week's sermon.

Receiving feedback and re-listening to my sermon inevitably leads to a new draft of the sermon.  This week's sermon is particularly visual, with images in addition to words and visual movement.  This week's sermon is also covered in glitter, much like the children's message.

There is an audio for this sermon, although I am recovering from a sinus infection, so you can tell that I'm not 100%, but I don't have a way to host the audio, because it requires so much, so if you're really interested in the audio, you'll have to comment or contact me and let me know.


This is more or less the pattern I now use for sermonizing and preaching.  I no longer use a manuscript, though some of my favorite preachers definitely do.  Particularly as someone who does a lot of pulpit supply, where I don't know the congregation(s) as well, this is helpful, because it forces me to pay attention and respond to the congregation in more intentional ways.  I am more clued in on if they're clued in or spaced out (Speaking of spaced out, have you seen this version of the new pride flag??  It's awesome!!!).

I'd love your feedback if you have questions, comments, or concerns!  Let me know what you think.  Also, if you like my queerying (whether it's the text, music, or liturgy) and/or want it to be more frequent, click the button on the right towards the top of the blog and "buy me a coffee" to help financially support me and my work!