Thursday, January 31, 2019

Queerying 4th after Epiphany year C

Periodic queerier, River Needham, queeries the Tanakh reading.

Tanakh: Jeremiah 1:4-10
The word of the Becoming One came to me:
Before I created you in the womb, I selected you;
Before you were born, I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet concerning the nations.
I replied: Ah, Becoming GOD!
I don’t know how to speak, for I am still a boy.
And the Becoming One said to me: Do not say, “I am still a boy,”
but go wherever I send you and speak whatever I command you.
Have no fear of them, For I am with you to deliver you —declares the Becoming One.
The Becoming One put out Faer hand and touched my mouth, and the Becoming One said to me:
Here I put My words into your mouth.
See, I appoint you this day over nations and kingdoms:
to uproot and to pull down,
to destroy and to overthrow,
to build and to plant.

Queeries for the text:
Who and what else is consecrated?
Who is the Becoming GOD? How is Fae different from the Becoming One? What might this difference signify?
Who are the nations for Jeremiah? Who are they today?
What would a prophet to the nations say today?
Who else struggles with words?
Where in the Tanakh is the first boy? What does Islam teach about him? What is the significance of these first two boys? What does it say about God?
Where else do we see God's finger?
What is the significance of the triad of pairs at the end?


Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Gospel reading.

Gospel: Luke 4:21-30
21Then Jesus began to say to all in the synagogue of Nazareth,
“Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
22All spoke well of Jesus
and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.
They said,
    “Is not this Joseph’s son?”
23Jesus said to them,
“Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb,
‘Doctor, cure yourself!’
And you will say,
‘Do here also in your hometown
the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.’”
24And Jesus said,
“Truly I tell you,
no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown.
25But the truth is,
there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah,
when the heaven was shut up three years and six months,
and there was a severe famine over all the land;
26yet Elijah was sent to none of them
except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon.
27There were also many lepers in Israel
in the time of the prophet Elisha,
and none of them was cleansed
except Naaman the Syrian.”

28When they heard this,
all in the synagogue were filled with rage.
29They got up,
drove Jesus out of the town,
and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built,
so that they might hurl him off the cliff.
30But Jesus passed through the midst of them
and went on his way.

Queeries for the text:
What happened before this?
Why is Jesus offended at their amazement?
What does Joseph have to do with Jesus' proclamation?
Where is Zaraphath?  What happened to the widow?
How was Namaan cleansed?
Why were they filled with rage?
Was it a hill or a cliff?
What does the brow of a hill look like?
How did Jesus pass through the midst of them?
When does Jesus pass through the midst of us to go on his way?

What are your queeries?

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Queerying 3rd after Epiphany - year C

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

Tanakh: Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10 (8:1-10 printed, omitted portions in italics)

The entire people assembled as one human in the square before the Water Gate,
and they asked Ezra the scribe to bring the scroll of the Teaching of Moses
with which the Becoming One had charged Israel.
On the first day of the seventh month, Ezra the priest brought the Teaching before the congregation,
butches and femmes and all who could listen with understanding.
She read from it, facing the square before the Water Gate,
from the first light until midday,
to the femmes and the butches and those who could understand;
the ears of all the people were given to the scroll of the Teaching.
Ezra the scribe stood upon a wooden tower made for the purpose, 
and beside him stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah at her right,
and at her left Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, Meshullam.
Ezra opened the scroll in the sight of all the people,
for she was above all the people;
as she opened it, all the people stood up.
Ezra blessed the Becoming One, the great God,
and all the people answered, "Amen, Amen," with hands upraised.
Then they bowed their heads and prostrated themselves before the Becoming One
with their faces to the ground.
Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad,
Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites explained the Teaching to the people, 
while the people stood in their places.
They read from the scroll of the Teaching of God, translating it and giving the sense;
so they understood the reading.
Nehemiah the Tirshatha, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites
who were explaining to the people said to all the people,
"This day is holy to the Becoming One your God: you must not mourn or weep,"
for all the people were weeping as they listened to the words of the Teaching.
Ze further said to them, "Go, eat choice foods and drink sweet drinks and
send portions to whoever has nothing prepared, for the day is holy to our divine ruler.
Do not be sad, for your rejoicing in the Becoming One is the source of your strength."

Queeries for the text:
What is the Water Gate? What other elements are important?
What was the Teaching of Moses?
Who are butches and femmes?
What is understanding?
How can you learn without ears?
How can you see without eyes?
Why were verses 4 and 7 omitted from this lesson?
Why was mourning prohibited?
Where else are choice foods mentioned?
What was Moses's teaching before Nehemiah read this?


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

Gospel: Luke 4:14-21
14Then Jesus,
filled with the power of the Spirit,
returned to Galilee,
and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country.
15Jesus began to teach in their synagogues
and was praised by everyone.

16When Jesus came to Nazareth,
where he had been brought up,
he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day,
as was his custom.
He stood up to read,
17and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him.
Jesus unrolled the scroll
and found the place where it was written:
18“The Spirit of Holy One is upon me,
because God has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
God has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
19to proclaim the year of the Holy One’s favor.”

20And Jesus rolled up the scroll,
gave it back to the attendant,
and sat down.
The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him.
21Then he began to say to them,
“Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

Queeries for the text:
Where was Jesus returning from?
What does Luke mean by "everyone"?
Did Jesus choose which Sabbath on purpose?  Did Jesus change the expected reading?
What is good news to the poor?
What is release to the captives?
Do the blind want recovery of sight?
What is freedom for the oppressed?
What is the year of God's favor?
Does Jesus practice street theater of the oppressed?
How has this scripture been fulfilled?

What are your queeries?

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Queerying 2nd after Epiphany

This week, we're dedicating Queerying The Text to the memory of the Rev. Gordon Straw. Rev. Straw, an enrolled member of the Brothertown Indian Nation and an ever-growing force in Lutheran theological education, influenced both of us: Emily as a mentor and colleague and River as a professor and trusted mentor. You might notice Rev. Straw's influence flowing through our Queeries this week.

-Emily and River


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

Tanakh: Isaiah 62:1-5
For the sake of Zion I will not be silent,
for the sake of Jerusalem I will not be still,
till her victory emerge resplendent and her triumph like a flaming torch.
Nations shall see your victory, and every ruler your majesty;
and you shall be called by a new name
which the Becoming One herself shall bestow.
You shall be a glorious crown in the hand of the Becoming One,
and a royal diadem in the palm of your God.
Nevermore shall you be called “Forsaken,”
Nor shall your land be called “Desolate”;
But you shall be called “I delight in her,”
and your land “Espoused.”
For the Becoming One takes delight in you, and your land shall be espoused.
As a youth espouses a maiden, your sons shall espouse you;
and as a bridegroom rejoices over their bride,
so will your God rejoice over you.

Queeries for the text:
Who is Jerusalem fighting?
Where else might we use flaming torches today?  How are flaming torches harmful?
Which nations are treated unfairly today?
How are new names important?
What is a diadem?
Who is desolate, or has been forsaken? How does God delight in them?


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

Gospel: John 2:1-11
On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee,
and the mother of Jesus was there.
2Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding.
3When the wine gave out,
the mother of Jesus said to him,
“They have no wine.”
4And Jesus said to her,
“Woman, what concern is that to you and to me?
My hour has not yet come.”
5Jesus' mother said to the servants,
“Do whatever he tells you.”

6Now standing there were six stone water jars
for the Jewish rites of purification,
each holding twenty or thirty gallons.
7Jesus said to the servants,
“Fill the jars with water.”
And they filled them up to the brim.
8Jesus said to them,
“Now draw some out,
and take it to the chief steward.”
So they took it.
9When the steward tasted the water that had become wine,
and did not know where it came from
(though the servants who had drawn the water knew),
the steward called the bridegroom 10and said to him,
“Everyone serves the good wine first,
and then the inferior wine
after the guests have become drunk.
But you have kept the good wine until now.”

11Jesus did this,
the first of his signs,
in Cana of Galilee,
and revealed his glory;
and his disciples believed in him.

Queeries for the text:
On which third day?
Who was getting married in Cana?  How were Jesus, his mom, all the disciples and the wedding couple connected?  What other connections were there?
How did the mother of Jesus know he could fix the wine problem?
Who were the servants?  What was Jesus' mom's role at the wedding?
How much is 20-30 gallons?
What is the chief steward's role?
Is it good to have good wine late?  Why does it matter?
How many other signs are there?
Why does it matter that it was in Cana of Galilee?  How is location important?
Why is belief connected to the wine?
What is glory?

What are your queeries?

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Queerying Baptism of Jesus year C

ID: waves of water crash against large rocks along the shore, with sharp shadows from the sun shining in the blue sky and Table Mountain in the background.

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

Tanakh: Isaiah 43:1-7
But now thus said the Becoming One — who created you, O Jacob, who formed you, O Israel:
Fear not, for I will redeem you; I have singled you out by name, You are mine.
When you pass through water, I will be with you;
through streams, they shall not overwhelm you.
When you walk through fire, you shall not be scorched;
through flame, it shall not burn you.
For I, the Becoming One, am your God, The Holy One of Israel, your savior.
I give Egypt as a ransom for you, Ethiopia and Saba in exchange for you.
Because you are precious to me, and honored, and I love you.
I give humans in exchange for you,
and peoples in your stead.
Fear not, for I am with you:
I will bring your folk from the East,
will gather you out of the West;
I will say to the North, “Give back!”
and to the South, “Do not withhold!
Bring my sons from afar, and my daughters from the end of the earth—
All who are linked to my name, whom I have created, formed, and made for my glory.

Queeries for the Text:
Who created Israel and Judah?
What are the fires and streams of today?
Where else does God offer ransoms?
Are some people worth less in God's eyes?
Where else does "I am with you" function as words of comfort? As challenge?
What is the significance of the four directions?
What does it mean to be created, formed and made for God's glory?


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

Gospel: Luke 3:15-17, 21-22
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;
I am not worthy to untie the thong of their sandals.
This one will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
17With a winnowing fork in hand,
they will clear the threshing floor
and gather the wheat into the granary,
burning the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

21Now when all the people were baptized,
and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying,
the heaven was opened,
22and the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus
in bodily form like a dove.
And a voice came from heaven,
“You are my Child,
the Beloved;
with you I am well pleased.”

Queeries for the text:
What's missing? Why is it missing?  Who else is shut up in prison?
Why does the first half sound so familiar?
Does John know he's referring to Jesus?  How does John know how powerful Jesus is?
Who baptizes Jesus in this gospel?
What was Jesus' prayer after being baptized?
What did Jesus do to earn God's love and praise?
What is it like for a dove to descend?
What does God's voice sound like?
Did anything special happen during Jesus' baptism?
What do the heavens look like when they open?

What are your queeries?

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Queerying Epiphany

Periodic queerier, River Needham, queeries today's reading from the Tanakh.

Tanakh - Isaiah 60:1-6
Arise, shine, for your light has dawned;
The Presence of the Becoming One has shone upon you!
Behold! Darkness shall cover the earth, And thick clouds the peoples;
But upon you the Becoming One will shine, and
Their presence be seen over you.
And nations shall walk by your light, Kings, by your shining radiance.
Raise your eyes and look about: the nations have all gathered and come to you.
Some of your children shall be brought from afar,
Other children like babes on shoulders.
As you behold, you will glow; your heart will throb and thrill— for the wealth of the sea shall pass on to you, the riches of nations shall flow to you.
Dust clouds of camels shall cover you, dromedaries of Midian and Ephah.
They all shall come from Sheba; They shall bear gold and frankincense, and shall herald the glories of the Becoming One.

Queeries for the text:
What light has dawned?
What is the Presence of the Becoming One?
What is darkness?
Where else does The Becoming One shine?
What is this Shining Radiance?
Can you be brought from afar on shoulders? What does this imply about those traveling?
Where else do hearts throb and thrill?


Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries today's gospel reading.

Gospel - Matthew 2:1-12
In the time of King Herod,
after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea,
magi from the East came to Jerusalem,
2asking, “Where is the child who has been born ruler of the Jews?
For we observed their star at its rising,
and have come to pay them homage.”
3When King Herod heard this,
he was frightened,
and all Jerusalem with him;
4and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people,
he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born.
5They told him,
“In Bethlehem of Judea;
for so it has been written by the prophet:
6‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who is to shepherd my people Israel.’”
7Then Herod secretly called for the magi
and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared.
8Then he sent them to Bethlehem,
saying, “Go and search diligently for the child;
and when you have found him,
bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.”

9When they had heard the king,
the magi set out;
and there, ahead of them,
went the star that they had seen at its rising,
until it stopped over the place where the child was.
10When they saw that the star had stopped,
the magi were overwhelmed with joy.
11On entering the house,
they saw the child with Mary his mother;
and they knelt down and paid him homage.
Then, opening their treasure chests,
they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
12And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod,
they left for their own country by another road.

Queeries for the text:
What are magi and which one is Jesus' star?
Why was all Jerusalem frightened with King Herod?
Why didn't Herod know where the Messiah was to be born?  Which prophet wrote that?
Why did Herod call the magi back secretly?
Why does Herod assume the baby will be a boy?
What does it feel like to be overwhelmed with joy?
When did the Holy Family get a house?
How many magi were there?  How did they make it across so many lands?  Why gold, frankincense, and myrrh?
What warnings are dreams bringing today?
How can we take another road?

What are your queeries?