Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Queerying 4th after Pentecost C

Periodic queerier, River Needham, queeries the Tanakh reading.

Tanakh: 2 Kings 5:1-14
Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Aram, was important to his ruler and high in his favor, for through Naaman the Becoming One had granted victory to Aram. But the man, though a great warrior, was a leper. Once, when the Arameans were out raiding, they carried off a young girl from the land of Israel, and she became an attendant to Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “I wish Master [Namaan] could come before the prophet in Samaria; he would cure Naaman of his leprosy.” Naaman went and told his ruler just what the girl from the land of Israel had said.

Then the king of Aram said, “Go to the king of Israel, and I will send along a letter.” Namaan set out, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten changes of clothing. He brought the letter to the king of Israel. It read: “Now, when this letter reaches you, know that I have sent my courtier Naaman to you, that you may cure him of his leprosy.” When the king of Israel read the letter, he rent his clothes and cried, “Am I God, to deal death or give life, that this fellow writes to me to cure a man of leprosy? Just see for yourselves that he is seeking a pretext against me!”

When Elisha, the man of God, heard that the king of Israel had rent his clothes, he sent a message to the king: “Why have you rent your clothes? Let him come to me, and he will learn that there is a prophet in Israel.” So Naaman came with his horses and chariots and halted at the door of Elisha’s house. Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go and bathe seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh shall be restored and you shall be clean.” But Naaman was angered and walked away. “I thought,” he said, “he would surely come out to me, and would stand and invoke the Becoming One his God by name, and would wave his hand toward the spot, and cure the affected part. Are not the Amanah and the Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? I could bathe in them and be clean!” He stalked off in a rage. But his servants came forward and spoke to him. “Sir,” they said, “if the prophet told you to do something difficult, would you not do it? How much more when he has only said to you, ‘Bathe and be clean.’” So he went down and immersed himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had bidden; and his flesh became like a little boy’s, and he was clean.

Queeries for the text:
Where was Aram? When did this story take place? Were there ruling powers even over these kings when this story took place? How would that change the power analysis in this story?
What does it mean for a child to be enslaved? What kinds of labor do u.s.ians expect from children today?
What is the significance of the prophet in Samaria? What does it imply about when this took place or when it was written?
How do we expect healing and labor from people without recognizing the great cost that often comes with being a healer?
Why was the King of Israel so upset at the King of Aram's demand? What does this tell us about the power dynamics at play?  Who has the geo-political power?
Why does Elisha have a better relationship with the Monarchs than Elijah? What parts of the story have been omitted that helped that happen?
In which other traditions is water a gift from the divine(9-11)?  Does that giftedness change if God is not invoked in the cleansing bath?
If you were retelling this story in a modern setting, what details would you change, and how? Which ones would you keep the same, and why?


Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Gospel reading.

Luke 10:1-11, 16-20
After this the President appointed seventy others
and sent them on ahead of him in pairs
to every town and place where he himself intended to go.
2Jesus said to them,
“The harvest is plentiful,
but the laborers are few;
therefore ask the CEO of the harvest
to send out laborers into the harvest.
3Go on your way.
See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves.
4Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals;
and greet no one on the road.
5Whatever house you enter,
first say, ‘Peace to this house!’
6And if anyone is there who shares in peace,
your peace will rest on that person;
but if not, it will return to you.
7Remain in the same house,
eating and drinking whatever they provide,
for the laborer deserves to be paid.
Do not move about from house to house.
8Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you,
eat what is set before you;
9cure the sick who are there,
and say to them, ‘The nation of God has come near to you.’
10But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you,
go out into its streets and say,
11‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet,
we wipe off in protest against you.
Yet know this: the nation of God has come near.’
16“Whoever listens to you listens to me,
and whoever rejects you rejects me,
and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.”

17The seventy returned with joy, saying,
“President, in your name even the demons submit to us!”
18Jesus said to them,
“I watched the Prosecutor fall from heaven like a flash of lightning.
19See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions,
and over all the power of the enemy;
and nothing will hurt you.
20Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this,
that the spirits submit to you,
but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

Queeries for the text:
What's missing?  What does Sodom have to do with hospitality?
Why 70?  Why pairs?
Did Jesus end up going everywhere he intended?
What would u.s. culture be like if hospitality were so reliable?
Why can't they greet anyone on the road?
How much peace is available to share?  What about freedom?
How much are the laborers paid?
What does it mean to wipe dust from feet?
Does the reign of God come near whether or not we welcome it?
Why are the 70 still so excited about the power?  Where are our priorities?

What are your queeries?

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