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?






Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Queerying 4th after Pentecost A

ID: the name Ishmael written in Arabic calligraphy on a seal, in the style of Islamic art.

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

Tanakh: Genesis 22:1-14

Some time afterward, God put Abraham to the test. Xe said to him, “Abraham,” 
And he answered, “Here I am.”

And Xe said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the heights that I will point out to you.” 

So early next morning, Abraham saddled his ass and took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. He split the wood for the burnt offering, and he set out for the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place from afar. Then Abraham said to his servants, “You stay here with the ass. The boy and I will go up there; we will worship and we will return to you.”
Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and put it on his son Isaac. He himself took the firestone and the knife; and the two walked off together.

Then Isaac said to his father Abraham, “Father!” 

And he answered, “Yes, my son.” 

And he said, “Here are the firestone and the wood; but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?” 

And Abraham said, “God will see to the sheep for Xyr burnt offering, my son.” 

And the two of them walked on together. They arrived at the place of which God had told him. Abraham built an altar there; he laid out the wood; he bound his son Isaac; he laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 

And Abraham picked up the knife to slay his son. Then an angel of the Becoming One called to him from heaven: “Abraham! Abraham!” 

And he answered, “Here I am.” 

And they [the angel] said, “Do not raise your hand against the boy, or do anything to him. For now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your favored one, from Me.” 

When Abraham looked up, his eye fell upon a ram, caught in the thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering in place of his son. 

And Abraham named that site Adonai-yireh, from which is the present saying, “On the mount of the Becoming One there is vision.”

Queeries for the text:
Where is there revisionist history in this story?
How is revisionist history resisted today?
How does God feel about child sacrifices?
What's the purpose of a burnt offering?
Which documents are noticeable in this redaction of the story?
Were Abraham and Isaac historical people?
Where is Adonai-Yireh today?

What are your queeries?




Thursday, June 18, 2020

Queerying 3rd after Pentecost A


River Needham M.A. queeries the Tanakh reading.

ID: the Expulsion of Ishmael and His Mother, a wood carving by Gustave Doré

Tanakh: Genesis 21:8-21
The child grew up and was weaned, and Abraham held a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned.

Sarah saw the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham playing.

She said to Abraham, “Cast out that slave-woman and her son, for the son of that slave shall not share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.”

The matter distressed Abraham greatly, for it concerned a son of his.

But God said to Abraham, “Do not be distressed over the boy or your slave; whatever Sarah tells you, do as she says, for it is through Isaac that offspring shall be continued for you.

As for the son of the slave-woman, I will make a nation of him, too, for he is your seed.”

Early next morning Abraham took some bread and a skin of water, and gave them to Hagar. He placed them over her shoulder, together with the child, and sent her away. And she wandered about in the wilderness of Beer-sheba.

When the water was gone from the skin, she left the child under one of the bushes,

and went and sat down at a distance, a bowshot away; for she thought, “Let me not look on as the child dies.” And sitting thus afar, she burst into tears.

God heard the cry of the boy, and an angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heeded the cry of the boy where he is.

Come, lift up the boy and hold him by the hand, for I will make a great nation of him.”

Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. She went and filled the skin with water, and let the boy drink.

God was with the boy and he grew up; he dwelt in the wilderness and became a bowman.

He lived in the wilderness of Paran; and his mother got a wife for him from the land of Egypt.

Queeries for the text:
[Note: These questions are pointedly toward white people.]
What do the Midrashim say about Hagar?
How is this story important to Islam?
Who do you most relate to in this text? Why do you feel a connection with them?
Who do those outside of us say that we are?
Who do we cast out? How do we cast them out?
How are we our kindred's keeper?
Who dies from the temper tantrums of white women?

-----

Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Gospel reading.

ID: a house sparrow stands on a light gray stone. The sparrow is a light gray-ish brown with light brown and black striped wings on its back.

Gospel: Matthew 10:24-39
Jesus said:
24“A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master; 25it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of the household!

26“So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. 27What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops. 28Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30And even the hairs of your head are all counted. 31So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.

32“Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; 33but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.

34“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 36and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household. 37Whoever loves a parent more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves an offspring more than me is not worthy of me; 38and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.

Queeries for the text:
What is the difference between teacher and master?
How is this text problematic?
What happens when people with power request secret keeping?
How many hairs are there to count?
From where do we get our value?
What sort of peace does Jesus resist?
How are family dynamics complicated?
How do we define people? How do we define God?

What are your queeries?






Thursday, June 11, 2020

Queerying 2nd after Pentecost A

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

Abraham and the Three Angels (engraving by Gustave Doré from the 1865 La Sainte Bible)

Tanakh: Genesis 18:1-15

The Becoming One appeared to Abraham by the terebinths of Mamre; Abraham was sitting at the entrance of the tent as the day grew hot. Looking up, he saw three men standing near him. As soon as he saw them, he ran from the entrance of the tent to greet them and, bowing to the ground, he said, “My lords, if it please you, do not go on past your servant. Let a little water be brought; bathe your feet and recline under the tree. And let me fetch a morsel of bread that you may refresh yourselves; then go on—seeing that you have come your servant’s way.” They replied, “Do as you have said.” Abraham hastened into the tent to Sarah, and said, “Quick, three seahs of choice flour! Knead and make cakes!” Then Abraham ran to the herd, took a calf, tender and choice, and gave it to a servant-boy, who hastened to prepare it. He took curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared and set these before them; and he waited on them under the tree as they ate. They said to him, “Where is your wife Sarah?” And he replied, “There, in the tent.”

Then one said, “I will return to you next year, and your wife Sarah shall have a son!”

Sarah was listening at the entrance of the tent, which was behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years; Sarah had stopped menstruation. 
Then, Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “Now that I am withered, am I to have enjoyment—with my husband so old?”

Then the Becoming One said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Shall I in truth bear a child, old as I am?’ Is anything too wondrous for the Becoming One? I will return to you at the same season next year, and Sarah shall have a son.”

Sarah lied, saying, “I did not laugh,” for she was frightened.

But The Becoming One replied, “You did laugh.”

Queeries for the text:
What are the terebinths of Mamre?
What is the purpose of Abraham's greeting?
Where do the men end up going? Why?
How do these characters challenge misogyny?
Who menstruates?
Why does the Becoming One put words in Sarah's Mouth?
How is laughter life giving?
How does laughter kill?

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Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Gospel reading.


Gospel: Matthew 9:35-10:8[9-23]

35Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the reign, and curing every disease and every sickness. 36When he saw the crowds, Jesus had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37Then he said to the disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38therefore ask the Head of the harvest to send out laborers into xyr harvest.”

10:1Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. 2These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him.

5These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, 6but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The reign of heaven has come near.’ 8Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment. [9Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts, 10no bag for your journey, or two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for laborers deserve their food. 11Whatever town or village you enter, find out who in it is worthy, and stay there until you leave. 12As you enter the house, greet it. 13If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. 15Truly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.

16“See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. 17Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; 18and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. 19When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; 20for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Provider speaking through you. 21Sibling will betray sibling to death, and a parent xyr child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; 22and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 23When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Human One comes.]

Queeries for the text:
Who is harassed today?  Who is helpless?
Who is sent to their own people?
How do we create peace? What does peace not look like?
Who are wise as serpents?  Who are innocent as doves?  Who are both?
How does the Spirit speak through you?  Through others?

What are your queeries?





Thursday, June 4, 2020

Queerying Holy Trinity A

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

Tanakh: Genesis 1:1-2:4a

At the starting point, God formed the cosmos and the earth. The earth did not have shape; and darkness was upon the surface of the deep. God’s breath hovered over the waters on the earth.

God said: Let light be. Then God saw the light and that it was Good. God pulled apart the light and the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness Night. Dusk and Dawn were in there too. The first day came to be. Then, God wanted there to be an atmosphere between the waters. Let the atmosphere divide water from the water. So God made the sky and divided the waters under it from the waters above it. And so it was. God called the atmosphere heaven. There was dusk, then dawn. The second day.

Next, God said: Let the waters below gather together so dry land can appear. And so it was. God called the dry land earth and the gathered waters God called seas. God saw that all this was good. Later, God said: Let the earth produce grass, herbs with seeds, trees that bear fruit. And so it was. The earth produced grass, herbs with seed, trees that bore fruit. God saw that all this was good. There was dusk, and dawn. The third day.

Then, God said “Let the sky have lights to divide the day from the night. Let them move about and distinguish signs, seasons, days, and years. Let them be lights in the atmosphere of the heavens to give light to the earth.” And so it was. So, God made two big lights. The biggest one ruled over the day, and the smaller of the big lights ruled over the night and stars. God set these lights in the atmosphere of the heavens so they could give light to the earth, to rule over the day and the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. God saw that all this was good. There was dusk, then dawn. The fourth day.

Next, God said “Let the waters move with collections of living beings. Let birds fly above the earth in the open atmosphere of heaven.” So, God created the great sea creatures, and every creepy-crawly, and the waters were filled with motion; so was the atmosphere of heaven. God saw that all this was good, then God blessed the animals and said “ Be fruitful. Multiply. Fill the waters in the seas and let the birds multiply in the earth. There was dusk, then dawn. The Fifth day.

Then, God said “Let the earth create living creatures after it’s kind. Cattle, insects, and beasts of the earth after its own kind.” And so it was. God made living creatures on the ground after its kind, and every insect after its kind. God saw that all this was good. So, God said let us make a human in our image, just like us. Let them have responsibility over the fish of the sea, birds of the air. Over the cattle and all the things on the earth, even the insects. God created the human in their own image. In the image of God they created them. Male, female, between and beyond God created them. Then, God blessed them and said to them: Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth and take responsibility for it, and for the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, and for every living thing down to the smallest insect.

God said: Look – I have given you every herb yielding seed which lives anywhere on the earth, and every tree which produces seeds in its fruit. To you, these things are food. Likewise, to every animal on the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth with a lifeforce, I have given every green herb for food. And so it was.

God saw every thing that they had made, and Look! It was very good. Then there was dusk, and there was dawn. The sixth day.

So, the heaven and the earth were finished. The whole project. Then on the seventh day, God finished their work and they rested on the seventh day from all they had made. God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because in it they rested from all their work which God did in the course of creating.

These were the stories of Heaven and Earth when they were created.

Queeries for the text:
Who is the main character in this story?
Why was this creation narrative chosen?
Where is humanity’s responsibility today?
What queeries do you have for this text?
What does it mean for earth to have a start or a birthday?
Are there multiple starting points? What was present at this starting point?
What does it mean to be beyond or between gender?

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Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Gospel reading.

Photo from Disabled and Here
Gospel: Matthew 28:16-20

16Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17When they saw Jesus, they worshiped Them; and some doubted. 18And Jesus came and said to the disciples, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Provider and of the Prophet and of the Protest, 20and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Queeries for the text:
Which mountain was it?
What are the characteristics of God?  How are our songs about the Spirit disconnected from scriptural references?
What is divine authority like?
How else can we understand the Trinity?
What does it mean for God to be Provider?
What does it mean for God to be Prophet?
What does it mean for God to be Protest?
How is Jesus' great commission problematic?
How is Jesus' great commission comforting?

What are your queeries?



Thursday, May 28, 2020

Queerying Pentecost A


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

Tanakh: Numbers 11:24-30

Moses went out and reported the words of the Becoming One to the people. He gathered seventy of the people’s elders and stationed them around the Tent. Then the Becoming One came down in a cloud and spoke to him; They drew upon the spirit that was on him and put it upon the seventy elders. And when the spirit rested upon them, they spoke in ecstasy but did not continue. Two men, one named Eldad and the other Medad, had remained in camp; yet the spirit rested upon them—they were among those recorded, but they had not gone out to the Tent—and they spoke in ecstasy in the camp. A youth ran out and told Moses, saying, “Eldad and Medad are acting the prophet in the camp!” And Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ attendant from his youth, spoke up and said, “My lord Moses, restrain them!” But Moses said to him, “Are you wrought up on my account? Would that all the Becoming One’s people were prophets, that the Becoming One put Their spirit upon them!” Moses then reentered the camp together with the elders of Israel.

Queeries for the text:
How do we gatekeep people from our movements?
How is gatekeeping a helpful construct?
Who are the prophets who are ignored?
Who are the prophets we overhonor?
What do you have to say to the church today?
Who do you need to listen to?

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Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Acts reading.

Acts 2:1-21

When the day of Pentecost had come, the disciples were all together in one place. 2And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

5Now there were devout Jewish people from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. 6And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. 7Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? 9Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jewish born and proselytes, 11Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.”

12All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?”

13But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”

14But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd, “People of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. 15Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. 16No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: 17‘In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your children of all genders shall prophesy, and your youth shall see visions, and your elders shall dream dreams. 18Even upon my slaves, of all genders, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. 19And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist. 20The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Becoming One’s great and glorious day. 21Then everyone who calls on the name of the Becoming One shall be saved.’

Queeries for the text:
What kind of wind is violent?
What else can tongues do besides rest on people?
How else does communication happen on earth?
What bewilders us?
What is happening to native languages now?
What does this mean?
Who is prophesying today?
What visions are coming to people today?

What are your queeries?

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Queerying Easter 7A


Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Acts reading.

Acts 1:6-14
6So when the apostles had come together, they asked Jesus, “Leader, is this the time when you will restore the ruling power to Israel?”

7Jesus replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Parent has set by Their own authority. 8But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” 9When Jesus had said this, as the apostles were watching, They were lifted up, and a cloud took Them out of the apostles' sight.

10While Jesus was going and the apostles were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two people in white robes stood by them. 11They said, “People of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw Them go into heaven.”

12Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away. 13When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. 14All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as Jesus' siblings.

Queeries for the text:
Who is seeking ruling power today?
What is for us to know?
Who knows the times and periods?
What sort of power does the Holy Spirit bring?
Who have been witnesses to the ends of the earth?  Is it a good thing?
Who wears white robes?
Which certain women?  Who are certain women?
Who are Jesus' siblings?

For Ascension Day Queeries, check out this link to last year's Acts reading.

What are your queeries?




Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Queerying Easter 6A


Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Acts reading.

Acts 17:22-31
22Then Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said, “Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. 23For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, ‘To an unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.

24The God who made the world and everything in it, who is Leader of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, 25nor are They served by human hands, as though They needed anything, since God Themself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things. 26From one ancestor They made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and God allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, 27so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for Them and find Them—though indeed God is not far from each one of us. 28For ‘In God we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we too are Their offspring.’ 29Since we are God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals. 30While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now They command all people everywhere to repent, 31because God has fixed a day on which They will have the world judged in righteousness by a human whom They have appointed, and of this God has given assurance to all by raising Them from the dead.”

Queeries for the text:
What's the Areopagus?
What is it like to be extremely religious?
Does God need humanity?  Adoration?  Worship?
Which poets said we are God's offspring?
How are we God's offspring?
What do the art and imagination of mortals produce?
Where is judgment lacking?  Where is it needed?
How do people hold space for the unknown?

What are your queeries?




Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Queerying Easter 5A


Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Acts reading.

Acts 7:55-60
55But filled with the Holy Spirit, Stephen gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56“Look,” Stephen said, “I see the heavens opened and the Human One standing at the right hand of God!”

57But the religious authorities covered their ears, and with a loud shout all rushed together against Stephen. 58Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him; and the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.

59While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, “Sovereign Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60Then Stephen knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, “Becoming One, do not hold this sin against them.” When Stephen had said this, he died.

Queeries for the text:
Who is Stephen?
What prompted this?
From what do we cover our ears?
What happens when crowds get together?  Can good come from groups?
Why are young men dangerous?
Who does Stephen sound like?

What are your queeries?