Thursday, October 22, 2020

Queerying 21st after Pentecost A

Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Gospel reading.

Gospel: Matthew 22:34-46

34When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, 35and one of them, a lawyer, asked Jesus a question to test him. 36“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” 

37Jesus said to him, “’You shall love the Becoming One your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38This is the greatest and first commandment. 39And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

41Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them this question: 42“What do you think of the Messiah? Whose child are they?” 

They said to Jesus, “The child of David.” 

43Jesus said to them, “How is it then that David by the Spirit calls them Liege, saying, 44‘The Becoming One said to my Liege, “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet”’? 45If David thus calls them Liege, how can they be his child?” 

46No one was able to give Jesus an answer, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.

Queeries for the text:
How did Jesus silence the Sadducees?
How is silence good? How does silence harm?
What is Jesus quoting?
What are all the law and the prophets?
Who could be the Messiah?
How many questions does Jesus get asked in Matthew's gospel?

What are your queeries?

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Queerying 20th after Pentecost A

Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Gospel reading.

ID: on a white background black and gray text defines nothing from Oxford Languages as a pronoun (not anything; no single thing); an adjective (having no prospect of progress; of no value); and an adverb (not at all) with examples.

Gospel: Matthew 22:15-22

15Then the Pharisees went and plotted to entrap Jesus in what he said. 16So they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality. 17Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?” 

18But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites? 19Show me the coin used for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. 20Then Jesus said to them, “Whose head is this, and whose title?” 

21They answered, “The emperor’s.” 

Then Jesus said to them, “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 22When they heard this, they were amazed; and they left him and went away.

Queeries for the text:
Where did this conversation take place?
Who do I try to entrap today? Who tries to entrap me?
Who were the Herodians? Why would they collaborate with the Pharisees?
Who pays taxes? Who doesn't?
What purpose do taxes serve today?
Why do they have a denarius in the temple?
What does not belong to God? 

What are your queeries?

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Queerying 19th after Pentecost A

Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Gospel reading.

ID: Text above states "WORK-FROM-HOME FASHIONS" a person with dark, shoulder-length hair is shown three times, first with a zip sweatshirt, leggings, and hair part up; the second with a long, heavy sweater, pj pants, and hair in a towel; the third is labeled Skype Conference Look! and has glasses, a button-up shirt, schlubbiest pj pants, and hair down and brushed.

Gospel: Matthew 22:1-14

Once more Jesus spoke to the religious leaders and elders in parables, saying: 2“The reign of heaven may be compared to a president who gave a wedding banquet for his child. 3He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. 

4Again the president sent other slaves, saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.’ 5But they made light of it and went away, one to their farm, another to their business, 6while the rest seized the slaves, mistreated them, and killed them. 7The president was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. 

8Then the president said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.’ 10Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests. 

11“But when the president came in to see the guests, he noticed a person there who was not wearing a wedding robe, 12and he said to them, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?’ And the person was speechless. 13Then the president said to the attendants, ‘Bind them hand and foot, and throw them into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Queeries for the text:
To whom do we compare the reign of God?
Who would the president invite?
Who wouldn't show up? 
Who disregards the president?
Where are troops being sent? How are they destroying?
What happens when a ruler invites you somewhere?
Where is life?
What would happen if the people from the streets didn't want to go to the president's banquet?
Where is choice?

What are your queeries?

Friday, October 2, 2020

Queerying 18th after Pentecost A

Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Gospel reading.

ID: white letters read "What's the cornerstone of capitalism?" with graffiti on a brick wall in the background that reads "Capitalism is killing you"

Gospel: Matthew 21:33-46

Jesus said:

33“Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watchtower. Then she leased it to tenants and went to another country. 34When the harvest time had come, she sent her slaves to the tenants to collect her produce. 35But the tenants seized her slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. 36Again she sent other slaves, more than the first; and they treated them in the same way. 

37Finally she sent her child to them, saying, ‘They will respect my child.’ 

38But when the tenants saw the child, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill them and get their inheritance.” 39So the tenants seized them, threw them out of the vineyard, and killed them. 

40Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will she do to those tenants?” 

41The religious authorities and elders said to Jesus, “She will put those wretches to a miserable death, and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give her the produce at the harvest time.” 

42Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures: ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Becoming One’s doing, and it is amazing in our eyes’? 43Therefore I tell you, the reign of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the reign. 44The one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.” 45When the religious authorities and the elders heard Jesus' parables, they realized that he was speaking about them. 46They wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowds, because they regarded Jesus as a prophet.

Queeries for the text:
What expectations exist for adults to respect children
Who is this parable about?
What answers to Jesus would have reflected the reign of God?
How would Jesus have responded if their answer was different?
What stones are we falling on?
Who is being crushed?

What are your queeries?

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Queerying 17th after Pentecost A

Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Gospel reading.

ID: sun shining in blue sky over vineyards with red wine grapes in late summer

Gospel: Matthew 21:23-32

23When Jesus entered the temple, the religious authorities and elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” 

24Jesus said to them, “I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. 25Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?” 

And they argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ Jesus will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 26But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.” 

27So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” 

And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.

28“What do you think? A person had two children; they went to the first and said, ‘Child, go and work in the vineyard today.’ 

29The child answered, ‘I will not’; but later changed her mind and went. 

30The parent went to the second and said the same; and ze answered, ‘I go, Mx.’; but ze did not go. 31Which of the two did the will of their parent?” 

They said, “The first.” 

Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the sex workers are going into the reign of God ahead of you. 32For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the sex workers believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.”

Queeries for the text:
What did we skip?
By whose authority do you act? What authority is moral?
What is of divine origin? What is of human origin? What could be of both?
Who changes their mind? What happens when we change our minds?
What are sex workers doing today?

What are your queeries?



Friday, September 18, 2020

Queerying 16th after Pentecost A

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

ID: a modern recreation of Manna, involving pistachios, white blobs of carbohydrates, and figs.

Tanakh: Exodus 16:2-15 

In the wilderness, the whole Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the hand of the Becoming One in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots, when we ate our fill of bread! For you have brought us out into this wilderness to starve this whole congregation to death.”

The Becoming One said to Moses, “I will rain down bread for you from the sky, and the people shall go out and gather each day that day’s portion—that I may thus test them, to see whether they will follow my instructions or not. But on the sixth day, when they apportion what they have brought in, it shall prove to be double the amount they gather each day.” 

So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, “By evening you shall know it was the Becoming One who brought you out from the land of Egypt; and in the morning you shall behold the Presence of the Becoming One, because they have heard your grumblings against the Becoming One. For who are we that you should grumble against us? Since it is the Becoming One,” Moses continued, “who will give you flesh to eat in the evening and bread in the morning to the full, because the Becoming One has heard the grumblings you utter against them, what is our part? Your grumbling is not against us, but against the Becoming One!” 

Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to the whole Israelite community: Advance toward the Becoming One, for They have heard your grumbling.” 

And as Aaron spoke to the whole Israelite community, they turned toward the wilderness, and there, in a cloud, appeared the Presence of the Becoming One. The Becoming One spoke to Moses: “I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Speak to them and say: By evening you shall eat flesh, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread; and you shall know that I the Becoming One am your God.” In the evening quail appeared and covered the camp; in the morning there was a fall of dew about the camp. When the fall of dew lifted, there, over the surface of the wilderness, lay a fine and flaky substance, as fine as frost on the ground. When the Israelites saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?”—for they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “That is the bread which the Becoming One has given you to eat.

Queeries for the text:
Which character do you most relate to in this story?
What are fleshpots?
Where do we reject the God of Liberation?
Where else do we look for liberation?
What does God provide for us? 
Who changes in this story? How do they change?

Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Gospel reading.

ID: the accessibility icon is a black stencil of a wheelchair user leaning forward with arms back to push the chair forward.

Gospel: Matthew 20:1-16

“For the reign of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for their vineyard. 2After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, they sent them into the vineyard. 

3When they went out about nine o’clock, they saw others standing idle in the marketplace 4and said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. 

5When the landowner went out again about noon and about three o’clock, they did the same. 6And about five o’clock they went out and found others standing around and said to them, ‘Why are you standing here idle all day?’ 

7They said to the landowner, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ 

The landowner said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’ 

8When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to their manager, ‘Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.’ 9When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. 

10Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. 11And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, 12saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ 

13But the landowner replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? 14Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. 15Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ 16So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

Queeries for the text:
How would the world be different if no one were forced to work in order to survive?
Why didn't anyone hire the 5pm laborers?
What impact did finally getting hired have on them?
What happens if God is the person at 5pm with no work?
Who is the real enemy?
What does friend mean?
What if no one was last or first?

What are your queeries?

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Queerying 15th after Pentecost A

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

Tanakh: Exodus 14:19-31

The angel of God, who had been going ahead of the Israelite army, now moved and followed behind them; and the pillar of cloud shifted from in front of them and took up a place behind them, it came between the army of the Egyptians and the army of Israel. Thus there was the cloud with the darkness, and it cast a spell upon the night so that the armies could not come near the other all through the night.

Then Moses held out his arm over the sea and the Becoming One drove back the sea with a strong east wind all that night, and turned the sea into dry ground. The waters were split, and the Israelites went into the sea on dry ground, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left.

The Egyptians came in pursuit after them into the sea, all of Pharaoh’s horses, chariots, and horsepeople. At the morning watch, the Becoming One looked down upon the Egyptian army from a pillar of fire and cloud, and threw the Egyptian army into panic. They locked the wheels of their chariots so that they moved forward with difficulty. The Egyptians said, “Let us flee from the Israelites, for the Becoming One is fighting for them against Egypt.”

Then the Becoming One said to Moses, “Hold out your arm over the sea, that the waters may come back upon the Egyptians and upon their chariots and upon their horsepeople.” Moses held out his arm over the sea, and at daybreak, the sea returned to its normal state, and the Egyptians fled at its approach. But the Becoming One hurled the Egyptians into the sea.

The waters turned back and covered the chariots and the horsepeople—Pharaoh’s entire army that followed them into the sea; not one of them remained. But the Israelites had marched through the sea on dry ground, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left.

Thus the Becoming One delivered Israel that day from the Egyptians. Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the shore of the sea. When Israel saw the wondrous power which the Becoming One had wielded against the Egyptians, the people feared the Becoming One; they had faith in the Becoming One and their servant Moses.

Queeries for the text:
What do we need freedom from?  Who is setting us free?
How do we shift the leaders around us?
How does God work in the world?


Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Gospel reading.

ID: Kristin (@sodangfancy22) tweets: I graduated from college 8 years ago today. I was 28. I refused to go into debt for college so I joined the military. I kept my grades up and they took care of me. #CancelStudentDebt is a slap in the face to many like me. Spanky McDutcherson (@thatdutchperson) reply tweets: Imagine thinking "I had to enter into a situation where I potentially would have died or maybe would have had to kill others so that I wouldn't go into crippling debt just for an education" is a good argument to maintain that system.

Gospel: Matthew 18:21-35

21Then Peter came and said to Jesus, “Guide, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” 

22Jesus said to Peter, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times. 

23“For this reason the reign of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. 24When the king began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; 25and, as the slave could not pay, her lord ordered her to be sold, together with her spouse and children and all their possessions, and payment to be made. 

26So the slave fell on her knees before the king, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27And out of pity for her, the lord of that slave released her and forgave her the debt. 

28But that same slave, as she went out, came upon one of her fellow slaves who owed her a hundred denarii; and seizing them by the throat, she said, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 

29Then her fellow slave fell down and pleaded with her, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30But she refused; then she went and threw them into prison until they would pay the debt. 

31When her fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. 

32Then her lord summoned her and said to her, ‘You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?’ 34And in anger her lord handed her over to be tortured until she would pay her entire debt. 

35So my heavenly Parent will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your sibling from your heart.”

Queeries for the text:

What's so special about 77?
How does a person rack up a debt of 10,000 talents?
How can debts be paid when the debtor is imprisoned? When they are tortured?
Who is master in this story?
What is mercy?

What are your queeries?

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Queerying 14th after Pentecost A

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

ID: a Seder plate with wine and matzah

Tanakh: Exodus 12:1-14
The Becoming One said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt: This month shall mark for you the beginning of the months; it shall be the first of the months of the year for you.

Speak to the whole community of Israel and say that on the tenth of this month each of them shall take a lamb to a family, a lamb to a household. But if the household is too small for a lamb, let them share one with a near neighbor, in proportion to the number of persons: you shall contribute for the lamb according to what each household will eat. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a yearling male; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. You shall keep watch over it until the fourteenth day of this month; and all the assembled congregation of the Israelites shall slaughter it at twilight. They shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they are to eat it. They shall eat the flesh that same night; they shall eat it roasted over the fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs.

Do not eat any of it raw, or cooked in any way with water, but roasted—head, legs, and entrails—over the fire. You shall not leave any of it over until morning; if any of it is left until morning, you shall burn it. This is how you shall eat it: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it hurriedly: it is a passover offering to the Becoming One. For that night I will go through the land of Egypt and strike down every first-born in the land of Egypt, both human and animal; and I will mete out punishments to all the gods of Egypt, I the Becoming One.

Queeries for the text:
How else has this story been queered?
When does the first of the year fall this year? Have the traditions changed? How?
What Mitzvot are connected with this holiday?
Where else might we all contribute to ensure that everyone may be free?
What mitzvot involves doorposts today?
When is genocide permissible?

What are your queeries?

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Queerying 13th after Pentecost A

Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Gospel reading.

ID: map of the world centering blue ocean with off-white shapes for Africa, Australia, and Antarctica and edges representing other land.

Gospel: Matthew 16:21-28

21From that time on, Jesus began to show the disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the religious and legal authorities, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 

22And Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Guide! This must never happen to you.” 

23But Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”

24Then Jesus told the disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. 26For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life? 

27“For the Human One is to come with the angels in the glory of the Parent, and then will repay everyone for what has been done. 28Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Human One coming in Their reign.” 

Queeries for the text:
What's up with Jesus' rebuke?
What had Jesus told Peter right before this?
What are divine things? What are human things?
Who is expected to deny themselves?
What does it mean to take up my cross? What doesn't it mean?
Who is profiting from the whole world today? What are they forfeiting?

What are your queeries?

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Queerying 12th after Pentecost A

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

ID: an icon of two dark-skinned people, who I read as women. There is text in Ge'ez script on a golden yellow background behind them. The woman on the left is wearing a dark red headcovering, and the woman on the right is wearing a white headcovering. They are only visible from the shoulders up. These two women are identified as Shiphrah and Puah.

Tanakh: Exodus 1:8-2:10

A new king arose over Egypt who did not know Joseph, and the king said to his people, “Look, the Israelite people are much too numerous for us. Let us deal shrewdly with them, so that they may not increase; otherwise in the event of war they may join our enemies in fighting against us and rise from the ground.”

So the Egyptians set taskmasters over the Israelites to oppress them with forced labor; and they built garrison cities for Pharaoh: Pithom and Raamses. But the more they were oppressed, the more they increased and spread out, so that the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites. The Egyptians ruthlessly imposed upon the Israelites the various labors that they made them perform. Ruthlessly they made life bitter for them with harsh labor at mortar and bricks and with all sorts of tasks in the field.

The king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, saying, “When you deliver the Hebrew women, look at the birthstool: if it is a boy, kill him; if it is a girl, let her live.”

The midwives, fearing God, did not do as the king of Egypt had told them; they let the boys live. So the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this thing, letting the boys live?”

The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women: they are vigorous. Before the midwife can come to them, they have given birth.” 
God dealt well with the midwives; and the people multiplied and increased greatly. Since the midwives feared God, They established households for them. Then Pharaoh charged all his people, saying, “Every boy that is born you shall throw into the Nile, but let every girl live.” 

A certain man of the house of Levi went and married a Levite woman. The woman conceived and bore a son; and when she saw how beautiful he was, she hid him for three months. When she could hide him no longer, she got a wicker basket for him and caulked it with bitumen and pitch. She put the child into it and placed it among the reeds by the bank of the Nile. His sister stationed herself at a distance, to learn what would befall him. The daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe in the Nile, while her maidens walked along the Nile. She spied the basket among the reeds and sent her slave girl to fetch it. When she opened it, she saw that it was a child, a boy crying. She took pity on it and said, “This must be a Hebrew child.” 
Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get you a Hebrew nurse to suckle the child for you?” 
Pharaoh’s daughter answered, “Yes.” 
So the girl went and called the child’s mother, and Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child and nurse it for me, and I will pay your wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed it. When the child grew up, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, who made him her son. She named him Moses, explaining, “I drew him out of the water.”

Queeries for the text:
What did Joseph do for Pharaoh? (What did we miss last week?)
What are the rights of immigrants in the u.s.?
Who are the Shiprah's and Puah's of today? Who is Pharaoh in this analogy? What are the orders?
What life is found in the River today?
What should we be looking out for as we work for freedom for the whole human family?
What parts of the story do we miss when we read in translation?

Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Gospel reading.

ID: Six disabled people of color smile and pose in front of a concrete wall. Five people stand in the back, with the Black woman in the center holding up a chalkboard sign reading "disabled and here." A South Asian person in a wheelchair sits in front.

Gospel: Matthew 16:13-20

13Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Human One is?” 

14And the disciples said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 

15Jesus said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 

16Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Offspring of the living God.” 

17And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. 18And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. 19I will give you the keys of the dominion of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 

20Then Jesus sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

Queeries for the text:
Who do people say is human
Who do people say the Human One is?
Who is revealing humanity and divinity today?
Why are names important? How is naming powerful?
Why doesn't Jesus want the disciples to tell anyone

What are your queeries?

Friday, August 14, 2020

Queerying 11th after Pentecost A

ID: small- and medium-sized crumbs of bread are scattered against a light gray background.

Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Gospel reading.

Gospel: Matthew 15:[10-20]21-28

[10Then Jesus called the crowd to him and said to them, “Listen and understand: 11it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.” 

12Then the disciples approached and said to Jesus, “Do you know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard what you said?” 

13Jesus answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Creator has not planted will be uprooted. 14Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if one blind person guides another, both will fall into a pit.” 

15But Peter said to Jesus, “Explain this parable to us.” 

16Then Jesus said, “Are you also still without understanding? 17Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth enters the stomach, and goes out into the sewer? 18But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. 19For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. 20These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.”]

21Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.” 

23But Jesus did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.” 

24Jesus answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 

25But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” 

26Jesus answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” 

27She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” 

28Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

Queeries for the text:
How are the first and second parts connected?
How is what Jesus says ableist? What kind of guides are blind people?
What comes from the heart? How do words defile?
Why is hand-washing important?
Who else are Canaanite women?
Who has privilege and power in this text?
Who else is called dog?
Who receives crumbs?
How do words empower and resist?

What are your queeries?

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?