Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Queerying 4th after Epiphany A

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

Tanakh: Micah 6:1-8

Hear what the Becoming One is saying: Come, present my case before the mountains, and let the hills hear you pleading. Listen, you mountains, the case of the Becoming One—you firm foundations of the earth! For the Becoming One has a case against her people, She has a suit against Israel. “My people! What wrong have I done you? What hardship have I caused you? Testify against me. In fact, I brought you up from the land of Egypt, I redeemed you from the house of bondage, and I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.

“My people, remember what Balak king of Moab plotted against you, and how Balaam son of Beor responded to him; from Shittim to Gilgal— and you will recognize the gracious acts of the Becoming One.” With what shall I approach the Becoming One, do homage to God on high? Shall I approach Her with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Would the Becoming One be pleased with thousands of rams, with myriads of streams of oil? Shall I give my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for my sins? “She has told you, O human, what is good, and what the Becoming One requires of you: only to do justice and to love goodness, and to walk modestly with your God.”
Imbolc, Brigid, Nature, Trials, Slavery, Karbanot, Fight for 15, modesty

Queeries for the text:
What else is happening today, liturgically? In other faiths?
What do mountains listen to?
Does the Becoming One also have a case against the united states? What is that case?
As this text echoes the Parashot, or Torah readings this month, what does it mean to read this text through Christian eyes, who do not have the same history of religious oppression? What might it mean to read this text through white eyes, who do not have a history of slavery?
What kinds of offerings is the text proposing? Why is God not satisfied with any of them?
What is good and just?
How is modesty helpful and harmful?


Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Gospel reading.

Gospel: Matthew 5:1-12
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, Jesus' disciples came to him. 2Then Jesus began to speak, and taught them, saying:
3“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the reign of heaven.
4“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
6“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
7“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
8“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
9“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
10“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the reign of heaven.
11“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Queeries for the text:
What did we skip?  Why does it matter?
Who are the poor in spirit?
Who are the meek?
Who hunger and thirst for righteousness?
Who are the peacemakers?  Who aren't?
Who are reviled and persecuted?

What are your queeries?

Monday, January 20, 2020

Queerying 3rd after Epiphany A

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

Tanakh: Isaiah 9:1-4

The people that walked in darkness have seen a brilliant light; on those who dwelt in a land of gloom light has dawned.
You have magnified that nation, have given it great joy; they have rejoiced before you as they rejoice at reaping time, as they exult when dividing spoil.
For the yoke that they bore and the stick on their back— the rod of their taskmaster— you have broken as on the day of Midian. Truly, all the boots put on to stamp with and all the garments donned in infamy have been fed to the flames, devoured by fire.

Queeries for the text:
How is this text different if the first verse reads, "The people who walked in light have seen a calming darkness; on those who dwelt in a land of brightness, dusk and fallen?"
Does light exist without darkness?
How do you magnify a nation?
Who rejoices at reaping time?
When did the rod of their taskmasters get broken?
What garments were donned in infamy?
Why are the garments devoured by fire?


Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Gospel reading.

Gospel: Matthew 4:12-23

12Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. 13He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: 15“Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali, on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles— 16the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.” 17From that time Jesus began to proclaim, “Repent, for the reign of heaven has come near.”

18As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. 19And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” 20Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. 22Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.
23Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people.

Queeries for the text:
Why was John arrested?
Why would Jesus withdraw?
Where have I heard "Repent, for the reign of heaven has come near"?
How much does Jesus like the oppor-tuna-ty to cast out puns?
Why would anyone leave home and family?
How do you cure the sickness of white supremacy?
How do you cure the sickness of capitalism?

What are your queeries?

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Queerying 2nd after Epiphany A

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

Tanakh: Isaiah 49:1-7

Listen, O coastlands, to me, and give heed, O nations afar: the Becoming One appointed me before I was born, She named me while I was in my parent’s womb. She made my mouth like a sharpened blade, She hid me in the shadow of Her hand, and She made me like a polished arrow; She concealed me in Her quiver. She said to me, “You are my servant, Israel in whom I glory.” I thought, “I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for empty breath.” But my case rested with the Becoming One, my recompense was in the hands of my God.

Now the Becoming One has resolved—She who formed me in the womb to be Her servant—to bring back Jacob to Herself, that Israel may be restored to Her. I have been honored in the sight of the Becoming One, my God has been my strength. For She has said: “It is too little that you should be my servant in that I raise up the tribes of Jacob and restore the survivors of Israel: I will also make you a light of nations, that My salvation may reach the ends of the earth.”

Thus said the Becoming One, the Redeemer of Israel, her Holy One, to the despised one, to the abhorred nations, to the slave of rulers: kings shall see and stand up; nobles, and they shall prostrate themselves—to the honor of the Becoming One, who is faithful, to the Holy One of Israel who chose you.

Queeries for the text:
What naming customs might the Becoming One use?
Who else does God hide with her hand?
What else is in God's quiver? What might be a different metaphor for use today?
What might it mean to labor in vain?
Who might be restored today? Who are the survivors today?
Who or what is the darkness of the nations? How is darkness a gift?
What other scripture passages does this text bring up in your mind?


Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Gospel reading.

Gospel: John 1:29-42

29The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30This is the one of whom I said, ‘After me comes one who ranks ahead of me because they were before me.’ 31I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that this one might be revealed to Israel.”

32And John testified, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33I myself did not know this one, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Child of God.”

35The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, 36and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!”

37The two disciples heard John say this, and they followed Jesus. 38When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?”

They said to Jesus, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?”

39Jesus said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where Jesus was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. 40One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41Andrew first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed).

42He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at Simon and said, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter).

Queeries for the text:
The next day after what?
Why did John not know Jesus?
What do we testify to?
Is John trying to get rid of followers?
Was where Jesus was staying really that enticing?
Why does the time of day matter?
Why do we use Peter's translated name and not "Anointed" for Messiah?

What are your queeries?

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Queerying Baptism of Jesus A

Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Gospel reading.

Gospel: Matthew 3:13-17
13Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. 14John would have prevented Jesus, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”

15But Jesus answered John, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.

16And when Jesus had been baptized, just as Jesus came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and Jesus saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Child, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”

Queeries for the text:
What did we skip?
How far away is Galilee from the Jordan?
What else would we prevent?
Why is consent important?  Why does John's consent matter?
What do the heavens look like when they're opened?
Why is God already well pleased with Jesus?
What has Jesus done so far to earn God's love?
What does it look like for pigeons to alight on someone?

What are your queeries?

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Queerying Christmas 2A

River Needham, queeries the Tanakh reading.

Tanakh: Jeremiah 31:7-14
For thus said the Becoming One: cry out in joy for Jacob, shout at the crossroads of the nations!
Sing aloud in praise and say: Save, O Becoming One, your people, the remnant of Israel.
I will bring them in from the northland, gather them from the ends of the earth —
   the blind and the lame among them, those with child and those in labor —
   in a vast throng they shall return here. They shall come with weeping,
and with compassion will I guide them. I will lead them to streams of water, by a level road
where they will not stumble. For I am ever a Parent to Israel, Ephraim is my first-born.
Hear the word of the Becoming One, O nations, and tell it in the isles afar.
Say: The one who scattered Israel will gather them, and will guard them as a shepherd her flock.
For the Becoming One will ransom Jacob, redeem him from one too strong for him.
They shall come and shout on the heights of Zion, radiant over the bounty of the Becoming One —
over new grain and wine and oil, and over sheep and cattle. They shall fare like a watered garden,
they shall never languish again. Then shall maidens dance gaily, young and old alike.
I will turn their mourning to joy, I will comfort them and cheer them in their grief.
I will give the priests their fill of fatness, and my people shall enjoy my full bounty —
declares the Becoming One.

Queeries for the text:
What is the crossroads of the nations?
Which remnant of Israel is Jeremiah talking about here?
How does the way we talk about people with disabilities matter?
Why are they weeping when they return?
Where else are Shepherds in the Prophets?
Where else does mourning turn to something joyful?
Why is fatness important? What connotations came with fatness?


Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Gospel reading.

Gospel: John 1:[1-9] 10-18

[1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2The Word was in the beginning with God. 3All things came into being through Them, and without Them not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4in the Word was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
6There was a person sent from God, whose name was John. 7He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. 8John himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. 9The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.]
10The true light was in the world, and the world came into being through Them; yet the world did not know Them. 11The light came to what was Their own, and Their own people did not accept Them. 12But to all who received the light, who believed in Their name, the light gave power to become children of God, 13who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.
14And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen the glory of the Word, the glory as of a parent’s only child, full of grace and truth. 15(John testified to the Word and cried out, “This was the one of whom I said, ‘The one who comes after me ranks ahead of me because they were before me.’”) 16From the Word's fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Child, who is close to the Parent’s heart, who has made God known.

Queeries for the text:
Who is the Word?
How does Word become flesh?
What is true light?
What is the law?
How do we testify?

What are your queeries?