Thursday, February 27, 2020

Queerying Lent 1A

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

Tanakh: Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7

The Becoming God took the human and placed them in the garden of Eden, to till it and tend it. Then the Becoming God commanded the human, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you are free to eat; but as for the tree of knowledge of good and bad, you must not eat of it; for as soon as you eat of it, you shall die.” Now the serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild beasts that the Becoming God had made. The serpent said to the woman, “Did God really say: You shall not eat of any tree of the garden?” The woman replied to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the other trees of the garden. It is only about fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden that God said: ‘You shall not eat of it or touch it, lest you die.’” And the serpent said to the woman, “You are not going to die, but God knows that as soon as you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like divine beings who know good and bad.” When the woman saw that the tree was good for eating and a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable as a source of wisdom, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave some to her husband, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened and they perceived that they were naked and they sewed together fig leaves and made themselves loincloths.

Queeries for the text:
How big would the garden of Eden need to be to support two humans today?
What are your favorite dangerous plants?
What gets omitted in this pericope?
How does this text speak to human biases in picking and translating texts?
Can serpents talk or reason?
How is good and bad decided?
What is wrong with being naked?
How are fig leaves sewn together?


Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Gospel reading.

Gospel: Matthew 4:1-11

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2Jesus fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards was famished. 3The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Child of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”

4But Jesus answered, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

5Then the devil took Jesus to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6saying to him, “If you are the Child of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, ‘God will command Their angels concerning you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’”

7Jesus said to the tempter, “Again it is written, ‘Do not put the Becoming One your God to the test.’”

8Again, the devil took Jesus to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; 9and the devil said to Jesus, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”

10Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written, ‘Worship the Becoming One your God, and serve only Them.’” 11Then the devil left Jesus, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.

Queeries for the text:
Why would the Spirit lead to temptation?
What comes from the mouth of God?
What is visible from the pinnacle today?
What would you trade for food?
What would you trade for proof?
What would you trade for power?

What are your queeries?

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Queerying Ash Wednesday

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

Tanakh: Joel 2: 1-2, 12-17

Blow a horn in Zion, sound an alarm on my holy mount! Let all dwellers on earth tremble, for the day of the Becoming One has come! It is close—
A day of darkness and gloom, a day of densest cloud spread like soot over the hills. A vast, enormous horde— nothing like it has ever happened, and it shall never happen again through the years and ages.

“Yet even now”—says the Becoming One— “Turn back to me with all your hearts, and with fasting, weeping, and lamenting.”
Rend your hearts rather than your garments, and turn back to the Becoming One your God. For They are gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in kindness, and renouncing punishment.
Who knows but They may turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind for meal offering and drink offering to the Becoming One your God?

Blow a horn in Zion, solemnize a fast, proclaim an assembly!
Gather the people, bid the congregation purify themselves. Bring together the old, gather the babes and the sucklings at the breast; let the bridegroom come out of his chamber, the bride from her canopied couch.
Between the portico and the altar, let the priests, the Becoming One’s ministers, weep and say: “Oh, spare your people, Becoming One! Let not your possession become a mockery, to be taunted by nations! Let not the peoples say, ‘Where is their God?’”

Queeries for the text:
What kind of horn is blown?
What emotions does the day of the Becoming One bring up in you?
How is darkness good in this text?
What is missing from the pericope?
Who Proclaims an assembly today?
What is the canopied couch in this text?
Who cries out to God today?


Queeries for Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 can be found here from last year and here from the year before.

Queeries for the day:
What blessings does Ash Wednesday give us?
How might music guide your Lenten journey?
What other queeries come up for you?

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Queerying Transfiguration A

River Needham M.A. queeries the Tanakh reading.

Tanakh: Exodus 24:12-18

The Becoming One said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain and wait there, and I will give you the stone tablets with the teachings and commandments which I have inscribed to instruct them.” So Moses and his attendant Joshua arose, and Moses ascended the mountain of God. To the elders he had said, “Wait here for us until we return to you. You have Aaron and Hur with you; let anyone who has a legal matter approach them.” When Moses had ascended the mountain, the cloud covered the mountain. The Presence of the Becoming One abode on Mount Sinai, and the cloud hid it for six days. On the seventh day She called to Moses from the midst of the cloud. Now the Presence of the Becoming One appeared in the sight of the Israelites as a consuming fire on the top of the mountain. Moses went inside the cloud and ascended the mountain; and Moses remained on the mountain forty days and forty nights.

Queeries for the text:
What mountain does The Becoming One tell Moses to go up?
Can tablets be made of stone?
How do we instruct?
Does the Becoming One have a body?
What other divine figures are represented by fire?
What is significant about forty days?


Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Gospel reading.

Gospel: Matthew 17:1-9

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. 2And Jesus was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. 3Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.

4Then Peter said to Jesus, “Duuuuuude, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

5While Peter was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Child, the Beloved; with whom I am well pleased; listen to him!” 6When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear.  

7But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.” 8And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone. 9As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Tell no one about the vision until after the Human One has been raised from the dead.”

Queeries for the text:
Six days later than what?
How does the sun shine?
How does whiteness dazzle?  What about darkness?
How was Peter going to make the dwellings?
How does touch challenge fear?
Why doesn't Jesus want anyone to know?

What are your queeries?

Friday, February 14, 2020

Queerying 6th after Epiphany A

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

Tanakh: Deuteronomy 30:15-20

See, I set before you this day life and prosperity, death and adversity. For I command you this day, to love the Becoming One your God, to walk in Her ways, and to keep Her commandments, Her laws, and Her rules, that you may thrive and increase, and that the Becoming One your God may bless you in the land that you are about to enter and possess.

But if your heart turns away and you give no heed and are lured into the worship and service of other Gods, I declare to you this day that you shall certainly perish; you shall not long endure on the soil that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.

I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day: I have put before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life—if you and your offspring would live— by loving the Becoming One your God, heeding Her commands, and holding fast to Her. For thereby you shall have life and shall long endure upon the soil that the Becoming One swore to your ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give to them.

Queeries for the text:
What dualisms are set up in this text? How can they be queered?
How are ways, commandments, laws and rules similar? How are they different?
Who are the other Gods? What kind of relationship to the Becoming One exists in this text?
How does the text handle its forays into the future? How does knowing what comes after change your encounter with the text?
What does it mean to value life? What are your personal growing edges in valuing life? What are the growing edges of society?
Where does choosing life lead us to today? Is that a worthwhile destination? What are the unintended consequences?


Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Gospel reading.

Gospel: Matthew 5:21-37
21“You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ 22But I say to you that if you are angry with a sibling, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire. 23So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your sibling has something against you, 24leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your sibling, and then come and offer your gift. 25Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. 26Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.

27“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell. 31“It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

33“Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Becoming One.’ 34But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35or by the earth, for it is her footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great Queen. 36And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’; anything more than this comes from the evil one.

Queeries for the text:
How does anger lead to death?  How is anger good?
What does "you fool" sound like?
Who are the powerful Jesus is talking to?  How does Jesus address power?
Who might be assumed to look at a woman with lust?  What does this imply about victim blaming?  How does personal responsibility impact these situations?
What would happen to a woman if she received a certificate of divorce?  How did they perpetuate the patriarchy?
What is Jesus saying about control?

What are your queeries?

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Queerying 5th after Epiphany A

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

Tanakh: Isaiah 58:1-9a (9b-12)

Cry with full throat, without restraint; raise your voice like a ram’s horn! Declare to my people their transgression, to the House of Jacob their sin.

To be sure, they seek me daily, eager to learn my ways. Like a nation that does what is right, that has not abandoned the laws of its God, they ask me for the right way, they are eager for the nearness of God: “Why, when we fasted, did You not see? When we starved our bodies, did you pay no heed?” Because on your fast day you see to your business and oppress all your laborers!

Because you fast in strife and contention, and you strike with a wicked fist! Your fasting today is not such as to make your voice heard on high. 

Is such the fast I desire, a day for humans to starve their bodies? Is it bowing the head like a bulrush and lying in sackcloth and ashes? Do you call that a fast, a day when the Becoming One is favorable? 

No, this is the fast I desire: to unlock fetters of wickedness, and untie the cords of the yoke to let the oppressed go free; to break off every yoke.
It is to share your bread with the hungry, and to take the wretched poor into your home; when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to ignore your own kin.

Then shall your light burst through like the dawn and your healing spring up quickly; your vindicator shall march before you, the Presence of the Becoming One shall be your rear guard. 

Then, when you call, the Becoming One will answer; when you cry, She will say: Here I am. If you banish the yoke from your midst, the menacing hand, and evil speech, and you offer your compassion to the hungry and satisfy the famished creature— then shall your light shine in darkness, and your gloom shall be like noonday.

The Becoming One will guide you always; She will slake your thirst in parched places and give strength to your bones. You shall be like a watered garden, like a spring whose waters do not fail. 

People from your midst shall rebuild ancient ruins, you shall restore foundations laid long ago. And you shall be called “Repairer of fallen walls, Restorer of lanes for habitation.”

Queeries for the text:
What fills the throat when crying out?
What's the problem with starving one's body?
Who is still working to be set free today?
Who are the kin being ignored?
Why are parts of the passage optional?
Where are there springs with unfailing waters?
Who are the repairer of fallen walls today?


Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Gospel reading.

Gospel: Matthew 5:13-20

Jesus said:
13“You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.

14“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. 15No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Parent in heaven.

17“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. 18For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. 19Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the reign of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the reign of heaven. 20For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the reign of heaven.

Queeries for the text:
How does salt lose its taste?
What does salt do to the earth?  To snow?  To soil?
Why build a city on a hill?
What kind of light?  Is light always good?
What does it mean to fulfill the law and prophets?
How do people teach others?
How can we be more righteous?
In what ways are scribes and Pharisees righteous?  How can we learn from them?

What are your queeries?