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?