Thursday, June 10, 2021

Queerying 3rd after Pentecost B

Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Gospel reading.

ID: Epiphytic orchid (from family Orchidaceae) growing on a tree. Epiphytes are non-parasitic plants that grow upon or attach to a living plant, mainly for support. Epiphytic orchids have the smallest known seeds. Photographed in Madagascar by  Philippe Psaila.

Gospel: Mark 4:26-34
26Jesus also said, “The reign of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, 27and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, they do not know how. 28The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. 29But when the grain is ripe, at once they go in with the sickle, because the harvest has come.”

30Jesus also said, “With what can we compare the reign of God, or what parable will we use for it? 31It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; 32yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”

33With many such parables Jesus spoke the word to the gathered followers, as they were able to hear it; 34Jesus did not speak to them except in parables, but explained everything in private to the disciples.

Queeries for the text:
What did we skip?
What do we know about God's reign? 
What do farmers and gardeners know?
What conspires with the earth?
What's smaller than a mustard seed?
How great can a shrub actually be?
Why parables?  Why private explanations?

What are your queeries?

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Queerying 2nd after Pentecost B

Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Gospel reading.

ID: A screenshot of a 5-person zoom shows from top left to bottom right: 1-a white fat transgender woman wearing a purple and black blouse, bright pastel purple lipstick and purple hair. She is wearing a headset and her background shows green code like in the Matrix. Her name plate reads: River (she/her/hers or none). 2-a white nonbinary trans person with a green t-shirt and visible blue glasses, blue eyes, and a smile emerging from the outerspace view of a night on earth background with a colorful string of lights at the top.  Their nameplate reads: Emily E (they/them/elle). 3-Pace is an enby, their screen's name says Pace Dubs (they/them). They are wearing a blue knitted shirt, sporting a five o'clock shadow, and disheveled charcoal hair. The background is blurry. They have a delighted smile. 4-a white cisgay man offset to the left of his camera with dark hair and light facial hair wears a grey polo and dark gray zip hoodie and sits on a gray couch with a blurred background.  His nameplate reads Matt (he/him). 5-a white nonconforming woman with dark glasses holds her face in her hands and smiles adoringly at the camera.  She wears a blue-gray shirt and sits in a tall black office chair with a volcano erupting in the background.  Her nameplate reads suzannah (she/her).

Gospel: Mark 3:20-35
20and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat. 21When Jesus' family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, “He has gone out of his mind.” 22And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.”

23And Jesus called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? 24If a reign is divided against itself, that reign cannot stand. 25And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. 27But no one can enter a strong person’s house and plunder their property without first tying up the strong person; then indeed the house can be plundered.

28“Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; 29but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— 30for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”

31Then Jesus' mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him.

32A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to Jesus, “Your mother and your siblings are outside, asking for you.”

33And Jesus replied, “Who are my mother and my siblings?” 34And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my siblings! 35Whoever does the will of God is my sibling and mother.”

Queeries for the text:
When did the crowd come together before?
Who is out of their mind?  Who do we restrain?
By whom are demons cast out?
Who is divided?
What is a blasphemy against the Holy Spirit?
Why don't people come inside?
Who is family?

What are your queeries?


Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Queerying Holy Trinity B

River Needham, MA ThM queeries the Tanakh reading.

ID: metallic lips with matching metallic lipstick on some of the teeth.

Tanakh: Isaiah 6:1-8

In the year that King Uzziah died, I beheld my Queen seated on a high and lofty throne; and the skirts of Femmes robe filled the Temple. Seraphs provided Femme with service. Each of them had six wings: with two they covered her face, with two he covered their genitals, and with two she would fly. 

One would call to the other, “Holy, holy, holy! The Queen of Angel Armies! Femmes presence fills all the earth!” The doorposts would shake at the sound of the one who called, and the house kept filling with smoke. 

I cried, “Woe is me; I am lost! For I am a man of unclean lips and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my own eyes have beheld the Queen, God of Angel Armies.” 

Then one of the seraphs flew over to me with a live coal, which he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. They touched it to my lips and declared, “Now that this has touched your lips, Your guilt shall depart and your sin be purged away.” 

Then I heard the voice of my Queen saying, “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?” 

I said, “Here am I; send me.”

Queeries for the text:
Who is my Queen?
What does it mean to be high and lofty?
What's filling the house with smoke?
How are our lips unclean?
What about our lips is unclean?
What sins must be purged?


Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Gospel reading.
ID: Embodying the God who is Justice: Agitator, Educator, Organizer,  a black and white picture of a protest against the murder of George Floyd shows a crowd of people with two, both with dark skin and layers of clothing on, standing above the rest. The one on the left holds up a white sign with dark letters that reads "I CAN'T BREATHE" and has an arm around the one on the right, who is wearing a rain poncho and has an arm raised, fist in the air.
Gospel: John 3:1-17
Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jewish people. 2He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.” 
3Jesus answered Nicodemus, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the reign of God without being born from above.” 
4Nicodemus said to Jesus, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the parent’s womb and be born?” 
5Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the reign of God without being born of water and breath. 6What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the breath is breath. 7Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ 8The breath breathes where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the breath.” 
9Nicodemus said to Jesus, “How can these things be?” 
10Jesus answered Nicodemus, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things? 
11“Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. 12If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 13No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Human One. 14And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Human One be lifted up, 15that whoever believes in that one may have eternal life. 
16“For God so loved the world that Femme gave Femmes only Child, so that everyone who believes in Them may not perish but may have everlasting life. 
17“Indeed, God did not send the Child into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Them.”
Queeries for the text:
Have we read this before?
Which signs does Jesus do?
What kind of biblical interpretation did Nicodemus do?
What is born of water?
What is breath, wind, and spirit?
Whose testimony is refused?
How might the world be saved?
What's the rest of the story
Why does today matter?
What are your queeries?

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Queerying Holy Trinity C as Protest

ID: an interpretation of Rublev's icon of the Trinity, Kelly Latimore's Trinity depicts three angelic figures holding hands and seated at a table set with grapes and wheat on a rainbow tablecloth.  The person on the left has a medium-dark tone skin, loose, dark curly or wavy hair in a braid down the back, and a reddish pink robe while their free hand is palm up with thumb and middle finger touching and index finger extended; the middle person has dark skin and dreadlocks that fall to the shoulder with deep maroon clothing and a light blue fabric covering it on the right; the person on the right has medium-light skin, straight, black hair pulled back in a bun, and light blue clothing and a green fabric covering it on the right while their free hand rests on their knee, open and facing palm up.

The following Call to Worship and Opening Prayer are inspired by the Romans 5 reading for Holy Trinity in Year C as part of a series on Protest as Worship for Trinity Las Americas United Methodist Church.

ID: three Black and disabled friends (a non-binary person with a cane and tangle stim toy, a non-binary person sitting in a power wheelchair, and an invisibly disabled woman) smiling and taking a cell phone selfie together. All are outdoors in front of a white wall.
Call to Worship

We gather in relationship
The dance of the Trinity dances among us.

We gather for relationship
The dance of the Trinity calls us to a global dance.

We gather through faithfulness, seeking righteousness and grace.
God’s love pours into us through the Holy Spirit.

Through the Trinity God binds us one to the other
Your suffering is my suffering; their suffering is my suffering.

God calls us into relationship with our neighbors--known and unknown.
Relationship invites us into solidarity.

Solidarity gives purpose to suffering so that suffering might produce endurance.
The “suffering with” of solidarity’s endurance produces character, and character hope.

The hope of solidarity is the hope of faithfulness to God in relationship
The hope of the Trinity liberates us for the dance of collective freedom, the dance of the Trinity.

ID: two people, one on the left with dark skin, dark curly hair, and a beard and one on the right with dark skin, close-cropped black hair, glasses, and a large hoop earring, share a kiss.

Opening Prayer
Triune God,
Your existence danced the world into existence. Together you Create, Liberate, and Empower. You invite us into the deep relationship that is the heart of who you are. You are the love that grounds us, that becomes us, and that inspires us. Bring us into relationship with you and with our neighbor. Transform our relationships with others to provoke solidarity, inspiring our collective struggle for justice. Root our worship in protest and our protest in worship as we root ourselves in you. We pray in the name of our God who is Justice, Organizer, and Protest.

ID: three dark brown people float above and in rainbow lines of color like an ocean with a light blue line coming out and down from them, evoking the shape of a bird.


Sunday, May 23, 2021

Queerying Pentecost as Protest

ID: against the black of night, the yellow and orange flames of a fire are visible moving and breathing with the wind.

The following Call to Worship and Opening prayer are rooted in the Ezekiel 37:1-14 as a Pentecost text.

Call to Worship
The graveyard is full. The dead, dying, and killed with blood on the ground.
The price that has been paid is already too high.

The breath of God calls the prophets to prophesy,
even when all seems lost, when everything around is death.

The prophets prophesy. The people shout in so many languages
Black Lives Matter!
Free Palestine!
Trans people are divine!
Accessibility is a human right!
Ninguna persona migrante es ilegal!
Queer Justice, not Gay Rights!
Nothing about us without us!

The Spirit breaks in, knitting bone to bone, sinew on bone, and the very breath of life back into what was given up for dead.
People rise, not for the end that they can see, but for the present they can resist.

Life breathes in. Life breathes out.
The Holy Spirit is alive in resistance. In worship. In protest. In the world.

Opening Prayer
Creative Spirit,
You breathe life into your people in unexpected ways. When we’ve given up all for lost. When we’ve resigned ourselves that the government will never change, leaders will never listen, justice will never come, you break into our lives like the rush of a violent wind at Pentecost. Upsetting our assumptions, you upend the apathy and despair that we fall into. You celebrate the diversity of your people in tongues of flame and many languages. You breathe new life into bones that are weary, dead from violence, oppression, and neglect. You bring us back to life and send us into the world with new power, creativity, and connection. Inspire our worship. Inspire our protest. Be our breath.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Queerying Pentecost B

River Needham, MA ThM queeries the Tanakh reading.

ID: a cartoon of a person pulling a gurney out from the back of an ambulance in the background and a person with long hair and a beige outfit wearing a red cross armband performing CPR on another person with short hair, wearing a pastel purple top and jeans.

Tanakh: Ezekiel 37:1-14
The hand of the Becoming One came upon me. She took me out by the spirit of the Becoming One and set me down in the valley. It was full of bones. She led me all around them; there were very many of them spread over the valley, and they were very dry. She said to me, “O mortal, can these bones live again?” 
I replied, “O Becoming God, only You know.” 

Then She said to me, “Prophesy over these bones and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Becoming One! Thus said the Becoming God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you and you shall live again. I will lay sinews upon you, and cover you with flesh, and form skin over you. I will put breath into you, and you shall live again. You shall know that I am the Becoming One!” 

I prophesied as I had been commanded. While I was prophesying, suddenly there was a sound of rattling, and the bones came together, bone to matching bone. I looked, and there were sinews on them, and flesh had grown, and skin had formed over them; but there was no breath in them. 

Then She said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, O mortal! Say to the breath: Thus said the Becoming God: Come, O breath, from the four winds, and breathe into these slain, that they may live again.” 

I prophesied as She commanded me. The breath entered them, and they came to life and stood up on their feet, a vast multitude. 

Then, She said to me, “O mortal, these bones are the whole House of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up, our hope is gone; we are doomed.’ Prophesy, therefore, and say to them: Thus said the Becoming God: I am going to open your graves and lift you out of the graves, O My people, and bring you to the land of Israel. You shall know, O My people, that I am the Becoming One, when I have opened your graves and lifted you out of your graves. I will put My breath into you and you shall live again, and I will set you upon your own soil. Then you shall know that I the Becoming One have spoken and have acted”—declares the Becoming One. 

Queeries for the text:
When does life begin? 
Who has access to life?
Who gets breath when they can't breathe
Do the bones get to respond to the prophecy? 
What happens when bones get dry?
How can doom become hope?  


Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Acts reading.
ID: against a red background, white words read CHANGE COLOR IN A CAMPFIRE with white campfires on either side.  Six squares with tan backgrounds have various campfires coordinated by color with words above them: a green campfire with words above that read Add Borax for GREEN Flames; a purple campfire with words above that read Water Softener Salt for PURPLE Flames; an orange campfire with words above that read Table Salt for Deeper ORANGE Flames; a white campfire with words above that read Epsom Salt for WHITE Flames; a black campfire with additional yellow flames and orange words above that read Add Flour for More Flareups; a brown campfire with red sparks coming off and red words above that read Add Sugar for Sparks.
First Reading: Acts 2:1-21
When the day of Pentecost had come, Jesus' Chosen Family were all together in one place. 2And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as She gave them ability. 5Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. 6And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each.

7Amazed and astonished, the crowd asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? 9Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jewish born and proselytes, 11Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.”

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

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

14But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “People of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. 15Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. 16No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:

17‘In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your children of all genders shall prophesy, and your youth shall see visions, and your elders shall dream dreams. 18Even upon my slaves, of all genders, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. 19And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist. 20The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Becoming One’s great and glorious day. 21Then everyone who calls on the name of the Becoming One shall be saved.’” 
Queeries for the text:
Who were all gathered in one place?
When else do violent winds show up?
What all kinds of fire?
How many languages?
How many nations? Who's missing?
What's happening to Native languages?
Who do we sneer at today?
What has flesh?

Guest queerier, Pace Warfield-May, queeries the Gospel reading.

ID: a scene from the 2017 film Wonder Woman. The titular character is standing on steps with her mother behind her. In the foreground, a male soldier is wrapped by a glowing gold rope which a character to his left is holding. The rope is known as the Lasso of Truth.
Gospel: John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15
Jesus said to the Chosen Family:
15:26"When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Caretaker, the Breath of truth who comes from the Caretaker, She will testify on my behalf. 27You also are to testify because you have been with me from the beginning.

16:4b"I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. 5But now I am going to She who sent me; yet none of you asks me, 'Where are you going?' 6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts. 7Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Her to you. 8And when She comes, She will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: 9about sin, because they do not believe in me; 10about righteousness, because I am going to the Caretaker and you will see me no longer; 11about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.

12"I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.13When the Breath of truth comes, She will guide you into all the truth; for She will not speak on Her own, but will speak whatever She hears, and She will declare to you the things that are to come. 14She will glorify me, because She will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15All that the Caretaker has is mine. For this reason I said that She will take what is mine and declare it to you.”

Queeries for the text:
On whose behalf will the Advocate testify?
What is missing from this passage? 
What is the ruler of the world? 
What is the Breath of truth taking and declaring to us? 
What does the Breath of truth look like?

What are your queeries?

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Queerying Ascension B

Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Acts reading.
ID: a sunset fills the background while the sillouette of an open hand throws a silloutted paper airplane towards a crescent moon.

First Reading: Acts 1:1-11
In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning 2until the day when They were taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom They had chosen. 3After Their suffering Jesus presented Themself alive to the apostles by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the reign of God. 4While staying with them, Jesus ordered the apostles not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Caretaker. “This,” They said, “is what you have heard from me; 5for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

6So when the apostles had come together, they asked Jesus, “Leader, is this the time when you will restore the dominion to Israel?” 7They replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Caretaker has set by divine authority. 8But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” 9When Jesus had said this, as the apostles were watching, They were lifted up, and a cloud took Them out of their sight. 10While Jesus was going and the apostles were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two beings in white robes stood by them. 11They said, “People of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw Them go into heaven.”

Queeries for the text:
What would the book of God’s work in the world look like if you wrote it?
Who’s writing books about God’s work in the world today?
What many convincing proofs would you need? What would you provide?
Why would the disciples need to stay in Jerusalem?
What are the times or periods of God?
What is it like when the Holy Spirit comes upon you?
What do witnesses do?
When else has the divine appeared at the feet of those who gaze upward?


Guest queerier, Pace Warfield-May, queeries the Gospel reading. 

Gospel: Luke 24:44-53
44Then Jesus said to Their chosen family, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you--that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled."

45Then Jesus opened their minds to understand the scriptures, 46and They said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Anointed One is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, 47and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in Their name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48You are witnesses of these things. 49And see, I am sending upon you what my Caretaker promised; so stay here in the city until you have been bedazzled in the power from on high.” 50Then Jesus led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up Their hands, They blessed them. 51While Jesus was blessing the chosen family, They withdrew from them and was carried up into heavens. 52And they worshiped Jesus, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; 53and they were continually in the temple blessing God.

Queeries for the text:
Where have we heard this text before?
Who else entered heaven without dying?
What is significant about Bethany?
Where is heaven?
What happens to a body when it ascends through the stratosphere?

What are your queeries?

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Queerying Easter 6B

Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Acts reading.
ID: against a green background three small owls on a branch, two ont he right face toward the right, the one on the left appears to be falling off and trying to stay on
First Reading: Acts 10:44-48
44While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word. 45The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles, 46for they heard them speaking as foreigners and extolling God. Then Peter said, 47“Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48So Peter ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they invited him to stay for several days.
Queeries for the text:
What was Peter "still speaking" about?  To whom?
How much of a klutz is the Holy Spirit?
How do foreigners speak?
Upon whom are you astounded that the Holy Spirit has been poured out?
Who tries to withhold water?
How is reception of the Holy Spirit different for each person?

Guest queerier, Pace Warfield-May, queeries the Gospel reading.

ID: a meme by "generalgreviousdatingsim" which has four pictures: top left is a yellow duck stuffed animal with circular glasses and a grey bow-hat wearing overalls and a mail bag, top right is Gonzo from the Muppets wearing a yellow button down shirt and checkered pants, bottom left is a frog stuffed animal wearing a brown coat and brown striped pants, bottom right is the character Kirby in a large black circular hat and large black combat boots. The bottom of the image reads "gay people meeting up for brunch look like this."

Gospel: John 15:9-17
[Jesus said]
9"As the Caretaker has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. 10If you keep my commandments, you will abide and dwell in my love, just as I have kept my Caretaker's commandments and abide and dwell in Zer love. 11I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.

12This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15I do not call you subs any longer, because the sub does not know what the dom is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Caretaker. 16You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Caretaker will give you whatever you ask Zer in my name. 17I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.

Queeries for the text:
What does queer friendship look like?
How does slave/master language cause harm?
What do power dynamics have to do with friendship?
What commands do friends give each other?
What does complete joy look like?

What are your queeries?

Monday, May 3, 2021

Queerying Mother's Day

ID: a black and white image shows Julia Ward How with a head covering and ruffled clothing of the 1870s to the left of elegant script of the first half of her 1870s Mother's Day Proclamation.

The following Call to Worship and Opening Prayer are adapted from Julia Ward Howe's Mother's Day Proclamation in 1870.  Mother's Day originated in response to the Civil War as a call to work towards peace.

Call to Worship

Arise, then… women of this day!
Arise, all who have hearts, whether our baptism be that of water or of tears!

Say firmly: We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies.
Our loved ones shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause.

Our children shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We of one country will be too tender of those of another country to allow our children to be trained to injure theirs.

From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own.
It says: Disarm, Disarm!

The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.
Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence vindicate possession.

As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war,
let us all now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of council.

Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let us all then solemnly take council with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace.

Opening Prayer

Creator God, Mother and Parent beyond imagining,
You create each person bearing in their own kind the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
but of God. You value humans for our inherit worth, not capitalism and the exploitation and war it provokes. In the name of motherhood and of humanity, we earnestly ask that you guide us all, without limit of nationality, to promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of justice that leads to peace.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Queerying Easter 5B

Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Acts reading.
ID: a painted image shows Kia, the Ethiopian Eunuch, in a purple robe with a yellow halo lined in rainbow, riding a horse and carriage with a brown road and background hills with some blue sky visible.
First Reading: Acts 8:26-40
26Then an angel of the Becoming One said to Philip, “Get up and go up toward the south to the road that goes from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a wilderness road.) 27So Philip got up and went. Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury. Ey had come to Jerusalem to worship 28and was returning home; seated in eir chariot, ey was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over to this chariot and join it.” 30So Philip ran up to it and heard the Ethiopian reading the prophet Isaiah. 
Philip asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 
31Ey replied, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And ey invited Philip to get in and sit beside em. 32Now the passage of the scripture that ey was reading was this: “Like a sheep they were led to the slaughter, and like a lamb silent before its shearer, so they do not open their mouth. 33In their humiliation justice was denied them. Who can describe their generation? For their life is taken away from the earth.” 34The Ethiopian treasurer asked Philip, “About whom, may I ask you, does the prophet say this, about themself or about someone else?” 
35Then Philip began to speak, and starting with this scripture, he proclaimed to em the good news about Jesus. 36As they were going along the road, they came to some water; and the Ethiopian eunuch said, “Look, here is water! What is to prevent me from being baptized?” 38Ey commanded the chariot to stop, and both of them, Philip and the Ethiopian, went down into the water, and Philip baptized em. 
39When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Becoming One snatched Philip away; ey saw him no more, and went on eir way rejoicing. 40But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he was passing through the region, he proclaimed the good news to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.
Queeries for the text:
What had Philip been up to?
What is the role of education in faith?
Where in Isaiah is that passage?
From whom is justice denied
What else does Isaiah say? Who are they talking about?
What prevents people from being baptized?
Where all did Philip go?
Guest queerier, Pace Warfield-May, queeries the Gospel reading.

ID: rows of Northern California vineyards against a bright blue sky. In the foreground are flowering trees with white, cone-shaped flower clusters
Gospel: John 15:1-8
Jesus continued:
“I am the true vine, and my Caretaker is the gardener. 2Ze removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit Ze prunes to make it bear more fruit. 3You have already been pruned by the word that I have spoken to you.

4“Remain and dwell in me as I remain and dwell in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it remains and dwells in the vine, neither can you unless you remain and dwell in me. 5I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. 6Whoever does not remain and dwell in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7If you remain and dwell in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8My Caretaker is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”

Queeries for the text:
How do you bear fruit?
Why do branches stop bearing fruit?
How does pruning help things grow?
How does climate change affect vineyards and farming?
What do you wish for?
What are your queeries?

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Queerying Easter 4B

Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Acts reading.

ID: Scoop the backhoe, Muck the bulldozer with a fitted dump bed, Dizzy the cement mixer, and Lofty the crane from Bob the Builder drive together along a paved road under an overpass.
First Reading: Acts 4:5-12
5The next day the people's officials, religious leaders, and lawyers assembled in Jerusalem, 6with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. 7When they had made the prisoners, Peter and John, stand in their midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” 
8Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, 9if we are questioned today because of a good deed done to someone who was sick and are asked how this one has been healed, 10let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that this person is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead. 11This Jesus is ‘the stone that was rejected by you, the builders; it has become the cornerstone.’ 12There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.”
Queeries for the text:
The next day after what?
Who are the prisoners today?
How do names matter?
When do we question good deeds?
Who are the actual builders?
What happened after Peter's speech? 
What happens when the truth is too obvious to deny?
Guest queerier, Pace Warfield-May, queeries the Gospel reading. 

[video description: video shows a sheep being pulled out of a ditch by a young person. The sheep, once freed, immediately leaps back into the ditch and gets stuck again. The video then repeats this, but in slow motion.]
Gospel: John 10:11-18 

Jesus said, "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down their life for the sheep. 12The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs awayand the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. 14I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15just as the Caretaker knows me and I know the Caretaker. And I lay down my life for the sheep. 16I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17For this reason the Caretaker loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. 18No one has taken it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Caretaker."

Queeries for the text:
Who are the low-wage, seasonal, or migrant workers in our society?
Who is the wolf?
Who is the hired hand?
How do we know our own?
What else does Jesus say about shepherds and sheep? 

What are your queeries?

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Queerying Genesis 1:1-2:4a

For a virtual Easter Vigil project this year, I translated and shared Genesis 1:1-2:4a. I received a few requests for the translation I used, so here it is.

ID: dark blue and purple textured like water or cloud cover the bottom left of the image while silver swirls against blue in the top right half.

In beginning, when God created the heavens, the earth, and everything between and beyond 2the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.

ID: bright white and yellow with a yellow cross in the top left corner fade into dark purple and black with a black cross in the bottom right.

3Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness in all their goodnesses. 5God called the light Day, the darkness They called Night, plus Twilight, Dusk, and Dawn. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

ID: in various shades of blue, a cloudy texture is visible arcing across the top of the image while reflective water is visible below the clouds.

6And God said, “Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” 7So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so. 8God called the dome Sky, Atmosphere, Stratosphere, and Space. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

ID: land with grass in the top left blends through beach and marsh into water in the bottom right.

9And God said, “Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. 10God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together They called Seas, plus marshlands and beach. And God saw that it was good. 11Then God said, “Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.” And it was so. 12The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good. 13And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.

ID: the moon and stars are set against a dark blue in the top left, which blends through twilight, dusk, and dawn, to the bright yellow of the sun and light blue of day in the bottom right.

14And God said, “Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, 15and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. 16God made the two great lights—the louder light to rule the day and the younger light to rule the night—and the stars: constellations, galaxies, and cosmos. 17God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth, 18to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness, but not too much. And God saw that it was good. 19And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

ID: clouds cover the top half of the image with three birds visible in a simple line sillouette while water covers the bottom half with a green, smiling sea monster in the waters.

20And God said, “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky.” 21So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind and even the winged birds that swarm in the waters. And God saw that it was good. 22God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.

ID: a cow pokes its head out from the left of the image against a backdrop of land with grass on the left half of the image and a creeping spider in the upper right.

24And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.” And it was so. 25God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind, and even the animals that creep on the ground and swarm in the water. And God saw that it was good.

ID: symbols for various genders are visible against a white background.  Gender symbols visible from top left to bottom right are: female, male, bigender (example of female + male), androgyne, neutrois, agender/genderless, intergender, demiboy, demigirl, third gender, genderqueer/non-binary, pangender/poligender, epicene, genderfluid (example of female and male), transgender, transgender (alternative version).

26Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have responsibility over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” 27So God created humankind in Their image, in the image of God They created them; male and female, between and beyond, They created them. 28God blessed humanity, and God said to them, “Be fruity and multiply, and fill the earth and seduce it; and have responsibility over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.”

29God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. 30And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” God endorsed vegetarianism, and it was so.

31God saw everything that They had made, and indeed, it was all very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

ID: green, purple, and light gray spiral together in overlapping swirls.

2Thus the heavens and the earth and everything between and beyond were spent, and all their multitude. 2And on the seventh day God finished the work that They had done, and God rested on the seventh day from all the work that They had done. 3So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that They had done in creation.

4These are the generations of the heavens and the earth and everything between and beyond when they were created.

Queerying Easter 3B

Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Acts reading.
ID: a dark skinned, nonbinary person writes in a notebook while another dark skinned person, with shoulder length hair, with red tips reads a paper.
First Reading: Acts 3:12-19
12When Peter saw people running to the throuple, he addressed the people, “You Israelites, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made the person walk? 13The God of Abraham, the God of Rebecca, and the God of Jacob, the God of our ancestors has glorified Zer servant Jesus, whom you handed over and rejected in the presence of Pilate, though he had decided to release him. 14But you rejected the Holy and Righteous One and asked to have a murderer given to you, 15and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. 16And by faith in Their name, Their name itself has made this person strong, whom you see and know; and the faith that is through Jesus has given this person this perfect health in the presence of all of you. 
17“And now, friends, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. 18In this way God fulfilled what Ze had foretold through all the prophets, that Zer Messiah would suffer. 19Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out..."
Queeries for the text:
What did Peter see and do?  Why is Peter talking to his own community?
Who do we make walk
Who else are our ancestors
Who handed Jesus over?  Who bears responsibility?  What was Peter up to at the time?
How does naming give strength?
How do we act in ignorance?  Who acts in ignorance? 
Of what do they need to repentWho does NOT need to repent?


Guest queerier, Pace Warfield-May, queeries the Gospel reading.

ID: Artwork depicts Jesus with long hair and a beard, wearing white with a yellow halo. Jesus’ skin is rendered to look like a zombie: green with bloody wounds, yellow, deep-set eyes, and a mouth in a snarl showing exposed, decaying teeth. The image is accompanied by the text, in a red, horror movie font “ZOMBIE JESUS LOVES YOU.” The bottom right corner has the name of the artist, MrPeterRossiter.

Gospel: Luke 24:36b-48, Luke 24:13-49 for context

13Now on that same day two members of Jesus’ chosen family were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15While they were kiki-ing, Jesus Themself approached and went with them, 16but the eyes of the two chosen family members were prevented from recognizing Them. 17And They said to them, "What words are you kiki-ing with each other about while you saunter along?" The two stopped in their tracks, looking like they were in mourning. 18Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered Them, "You alone must be the only tourist in Jerusalem who does not know what happened?"

19Jesus asked the chosen family members, "What things?" 

The two replied, "The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20and how the rulers and chief religious leaders of our own people handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. 21But we had hoped that he was the one to liberate Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. 22Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the grave early this morning, 23and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. 24Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him."

25Then Jesus said to the two of them, "For fuck’s sake! How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to trust all that the prophets have declared! 26Was it not necessary that the Anointed One should suffer these things and then enter into Their glory?" 27Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, They interpreted to them the things about Themself in all the scriptures. 28As they came near the village to which they were going, They walked ahead as if They were going on. 29But they compelled Jesus, saying, "Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over." So They went in to stay with them. 30When They were at the table with the two, They took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized Them; and They vanished from their sight. 32They said to each other, "Were not our hearts lit on fire within us while They were talking to us on the road, while They were opening the scriptures to us?"

33That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. 34They were saying, "The Leader has risen indeed, and They have appeared to Simon!" 35Then the two told what had happened on the road, and how Jesus had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread. 36While they were kiki-ing about this,
Jesus Themself stood among them and said to them, "Peace and wholeness be with you."

37They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. 38Jesus said to Their chosen family, "Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have." 40and when They had said this, They showed them Their hands and Their feet. 41While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, They said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?" 42The chosen family gave Them a piece of broiled fish, 43and They took it and ate in their presence. 44Then They said to them, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you--that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled."

45Then Jesus opened their minds to understand the scriptures, 46and They said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Anointed One is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, 47and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in Their name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48You are witnesses of these things. 49And see, I am sending upon you what my Caretaker promised; so stay here in the city until you have been bedazzled in the power from on high.”

Queeries for the text:
Is Jesus a zombie, ghost, vampire, or other supernatural being?
Why were the disciples afraid and in doubt?
How does one disbelieve and wonder in joy?
What does bedazzlement from on high look like?
How would you react to seeing someone you thought had died?
How does the Road to Emmaus impact the story?
How do you witness justice, repentance, and forgiveness of sins?

What are your queeries?

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Queerying Easter 2B

Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Acts reading.
First Reading: Acts 4:32-35
32Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. 33With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Leader Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 34There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. 35They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.
Queeries for the text:
How is a whole group of one heart and soul? Were they really?
What happens without private ownership?
What do we hold in common?  What don't we?
What else happens with great power and great grace?
What do Jesus' words mean without needy?
What happens when lands and houses are sold?

Guest queerier, Pace Warfield-May, queeries the Gospel reading. 

ID: a reference to Caravaggio's painting "The Incredulity of St. Thomas." Image shows four Black men. One, Jesus, is pulling down his tunic to reveal his wounded side and hand. Another, Thomas, is in the foreground examining the wound and sticking his pointer finger into it. Two other disciples watch behind Thomas, looking over his shoulder.
Gospel: John 20:19-31
19When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where Jesus’ chosen family had met were locked for fear of the authorities, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace and wholeness be with you." 20After They said this, They showed them Their hands and Their side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Leader. 21Jesus said to them again, "Peace and wholeness be with you. As the Caretaker has sent me, so I am sending you." 22When They had said this, They breathed on the chosen family and said to them, "Receive the Holy Breath. 23If you let go of the sins of any, they are let go; if you hold on to the sins of any, they are held on to."

24But Thomas (who was nicknamed the Twin), one of the twelve, was notpwith them when Jesus came. 25So the other chosen family members told him, "We have seen the Leader." But he said to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe."

26A week later Jesus’ chosen family was gathered again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace and wholeness be with you." 27Then They said to Thomas, "Put your finger here, and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my wounded side. Do not doubt but believe." 28Thomas answered Them, "My Leader and my God!" 29Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe."

30Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of Their chosen family, which are not written in this book. 31But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Anointed One, the Child of God, and that through believing you may have life in Their name.

Queries for the Text:
What is the role of skepticism? What is the value in questioning?
Doubting Thomas or conditional Thomas?
Why did Jesus say “Peace and wholeness be with you?”
How do we address antisemitism in passages like this?
How is disability present in this story?

What are your queeries?