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 does 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?

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Queerying New Year's

River Needham, MA, queeries the Tanakh reading.

Tanakh: Ecclesiastes 3:1-13

A season is set for everything, a time for every experience under heaven:
a time for being born and a time for dying, a time for planting and a time for uprooting the planted;
a time for slaying and a time for healing, a time for tearing down and a time for building up;
a time for weeping and a time for laughing, a time for wailing and a time for dancing;
a time for throwing stones and a time for gathering stones,
a time for embracing and a time for shunning embraces;
a time for seeking and a time for losing, a time for keeping and a time for discarding;
a time for ripping and a time for sewing, a time for silence and a time for speaking;
a time for loving and a time for hating; a time for war and a time for peace.

What value, then, can the businesswoman get from what she earns? I have observed the business that God gave woman to be concerned with: She brings everything to pass precisely at its time; God also puts eternity in their mind, but without woman ever guessing, from first to last, all the things that God brings to pass. Thus I realized that the only worthwhile thing there is for them is to enjoy themselves and do what is good in their lifetime; also, that whenever a woman does eat and drink and get enjoyment out of all her wealth, it is a gift of God.

Queeries for the text:
What is time?
What has been born in your life this year? What has died?
What season is it in your community's or family's life?
What season is it in your life?
What is eternity?
Where do you find pleasure?
What things do you want to explore in the new year?
What gifts of God do you treasure?

What are your queeries?


Saturday, December 28, 2019

Queerying Christmas 1A

River Needham queeries the Tanakh reading.

Tanakh: Isaiah 63:7-9

I will recount the kind acts of the Becoming One, the praises of the Becoming One— for all that the Becoming One has wrought for us, the vast bounty to the house of Israel that She bestowed upon them according to Her mercy and Her great kindness. She thought: surely they are my people, children who will not play false. So She was their deliverer. In all their troubles She was troubled, and the angel of Her presence delivered them. In Her love and pity She Herself redeemed them, raised them, and exalted them all the days of old.

Queeries for the text:
What are kind acts?
What kind acts has the Becoming One done?
What kind acts has the Becoming One done?
Who plays false?
What's a location of trouble in our world?
Where and how is there deliverance from this trouble in our world? How does God participate?


Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Gospel reading.

Gospel: Matthew 2:13-23

13Now after the magi had left, an angel of the Becoming One appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, take the child and their mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy them.” 14Then Joseph got up, took the child and their mother by night, and went to Egypt, 15and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Becoming One through the prophet, “Out of Egypt I have called my child.”

16When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the magi. 17Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:
  18“A voice was heard in Ramah,
    wailing and loud lamentation,
   Rachel weeping for her children;
    she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.”

19When Herod died, an angel of the Becoming One suddenly appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, 20“Get up, take the child and their mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the child’s life are dead.” 21Then Joseph got up, took the child and their mother, and went to the land of Israel. 22But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And after being warned in a dream, he went away to the district of Galilee. 23There he made his home in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, “They will be called a Nazorean.”

Queeries for the text:
What if Joseph had warned the other families with young children?
What children are being killed today?
How are we weeping with Rachel?
Which came first: Joseph's decision or God's affirmation of it?
How do dreams work on us?
Why does Matthew care so much about making sure "that what had been spoken through the prophet(s) might be fulfilled"?

What are your queeries?

Monday, December 23, 2019

Queerying Christmas Eve

River Needham, queeries the Tanakh reading.

Tanakh: Isaiah 9:2-7

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, and 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. For a child has been born to us, a youth has been given us. Authority has settled on her shoulders. She has been named “The Mighty God is planning grace; The Eternal Mother, a peaceable ruler” in token of abundant authority and of peace without limit, upon David’s throne and kingdom, that it may be firmly established in justice and in equity now and evermore. The zeal of the Becoming God of angel armies shall bring this to pass.

Queeries for the text
What is brilliant light?
How often does light dawn?
What event brings great joy?
What happens at reaping time?
What are days that exist in infamy? Which days are missing?
Which grace is God planning?
Who is the becoming God?


For more queeries, especially Gospel queeries, check out our queeries from last year also on these same passages.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Queerying Advent 4A

Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeried the Gospel reading.

Gospel: Matthew 1:18-25

18Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When Jesus' mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.

19Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. 20But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of God appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21She will bear a child, whom you are to name Jesus, for this one will save the people from their sins.”

22All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by God through the prophet: 23“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a child, whom they shall name Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.” 24When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of God commanded him; Joseph took Mary as his wife, 25but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a child; and Joseph named the child Jesus.

Queeries for the text:
What does it mean to be righteous?
What would have happened if Joseph had dismissed Mary?
Why does verb tense matter?
What kind of name is Jesus?
What does virgin actually mean?
What did the prophet actually say?
How did Joseph take Mary?

What are your queeries?