Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Queerying 18th after Pentecost C

Periodic queerier, River Needham, queeries the Tanakh reading.

Tanakh: Jeremiah 29:1, [2-3], 4-7

This is the text of the letter which the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the priests, the prophets, the rest of the elders of the exile community, and to all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had exiled from Jerusalem to Babylon  

[after King Jeconiah, the queen mother, the eunuchs, the officials of Judah and Jerusalem, and the craftsmen and smiths had left Jerusalem. [The letter was sent] through Elasah son of Shaphan and Gemariah son of Hilkiah, whom King Zedekiah of Judah had dispatched to Babylon, to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.]

Thus said the Becoming God of Angel Armies, the God of Israel, to the whole community which I exiled from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them, plant gardens and eat their fruit. Take wives and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters. Multiply there, do not decrease. And seek the welfare of the city to which I have exiled you and pray to the Becoming One on its behalf; for in its prosperity you shall prosper.

Queeries for the text:
How might this text be sent today?
Is the omitted portion necessary? Why was it omitted?
Where were the Angel Armies before the exile?
Who can build houses?
Who are the acceptable family members?
Who is erased in this passage?
Why is multiplication important?
What is the advice of this text to the exiles? What advice would you give instead?


Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Gospel reading.

Gospel: Luke 17:11-19
11On the way to Jerusalem
Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee.
12As he entered a village,
ten people who had leprosy approached him.
Keeping their distance,
13they called out, saying,
“Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”
14When Jesus saw them, he said to them,
“Go and show yourselves to the priests.”
And as they went,
they were made clean.
15Then one of them,
when ze saw that ze was healed,
turned back,
praising God with a loud voice.
16Ze prostrated zirself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him.
And ze was a Samaritan.
17Then Jesus asked,
“Were not ten made clean?
But the other nine, where are they?
18Was none of them found to return and give praise to God
except this foreigner?”
19Then Jesus said to zem,
“Get up and go on your way;
your faith has made you well.”

Queeries for the text:
How much does the number 10 matter?
Why did the one turn back?  Why didn't the 9?
Why does it matter that ze was a Samaritan?
In returning to Jesus, did the Samaritan come out about zir identity?
Where can we give praise to the Divine?
Who isn't a foreigner in the region between two places?
Why does praising the Samaritan's faith matter?
Who are foreigners?  Who have always lived in the place?

What are your queeries?

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Queerying 17th after Pentecost C

Periodic queerier, River Needham, queeries the Tanakh reading.

Tanakh: Lamentations 1:1-5

Alas! Lonely sits the city that was once great with people! She that was great among nations has become like a widow. The princess among states has become a thrall. Bitterly she weeps in the night, her cheek wet with tears. There is none to comfort her of all her friends. All her allies have betrayed her; they have become her foes. Judah has gone into exile because of misery and harsh oppression; When she settled among the nations, she found no rest; all her pursuers overtook her in the narrow places. Zion's roads are in mourning, empty of festival pilgrims; all her gates are deserted. Her priests sigh, her maidens are unhappy—she is utterly disconsolate! Her enemies are now the masters, her foes are at ease, because the Becoming One has afflicted her for her many transgressions; her infants have gone into captivity before the enemy.

Queeries for the text:
What cities were once great with people?
Who weeps bitterly in the night? Why?
Who has been betrayed?
Who is in exile?
Where are there roads in mourning?
Where are the gates deserted?
Who is disconsolate?


Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Gospel reading.

Gospel: Luke 17:5-10
5The apostles said to the Powerful One, “Increase our faith!”

6The Powerful One replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.

7“Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here at once and take your place at the table’? 8Would you not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink’? 9Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? 10So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, ‘We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!’”

Queeries for the text:
What did we skip? Why might that be?
How does someone go about increasing someone else's faith?
What does Jesus' question imply about slavery?
(How) is slavery (in)compatible with following Jesus?
What sort of environment do mulberry trees need to grow?
Who among us has slaves?
Who does and who doesn't get a place at the table?

What are your queeries?

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Queerying 16th after Pentecost C

Periodic queerier, River Needham, queeries the Tanakh reading.

Tanakh: Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15

The word which came to Jeremiah from the Becoming One in the tenth year of King Zedekiah of Judah, which was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar. At that time the army of the king of Babylon was besieging Jerusalem, and the prophet Jeremiah was confined in the prison compound attached to the palace of the king of Judah. For King Zedekiah of Judah had confined him,
Jeremiah said: The word of the Becoming One came to me:
Hanamel, the son of your uncle Shallum, will come to you and say,
“Buy my land in Anathoth, for you are next in succession to redeem it by purchase.”
And just as the Becoming One had said, my cousin Hanamel came to me in the prison compound and said to me,
“Please buy my land in Anathoth, in the territory of Benjamin; for the right of succession is yours, and you have the duty of redemption. Buy it.”
Then I knew that it was indeed the word of the Becoming One. So I bought the land in Anathoth from my cousin Hanamel. I weighed out the money to him, seventeen shekels of silver.I wrote a deed, sealed it, and had it witnessed; and I weighed out the silver on a balance. I took the deed of purchase, the sealed text and the open one according to rule and law, and gave the deed to Baruch son of Neriah son of Mahseiah in the presence of my kinsman Hanamel, of the witnesses who were named in the deed, and all the Judeans who were sitting in the prison compound.  In their presence I charged Baruch as follows:
Thus said the Ruler of Angel Armies, the God of Israel: “Take these documents, this deed of purchase, the sealed text and the open one, and put them into an earthen jar, so that they may last a long time.”
For thus said the God of Angel Armies, the God of Israel: “Houses, fields, and vineyards shall again be purchased in this land.”

Queeries for the text:
What is missing from this reading?
When did this happen? What did the world look like?
Who is confined?
Where is Anathoth?
When can prisoners buy and sell today?
How long do earthen jars last?
When were houses, fields and vineyards again purchased in the land? Who remained in the land?


Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Gospel reading.

Gospel: Luke 16:19-31

Jesus said:
19“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores.

22The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. 23In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side.

24He called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.’

25But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. 26Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.’

27He said, ‘Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house— 28for I have five brothers—that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.’

29Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’

30He said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’

31He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

Queeries for the text:
What did we skipWhy?
What is with Jesus and all the rich folks?!
What's so great about purple?
What does the name Lazarus mean? Why is the name important?
What impact do dogs have?
Why does the rich man still think he can get what he wants?
Is the after life zero-sum?
What will it take for true repentance from evil?

What are your queeries?

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Queerying 15th after Pentecost C

Periodic queerier, River Needham, queeries the Tanakh reading.

Tanakh: Jeremiah 8:18-8:23(9:1)

When in grief I would seek comfort, my heart is sick within me.
“Is not the Becoming One in Zion? Is not her Majesty within her?
 Why then did they anger me with their images, with alien futilities?”
Hark! The outcry of my poor people from the land far and wide:
“Harvest is past, summer is gone, and we have not been saved.”
Because my people are shattered I am shattered;
I am dejected, seized by desolation.
Is there no balm in Gilead?
Can no physician be found?
Why has healing not yet come to my poor people?
Oh, that my head were water, my eyes a fount of tears! Then would I weep day and night for the slain of my poor people.

Queeries for the text:
What do we grieve?
How do we find comfort?
What makes our heart sick?
What is Zion?
What do we need to be saved from? Who will save us?
How are people shattered?
Where does Gilead show up?
Who are the slain of my poor people?


Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Gospel reading.

Gospel: Luke16:1-13

Then Jesus said to the disciples,
“There was a rich man who had a manager,
and charges were brought to him
that the manager was squandering his property.
2So the rich man summoned her and said to her,
‘What is this that I hear about you?
Give me an accounting of your management,
because you cannot be my manager any longer.’
3Then the manager said to herself,
‘What will I do, now that my master is taking the position away from me?
I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg.
4I have decided what to do so that,
when I am dismissed as manager,
people may welcome me into their homes.’
5So, summoning her master’s debtors one by one, she asked the first,
‘How much do you owe my master?’
6Ze answered,
‘A hundred jugs of olive oil.’
She said to zim,
‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it fifty.’
7Then she asked another,
‘And how much do you owe?’
Fae replied,
‘A hundred containers of wheat.’
She said to faer,
‘Take your bill and make it eighty.’
8And her master commended the dishonest manager
because she had acted shrewdly;
for the children of this age are more shrewd
in dealing with their own generation
than are the children of light.
9And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth
so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the everlasting homes.
10“Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much;
and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much.
11If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth,
who will entrust to you the true riches?
12And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another,
who will give you what is your own?
13No slave can serve two masters;
for a slave will either hate the one and love the other,
or be devoted to the one and despise the other.
You cannot serve God and wealth.”

Queeries for the text:
What did we skip?
How does gender change how we read this?
What kind of manager was this?
How is divide and conquer at work?
How does this manager resist the divide and conquer mentality?
How big is the difference between what is owed and what was borrowed?
What does it mean to act shrew(d)ly?
How does Jesus evaluate and value wealth?
What master do I serve?

What are your queeries?

Friday, September 13, 2019

Queerying 14th after Pentecost C

Periodic queerier, River Needham, queeries the Tanakh reading.

Tanakh: Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28
At that time, it shall be said concerning this people and Jerusalem:
The conduct of my poor people is like searing wind from the bare heights of the desert—
It will not serve to winnow or to fan. A full blast from them comes against me: Now I, in turn, will bring charges against them.
For my people are stupid, they give me no heed; they are foolish children,  they are not intelligent. they are clever at doing wrong and unable to do right. I look at the earth, it is unformed and void; at the skies, their light is gone. I look at the mountains, they are quaking, and all the hills are rocking. I look: no human is left, and all the birds of the sky have fled. I look: the farmland is desert, and all its towns are in ruin√≥ Because of the Becoming One, because of zir blazing anger. For thus said the Becoming One: the whole land shall be desolate, but I will not make an end of it. For this the earth mourns, and skies are dark above√≥ because I have spoken, I have planned, and I will not relent or turn back from it.

Queeries for the text:
Where is the heat coming from? Why is it the humans' fault?
What charges might God bring against humans today?
What is missing from the assigned text?
Is the speaker justified in using ableist slurs? Why or why not?
Where else are white humans unable to do right?
What does it mean to be unformed and void?
Where did the humans go?


Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Gospel reading.


Gospel: Luke 15:1-10
Now all the tax collectors and "those people"
were coming near to listen to Jesus.
2And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying,
“This fellow welcomes 'those people' and eats with them.”
3So Jesus told them this parable:
4“Which one of you,
having a hundred sheep and losing one of them,
does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness
and go after the one that is lost until you find it?
5When you have found it,
you lay it on your shoulders and rejoice.
6And when you come home,
you call together your friends and neighbors, saying to them,
‘Rejoice with me,
for I have found my sheep that was lost.’
7Just so, I tell you,
there will be more joy in heaven over one of 'those people' who repents
than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
8“Or what woman having ten silver coins,
if she loses one of them,
does not light a lamp,
sweep the house,
and search carefully until she finds it?
9When she has found it,
she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying,
‘Rejoice with me,
for I have found the coin that I had lost.’
10Just so, I tell you,
there is joy in the presence of the angels of God
over one of 'those people' who repents.”

Queeries for the text:
What did we skip?  What does the RCL have against salt?
What kind of nonsense is leaving 99 perfectly good sheep to find the one sheep that might already be killed and eaten?
Why would you throw a party costing more than the lost sheep?
Did the sheep repent? Or was it the shepherd?  Can sheep repent?  Can coins?
How much is a silver coin worth?  Who would search for the lost?
How do you lose one coin out of ten?
Why spend the found coin—and perhaps more—on a party?
How do we anthropomorphize what is not human or not alive?
Who is lost?  How?

What are your queeries?

Monday, September 2, 2019

Queerying 13th after Pentecost C

Periodic queerier, River Needham, queeries the Tanakh reading.

Tanakh: Jeremiah 18:1-11
The word which came to Jeremiah from the Becoming One:
“Go down to the house of a potter, and there I will impart my words to you.”
So I went down to the house of a potter, and found her working at the wheel. And if the vessel she was making was spoiled, as happens to clay in the potter’s hands, she would make it into another vessel, such as the potter saw fit to make.
Then the word of the Becoming One came to me:
O House of Israel, can I not deal with you like this potter?—says the Becoming One. Just like clay in the hands of the potter, so are you in My hands, O House of Israel! At one moment I may decree that a nation or a kingdom shall be uprooted and pulled down and destroyed; but if that nation against which I made the decree turns back from its wickedness, I change my mind concerning the punishment I planned to bring on it. At another moment I may decree that a nation or a kingdom shall be built and planted; but if it does what is displeasing to me and does not obey me, then I change my mind concerning the good I planned to bestow upon it. And now, say to the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: Thus said the Becoming One: I am devising disaster for you and laying plans against you. Turn back, each of you, from your wicked ways, and mend your ways and your actions!

Queeries for the text:
Where else do potters show up in the Tanakh?
How do you make pottery?
How was pottery used during this time period?
Where else does God change hir mind?
Where today do we hear the message that change is possible?
How can we (white u.s.ians) repent of our past ways?
What do we (white u.s.ians) need to repent of in our ways and actions?


Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Gospel reading.


Gospel: Luke 14:25-33
25Now large crowds were traveling with Jesus;
and he turned and said to them,
26“Whoever comes to me
and does not hate parents of all genders,
spouse and children,
siblings of any gender,
yes, and even life itself,
cannot be my disciple.
27Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me
cannot be my disciple.
28For which of you,
intending to build a tower,
does not first sit down and estimate the cost,
to see whether you have enough to complete it?
29Otherwise, when you have laid a foundation
and are not able to finish,
all who see it will begin to ridicule you, 30saying,
‘This person began to build and was not able to finish.’
31Or what king,
going out to wage war against another king,
will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand
to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand?
32If he cannot,
then, while the other is still far away,
he sends a delegation
and asks for the terms of peace.
33So therefore, none of you can become my disciple
if you do not give up all your possessions.

Queeries for the text:
What did we skip?
What does it mean to hate family?
What about Christian Family Values™?
What does it mean to carry the cross?  What does it not mean to carry the cross?
What happens when tariffs are imposed mid-build?
What is being built now?  Will it be finished?
What about seeking peace if we have the 20,000?
Is Jesus a socialist?
What can happen when you don't finish?

What are your queeries?

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Queerying 12th after Pentecost C

Periodic queerier, River Needham, queeries the Tanakh reading.

Tanakh: Jeremiah 2:4-13

Hear the word of the Becoming One, O House of Jacob, Every clan of the House of Israel!
Thus said the Becoming One: What wrong did your ancestors find in me that they abandoned me and went after delusion and were deluded?

They never asked themselves, “Where is the Becoming One, who brought us up from the land of Egypt, who led us through the wilderness, a land of deserts and pits, a land of drought and darkness, a land no human had traversed, where no human being had dwelt?”

I brought you to this country of farmland to enjoy its fruit and its bounty; but you came and defiled my land, you made my possession abhorrent. The priests never asked themselves, “Where is the Becoming One?” The guardians of the teaching ignored me; the rulers rebelled against me, and the prophets prophesied by Baal and followed what can do no good.

Oh, I will go on accusing you —declares the Becoming One— And I will accuse your children’s children! Just cross over to the isles of the Kittim and look, send to Kedar and observe carefully; see if anything like this has ever happened: has any nation changed its gods even though they are not gods? But my people have exchanged their glory for what can do no good. Be appalled, O heavens, at this; be horrified, utterly dazed! —says the Becoming One.

For my people have done a twofold wrong: they have forsaken me, the fount of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, which cannot even hold water.

Queeries for the text:
Why does God make this announcement?
Who is the voice of God?
How does the Becoming One deal with abandonment?
Where is the land no human had traversed and no human had dwelt?
How does land become defiled?
Who was Baal?
Why is the Becoming One accusing and commanding the heavens to be horrified?
How does the Becoming One justify Hir anger?
What is a cistern?


Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Gospel reading.

Gospel: Luke 14:1, 7-14
On one occasion
when Jesus was going to the house
of a leader of the Pharisees
to eat a meal on the sabbath,
they were watching him closely.

7When Jesus noticed how the guests chose the places of honor,
he told them a parable.
8“When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet,
do not sit down at the place of honor,
in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host;
9and the host who invited both of you
may come and say to you,
‘Give this person your place,’
and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place.
10But when you are invited,
go and sit down at the lowest place,
so that when your host comes,
your host may say to you,
‘Friend, move up higher’;
then you will be honored
in the presence of all who sit at the table with you.
11For all who exalt themselves will be humbled,
and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

12Jesus said also to the one who had invited him,
“When you give a luncheon or a dinner,
do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors,
in case they may invite you in return,
and you would be repaid.
13But when you give a banquet,
invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.
14And you will be blessed,
because they cannot repay you,
for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Queeries for the text:
What did we skip?  What's missing?
How often did Jesus eat with Pharisees?
Who were watching Jesus closely?
How was honor important?
How do we exalt ourselves?
How are relationships transactional?
Are the categories as simple as Jesus claims?  Is Jesus creating a false binary?
Is this a parable or advice?  How has Jesus' advice caused harm to poor and/or disabled people?
What about upward mobility?

What are your queeries?