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?

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Queerying 11th after Pentecost C

Periodic queerier, River Needham, queeries the Tanakh reading.

Tanakh: Jeremiah 1:4-10

The word of the Becoming One came to me:
Before I created you in the womb, I selected you; before you were born, I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet concerning the nations.
I replied: Ah, Becoming God! I don’t know how to speak, for I am still a boy.
Then the Becoming One said to me: Do not say, “I am still a boy,” But go wherever I send you and speak whatever I command you. Have no fear of them, for I am with you to deliver you —declares the Becoming One.
The Becoming One put out hir hand and touched my mouth, and said to me:
Here I put my words into your mouth. See, I appoint you this day over nations and kingdoms: to uproot and to pull down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.

Queeries for the text:
Can words perform actions?
Do people exist before birth?
What does it mean to be consecrated?
Where else in the world are children used to carry a message? Is this fair?
Where else does the Becoming One touch lips or mouths
Who else does the Becoming One appoint?


Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Gospel reading.

Gospel: Luke 13:10-17
10Now Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath.
11And just then there appeared a woman
with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years.
She was bent over
and was quite unable to stand up straight.
12When Jesus saw her,
he called her over and said,
“Woman, you are set free from your ailment.”
13When Jesus laid his hands on her,
immediately she stood up straight and began praising God.
14But the leader of the synagogue,
indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath,
kept saying to the crowd,
“There are six days on which work ought to be done;
come on those days and be cured,
and not on the sabbath day.”
15But the One with Authority answered him and said,
“You hypocrites!
Does not each of you on the sabbath untie your ox or your donkey from the manger,
and lead it away to give it water?
16And ought not this woman,
a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years,
be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?”
17When Jesus said this,
all his opponents were put to shame;
and the entire crowd was rejoicing
at all the wonderful things that Jesus was doing.

Queeries for the text:
What did we skip this time?
Does any good come from Jesus teaching in a synagogue on the sabbath?
Can children cripple people?
How are spirits and ailments related?
Do we ever want to do anything straight?
What gifts does the sabbath bring?
How are people still in bondage?
How can we be set free?
Who was Jesus' intended audience?

What are your queeries?

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Queerying 10th after Pentecost C


Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Gospel reading.

Gospel: Luke 12:49-56
Jesus said:
49“I came to bring fire to the earth,
and how I wish it were already kindled!
50I have a baptism with which to be baptized,
and what stress I am under until it is completed!
51Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth?
No, I tell you, but rather division!
52From now on five in one household will be divided,
three against two and two against three;
53they will be divided:
father against son and son against father,
mother against daughter and daughter against mother,
mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

54Jesus also said to the crowds,
“When you see a cloud rising in the west,
you immediately say, ‘It is going to rain’;
and so it happens.
55And when you see the south wind blowing,
you say, ‘There will be scorching heat’;
and it happens.
56You hypocrites!
You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky,
but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?

Queeries for the text:
What did we skip?  Why do we keep skipping verses?
Was Jesus a pyro?  How is fire helpful?
When are families divided?
Does Jesus bring the division or shed light on it?
What can we interpret from earth and sky?
What is in the present time?
What stress does baptism cause?
How are we divided?

What are your queeries?

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Queerying 9th after Pentecost C

Periodic queerier, River Needham, queeries the Tanakh reading.

Tanakh: Isaiah 1:1, 10-20

1:The prophecies of Isaiah son of Amoz, who prophesied concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.
10-20:Hear the word of the Becoming One, you chieftains of Sodom; give ear to our God’s instruction, you folk of Gomorrah!
“What need have I of all your sacrifices?” says the Becoming One. “I am sated with burnt offerings of rams, and suet of fatlings, and blood of bulls; and I have no delight in lambs and he-goats. That you come to appear before me—Who asked that of you? Trample My courts no more; bringing oblations is futile, incense is offensive to me. New moon and sabbath, proclaiming of solemnities, assemblies with iniquity, I cannot abide. Your new moons and fixed seasons fill me with loathing; they became a burden to me, I cannot endure them. And when you lift up your hands, I will turn my eyes away from you; though you pray at length, I will not listen. Your hands are stained with crime— wash yourselves clean; put your evil doings away from My sight. Cease to do evil; learn to do good. Devote yourselves to justice; aid the wronged. Uphold the rights of the orphan; defend the cause of the widow.
“Come, let us reach an understanding,—says the Becoming One. Be your sins like crimson, they can turn snow-bright; be they red as dyed wool, they can become like fleece.”
If, then, you agree and give heed, you will eat the good things of the earth; but if you refuse and disobey, you will be devoured by the sword.—for it was the Becoming One who spoke.

Queeries for the text:
When did Isaiah write?
Which Isaiah wrote this?
Who were Sodom and Gomorrah? Who has this reference become toxic to today? Who commits the sin of Sodom today?
Who asked for sacrifices? Why?
What is the significance of new moons and fixed seasons?
What other religious traditions do these commitments sound like?
What is the offer the Becoming One makes at the end? Is it a good one?


Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Gospel reading.

Gospel: Luke 12:32-40
Jesus said:
32“Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Mapa’s good pleasure to give you the reign. 33Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

35“Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; 36be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for them as soon as they come and knock. 37Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when they come; truly I tell you, the master will fasten their belt and have them sit down to eat, and they will come and serve them. 38If the master comes during the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.

39“But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, ze would not have let zir house be broken into. 40You also must be ready, for the Human One is coming at an unexpected hour.”

Queeries for the text:
What did we skip from last time?
Why would Jesus' flock be afraid?
Why would we sell possessions, give alms, and make a purse?
Where is my treasure? our treasure?
What does Jesus' promise mean for capitalism?
What do we need to be ready for?
Why would a master fasten their belt?
Is the Human One a thief?

What are your queeries?

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Queerying 8th after Pentecost C

Periodic queerier, River Needham, queeries the Tanakh reading.

Tanakh: Hosea 11:1-11
God Said:
I fell in love with Israel when he was still a child; I have called him my son ever since Egypt. Thus were they called, but they went their own way; they sacrifice to Ba'als and offer to carved images. I have pampered Ephraim, taking them in my arms; but they have ignored my healing care. I drew them with human ties, with cords of love; but I seemed to them as one who imposed a yoke on their jaws, though I was offering them food. No! They return to the land of Egypt, and Assyria is their king. Because they refuse to repent, a sword shall descend upon their towns and consume their limbs and devour them because of their designs. For my people persists in its defection from me; when it is summoned upward, it does not rise at all. How can I give you up, O Ephraim? How can I surrender you, O Israel? How can I make you like Admah, render you like Zeboiim? I have had a change of heart, all my tenderness is stirred. I will not act on my wrath, will not turn to destroy Ephraim. For I am God, not human, the Holy One in your midst: I will not come in fury. The Becoming One will roar like a lion, and they shall march behind Hir; when Ze roars, Hir children shall come fluttering out of the west. They shall flutter from Egypt like sparrows, from the land of Assyria like doves; and I will settle them in their homes —declares the Becoming One

Queeries for the text
Where else is God jealous?
What do we know about jealousy today?
How do religious expression and intimate partner violence interact?
Who can you turn to if you are experiencing intimate partner violence?
What happened to Admah and Zeboiim?
What cycle stages are happening toward the end of the passage?
What flutters?


Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Gospel reading.

Gospel: Luke 12:13-21
13Someone in the crowd said to Jesus,
“Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.”
14But Jesus said to them,
“Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?”
15And Jesus said to the crowd,
“Take care!
Be on your guard against all kinds of greed;
for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.”
16Then Jesus told them a parable:
“The land of a rich man produced abundantly.
17And he thought to himself,
‘What should I do,
for I have no place to store my crops?’
18Then the rich man said,
‘I will do this:
I will pull down my barns and build larger ones,
and there I will store all my grain and my goods.
19And I will say to my soul,
‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years;
relax, eat, drink, be merry.’
20But God said to the rich man,
‘You fool!
This very night your life is being demanded of you.
And the things you have prepared,
whose will they be?’
21So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves
but are not rich toward God.”

Queeries for the text:
Why would(n't) a sibling share the inheritance?
When do we set the wrong people up to be judge?
How many kinds of greed are there?
Why is it "his crops" when the land is the one to produce?
Is a famine coming?  Is the rich man planning for climate change?
Why does size matter to the rich man?  Is bigger actually better?
Can goods last for many years?
Why is the rich man talking to his own soul?  Is he Voldemort?
What is demanding his life?
Where do our treasures go?

What are your queeries?

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Queerying 7th after Pentecost C

Periodic queerier, River Needham, queeries the Tanakh reading.

Tanakh: Hosea 1:2-10

When the Becoming One first spoke to Hosea, the Becoming One said to Hosea, “Go, get yourself a wife of whoredom and children of whoredom; for the land will stray from following the Becoming One.”
So Hosea went and married Gomer daughter of Diblaim. She conceived and bore him a son, and the Becoming One instructed him, “Name him Jezreel; for, I will soon punish the House of Jehu for the bloody deeds at Jezreel and put an end to the monarchy of the House of Israel. In that day, I will break the bow of Israel in the Valley of Jezreel.”
She conceived again and bore a daughter; and Ze said to him, “Name her Lo-ruhamah; for I will no longer accept the House of Israel or pardon them. (But I will accept the House of Judah. And I will give them victory through the Becoming One their God; I will not give them victory with bow and sword and battle and horses and riders.)”
After weaning Lo-ruhamah, she conceived and bore a son. Then Ze said, “Name him Lo-ammi; for you are not My people, and I will not be your God.” The number of the people of Israel shall be like that of the sands of the sea, which cannot be measured or counted; and instead of being told, “You are Not-My-People,” they shall be called Children-of-the-Living-God.

Queeries for the text:
How has whoredom been misappropriated?
Where else does whoredom show up in the Tanakh?
How does the land move?
Where does whoredom exist today?
What is whoredom?
What does it mean to not recieve mercy (lo-ruhamah)?
What does this passage say about the status of women?
Would you change this passage, if you were able to write it today? How would you change it?
What do we need mercy for today?
Who am I not asking about?


Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Gospel reading.

Gospel: Luke 11:1-13
Jesus was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”  

2Jesus said to them, “When you pray, say: Zaza, hallowed be your name. Let your reign come. 3Give us each day our daily bread. 4And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us. And do not bring us to the time of trial.”  

5And Jesus said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to that friend at midnight and say to zir, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; 6for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before them.’ 7And ze answers from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ 8I tell you, even though ze will not get up and give you anything because you are zir friend, at least because of your persistence ze will get up and give you whatever you need.

9“So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. 10For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. 11Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? 12Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? 13If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Zaza give the Holy Spirit to those who ask!”

Queeries for the text:
What's with all the certain places?
How are these words different from the versions of the Jesus' Prayer used today?  How else could we pray with this model?
What time of trial?
What quality of friends do you have to not lend bread?
What is asked for and not given?
What do we search for and not find?
What doors are still locked closed?
Would Slytherins give snakes instead of fish?
How are the disciples evil?

What are your queeries?

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Queerying 6th after Pentecost C

Periodic queerier, River Needham, queeries the Tanakh reading.

Tanakh: Amos 8:1-12
This is what my Becoming God showed me: there was a basket of figs.
Ze said, “What do you see, Amos?”
“A basket of figs,” I replied.
Then, the Becoming One said to me: “The hour of doom has come for My people Israel; I will not pardon them again. The singing women of the palace shall howl on that day—declares my Becoming God: So many corpses left lying everywhere! Hush!”

Listen to this, you who devour the needy, annihilating the poor of the land,  saying, “If only the new moon were over, so that we could sell grain; the sabbath, so that we could offer wheat for sale, using an ephah that is too small, and a shekel that is too big, tilting a dishonest scale, and selling grain refuse as grain! We will buy the poor for silver, the needy for a pair of sandals.”
The Becoming One swears by the pride of Jacob: “I will never forget any of their doings.”

Shall not the earth shake for this, and all that dwell on it mourn? Shall it not all rise like the Nile and surge and subside like the Nile of Egypt?

And in that day —declares my Becoming God— I will make the sun set at noon, I will darken the earth on a sunny day.

I will turn your festivals into mourning, all your songs into dirges; I will put sackcloth on all loins, tonsures on every head. I will make it mourn as for an only child, all of it as on a bitter day.

A time is coming—declares my Becoming God—when I will send a famine upon the land: not a hunger for bread or a thirst for water, but for hearing the words of the Becoming One.

So that they shall possess the rest of Edom and all the nations once attached to my name —declares the Becoming One who will bring this to pass.

Queeries for the text:
Where else do figs show up?
What measures are used today?
What is the pride of Jacob?
When is noon?
How do only children come up culturally?
For what do we repent today?
For what do we repent today?
For what do we repent today?
What are the words of the Becoming One today? What might they mean?


Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Gospel reading.

Gospel: Luke 10:38-42
38Now as the Jesus and the disciples went on their way,
Jesus entered a certain village,
where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home.
39She had a sister named Mary,
who sat at the Boss’ feet
and listened to what he was saying.
40But Martha was distracted by her many tasks;
so she came to Jesus and asked,
“Boss, do you not care that my sister has left me
to do all the work by myself?
Tell her then to help me.”
41But the Boss answered her,
“Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things;
42there is need of only one thing.
Mary has chosen the better part,
which will not be taken away from her.”

Queeries for the text:
Which "certain village" did Jesus enter?
Why was it Martha's house?  Did she and Mary not share it?  Were they sisters or "sisters"?
Which tasks distracted Martha?  Which tasks distract us?
Is there anything about which Jesus doesn't care?
Did Martha already ask for Mary to help her?
What worries Martha?  What worries us?  Why?
What is the better part for usIs it guaranteed the way Jesus guarantees Mary's better part?

What are your queeries?

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Queerying 5th after Pentecost C

Periodic queerier, River Needham, queeries the Tanakh reading.

Tanakh: 2 Kings 5:1-14
Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Aram, was important to his ruler and high in his favor, for through Naaman the Becoming One had granted victory to Aram. But the man, though a great warrior, was a leper. Once, when the Arameans were out raiding, they carried off a young girl from the land of Israel, and she became an attendant to Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “I wish Master [Namaan] could come before the prophet in Samaria; he would cure Naaman of his leprosy.” Naaman went and told his ruler just what the girl from the land of Israel had said.

Then the king of Aram said, “Go to the king of Israel, and I will send along a letter.” Namaan set out, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten changes of clothing. He brought the letter to the king of Israel. It read: “Now, when this letter reaches you, know that I have sent my courtier Naaman to you, that you may cure him of his leprosy.” When the king of Israel read the letter, he rent his clothes and cried, “Am I God, to deal death or give life, that this fellow writes to me to cure a man of leprosy? Just see for yourselves that he is seeking a pretext against me!”

When Elisha, the man of God, heard that the king of Israel had rent his clothes, he sent a message to the king: “Why have you rent your clothes? Let him come to me, and he will learn that there is a prophet in Israel.” So Naaman came with his horses and chariots and halted at the door of Elisha’s house. Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go and bathe seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh shall be restored and you shall be clean.” But Naaman was angered and walked away. “I thought,” he said, “he would surely come out to me, and would stand and invoke the Becoming One his God by name, and would wave his hand toward the spot, and cure the affected part. Are not the Amanah and the Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? I could bathe in them and be clean!” He stalked off in a rage. But his servants came forward and spoke to him. “Sir,” they said, “if the prophet told you to do something difficult, would you not do it? How much more when he has only said to you, ‘Bathe and be clean.’” So he went down and immersed himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had bidden; and his flesh became like a little boy’s, and he was clean.

Queeries for the text:
Where was Aram? When did this story take place?  Who were the ruling powers over these kings?  How does that change the power analysis in this story?
What is the significance of the prophet in Samaria?  What does it imply about when this took place or when it was written?
How do we expect healing and labor from people without recognizing the great cost that often comes with being a healer?
Why was the King of Israel so upset at the King of Aram's demand? What does this tell us about the power dynamics at play?  Who has the geo-political power?
Why does Elisha have a better relationship with the Monarchs than Elijah? What parts of the story have been omitted that helped that happen?
In which other traditions is water a gift from the divine(9-11)?  Does that giftedness change if God is not invoked in the cleansing bath?
If you were retelling this story in a modern setting, what details would you change, and how? Which ones would you keep the same, and why?
What does it mean for a child to be enslaved? What kinds of labor do u.s.ian's expect from children today?


Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Gospel reading.

Gospel: Luke 10:25-37
25Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus.
“Teacher,” he said,
“what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
26Jesus said to him,
“What is written in the law?
What do you read there?”
27The lawyer answered,
“You shall love the Becoming One your God with all your heart,
and with all your soul,
and with all your strength,
and with all your mind;
and your neighbor as yourself.”
28And Jesus said to him,
“You have given the right answer;
do this, and you will live.”
29But wanting to justify himself,
the lawyer asked Jesus,
“And who is my neighbor?”
30Jesus replied,
“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho,
and fell into the hands of robbers,
who stripped him, beat him, and went away,
leaving him half dead.
31Now by chance a priest was going down that road;
and when he saw him,
he passed by on the other side.
32So likewise a Levite,
when he came to the place and saw him,
passed by on the other side.
33But a Samaritan while traveling came near him;
and when he saw the man,
he was moved with pity.
34He went to him and bandaged his wounds,
having poured oil and wine on them.
Then he put him on his own animal,
brought him to an inn,
and took care of him.
35The next day the Samaritan took out two denarii,
gave them to the innkeeper, and said,
‘Take care of him;
and when I come back,
I will repay you whatever more you spend.’
36Which of these three, do you think,
was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?”
37The lawyer said,
“The one who showed him mercy.”
Jesus said to him,
“Go and do likewise.”

Queeries for the text:
What is missing since last week? Was last week setting Jesus up for this parable?
Why do we test people?  How do you inherit life?
Why did the lawyer add mind?  How do we over-intellectualize faith?
Why doesn't the lawyer know who their neighbor is?
Who are the robbers today?
How do we pass by on the other side?
Where was the Samaritan supposed to be going?
Who are Samaritans in the dominate u.s. and white church culture today?  Who are Samaritans to me?  Why couldn't the lawyer say "Samaritan"?
Who is working to make the road to Jericho safer?

What are your queeries?