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Introduction

Sally Ann McKinsey

In her article “A Holy Discomfort: The Spiritual Work of Singing Welcome,” Amanda Udis-Kessler defines queering as a practice of “making the familiar strange.” While the collection of articles found here present many definitions of what it means to queer the liturgy, this one may unite them all. To queer worship is to use a particular lens to consider what we already believe and do together. Used as a verb, to queer is to practice nuance, claim particularity, and cultivate contextual awareness in our liturgical theology and practice, rejecting binaries that keep us from embracing the fullness of the God we find in the life of Jesus and in Scripture. When we practice queering worship, we recognize the ways we are actively being reformed according to the incarnate God we have always believed and the sacramental practice we have always known. 

The liturgy and ideas presented in this edition share in common a deep grounding in the ecclesiology and theology we already affirm together. Both Elizabeth Edman and Kallie Pitcock center their investigations on the incarnational theology at the foundation of our faith as a lens for considering the act of queering. Reed Fowler, a fiber artist and pastor, also uses incarnational and sacramental theology to examine the relationship between faith practice and queerness through art practice. 

Other contributors have offered compelling explorations of the language we use in worship. Stephanie Budwey and Heather Gottas Moore collaborate to offer an analysis of a case in which a congregation sought to reform their language in worship. Amanda Udis-Kessler gives skillful and compassionate analysis of the awareness needed when seeking to sing welcome in worship, which involves conversation about language and context in congregational song. Jess Cook, Kenneth Cuthbertson, and Amanda Udis-Kessler offer practical liturgies and prayers that model both possibilities for the kinds of rituals congregations can offer and specific language for prayer within them. 

Brian Ellison gives a beautiful testimony about his experience in ministry and invites us to consider the relationship between a Reformed understanding of ordination and the particular identity of a worship leader. Amy Cerniglia’s column on music also explores the gifts of worship leaders and in particular the gifts of LGBTQIA+ identifying musicians. Jess Cook discusses the role of the Spirit in the practice of queering the church, which involves vulnerability and seeks wholeness for persons and communities in the midst of upheaval and crisis. 

This issue affirms the relationship between the disciplines of  theology and queer and trans studies in the conversation about what it means to queer Christian practice. Columnists Derrick McQueen and Lis Valle-Ruiz discuss the connections between liturgy and queer theory in their columns for this issue. Art columnist Maria Fee writes about approaching worship with the lens of contemporary art theory and the importance of methods like juxtaposition and rupture when doing liturgical theology. In the Work of Our Hands section, Derrick McQueen offers an analysis of the worship at Not So Churchy, a new worshiping community, providing an example of a community that uses some of these methods to think about liturgy and community life. This section also seeks to blur the boundaries between liturgy, art, and music as a way to think about queerness in practice. 

This issue in particular offers an invitation to recognize the strengths of a journal format when considering topics in the life of the church. A journal is a publication in which different authors’ perspectives are presented side by side, and because of that, authors have an opportunity to converse. A journal is a collection of ideas, curated not because they agree, but because they inform one another. My editorial invitation is for you to listen and give thanks for the research and writing gathered here, to be challenged and comforted, and to seek your own perspective somewhere in the midst. This work reflects years and years of wisdom, discernment, conversation, proclamation, and heartache in the church. As I recognize the gifts of these contributors and the many nuanced perspectives offered here, I also give thanks for the countless others who have contributed to this larger conversation over the years. May the Spirit transform us as we learn more and more what it means to follow an incarnate, living God. 

Sally Ann McKinsey, Editor

Introduction to Lectionary Aids – 56.1

Introduction to Lectionary Aids – 56.1

Once again, we are pleased to bring you another rich resource for worship planning, thanks to the generosity of contributors from all around the country who have provided suggestions for liturgy, congregational song, psalms and canticles, organ music, anthems for adult choirs, handbell music, and visual art. In addition to these weekly offerings, there are seasonal suggestions for children’s choirs, youth choirs, piano music, and vocal solos…

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Introduction to Lectionary Aids – 56.1

Introduction – 56.2

The story of Philip baptizing the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8 begins when an angel of the Lord calls Philip to set out on “the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza (This is a wilderness road)” (Acts 8:26). Luke does warn us, doesn’t he? I can hear the moody background music between the parentheses. This won’t be a story about the familiar baptismal font and rehearsed liturgy of Sunday morning.

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