Well, it wasn’t COVID.
That's the good news. Although as one of a rapidly shrinking population of folks who have never caught the coronavirus during the pandemic, I confess I sometimes feel like a sitting duck. Still, these past few days I've felt miserable, with a fever in the 102s and a headache so excruciating that I'm pretty sure no amount of Tylenol could possibly overpower it.
So what was my first thought on Saturday afternoon, when I finally came to terms with the fact that I was, in fact, coming down with something?
"Maybe if I sit down at the computer right now, I can pre-record my sermon for tomorrow morning, just in case I can’t still be there in person."
When I began my ministry at Southminster, one of the things congregants and community members likely noticed was the ubiquitous presence of my pronouns. The church website, my email signature, and my staff nametag alike all have a simple (he/him) designation next to my name as one indication of my gender identity.
The use of pronouns during verbal introductions and written communication has become more commonplace within progressive circles in recent years, but I suspect some folks may quietly wonder why – particularly for someone such as myself, who rarely encounters misgendering or being called by the wrong pronouns.
Picture it: Sicily. 1912.
...I mean… the mountains of Western North Carolina. September 2019.
I was attending the final gathering of a two-year Newly Ordained track of the PC(USA)’s CREDO program – easily one of the most important and meaningful initiatives our denomination sponsors.
Though I certainly couldn’t have known it back in 2017 when I first signed up to participate in the program, this particular gathering also fell just two weeks after moving to Florida to begin a brand new call. It seemed to me the possibilities would be endless. Amid the reds and oranges of the changing leaves, I found a sacred place set apart – the perfect place to reflect upon who God was calling me to be both as a pastor, and as a person.
On the Sunday after Easter, the hymn we sang at the end of our worship service at Southminster was a favorite of mine: Christ is Alive! I find the lyrics to be meaningful, beautifully weaving the hopes of that first Easter morning with the hopes we still carry and the concerns for which we pray today.
When we sing together in worship – be it in-person or via livestream – many of us have grown accustomed to singing the lyrics directly from the screen. I have a musician’s heart and a sentimental fondness for holding a physical hymnal, yet I’ve found that I don’t mind the digitized form of lyrics for congregational song. If nothing else, it allows me to keep my head up and my senses engaged to relish in the gift of communal worship.
Note: the following article was written by Emily Enders Odom for the Presbyterian News Service, published February 18, 2022 on the Presbyterian Church (USA) website.
Why did the pastor cross the road?
To draw attention to the Presbyterian Giving Catalog’s new Coop Club, of course.
It was while browsing the booths at the Marketplace and Bookstore in Chicago last week at the 2022 annual event of the Association of Partners in Christian Education (APCE) that the Rev. TJ Remaley, who frequently sports a bow tie, caught sight of something he couldn’t live without.
A bow tie bedecked with chickens.
The Spirit moves in incredible and unexpected ways. This, I know to be true.
The Spirit moves indeed… and often in ways we might least expect. Honestly, I have a feeling it’s more frequently a question of whether our senses are awakened to the Spirit always moving in our midst.
In my life, it's hard for me to think of moments where I’ve more fully sensed the Spirit’s movement than those times when I’ve been led to move... physically! Perhaps you've found this to be true for you, too. You know... the kind of move with boxes stacked high, a GPS spitting out possible routes, and realtors sharing their expertise on matters of appraisals and down payments and closing costs (oh my!) The act of moving forward on a journey with so much promise, potential, and challenge yet to unfold.
I have a confession to make.
Friendships have not always been much of a priority for me.
When I started to dive into the study of the Enneagram and typed myself as an Enneagram 3, I was surprised to learn that 3s – well known for their approachability and their relational networks – don’t always prioritize friendships in their lives. And if they do, the friendships could often either be described as "work friends," or perhaps have a little-noticed, unspoken transactional nature about them. (think: “what can this person do for me?” or “how can this person improve my life?”)
I was surprised, because surely that isn’t me. While I fancy myself something of a functional introvert, the truth of the matter is I LOVE to be surrounded by those with whom I share this journey of life. I remember thinking: am I actually an Enneagram 3, or is this evidence that I've inadvertently mistyped myself?
“What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”
It’s a question posed recently by the host of one of my favorite podcasts, while pondering the choices we make during life’s most challenging moments.
I remember thinking with a tinge of fear (ironic, no?) that I probably already knew the answer to the question. After all, by the time I was hearing this question asked of me I had spent years of personal growth, study, and therapy striving toward greater authenticity in daily living and vocation. My life experiences had all been leading me to a place of courageous vulnerability. And the truth is, I was already beginning to ask myself another important question: what if… I lived… openly?
Recently, my life’s journey brought me to an unexpected fork in the road, having to make a choice between telling my story widely, or having parts of my story told by others.
I didn’t set out to be a bisexual advocate / pastor. At least, not consciously. Yet by God’s many Graces, here I am — (re)claiming my voice.
“What’s next for you?”
It’s a question I’ve gotten quite a bit lately, as folks reach out after hearing of my sudden transition from an installed ministry position into the nebulous world of “living between calls.”
I’ve tried lots of different answers to that question, of course. Sometimes, I attempt to respond with a joke -- well, I’m hoping for a good night’s rest tonight! (though come to think of it, there’s far more truth to that sentiment than I'd like). Other times, I answer with a nod to my more immediate surroundings -- I’m leaving the bakery and entering the produce aisle, so I’m thinking of picking up some bananas. Once, I even responded to a text during an impromptu (and far too infrequent) solo visit to the beach… snapping a picture of the gently rolling waves as the backdrop to the Kindle in my hand accompanied by a somewhat ironic caption: “#paradise.”
Yesterday during worship, I preached a sermon based on Mark 6:30-32.
A video archive of all of Faith's worship services can be found on the church website, and I'm also embedding Sunday's service here. I encourage you to watch the entire service, but the sermon from Sunday begins at the 24:28 mark.
I'm a husband, father, news junkie, theatre lover, enneagram enthusiast, bi advocate, amateur foodie, wannabe barista, and an ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA).
All works by Rev. TJ Remaley on this website are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This blog is maintained personally by me and does not necessarily represent the views of any congregation I have served. Every effort is made to give proper attribution for quotations, images, and other media used on this page.