It’s February, which means if you haven’t done so already, it’s time to make your way to the store to purchase an overpriced Hallmark card for your spouse/partner, children, or grandchildren. Don’t forget to pick up valentines for everyone in your child’s classroom, and a Dutch Bros gift card for their overworked/under-paid teacher. While you’re at it, you may as well throw in some heart-shaped sugar cookies and dark chocolate as a gift for yourself, too.
"Jesus was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day he rose again from the dead." These words from the ancient Apostles' Creed form a foundation for Christian faith.
They’re a part of what we believe, and a part of who we are.
Jesus was murdered as voices of hatred shouted out in thunderous support. He died. He descended into the darkest places of existence. Then, he rose from the dead to be with God, with death having lost its sting.
Humankind is made in the Imago Dei – the image of God. This, first noted in the very first chapter of Genesis, is a part of the foundation of our faith, too. The face of each person bears the face of God, simply by virtue of having been created by God.
This, too, is what we believe, and who we are.
The uncomfortable truth, then, is this:
We can't speak of the Crucifixion of Christ as if it were in the past tense.
At two years old, Layton was growing like a weed, awaking each morning with boundless energy to explore the world with infectious curiosity. What a joy! Yet, I worried that many of those childhood experiences would soon be lost to fading memories (his and mine, both). I wondered if my increasingly busy life would prevent me from seeing the little everyday sorts of moments I’d want to cherish.
Music has the power to bring words to moments where words are hard to come by. A well-written lyric and a soaring melody can work to make sense of the wholly sublime as much as it can create a self-paced guide through the deepest gulfs of grief. I'm convinced that the global songbook has something for every human emotion.
Maybe that's why so many of us seem naturally equipped with the ability to weave music into the passage of time. When we identify "just the right song" it can help to transport us back to another moment, or else to celebrate how far we've come from a given moment.
“What the world needs now is love, sweet love. It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of.”
So goes the well-known refrain of the mid-60s anthem made popular by Jackie DeShannon. If you’re anything like me, the melody enters your consciousness as soon as you read those lyrics.
You may be surprised to learn that it’s a song that was almost never written. According to the tune’s composers, Burt Bacharach and Hal David, the waltzy nature of the chorus came to them quickly, but they stumbled over the content of the verses for several years. With their inspiration coming from a world in conflict – the Vietnam War and the fight for Civil Rights in the United States, for example – they struggled mightily to find words that would not seem too soft for a time of such crisis.
An Open Letter To Boise Corporations Who Are Terrible at Doing Even Basic Performative Corporate Activism.
I am deeply disappointed by the decision of your corporation** to withdraw its support of this year's Boise Pride Festival, citing misinformation surrounding some of its events and programming.
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.
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.