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.
“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.
Happy Pride, everyone!
I've shared many times about how much the Remaley family enjoys reading together. Storytime is one of our favorite parts of the day! To celebrate Pride Month, I pulled together a few of our favorite storybooks that speak to the experiences of LGBTQ people and themes. Each of these books make regular appearances in the lineup throughout the year (but especially in June, and in the days leading up to and following our local Pride festivals!)
To all my LGBTQ+ family: You are seen. You are valued. You are loved.
Megan and I have followed the work of photographer Adam Bouska ever since he and his partner Jeff Parshley founded the NOH8 Campaign in 2009.
We've spoken passionately about efforts for LGBTQ equality throughout our lives, so we were thrilled to have the opportunity to participate in an official NOH8 photo shoot in May 2011. My seminary friends will likely remember our portrait hanging in the living room of my seminary apartment (alongside the NOH8 portraits of Jane Lynch and Pauley Perrette, naturally).
When embarking upon a new phase of life’s journey, supportive and reassuring peace often comes from knowing that others are walking alongside and sharing in the journey.
For the past seven and a half months, Megan and I have been on a beautiful and rewarding journey that has found us preparing our home – and more importantly, our lives! – for parenthood. We’re so incredibly grateful for the many ways we have already felt support and love in this transitional time, and we’re excited to be able to introduce our new little one to the world in about seven weeks. What a blessing it is for us to have the reassurance of the countless ways they (and I'm using the singular, non-gendered "they" here... no, we're not having twins) will be surrounded by the love of family, of friends, and of a faithful congregation as they claim their place as a beloved child of God, made in God’s image.
As you continue to walk with us on this journey, we want to give you some important updates about the sweet baby we’re preparing to welcome into the world.
On Sunday morning, Matt and I met with the seekers in our Confirmation Class after worship for a light, healthy lunch (from Five Guys, so 'light' and 'healthy' are definitely a given...) and a primer on the Reformed theological tradition that we like to call Theology 101.
The crux of the lesson? Our Book of Confessions is filled with the theological truths to which we hold claim... truths that are written in a specific context and for specific needs... truths that help to bring clarity and vision to the Good News found in scripture.
"You have heard that it is said, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you..."
The words are difficult to hear.
"You have heard that it is said, you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you..."
As it turns out, they're difficult to preach, too.
I’m not usually one to do anything in the spur of the moment. In fact, I was recently described as being “someone who needs to make plans to be spontaneous.” (I wear that as a badge of honor, by the way).
Sometimes, however, something occurs that is so big… so unbelievable… that it calls for throwing caution to the wind.
This was one of those times.
The task seemed insurmountable to me. The need to go through and consolidate the contents of shoeboxes filled to the brim with pictures of some of the earliest years of my childhood.
These shoeboxes were overflowing with pictures. Pictures of cats. Pictures of cars. Pictures of clouds. Pictures of leaves. Pictures that had some semblance of clarity and pictures that were so blurry that it’d be impossible to pick out my intended subject. Mostly, they were pictures so dark and formless I can only assume I was quite adept at taking pictures of the insides of my pockets.
(Coming soon to an art museum near you!)
The task became less insurmountable once I got started. I became quite good at going through them. I saved the ones that were artistic and creative. I tossed the blurry ones. I saved the ones that depicted special family memories. I tossed the ones for which I, for whatever reason, already had a digital copy. I saved the ones I’ll want to show my grandkids someday. I tossed the ones I’d be embarrassed to show at all.
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.