Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving Thanks on Thanksgiving: Max Niedzwiecki

What do we have to be thankful for?
Max Niedzwiecki ~ November 24, 2010

I love Thanksgiving. Food, family and fun are all great parts, but the most important part of the holiday for me is that it helps me refocus. I have worked as an activist for the past two decades or so – for refugees, immigrants, and now the LGBT community – and my work focuses a lot on the future, what needs to change about the church and the world, especially the call to live into Jesus’ commandment to put love before all else. Those of us who are activists find ourselves constantly “fighting the good fight,” looking forward, not always cued into the present moment. Except during Thanksgiving. That's when I take a deep breath, refocus and give thanks for what just is.

Here’s a short list of what I am thankful for:
• The thousands of Integrity members I have begun to meet, and excitement about what we will achieve together
• Louie Crew, who founded Integrity in 1974 and continues to inspire so many
• Hope and confidence that the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music’s work will bring us a new edition of Enriching Our Worship in 2012, and the blessing of same-sex relationships in every diocese
• Ice cream
• The Grace that makes it possible for us to embrace people who are “different”
• John Clinton Bradley, Integrity’s Administrator
• My friends and family, who love me even when that’s not easy
• My new puppy, Dewey, who woke me up at 4:00 a.m. by kissing my nose
• My home church, St. Anna’s in New Orleans
• My growing bond with the transgender community
• The ministries of Bishops Gene Robinson, Mary Glasspool, and all of the LGBT bishops yet to come
• Straight people who show God’s love to all kinds of people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity
• Integrity’s dedicated board members, Provincial Coordinators, Diocesan Organizers, and other fantastic volunteers
• The fact that you don’t have to be a straight, celibate man to be an Episcopal priest
• Bishop Christopher Senyonjo’s bravery in standing up for the basic rights of all people in Uganda despite great hardships
• The fact that understanding the Bible literally is not an Episcopal tradition
• Meeting the love of my life just over 23 years ago

What are you thankful for this season? Write a comment on this blog or email us and we'll post it for you.

Happy Thanksgiving one and all!


Christian Paolino said...

Celebrating with family and friends and the fact that orientation and ethnicity are a non-issue for us.

Our reborn NYC Integrity chapter.

Beautiful places of worship and the privilege of breaking bread with those who call them home.

The congregations who are living into Believe Out Loud or considering it.

That my country and my church allow their members' voices to be heard, and that progress is being made -- albeit glacial -- towards equality for my LGBT brothers and sisters.

The embarrassment of riches I wake up to every day: good things to eat; a comfortable place to learn, rest and work; and access to the world from my desk via the Internet.

Rice pudding.

Luigi said...

Having a partner of 8 years that can put up with my constant silliness.

My Church Priest that has brought me back to the church after leaving the Roman church for so many years.

Having the chance this Christmas and New Years to bring my partner back home to Italy to meet the rest of my family that had not immigrated to the United States.

My true and close extended family including our own Max from Integrity and his partner Albert.

hayesvalley1 said...

At Thanksgiving I give special thanks for the Spirit of GOD reinforcing, inspiring me giving me strength. Thanksgiving 1995 I was in a San Francisco Hospital. I had acquired toxoplasmosis of the brain. I weighed less than 80 lbs. Could not think and was aphasiac.My doctor told me I should get my personal life in order as I had no more than six weeks to live.I had brain flat lined five times.My social worker encouraged me to sign a DNR(do not revive order)as I would NOT survive another brain flat line. I stubbornly refused.I continued to remind myself, doctors, care providers that GOD was NOT done with me yet. GOD's support and life sustaining Grace sustained me. I just celebrated fifteen years giving Thanks for the inspiration Not to give in and give up!

Neil Houghton said...

Believe Out Loud Provincial Workshop: the chance to meet so many passionate and dedicated Integrity members and work with our great Provincial Coordinators.

Getting to know the great folks on our Board of Directors better.

A great new Executive Director and the incredible gifts of our former Acting Executive Director.

The Episcopal Church

desertdog said...

I often get sidetracked with financial stresses, pressure at work, always running behind, but when Bill puts his hand on my shoulder as he walks by or when I see my children, or pick up one of my grandchildren, all that stuff just fades away.I am blessed beyond measure and grateful to be surrounded by my family and to share the love that we have.

CJJD said...

Good health, surviving the recession, having a loving partner, having a supportive parish in a mostly-supportive denomination.

For a feeling of purpose and vitality as an organization. For the new leadership in the New York City Chapter--and renewed vigor that comes with that.

Muthah+ said...

I am thankful for the Continuing Diocese of Ft. Worth. I am thankful for Letters Dimissory being sent to my new diocese. I am thankful for +Gene who gave me courage to face the walk with integrity. I am thankful for a small but powerful book Gifted with Otherness by Bill Countryman and M.R. Ritley that changed my life. I am thankful for +Jack Spong who invited to die with him rather than allow the Church to be hijacked by the Neo-Cons. I am thankful for a new home, two wonderful kitties that keep me intertained and the WWAC which keeps me ever mindful of those who have so little to be thankful for. And I am so thankful that my God who makes God's self known in Jesus has chosen me as priest in this wonderful Church. Thank you Jesus.