Whosoever Readers Give Thanks and Praise!

Scripture readings:

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the lands!
Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!

Know the Lord is God!
It is he that made us and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him, bless his name!

For the Lord is good:
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

(Psalms 100)

Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, Rejoice. Let all know your forbearance. The Lord is at hand. Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:4-9)

Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18)

What are you most thankful for?

I have so much to be thankful for. First, I’m thankful that God loved me even when I couldn’t love myself. I struggled with my homosexuality until I was 30-years-old. Today I recognize that my sexuality is a part of me and that I am a part of God.  — Scott Hamilton

My spouse: Shawna My children: Joel, Jon & Kori My parents: Charles & Beulah Romere My family, all of our health and happiness. Most especially for my relationship with God and the joy that brings. — Carla Boltin-Romere

I’m thankful for 3 things: My faith community at Metropolitan United Church in Toronto who have accepted me throughout my journey with faith and with my orientation. I am blessed. My friend, who is currently journeying with me through new and unexplored territory. With respect, caring, love and mutuality. 🙂 My other friends, who knew me before I knew myself, and who love me. — Ruth

My friend Mariann – who has helped pull me through some tough times and brought me to her church. I might still not know Jesus if she hadn’t. — Diane

Reconciliation to God through Jesus Christ and all the benefits of that like…peace, hope, faith, and most of all LOVE that ties it all together!! Yeah, God!! — Pastor Duane Moret

For the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ and a loving God! For friends especially gay friends who help me through life daily. — Steve

Thankful for loving parents who accept and treasure their homosexual children, making our partners feel partof our family. A brother and sisters who keep intouch despite being separated by thousands of miles. — Colin Roberts

I am thankful for the strength that God has lent me to see me through my troubles. I have recently been lacking in faith, but God continued to love me. God’s love is the most precious, and sometimes only, thing I have. — Brian Niskala

I am truly thankful that I have found a place where I can worship God. Prior to discovering UFMCC, I was floundering in regard to my spiritual life. I was not aware of affirming churches and did not think I was able to reconcile my life with God. I am happy to discover since that there are other lesbigaytrans churches out there and some mainstream churches that support lesbigaytrans Christians. I am thankful that I see so many of my brothers and sisters reclaiming their faith. The peace I have received after reforming a loving and open relationship with God has been a life saver! — John Cutright

The gift of a friend and finding an online board for Christian Lesbians. — OTHarvey@aol.com

My wonderful partner of three years, Tracy, a completely affirming relationship with my parents and with my partner’s mom, my home church – MCC Washington DC for bringing me to an intimate relationship with God, my incredible family of pets – four dogs, three cats, and a cockatiel who brighten my life beyond measure, our home which is a source of comfort and safety from the stress outside and is always filled with an extended family of friends to share good food, great conversation and spiritual unity, jobs that keep food on the table and keep us vital in the community, an abiding sense of being loved and appreciated, art and books that keep our minds stimulated and our hearts full, and all the people we have encountered who blessed us in ways we could never have imagined. — Virgil Night

I am thankful for:

  • The founding of Sts. Sergius and Bacchus Mission.
  • The continuing of St. Aelred Ecumenical Catholic Church
  • The ordination of Paul Meyers to the diaconate.
  • The reconciliation of former lovers embittered by the separation.
  • The Pastoral Visit of our Archbishop Mark Shirilau.
  • The first anniversary of the end of a destructive relationship.
  • The peaceful and happy birth into eternal life of my mother after 94 years of loving and productive life.
  • My good friends and adopted family.
  • New employment after losing both jobs during the summer.
  • The completion of my move to Atlanta and the many friends who helped.
  • New friends in the gay and lesbitrans communities.
  • The upcoming gathering of the religious support groups of the gay and lesbitrans communities under the aegis of Dignity, Atlanta.
  • The foundation of Axios, Atlanta a religious support group for Orthodox and other Eastern Christians.
  • The success of our parish Newsletters, “The Southern Harbinger” and Evlogimenos/Benedictus.

— Rev. Joseph P. Cirou

What are your praises?

I praise Him for my family – loving, kind and supportive. I praise him for my life partner, Wayne. Despite many difficulties in our relationship, we are truly blessed. I praise Him for our family together: Trick, Treat & Rachel. — Scott Hamilton

I praise God for ALWAYS being faithful to my family and me. — Carla Boltin-Romere

Consistently “providing what is needed WHEN it’s needed” for Holy Spirit Fellowship, the church that I pastor!! — Pastor Duane Moret

I praise God for His creation and the chance to serve, honor and praise Him. — Steve

My loving partner of 14 years who loves me “warts” and all. Who has allowed me to follow my head and live in London for 9 months furthering my career whilst maintaining our home and animals. — Colin Roberts

For God’s Unyielding love! — John Cutright

I am especially grateful for the musical ministry I am so blessed to be part of. David North and the Gospel Celebration came into being last May, and has been growing spiritually, musically, and interpersonally beyond all our expectations. We feel so richly blessed to be able to bring the Good News to our sisters and brothers, to affirm them and encourage them to grow in Christ. This band has transformed so many of my preconceptions about myself, our gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual community, and even of the mainstream church, which has been amazingly receptive to us. This is the best gift of the year to me, and possibly in my life it will stand out as the most important ministry I’ve ever been involved with. — Virgil Night

What does Christmas mean to you?

Christmas is more than a season, it is a feeling. This feeling starts somewhere deep inside of us and burns a little brighter until the Light of Christmas – the Christ Child – is made apparent in my life and in the lives of others. Christmas is, to my way of thinking, a tiny glimpse of what heaven will be: Folks of every color, every heritage, every sexuality, every age treating each other with love and compassion, passing the promise of hope, peace and joy one to another. — Scott Hamilton

Christmas is a special time to give thanks for the enormity of what Jesus did for each of us by living as human and what that means to Christians today. — Carla Boltin-Romere

Rebirth. For me, from a northern Canadian perspective, the paradox of rebirth, of life in the dead of the cold winter. — Ruth

Remembering that “It came to pass!!” It always brings gratitude for what God has done in coming as Jesus to experience and fulfill our humanity!! — Pastor Duane Moret

Each Christmas is special for me, for it’s (usually) the only time of year I make the long journey back home to see my family up north. As a result, it’s also a time to reflect on what’s happened – good and bad and indifferent – since the last journey home. It becomes a time, especially at the Christmas eve worship at my parent’s church, to thank God for the blessings of the past year. This year I made a second trip – Labor Day weekend – with a specific purpose: to finally come out to my parents. The whole experience was so wonderful and supportive that the Christmas visit this year will allow for a special time of reflection. And it will be a special time to give thanks for the wonderful gift He gave me through my parents that Labor Day weekend – the gift of love and acceptance as a gay son. — Gary

Christmas is a time to celebrate Christ and all He means to me! — Steve

Family times, singing old favourite hymns, hopefully seeing snow this year. — Colin Roberts

Christmas is a celebration of God’s love for us and the gift that God gave us! — John Cutright

It is the time when Jesus Christ came to earth, as a human, like me. And God stood in our shoes and stood with us. It is a time when I stop and remember that a simple moment in time changed eternity. — OTHarvey@aol.com

It is essentially a time for great thanks that God loved us ALL enough to send us salvation through Christ. It is also a time for family and friends, for remembering how good it feels to give of ourselves, for sharing the best things in our lives with those we love most and with perfect strangers. It’s a time to eagerly anticipate the new year with all its promise and challenge. — Virgil Night

Christmas is a festival of joy and fellowship in family and in the community. It is the celebration of the Word made flesh. It is the keystone of what it means to be a Catholic Christian. The Incarnation of the Word of God in human flesh is origin of the Catholic sacramental expression of the Christian experience. By this we mean because the very Son of God took on matter — human flesh, then all creation is also capable of transfiguration or redemption. A Sacramental approach means that we use material objects to express a spiritual reality: Water, necessary for life becomes the sign of New Life in Jesus. Food and Drink, Bread and Wine becomes the sign of the sustenance of that Life in the Eucharist.

It is not only in these profound primordial signs; but in simple things as well. Incense, a fragrant pleasant spice, becomes a sign of God accepting our prayers as he accepting the fragran aroma of Abel’s sacrifice. Icons, pictures, statues of Christ and the Saints become signs of the otherness of God shared through Baptism in the universal call to holiness, lived in heroic measure by the formally recognized heroes of the faith or canonized saints. Just as God the Son took on human flesh, so we use human objects to represent a divine truth. Thus Christmas or the Festival of the Incarnation is the celebration of the human race responding to its divine call to participate in the Divine Life of God. As St. Leo the Great, wrote, “Agnosce Christiane, dignitatem tuam” Recognize O Christian, your dignity.

At the profoundest level Christmas tells us of the divine potential of humanity when cooperating with the divine condescension of the Father Son and Holy Spirit. At its simplest level it uses folk customs, carols, and beautiful images, the crib, the cards, and the generous spirit of giving to convey the unfathomable generosity of God and the limitless potential of human beings working together through Jesus, inspired by the Holy Spirit, to return to God our Creator, Originator, Parent, Heavenly Father-Mother God.

— Rev. Joseph P. Cirou