The Third Sunday of Advent
December 12, 2021

Dear Friends,

It is no secret that the streets and subways of New York City have become more dangerous places than they used to be before the pandemic.  The problems are myriad.  It is a spiraling cycle of homelessness, hunger, poverty, mental illness, and addiction.  What can be done?

When Jesus had a point to make about the nature of God or the life of the disciple, he would often tell a memorable story.  We call these stories parables, and to this day they have the power to singe the soul.  For example, read the Parable of the Good Samaritan if you dare (Luke 10:25-37).  Why did the priest and the Levite ignore the beaten man by the side of the road?  Perhaps they had other important commitments ahead of them, or didn’t want to risk stopping in a dangerous place.  Or read the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31).  How could the rich man go on feasting sumptuously every day while Lazarus lay at his gate, desperately poor and hungry?  Perhaps in years past he’d tried to help, only to find Lazarus back at his gate day after day.  The reasoning is sound, but something tells me that our excuses would not pass muster with Jesus.

Jesus would have us look at the poor not as problems to be solved, but as neighbors to be helped.  They are neighbors in need.  So what can be done?  Enter the Red Door Place, a hunger relief and economic empowerment program based at the Church of the Village on 7th Ave and 13th St.  The Red Door Place feeds hundreds of hungry people every week, and also works to connect them with the means to escape the cycle of poverty.  In recent years Grace Church has become an increasingly important partner of the Red Door Place through our Vestry Fund for Outreach, food collections, and volunteer hours.  I am deeply grateful for this ministry on the front lines of hunger, and eager to continue working with them.

At the Sunday Forum this week we will have as our presenter the Executive Director of the Red Door Place, Theresa Concepcion.  Theresa will give us an inside view of the ministry and explain how they carried on through the pandemic.  She will also field questions and offer opportunities for us to volunteer and support the work.  The Sunday Forum meets at 10 am in the reception room, where coffee and breakfast treats are served.  We are also on Zoom (see below for the link).

Check out these two quick videos that highlight the work of the Red Door Place.  It is our work too.  Jesus ended the Parable of the Good Samaritan with the challenge: “Go and do likewise.”  Go and be a neighbor to those in need.  The Red Door Place helps us to do just that.

See you in church.

The Rev. J. Donald Waring