The Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost

October 3, 2021

Dear Friends,

If you’ve scanned the headlines this week, about the only bit of good news to be found is that the pop star, Brittany Spears, is finally free of her father’s conservatorship over her estate.  We can all breathe a collective sigh of relief.  Elsewhere, the picture does not look so rosy.  The North Koreans have tested new missiles that they could arm with nuclear weapons.  Congress remains a bitterly polarized and rancorous institution as our elected officials try to determine what is best for the country.  And, of course, the Yankees could clinch yet another post-season berth as early as tonight.  (In case you didn’t know, they’ve already won 27 World Series and don’t need a 28th.)

With all of the bad news afoot, perhaps a moment of levity is in order.  Last week a new structure mysteriously arrived on the sidewalk in front of Grace Church.  It was an outhouse.  One minute it was not there, the next minute it was.  Who put it there and why?  Well, one theory proposed that it was for the construction crews working on the new building across the street.  Perhaps the spaces inside are now so fitted out that temporary facilities for the workers to relieve themselves had to be moved outside.  But why in front of the church rather than on their side of the street?  Why not on the other corner by the abandoned restaurant?  With a number of weddings and funerals on the schedule, an unsightly outhouse certainly detracted from our curb appeal.  So we checked with the foreman across the street.  Nope, it wasn’t theirs.

The next theory was that the outhouse was installed in advance of a street fair.  As last weekend approached the tell-tale temporary “no parking” signs were appearing on Broadway between Union Square and 8th St.  So Cammy Ollivierre, our facilities manager, called the appropriate city officials and was put on hold for over an hour.  As it turned out, the street fair was small and never came within two blocks of Grace Church.  The outhouse was far from the action.  What is more, it was installed facing the rectory yard, so close to the fence that anyone attempting to use it had to squeeze in and out of the door.  Then, by the grace of God, the outhouse disappeared just as mysteriously as it appeared.  One minute it was there, the next minute it wasn’t.  Presto!  We can only hope that no one was inside when it was hauled away.

Am I about to draw a parable between the mysterious outhouse and the kingdom of God?  Not really.  Perhaps the lesson is to find the humor in the absurdities of life, and learn to laugh at them.  Jesus said, “Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”  (Mark 10:15)

Read on for what’s in store at Grace Church this weekend, including the Blessing of the Animals on Sunday afternoon in Huntington Close.  We have made no provision for an outhouse to be part of the festivities, so plan accordingly.

See you in church.

The Rev. J. Donald Waring