Father Manny: A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Altar

A funny thing happened on the way to the altar. No, this is not a Marx Brothers or Laurel and Hardy movie or some tale of long ago. Rather, a little story of what happens when humans go about their business.

At the 4:30 Saturday Liturgy last week, I experienced something I had never before had happen. Oh…I’ve cried and laughed and have even tripped during a Liturgy and blessedly, I’m not the only one to have had these things happen! This time, well, I took it a step further. Though completely and innocently unintentionally…I lost part of my liturgical vestments! Yes, right there at the altar, preparing to offer praise and thanksgiving and accept God’s gifts of bread and wine. I lost it!

As part of the “layers” of vestments worn, a rope, or cord, officially called a cincture which is tied around the waist started to loosen. Try as I may, I couldn’t quite get my hands in and up there enough to tighten the cincture. Obviously, I didn’t tie the cincture tight enough to begin with…some thing I will make doubly sure of doing better and tighter the next time! And then it happened…the cincture which by the time the announcements were being made had slipped to just above my knees began the downward descent…and that’s when I began to get nervous not to mention red-faced and embarrassed. I could have ignored it or pretended nothing was happening. But, honesty is the best policy.

So, I told the congregation that my frustration was not caused by anyone, but rather by the fact I was in the midst of a “wardrobe malfunction.” And, the good nature and humor of the wonderful people of St. Nicholas showed itself, with supportive laughter, I was made to feel that what was about to happen was okay. And just as I was stretching out my arms to begin the Eucharistic Prayer, in the middle of “Lift up your hearts”…down the cincture went, right around my shoes. Lifting up the knotted cord for the church to see…smiles abounded by all in attendance and all was well again!

We’ve all been there before, haven’t we? Figuratively speaking, we’ve all had the “fall from grace,” that stumble or gaffe. And with grace or otherwise, we’ve all managed to overcome that pit fall and move onward and forward.

These most human of events give us pause to consider and take heart in the fact that Jesus was human, too. If Sacred Scripture were a “day by day” account of Jesus’ life, certainly, there would be passages galore that would speak of Jesus’ more human encounters that rightfully would bring a smile to our faces. Imagine, with all due respect to our Savior, a story of Jesus slipping on the stones at the Sea of Galilee? Or just before his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus fumbles over his wording and the crowd lets loose with friendly laughter. Jesus would kick at the sand, laugh quietly to himself and then, with courage and grace, continue with his ministry. Jesus was like us in all things, aside from sin. Thus, he undoubtedly encountered the pit-falls of humanity, the pie-in-the-face moments that we all wish would just go away for good.

Yes. It is comforting to know that our source of salvation could identify with our human frailties and foibles. And it is okay to smile and laugh, occasionally, in the Liturgy, even if it is at the cost of a red-faced presider. St. Nicholas is many things to many people…but certainly, it is a fun place for all of us. We find great joy in the Word which is cherished and celebrated. We find comfort in the company of one another. We are blessed with individual and communal commitments by virtually everyone, to our Church and this community of faith. Reverence is expected, yet humor has its place in the Church, too. We’re human, after all, and we’re bound to experience the full nature of our human condition…this is just fine. After all, Jesus was human, too…

Peace to all.


manny AT stnicholasepiscopal.org

(Editor’s note: the webmistress, while transcribing this entry from this week’s News from Nick, burst out laughing as she had not heard of this “malfunction” until now. “Fadda” Manny is priceless!)

St Nick Shout-Outs:

Thanks to:

Bill Kubovy and Marv for installing the cabinets in the storage room.

Karen Martin for the new set of knives for our kitchen.

Those who have volunteered to create our new Children’s Program: Ken Lopez, Val Gruenwald, Donna and Jessica Tamaski, Jay O’Reilly, Tess Setchell and Mary Beth Jarvis.

Our Altar Guild, who do so much, so quietly: Audrey Cannon and Katie Black.

The St. Nicholas Choir and our illustrious Organist/Choirmaster, Mary Fletcher-Gomez for the tremendous work they do to honor God. Last Sunday’s anthem was particularly stirring and moving.

The dedicated congregants of the Saturday afternoon Liturgy, who remain committed and driven and for the beautiful Liturgy provided by all each week.

Ginny Gibbs for reaching out in another way with her Thursday Game Night…for her patience and consideration…here’s to more such events in the future!

Tameica Williams, who has graciously agreed to be assistant to Erlene Forde, our Bursar. God bless you in your counting and adding!

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