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June 3, 2013

New York Times Crossword, Saint Matthew's Samaritans

by Rev. A. J. Iovine

morning coffee graphicThe life of a clergy person is different than that of other jobs or vocations. We know that we are supposed to be “at work” in church when worship is scheduled. Our weeks are filled with visitations, praying, studying, organizing, talking, and other assorted work events. But pastoral care issues come up at anytime, meaning we clergy people can be called into duty at the ring of a telephone. All of us schedule a day off the week, some on Fridays before the start of the busy weekend, others on Monday, just after the busy worship weekend.

New York Times CrosswordWhen I started here at Saint Matthew’s, I decided to take Mondays off. I’ve always liked Mondays. I know, that makes me kind of weird. But I put the blame squarely on the New York Times. To me and many who love crosswords, the Times crossword is terrific. Each day, the editors and the crossword creators put together just a wonderful, mind extending word puzzle that forces people like me to think hard … and, of course, at least for me, forces me to use Google to get some answers. Since I started attempting to solve this puzzle years ago, I have learned plenty.

To me, the daily New York Times crossword is a classroom. I’ve learned plenty about composers and authors and history in my daily excursion into trying to fill in every square in the crossword.

And on Monday, the crossword is relatively easy. Each day in the week, the puzzle gets slightly harder to where the Saturday puzzle is just hard.

So on Monday mornings, I like to sit down with a cup of coffee (this morning, it will be Chock Full O’Nuts Dark Roast) and tackle the Times crossword. It is sometimes very relaxing; other times, immensely frustrating. On Mondays, I regularly complete the puzzle in good order (about an hour). I then go on to tackle the Wordcross in the New York Post, a generally simple word-circle puzzle. That is my Monday morning.

Sadly, during my pastorate, many Mondays have become work days for me. I try to finish the puzzles before starting out, but many times the puzzles stay folded up on the coffee table until nighttime. Today, I want to finish it. So don’t call me until 10am.


Part of our caring hands ministries effort here at Saint Matthew’s is the Samaritans. Throughout the year, the Samaritans serve a home-cooked meal of pot roast, mashed potatoes, vegetables, and salad to the needy and homeless at Bergen County’s walk-in kitchen in Hackensack. Each time the Samaritans begin the planning for the meal, there is one area where they’ve never had to worry — desserts.

Whenever they’ve served a meal, the membership here at Saint Matthew’s has stepped up in a huge way to provide home baked cakes, cookies, brownies, and other dessert goodies. Usually 8 to 10 people sign up to graciously bake for this ministry effort.

However, with our June 12 service date staring us in the face, we’re in a little bit of quandary: Only 1 person has signed up to bake. Ouch! As you know, the cost of the rest of the meal is covered. We’ve never had to spend money on dessert.

Therefore, I am asking you Saint Matthew’s members who read this — please consider baking or even buying a dessert for the food service. Let me know by firing off an email to me.

In advance, thank you!


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