Last Sunday, the Grace Cathedral Youth Group served lunch with the GLIDE Foundation in the Tenderloin, working as part of a team of volunteers from across the city.
After we walked back up the hill to the cathedral – and the youth had given me time to catch my breath – we reflected on what we had seen and felt. We shared our sorrow that many people in our city experience food insecurity. We also shared moments of grace we’d witnessed. One of us had seen someone give half their ration of food to another person who had missed out on the lunch service. We all were moved by the care and compassion GLIDE staff, volunteers, and lunch guests had shown each other.
Witnessing a situation where suffering is present can be challenging. It is tempting to try to “fix” things or to just turn away. But staying present in a situation, observing it with love and an open mind, is central to Christian practice. It is how we remember that we are all members of God’s great, beloved family.
This Sunday, Grace Cathedral will observe the Children’s Sabbath. This observance invites faith communities to contemplate the challenges children and families face. The Children’s Defense Fund, the organizer of the Children’s Sabbath, states that over ten million children in the US experience food insecurity. Such a statistic can paralyze us with negative emotions or make us cast about frantically for ways to “fix” this. A Sabbath invites us to be still, pray, and listen to the Spirit’s voice. This ancient, sacred practice can strengthen us in our social justice work, renewing our capacity to love and care for each other.
The voice and vision of the young will be woven into our Children’s Sabbath. Youth will read scripture and the Prayers of the People, and children will be invited to create prayer ribbons. Our service leaflet will feature art pieces on the justice theme by law students at the University of San Francisco. I am grateful to the Rev. Timothy Seamans of the cathedral School for Boys, Dean Stephanie Carlos, and Heidi Ho of USF for their support of this initiative. I am also grateful to the Rev. Anna Rossi, the young people from the Grace congregation, and CSB for contributing to our Sabbath observance.
The following Sunday, October 23, civil rights hero Dolores Huerta, the co-founder with César E. Chávez of United Farm Workers of America, will preach at the 11 am Choral Eucharist. Ms. Huerta’s ongoing advocacy for the rights of the working poor, women, and children has transformed the lives of countless people. Dolores Huerta’s remarkable career demonstrates to us all that change is possible and that seemingly immobile systems of inequality can be altered by individuals and communities acting with courage and compassion.
Later this month, the Children, Youth, and Family Ministry will observe a different kind of event as we host the Edge of Halloween Treasure Hunt on October 30, from 2-4 pm. Halloween has a particular resonance for children. They know things that are scary and hard to understand are as much a part of life as hopeful and joyous things and that all these things can belong together. Our treasure hunt will invite children and families to go on a journey through the chambers and soaring halls of our great Gothic cathedral, a space that reflects the great mystery, the light, and shade, of life. We are excited to welcome children and families from across the city for this free, fun event.
Thank you for being part of the Grace family!
Associate for Children, Youth, and Family Ministry