Grace Cathedral

Grace Cathedral

Article | January 6, 2023

Congregation Update: The Dove and the Deluge

Blog|The Rev. Canon Anna E. Rossi

Dear Friends,

Blessed Feast of the Epiphany, and Happy New Year!

It’s customary to begin the new year with bold resolutions and relatively firm intentions about how things are to unfold. But sometimes, we find our intentions to be counter to the natural flow of things. Enter plans b, c, and d; enter ideas subject to revision. Life is, shall we say, fluid.

We encountered the fluidity of life in a salient way this week, with meteorologists using terminology at turns militaristic (“bomb cyclone”) and evocative of tropical vacations (“pineapple express.”) For much of the country, a few inches of rain and 40-60-mph winds would be unremarkable. But Bay Area architecture is not built with storm shelters or hurricane-grade shutters; our public transit was not engineered for atmospheric rivers.

Many of us were spared the worst of the storms, but some were not. For them, the fluidity of the situation is not just reshuffling appointments; it’s replacing personal artifacts that are water-damaged or somehow adrift or addressing deeper losses. Whatever the circumstance, we’re not quite set up for this, and it’s clear that more fluidity is on the way. What do we make of the flood?

The imagery of a great flood pervades religious and mythological traditions. The account of Genesis 7-8 ends with a “never again” promise from God, with a dove, an olive branch, and a rainbow. I can’t believe that God controls weather, but I do believe that God reveals God’s self in signs, no matter how overwhelming the deluge. If you were impacted by weather, how did God appear alongside you? In the care and concern of a neighbor, in the synchronicity of a family visit, in the silent reminder to take a deep breath?

God’s presence in the flood is part of what makes it ripe baptismal imagery. The flood is not just a violent force of destruction but the revelation of God in all and through all. Countless generations after Noah, and after Jesus submitted to the baptism of John, people of faith emerge from the torrents as a new creation and a new human family. Join us this Sunday as we celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord, with child and infant baptisms at 11 am and 6 pm, and renew your own trust in God’s surprising and abiding presence.

From deluge to measured droplets: we can also celebrate the return of the Common Cup. Receiving communion in both kinds, Bread and Wine, will return to cathedral practice on Sunday, January 29. Trainings will take place on Sunday, January 22, adjacent to each service to prepare people to serve as chalice bearers. Anyone who wishes to serve must attend a training, regardless of prior experience. Confirmed Christians with a reverence for the sacramental life are encouraged to take part. To help staff plan for both training and scheduling, please register at

May the flood waters recede, the new creation show forth, and the cup of love overflow.

Every good gift,


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