Grace Cathedral

Grace Cathedral

Article | September 22, 2023

Congregation Update: Michaelmas and the Fires

Blog|The Rev. Canon Dr. Greg Kimura, Ph. D.

Dear Friends, 

Bay area residents were reminded Tuesday that, despite the abundant rainfall this past season, wildfires remain a concern. Here at Grace Cathedral, it happened midday. Folks walked outside to the smell of smoke and a haze enveloping Nob Hill and the City. The Wednesday senior brunch and fellowship moved online for health concerns. Everyone’s been checking their phones for air quality.

The result of shifting wind patterns from fires in Northern California and Oregon, the smoke reminded everyone that danger persists even here. Signs popped up in my neighborhood reminding residents about fire mitigation around homes. I thought back to the wildfires I’ve lived through in Alaska and California, their rapid devastation and lingering effects.

Human impacts clearly contribute to the problem of global climate change. We are doing much to reduce or even reverse them, but we have a long way to go. We have been near the tipping point far too long and are running out of time.

The church has an important role in this process. Our tradition holds robust theological views on the caretaking of creation, and our faith holds us accountable. 

Bishop Marc Andrus is a leader on the issue, not just in the Episcopal Church, but as a representative of our faith on the national and international level. This Sunday, he will preside and preach at the 11 am Holy Eucharist for Michaelmas, the autumnal feast celebrating St. Michael and All Angels, gathering the community together after summer vacations and the start of school.

Maybe by then, the smoke will pass, and we’ll see clear skies and breathe freely again until the next time. For now, it is a reminder of our precarious and inextricable connection to the natural world. It is a concrete example of the need for continued prophetic witness and urgent action by our church, nation, and world, as stewards of God’s holy creation.

Here is a Michaelmas prayer from the Church of England to remind us that, through prayer and the omnipresence of angels, we can find strength for these earthly actions:

Everlasting God, you have ordained and constituted the ministries of angels and mortals in a wonderful order: grant that as your holy angels always serve you in heaven, so, at your command, they may help and defend us on earth; through Jesus Christ your son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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