Grace Cathedral

Grace Cathedral

Article | March 8, 2024

Congregation Update: Summoning our Best Efforts to Love

Blog|The Rev. Canon Anna E. Rossi

Dear Friends,

The conflict unfolding in the Middle East is of proportion and impact, both foreign and domestic, that we have not witnessed since the Vietnam War. The preventable starvation and incessant bombing of civilian populations in Gaza, on the one hand, and the strident and often anti-Semitic domestic response on the other, demand our best efforts and offer no easy answers.

Last Sunday, a small band of cathedral congregants braved the rain and chill to join the Unity March against Anti-Semitism. Our “Grace is Love” signs felt like good allyship, a purple accent literally awash in the sea of white and blue. The march, numbering a couple thousand people, made its way down Market Street in relative quiet, with the occasional eruption of “Hineh Ma Tov” (Psalm 133), or the chanted call to educate rather than hate. Counter-protests were virtually absent, and the atmosphere was, on the whole, light.

The lightness was remarkable given the grim progression of anti-Semitism in the Bay Area. And to be clear, I don’t mean reasoned criticism of the Netanyahu administration or Israeli military action. I mean the erosion of public systems and fragility of civil rights. I mean the desecration of Jewish symbols, the bullying and intimidation of Jewish students and employees, the denial of Jewish and Israeli groups’ freedom of assembly. I mean protests that call for the erasure of Jews from the land of Israel, or champion the likes of the KKK and Nazi regime. I mean the celebrating of abject horrors perpetrated by Hamas on October 7. There’s nothing ambiguous about this. It’s hate, and we’re called to love.

The total witness of the Gospels is to love. The way of the Cross is the way of non-violence, of love made public in justice and mercy. And so we need to continue to show solidarity with our Jewish neighbors here, and any community that becomes subject to violence and vitriol. And we must also exercise this love for the people of Gaza.

Our news feeds fill with the details of the dire fates of the civilian population, displaced in disease-ridden conditions without access to clean water or food. It’s unconscionable. Pointing fingers does little to meet basic needs. But communicating with our elected officials can move the needle. Last week, The Episcopal Church’s Office of Public Affairs published this statement following the deaths of some 100 civilians seeking aid in Gaza. It includes this action alert to respond with your concerns to congressional representatives and our president. 

I invite you to use the alert and join me and others throughout The Episcopal Church in calling for a cease-fire. Someone else may analyze this war for its relationship to Just War criteria or other ethical or legal standards. My life of prayer, the study of the scriptures, and embeddedness in the Christian community encourage me to be a pacifist. Any time we resort to violence, it is a failure of our moral imagination. So, I encourage you to cultivate that moral imagination inwardly. As much as possible, learn the names of even a few people who are affected, and pray for them by name. Remember that we love because God first loved us. This love is revealed in Christ, whom we join throughout Holy Week in the journey from betrayal and death to the first dawn of new life. May it come quickly.

With love,


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