Grace Cathedral

Grace Cathedral

Dear Friends,

On July 29, 1974, eleven women were ordained at the Church of the Advocate in Philadelphia, PA, slowly unleashing a new and more inclusive era in the ordained leadership of The Episcopal Church. The march to this day had spanned more than a century, with the work of deaconesses being established in 1855, and by canon of the General Convention in 1889. They were “‘set apart’ to care for ‘the sick, the afflicted, and the poor.'” In 1922, the convention permitted women to be licensed as preachers. Only in 1970 did the General Convention authorize women to be ordained as deacons; the same year, a resolution to ordain women as priests and bishops failed. Women also failed to secure Convention’s support for ordination to the priesthood in 1973. So when the Philadelphia 11 were ordained in 1974, the ordinations were “irregular,” that is, without authorization. 

At the outset, the Most Rev. John Allin, Presiding Bishop, condemned the ordinations as, invalid and the bishops involved as having “exceeded their authority.” Only in 1976 did the Convention affirm women’s ordination and regularize the ordinations of the Philadelphia 11, and four women who had also been irregularly ordained at St. Stephen and the Incarnation Church, Washington DC, in 1975, known as the Washington 4. It would still take months for the first Eucharist to be celebrated by a woman — the Rev. Allison Cheek, on November 10, 1974, at St. Stephen’s and the Incarnation Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C.

The path to recognition is slow, and the recognition of the authorities of the church is critical. Our recognition, our celebration, is critical to continuing to advance other causes of justice in the church, and broader considerations of gender justice around the world. Can you see it? Join us in a weeklong celebration of the 50th anniversary of women’s ordination, with topical sermons, prayers, and music by women composers. Our celebrations will culminate in a festal evening liturgy on Sunday, July 28, at 6 pm, with the Rev. Dr. Ruth Meyers preaching, and a mixed-voice choir singing.

I’m grateful for the partnership of our music department and Canon Jared Johnson in companion repertoire. The Mass for Three Voices to be sung at 11 am on July 21 and July 28 was composed by the prolific Canadian composer Stephanie Martin. At Choral Evensong on Thursday, July 25, the Preces and Responses are taken from a setting by June Nixon, a fellow of the Royal College of Organists, and the first woman to receive the John Brooke prize for the Choirtraining Diploma. The canticles are from Sarah MacDonald’s Third Service. MacDonald is a Canadian-born conductor, organist, pianist, and composer, living in the UK, and she holds the positions of Fellow and Director of Music at Selwyn College, Cambridge and Director of the Girl Choristers at Ely Cathedral. She was the first woman to hold such a post in an Oxbridge Chapel. Congregational music is taken from Voices Found, a collection of hymns and spiritual songs by, for, and about women, published by Church Publishing.

As we honor the 50th anniversary of women’s ordination in the Episcopal Church, we are delighted to announce that noted composer Tawnie Olson has been commissioned to write a Missa Brevis to be premiered at Grace Cathedral in 2024, funded in part by a generous grant from the Diocese of California. 

See you in church,

Anna

On July 29, 1974, eleven women were ordained at the Church of the Advocate in Philadelphia, PA, slowly unleashing a new and more inclusive era in the ordained leadership of The Episcopal Church. In honor of the 50th anniversary of women’s ordination, Grace Cathedral is celebrating with topical sermons, prayers, and music by women composers. Our celebrations will culminate in a festal evening liturgy on Sunday, July 28 at 6 pm, with the Rev. Dr. Ruth Meyers preaching, and a mixed-voice choir singing.

The Mass for Three Voices to be sung at 11 am on July 21 and July 28 was composed by the prolific Canadian composer Stephanie Martin. 

At Choral Evensong on Thursday, July 25, the Preces and Responses are taken from a setting by June Nixon, a fellow of the Royal College of Organists, the first woman to receive the John Brooke prize for the Choirtraining Diploma. The canticles are from Sarah MacDonald’s Third Service. MacDonald is a Canadian-born conductor, organist, pianist, and composer, living in the UK, and she holds the positions of Fellow and Director of Music at Selwyn College, Cambridge and Director of the Girl Choristers at Ely Cathedral. She was the first woman to hold such a post in an Oxbridge Chapel. Congregational music is taken from Voices Found, a collection of hymns and spiritual songs by, for, and about women, published by Church Publishing.

Join us for any and all of these occasions:

Sunday, July 21, 11 am. Choral Eucharist (in person and livestream)
The Rev. Canon Mary Carter Greene, Canon Pastor, preaching

Thursday, July 25, 5:30 pm Choral Eucharist (in person)
The Feast of St. James
The Rev. Erin Wiens St. John, preaching
Priested on Wednesday, July 17, Erin is the newest female priest in the Diocese of California, and was sponsored by Grace Cathedral for ordination. She now serves as a Curate at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, San Rafael.

Sunday, July 28, 8:30 am. Holy Eucharist (in person)
The Feast of St. Mary Magdalene (transferred)
The Rev. Canon Sally Bingham, Canon for the Environment, Diocese of California.

Sunday, July 28, 11 am. Choral Eucharist (in person and livestream)
The Feast of St. Mary Magdalene (transferred)
The Rev. Canon Anna E. Rossi, Canon Precentor and Director of Interfaith Engagement, preaching.

Sunday, July 28, 6 pm Choral Eucharist (in person and livestream)
The Feast of St. Mary Magdalene (transferred)
The Rev. Dr. Ruth A. Meyers, Hodges-Haynes Professor of Liturgics, Church Divinity School of the Pacific, preaching.

Dear Friends,

Just around the corner from Fourth Street Live, with restaurants featuring smoked meats and Kentucky’s most celebrated beverage at every turn, some 5000 Episcopalians converged on Louisville in our 81st General Convention. The triennial convening of Bishops, clergy, and lay deputies from dioceses as far-flung as Taiwan, Europe, and Latin America, as well as the United States, serves as the principal governing body of The Episcopal Church. There were more than 200 pieces of legislation considered in five days of proceedings. For a comprehensive overview, see Episcopal News Service’s General Convention coverage or the official website of the General Convention. Here are my key takeaways for our local context.

  • The church is still split about same-sex marriage. Although same-sex marriage has been enshrined, and the rites developed and approved, a small but vocal minority of the church is still unsettled about it. This shows itself in legislation to preserve The 1979 Book of Common Prayer as doctrine and practice ad infinitum. In the debates about “communion across difference” the proponents of traditional marriage hope to preserve freedom to not allow or perform same-sex marriages specifically — clergy always have discretion with any couple — and to do so without perceived or actual repercussions. In my view, this situation is not an immediate cause for alarm; rather, it reminds us that our local context is not representative of the whole.
  • Grace Cathedral’s social justice initiatives are well-aligned with those of the wider church. 

a. A leading issue is the epidemic of gun violence. The House of Deputies declared gun violence a mental health crisis, and Bishops United Against Gun Violence held a march and rally with Youth Working to End Gun Violence in the midst of the Convention. In the spirit of Grace Cathedral’s initiative Beyond Thoughts and Prayers, the Office of Government Relations recommends three ways to advocate on the issue: Urge Congress to End Gun Violence, to Pass Safe Storage Laws, and to Regulate Ghost Guns.

b. Second on the social justice front is the specter of slavery in its many insidious forms. The House of Deputies repudiated its own 19th-century president’s support of slavery. Simultaneously, back at home we came one step closer to ending slavery for good with the passage of the pivotal CA state assembly bill ACA-8 in the house. Learn more with Alma Robinson Moses’ blog post.

  • The way to a new prayer book is to redefine rather than revise and reissue. The momentum toward prayer book reform began almost immediately upon the publication of The Book of Common Prayer (1979). In the intervening 45 years, the General Convention has authorized a suite of resources for use throughout the church, including gender-inclusive versions of three Rite II Eucharistic prayers published in the 1979 BCP. The 2024 convention redefined The Book of Common Prayer to mean all the authorized resources of the church. As the Rev. Dr. Ruth Meyers pointed out, this doesn’t diminish the revision process, it just adapts the publication medium to the 21st century.
  • The church is ripe for administrative — perhaps structural — reform. The House of Bishops elected the Rt. Rev. Sean Rowe to succeed the Most Rev. Michael Curry as Presiding Bishop — in one ballot. This clear consensus signals a readiness to, in Rowe’s words, “think differently about how [we] should work.” Presiding Bishop-elect Rowe’s first decision was to be installed in the chapel of the church’s headquarters rather than a grand (and expensive) affair at National Cathedral; his first sermon prompts us to examine “our attachment to the old ways that no longer serve us.”

Finally, although the outcome was governance, I found the experience of the General Convention to be prayerful. We’ve become an officially tri-lingual (English, Spanish, and French) worshipping body, and even the shortest times of prayer included song. Common prayer still holds us together.

Dear Friends,

I write to you on the solstice, the day of sun-standing, an inflection point in the calendar and cosmos. The brilliance of the sun begins to diminish, at first imperceptibly, and if we’re not alert, it will be mid-September before we realize that the days are actually shorter.

On June 6, I joined two ecumenical colleagues on a Zoom forum of the San Francisco Interfaith Council, where we talked about post-COVID worship and community life. In preparation for that presentation, I charted how our weekday life had changed. Morning Prayer is no longer a cue to open the building, but its Zoom successor is much better attended. We no longer have a chaplaincy program attached to a weekday 12:10 Eucharist. Still, the midweek noon Eucharist has a stable community gathered around it and is a welcoming place for neighbors and visitors. That inflection point was somewhere in 2021 or 2022 when we knew that there was no mechanism to just return to pre-pandemic life.

That same inflection point set in motion many of the items to be considered as the church convenes in Louisville, KY, next week for the 81st General Convention. The General Convention of the Episcopal Church is a primary organ of governance for the church, and consists of the House of Bishops, and the House of Deputies (half lay, half ordained), convened every 3 years. COVID caused the 2021 meeting to be deferred to 2022. Appropriately, resolution D036, if passed, will direct an interim body to research healing services in use, and cites as example contexts the opioid crisis, Blue Christmas, and creation care.

We know that COVID accelerated the rate of clergy retirement and ministry transition, especially in rural areas; it was also the context for some racial reckoning in the US. These crises, individually and collectively, are also opportunities for re-visioned ministry. This is expressed clearly in resolution A042, which would foster deeper relations between the Presbyterian Church (USA) and The Episcopal Church, including limited exchange of ministers. This momentum in the relationship with a body that does not have Episcopal oversight — there are no bishops in the Presbyterian church — is at once hopeful, and also presents notable challenges in ecclesiological vision.

The Convention will also deliberate aspects of our common life that are less connected to the pandemic and recovery. In that vein, I will pay particular attention to the resolutions about the development of alternative and expansive language hymn texts, the revision of our calendar to include fast days and guidance, and the revision of the Good Friday liturgy to address Christian anti-Semitism. 

Please pray for the church, especially for DioCal’s representatives to the convention (“the deputation”), as they work on our behalf, and participate in the election of the next Presiding Bishop. You can follow the proceedings at TEC’s Media Hub, at Episcopal News Service’s General Convention coverage, or with DioCal on Facebook.

With love,
Anna

Dear Friends,

Last Sunday, the Feast of Pentecost ushered us through a threshold, from the great 50 days of Easter to the long, green season of the church. With the descent of the Holy Spirit, the apostles – and we – are sanctified in our dazzling diversity and sent with an array of gifts for the church and for the world. This Holy Spirit, and the ongoing presence and activity of the Spirit, defies categorization in the mystery of the Triune God. But scanning for that combination of diversity and gifts, I’ll share some examples of the Spirit at work.

The Spirit calls new people into ministry. At this time, Grace Cathedral has more people in formal discernment for Holy Orders than at any other time in my lived memory or research, at least 25 years. Last weekend, three of those in discernment graduated from seminary. They include the Rev. Erin Wiens St. John and John McLean Wolff, both at Church Divinity School of the Pacific, in Berkeley, and the Rev. Brendan Nee, at Episcopal Divinity School at Union, in New York City. Their academic achievements, as well as searching personal, spiritual and community work, commend our accolades. But they also invite our hope for the present and the future.

The Spirit witnesses in new ways. The BCP Lectionary, and beginning in 1992, the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL), has provided a foundation for preaching and liturgical patterns that are shared by many mainline churches, often including the Roman Catholic Church. But the RCL excludes significant parts of the Scriptures and, therefore, of God’s story. (Curious? Check out the citations included in the RCL.) To that end, I’m delighted that the Wednesday evening Vine congregation has begun experimenting with an alternate lectionary, compiled by Hebrew Bible scholar and Episcopal priest, the Rev. Dr. Wilda Gafney. This selection of readings and pairings brings fresh perspective to festivals and ordinary time, and provides rich resources for sermon dialogues.

The Spirit gathers and celebrates a diverse body. We hold to fast to the conviction that God loves everyone, without exception. That universal divine love and justice is so important to celebrate because we fall short of reflecting it both in the world and in the church. Here’s the Spirit’s nudge toward the values of the Upper Room: join us for Pride Mass on Sunday, June 2, at 6 pm, in the cathedral online, and hear from our beloved Rev. Miguel Bustos in the pulpit, and sing new hymns from the queer hymnal. Then, join the diocese in celebrating Juneteenth on Saturday, June 15, at 11 am at St. Paul’s, Oakland. There, the Right Rev. Marc Handley Andrus, Bishop Diocesan, will preside, and the Right Rev. Austin Rios, Bishop Coadjutor, will preach.

Finally, the Spirit calls us to rest and refreshment. As part of the congregation decamps to The Bishop’s Ranch for our annual congregation retreat, they go with our prayers and blessing, and for our shared life and common good.

Every good gift,
Anna

Dear Friends,

The hour is coming! In just over a week, we’ll ordain and consecrate the Rev. Austin Keith Rios as the Bishop Coadjutor of our diocese. (Curious about coadjutorship? Read this post.)

What will the big day look like? If you’ve been present for the ordination of a deacon or priest, you’ll note some parallels. You may observe some of the grandeur and ceremonial patterns of Christmas Eve Midnight Mass or Easter Sunday at 11 am. The liturgy for the ordination of a bishop also symbolizes the distinct charisms of the episcopal order: participation in the leadership of the whole church; principal baptizer; sign of fidelity and unity; and primary ambassador to civic, ecumenical and interfaith bodies.

Episcopal ordination services gather representatives from across the country and around the world, and feature multiple processions. The color of the day is red, a symbol of the Holy Spirit. In the spirit of Pentecost, you’ll hear many languages of the Diocese spoken or sung, and see the English-language portions of the liturgy interpreted in American Sign Language. We expect the service to be 2 or so hours in length. A reception will follow.

If you have registered to attend in person, please plan to be seated no later than 10:25 am. The next opportunity to be seated in the cathedral will be after all the processions have made their way to the front of the nave, approximately 11:20 am. If you did not register, you can still take part. Come to the cathedral and see if there are seats available at 11:20 am, or gather on the plaza at 11:20 am, where the liturgy will be livestreamed and communion shared. The liturgy will also be livestreamed.

As the cathedral hosts our diocese and beyond, each of you who comes in person has the opportunity to extend that hospitality and welcome. Take a moment to greet those around you in the pews, and introduce yourself to someone you don’t know at the reception. Be ready to guide someone to the restroom, or offer to switch seats so a family can sit together. It takes a cathedral to be the cathedral for the diocese.

Finally, our principal job as Christians is to pray. It is always right and good, and it is especially important in preparation for these momentous events. Do it privately and in public. Join us for Choral Evensong on Thursday, May 2, at 5:30 pm as we gather in Vigil for the Ordination of a Bishop, and center ourselves on the one who is the foundation, pioneer and perfecter of our faith, Jesus Christ.

With Love,

Anna

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,

Anna

Dear Friends,

This Sunday, we journey with Jesus to the top of Mount Carmel, to a place of dazzling brilliance and divine promise. The ascent is demanding, the view unparalleled, the landscape vast, the descent sobering. The sign and import of the Transfiguration is inexhaustible, but one thing comes into clear focus: we can’t stay there. Like the laws of Newtonian physics, we move up and down.

The direction of the coming season, Lent, is all about grounding and depth. In the sparse landscape, we can rediscover, or discover for the first time, God’s love for us. Led by the Spirit, we can unclutter our inner lives, and clear and cleanse our muddied relationships with God, ourselves, and one another. 

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, this year, February 14. The ashes for Ash Wednesday are made by burning palms from prior years’ Palm Sundays. Please bring palms throughout the day on Sunday, February 11, and join us at 6 pm, when the evening liturgy concludes with a beautiful rite of Palms to Ashes. Ashes help us to recall the brevity of human life, our mortality, and the holy opportunity to return to God’s loving embrace. Participate in Ash Wednesday by praying Morning Prayer, receiving ashes at the noon Eucharist or 6:10 pm, or visiting the cathedral for confession or pastoral counsel throughout the day.

Traditional disciplines of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving facilitate our Lenten journey. For personal prayer, consider the Examen, a method of reflection in the light of God, developed by Ignatius of Loyola, with many modern reimaginings. For corporate prayer, look to the Daily Office and join us for weekday Morning Prayer. Investigate practices of fasting. And give alms for the mission of the whole church.

The imagery of Lent is wilderness and desert, but Sundays are “in,” not “of,” Lent. On Sundays in Lent, we hear gospel accounts that are designed to support adults preparing for Sacraments of Initiation, especially Baptism, and to bring the whole Christian community together in the renewal of a baptized life. Formation for adult baptism will begin on Sunday, February 18, and there is still room for you to join. 

The goal and tenor of Lent is not self-recrimination or self-development, it’s freedom. By setting aside some of our attachments, we are invited to become more fully the people that God called and created us to be. And although we’ll find some buoyancy and sense of accomplishment along the way, we don’t do this primarily for ourselves. We do it following Christ, who in absolute freedom gave himself for the life of the world. Blessed are we when we glimpse that life, in its heights and in its depths. 

Every good gift,
Anna

The Rev. Canon Anna E. Rossi 
Canon Precentor
Director of Interfaith Engagement

Dear Friends,

Happy New Year! Whether you watched the ball drop on East Coast time, or stayed up to bring in 2024 at the stroke of midnight, I hope you and yours enjoyed the festivities and the promise that a new year brings.

We need that hopefulness, that promise. On the eve of the new year, I preached about light in the darkness, and specifically how we, the cathedral community, can bring that light to bear around the Israel-Gaza war. 

As I write, I’m aware of the limits of statements to positively impact the reality on the ground — and I don’t just mean the ground in Gaza or Israel, but locally. In the framing of Christian ethics, there are three primary conditions to consider: ethical outcomes likethe preservation of human lives, ethical duties like adherence to state and/or moral law, and the cultivation of virtue. While there are many references to virtue, or virtue ethics, in the Episcopal/Anglican tradition, the fruits of the Spirit, in Paul’s letter to the Galatians (5:22 NRSV), provides a good summary: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

For us who are mostly at some distance from the conflict, the arena over which we have the most control and greatest impact is our personal conduct, including what is fermenting within us. If we are seething in anger and lashing out in protests or in social media, we are not exhibiting fruits of the spirit, and are not well equipped to contribute to reconciliation or right relationships, locally or anywhere. 

In my sermon, I cited Combatants for Peace (CfP) as a model. Founded by Palestinian and Israelis, men and women, the organization consists of people who have laid down their arms, and committed to the ways of non-violence. Among their work is an annual binational memorial for those who have lost their lives to violence. Grace Cathedral, along with many other organizations, has sponsored this important work. 

Joining CfP is the Parents Circle Families Forum, a group of Palestinian and Israeli bereaved families working for peace and reconciliation. They have created a pledge of personal disciplines that will further peace, a pledge for peace. What they propose is deeply consonant with the values of our tradition and this cathedral community. I invite you to join me in the pledge, and in the inner work that makes us ready for reconciliation.

With love,

Anna 

The Rev. Canon Anna E. Rossi
Canon Precentor

Dear Friends,

As the war between Israel and Gaza rages on, and the flames of hatred flare at home, we might feel at sea, enraged, on edge or confused. Our feelings may nudge us to react or retreat. They might be a clue to God’s call to us. Whether our call is outward toward public action, or inward toward the still small voice, prayer is the most necessary thing. Without it, we risk to become the hate we abhor. With prayer, we can walk the narrow ways of justice and mercy, reconciliation and peace. But what do we pray? One option among many: I’ve composed this Anglican Rosary for Peace, drawn from texts of our tradition. Here is how I’m holding their themes.

Canticle O: A Song of the Heavenly City

This portion of the Revelation of John, published in Enriching our Worship I, speaks to a community in catastrophe, in the midst of persecution and the aftermath of the destruction of the second Jerusalem Temple. Part of what sustains them is the unveiling of the city of peace. It is a place where diverse peoples come to walk, where the rulers of the earth glorify God, and the light of Christ the Lamb illumines the way. It is a place where trees grow to their heights, the water of life flows, and the nations have recourse to healing.

Psalm 122

Found among the psalms of ascents, this is a pilgrimage text. It is to Jerusalem that the tribes go up — they are a people on the move toward God. The diverse tribes are gathered in unity of purpose and voice, to the praise of God. It implores peace: pray for the peace of Jerusalem, peace within your walls and quietness within your towers. But there is also a responsibility for the one who prays: because of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your good.

Palm Sunday Antiphon

The antiphon for the weeks, prayed 28 times in one cycle of the rosary, is taken from our Palm Sunday gospels. Jesus, there the acclaimed leader, is not of this world. He enters the city gates on a donkey. He has no military vanguard. In a few short days he will offer his life in perfect solidarity with the will of God and the needs of the world. But first, the triumphant entry, as the crowds shout: “Hosanna to the Son of David. Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.”

While often sung as a hymn of praise (think the Sanctus in the celebration of the Eucharist), the word “hosanna” actually means “please save.” It is a plea for help. The antiphon, including “Blessed is the One…” is also a recognition that no matter the circumstances, God continues to send help, to send earthly representatives that guide us toward heavenly values. Therefore, even our cries for help can be held in tempered joy. God does come salvifically in humble, unexpected circumstances; God never ceases to call us to walk through Good Friday’s valley of the shadow of death toward the promise and disorienting mystery of Easter Sunday.

Nunc Dimittis

The Song of Simeon, taken from the presentation of our Lord in the Jerusalem Temple (Luke 2), is a spontaneous hymn of praise following a life of fervent prayer and searching. Simeon was waiting expectantly for God’s self-disclosure, and his waiting and prayer prepared him to recognize it in the Christ Child. “Lord, you now have set your servant free,” prayed at Compline, Evensong and in funeral processions (themselves Easter celebrations of the Resurrection), it encourages our faithfulness. Even when the earthly outcomes are uncertain, God’s promise is for us, and for all.

Pray constantly. Then pray again. Seek the good of the peoples and the land.

With love,
Anna

The Rev. Canon Anna E. Rossi
Canon Precentor
Director of Interfaith Engagement

The texts below can be prayed with an Anglican Rosary, either individually or in a small group, and may be preceded by a time of gentle silence. Here also is a general introduction to the Anglican Rosary. This rite may be prayed for peace generally, and is designed in response to onset of the October 2023 Israel – Gaza war. 

Cross

O God, make speed to save us.
O Lord, make haste to help us.
Praise to the holy and undivided Trinity, one God,
As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

Invitatory: A Song of the Heavenly City 

  • Enriching Our Worship I, Canticle O

I saw no temple in the city, *  
for its temple is the God of surpassing strength and the Lamb.  

And the city has no need of sun or moon  to shine upon it, *  
for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb.  

By its light the nations shall walk, *  
and the rulers of the world lay their honor and glory there.  

Its gates shall never be shut by day,  nor shall there be any night; *  
Into it they shall bring the honor and glory of nations.  

I saw the river of the water of life,  bright as crystal, *  
flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.  

The tree of life spanned the river, giving fruit every month, *  
and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.  

All curses cease where the throne of God and of the Lamb stands,  
and all servants give worship there; *  
There they will see God’s face, whose name shall be on their foreheads.  

To the One who sits on the throne and to the Lamb *  
be blessing and honor and glory and might,  
for ever and ever. Amen.

Cruciform: Psalm 122

  • St. Helena Psalter

I was glad when they said to me, * 
“Let us go to the house of God.”
Now our feet are standing * 
within your gates, O Jerusalem.
Jerusalem is built as a city * 
that is at unity with itself;
To which the tribes go up, the tribes of the Holy One, *
the assembly of Israel, to praise the Name of God.
For there are the thrones of judgment, * 
the thrones of the house of David.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: * 
“May they prosper who love you.
Peace be within your walls *
and quietness within your towers.
For my kindred and companions’ sake, * 
I pray for your prosperity.
Because of the house of the Holy One our God, * 
I will seek to do you good.”

Weeks: Palm Sunday Antiphon

Hosanna to the Son of David.
Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

Concluding Invitatory: Nunc DImittis

Lord, you now have set your servant free
To go in peace as you have promised.
For my eyes have seen the savior,
Whom you have prepared for all the world to see
A light to enlighten the nations
And the glory of your people Israel.

Concluding Cross: Aaronic Blessing

The Lord bless us and keep us. The Lord make his face to shine upon us and be gracious to us. The Lord lift up the light of his countenance upon us and give us peace.

Dear Friends,

The attic of the house where I grew up was my father’s study. Lined floor to ceiling with books from graduate work in theology, philosophy, and ethics, the shelves also held some hidden gems of literature. By the time I spotted them, I was in junior high or high school. Well before the advent of Google, the only way to get to know them was to crack open the cover and read.

I found a well-worn paperback of James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room. I savored its context in a one-room Paris apartment and neighborhood gay bar, and imagined the streets where I would later live. I wrestled with the themes of sexual identity, desire, and isolation that had little place in high school curriculum. I think I read it twice that year, and it marked the beginning of my lifelong interest in Baldwin’s writing and place in American literature and culture. 

All this took place in the heyday of the religious right in my native Ohio. Still, reading Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye was an undisputed junior-year rite of passage. I had to stumble upon Baldwin, but I have no memory of his work being banned. Reading even works with whose tenants we vociferously disagreed — Jonathan Edward’s sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” comes to mind — was normative, and certainly not dangerous. I knew that there were times and places where books were banned, but that was not considered the tactic of a centrist society.

A few decades later, Ohio is not so purple. Across the country, books that opened my world and mind are banned, and one camp’s literary gem is another’s cultural poison. It is such a prominent cultural feature that we now have a week and an organization devoted to banned books and displays at local bookstores.

We can’t turn back the pages of time to a world where the center could hold more, but we can do something quintessentially Anglican together: develop a practice of reading works from authors whose perspectives we do not share. In the well-worn pages of a borrowed or used book, we can walk in other worlds — and so become the mean between the extremes. 

In support of the many LGBTQ+ authors and works that have been banned, and in enthusiasm for his work, I’m proud that Grace Cathedral is joining churches around the country to bring British Anglican trans poet, educator, and activist Jay Hulme. Look for details about his next radical act on the evening of Wednesday, November 15: reading with us.

With love,
Anna

The Rev. Canon Anna E. Rossi
Canon Precentor