“The mountains of things we throw away are much greater than what we use. In this, if in no other way, we can see the wild and reckless exuberance of our production, and waste seems to be the index.”
— John Steinbeck
This Saturday, April 24, is the celebration known as Earth Day. It is a day set aside to appreciate the natural world around us and to recommit ourselves to taking care of the physical environment of which we, as humans, are an inextricable part.
In Christian theology, this connection is part of the creator-creation distinction. Humans tend to arrogate to ourselves creator-like authority and control over the world around us as if we are separate from it. But this is hubris. The Genesis narratives of symbolic origins and developmental science tell us that we and the world around us are one. We have agency, but we are not God.
Instead, theology uses the language of stewardship for our relation to the natural world, a role we have as intelligent beings with the personal and collective power to care for it. We must care for the world, the “creation,” and the environment. Sometimes the climate crisis seems so overwhelming that we wonder if anything we do will help. But non-action is not an option, whether from a secular perspective or with the religious person’s call to stewardship.
In my previous parish in another diocese, the youth group took up the “Sustaining Earth, Our Island Home” initiative pioneered by Bishop Marc and Dr. Sheila Andrus. Through an online app, the youth walked families through ways to reduce the household carbon footprint. This includes big things like installing solar panels and small things like air drying clothing occasionally. Even simple actions can be quantified in reduced emissions with the app, so you actually see the impact being made.
I was gratified for another reason: “Sustaining Earth, Our Island Home.” It was the energy and passion of the youth that made this happen. They stayed at coffee hour with laptops and helped the elders go through the app. If folks completed the app, they gave them a gift pack of led lightbulbs, detergent sheets, rope, and clothespins. A couple of youths visited elders’ homes and installed lightbulbs for them. It was a wonderful activity that united what is sometimes seen as a generational divide in the church.
This Earth Day, I’m going to revisit sustainislandhome.org as a way to recommit to the stewardship of creation. I will think about small, manageable ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle. I’m going to continue to support those organizations and politicians that promote sound environmental policies, like our own Episcopal Church in the Office of Governmental Relations Creation Care division.
And I will take time on April 24 to appreciate the natural beauty surrounding us and thank God for the blessing and responsibility that is caring for this fragile earth.
The Rev. Greg Kimura, Phd (Cantab.)
The change in weather last Sunday — Easter — truly felt like an atmospheric change to the Easter season. The warm sun came out, and all the rain of the previous months made the earth green with new life. It doesn’t always happen, but this year, the weather embodied Easter resurrection in the Bay Area.
This time of the year is also the cherry blossom festival season. Last weekend’s and this weekend’s festivities will continue in San Francisco Japantown at the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival. In Japan, this season is an important time of celebration, as the country is covered with cherry and plum trees that blossom for just a few days or a little over a week.
The beauty of the cherry blossom, or “Sakura,” is embodied in this quick transformation. The trees bud, then blossom, then the flowers fall from the branches, covering the surrounding ground in pink and white. The air is perfumed with their smell.
The arrival of Sakura marks spring and the change to warmer seasons. Their brief presence points to the annual renewal of life, hope, and the year’s cycles. Many poems, books, music, art, and movies take up the image of Sakura, such that it is an inextricable part of Japanese culture.
The blooming of Sakura and their brief life span is also traditionally a metaphor for the transitoriness of life and eternal return. Things are born to die. We are born, we live, and we pass into greater glory.
In the case of Sakura, the blossoms fall while still alive (unlike, I suppose, a leaf on a deciduous tree), adding another dimension to the metaphor. They point to how, while alive, we should live life to its fullest, with joy, integrity, blessings, and gusto. The Sakura image even has been adopted as a way of life by groups as diverse as Buddhist monks and samurai.
This Sunday at Grace Cathedral, we will celebrate the second Sunday of Eastertide with baptisms at the 11 am and 6 pm Eucharistic services. With the message of Christ’s resurrection and baptism, we have a message of rebirth and renewal of life in sync with the understanding of the cherry blossom.
May our baptizands, their families, and the entire worshipping community, celebrate this wonderful, brief season of Easter. As they — and we — grow in life and faith, live with the joy and purpose we recount in the Baptismal Covenant, during the cycle of the year, until we rejoice at last in the eternal return to the God that created us with love.
And if you get a chance, visit San Francisco Japantown this weekend and enjoy this once-a-year celebration!
The Rev. Greg Kimura, Phd (Cantab.)
Almighty God, whose most dear Son went up not to joy but first suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace.
— BCP, p. 272 Liturgy for Palm Sunday
This Sunday, Palm Sunday, we enter Holy Week, the most solemn time of the year, preceding Easter. On Palm Sunday (and Good Friday), we hear the story of Christ’s final hours, beginning with the entry into Jerusalem, through his denial and betrayal, to Jesus’ death.
It is a defining truth and mystery of Christianity that to get to Easter resurrection; we have to travel through these dark days. No life can be eternal without Christ’s Passion and death on the cross. This is the essence of Holy Week.
Theologian and philosopher Cornel West calls this “the Christian tragic sense of life.” For West, Jesus’ suffering to bring redemption is the context through which we understand the world. Not all suffering is redemptive, of course, and suffering, in general, is not justified on that basis. Yet, we acknowledge that Christ died to save us from sin, from which we could not save ourselves. In the divine economy of salvation, the cross is unavoidable. This is the truth that is a tragedy.
For West, this gives Christians a clear-eyed view of the depths and perniciousness of sin — and an appreciation of Jesus’ redemptive act. Jesus endured the Passion out of love for us.
Holy Week is the last week of Lent. It is a time set apart in the Christian calendar. It crystallizes the self-reflection and moral self-inventory we undertake during all of Lent. It is also outside of time, forcing us to see ourselves in the characters of the Passion narrative. We become Peter and Pilate and the crowds.
We contemplate and inhabit, at least for the period of time between Good Friday and Easter, a godless world. We don’t do this for self-flagellation but to truly understand the sacrifice and appreciate the redemption arriving Easter morn.
Join Grace Cathedral as we walk the last days and hours with Christ. This Sunday at 9:30 am, we will begin folding palm crosses, followed by a single 11 am Palm Sunday service (no 8:30 am or 6 pm service, as was the custom before Covid). Then attend our many Holy Week and Easter Sunday services; here is the full schedule:
April 2, at 11 am: The Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday
April 4, at 11 am: Chrism Mass
April 5, at 12 pm: Midday Eucharist
April 5, at 6 pm: Tenebrae
April 6, at 6 pm: Solemn Liturgy of Maundy Thursday
April 7, 9:30 – 11:45 am: Rite of Reconciliation (Confession)
April 7, 12:30 – 2 pm: Rite of Reconciliation (Confession)
April 7, at 3 pm: Solemn Liturgy of Good Friday
April 8, at 9 am: Holy Saturday Morning Prayer
April 8, at 9 pm: The Great Vigil of Easter
April 9, at 8:30 am: Easter Sunday Choral Eucharist
April 9, at 11 am: Easter Sunday Choral Eucharist with Brass and Timpani
April 9, at 6 pm: Easter Sunday Evening Eucharist
The Rev. Greg Kimura, Ph.D. (Cantab.)
Lent is a time for a new beginning, a new framing of our individual faith. It is a time set aside. Forty days (excluding Sundays and other feasts) to think deeply about deep things. A sort of cleaning out of the spiritual closet.
The Prayer Book tells us that Lenten discipline includes (at least) three things: self-examination and repentance; prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and meditating on scripture. Pray, give something up/take something on, and read the bible. It’s that simple.
But Lent is serious work. And it is hard work.
For these reasons, Lent holds an important place in the yearly cycle of return for the practice of our faith. It prepares us by stripping away those things that distract us from the holiness that should be central in our lives.
I’ve also found that Lent also holds a fascination to those outside the worshiping community. When I was a university chaplain years ago, the annual Ash Wednesday service to kick off Lent was amongst the best attended. It attracted the spiritually curious precisely because of its sense of solemnity, the strange custom of ashing, and the sense of discipline involved.
It was a sign of a hunger for depth and meaning — even from that age group, the church too frequently writes off until they grow older and have kids of their own and return.
There are some of our offerings that I will suggest for your own Lenten discipline. You can join us online, from Monday-Friday at 9 am, for Morning Prayer. The service takes about twenty minutes, and it will be a great way to start your day. We also have Thursday morning bible study and Sunday 4 pm book study. We invite you to take a class or attend a program with our diverse, open-minded community and see where it takes you.
I wish you a deep and meaningful Lent as we wander with Jesus in the wilderness to arrive at the joyful resurrection of Easter.
I will sing a new song. (Ps 40)
The Psalmist this Sunday speaks of patience in the Lord being rewarded. God lifts the lowly up “out of the mire and clay,” sets “feet on rock,” and makes “footsteps firm.” The response to this delivery? A new song of praise out of the mouths of the delivered.
So much of our worship, our giving thanks, is in the form of song. We sing our praises to God. If, in the beginning was the Word, then the second moment was to sing the word. God lifts us — and the gift of music likewise raises our spirits.
I was reminded of that Thursday, when four CSB choristers were “invested” with their albs. I had a front-row seat and could see their joy in this rite of passage and the pride of their parents. What a wonderful moment, and what a gift of the song they share with us all!
We are so fortunate at Grace Cathedral to have the traditional choirs, a new mixed-voice choir, contemporary music at the Vine, and the voices of the congregation singing together. We experience the wonderful organ, piano, and other instruments, so lovingly played by the music department. It reminds us of the Psalmist’s eternal truth: the only appropriate response to blessings is to give thanks, in its highest form, by song.
We have many things happening at Grace on any given week. This week is no exception. At 10:30 am, between the services, we will experience a new type of singing for us: Bobby McFerrin’s Circlesongs. This will be the first of the new year, and you are warmly invited to participate. (Also, a big congratulations to Bobby, who will receive a Grammy 2023 Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award in February– we all celebrate with you on this rare and richly deserved honor!)
At 1 pm, our youth group and other youth from the Bay Area will participate in a teach-in and art workshop about ending slavery for good. Grace Cathedral is part of a broad national coalition calling for an end to the “exception clause” in the 13th Amendment that allows involuntary servitude, or forced labor, to continue in prisons. This teach-in will be led by gifted artists and facilitators Akeil Robertson-Jowers and Phoebe Bachman of Mural Arts Philadelphia, the nation’s largest public art organization. Akeil and Phoebe are facilitating teach-ins across the country to raise awareness about ending the exception in the 13th Amendment. Youth will create a piece of art in response to what they learn that will be on permanent display at the cathedral.
At 3 pm, join us for a special Interfaith Service to celebrate the life and legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.. Also, during the MLK, Jr. Holiday on Monday, we will be playing his inspiring 1965 sermon at Grace Cathedral on a loop; come and visit us!
Final call for the final Grace Cathedral pilgrimage led by the Rev. Canon Mark Stanger. For two decades, our congregation members and others have followed the star of wonder to experience Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Nazareth, and other places from the life of Jesus. We travel together for a transformative journey that includes Pentecost in Jerusalem! 2023 Holy Land Pilgrimage. Learn more about the spiritual beauty of bible land pilgrimage.
Last but not least, please mark your calendars for the annual congregational meeting on January 29.
We look forward to seeing you Sunday, in person or virtually, and singing in joy together!
Greetings this Christmas from Grace Cathedral.
We look forward to celebrating the birth of Christ Jesus with you, joining in-person or online.
Four services are held on December 24: 11 am Bishop’s Christmas Pageant, 4 pm Christmas Lessons & Carols, 7:30 pm Christmas Eve Choral Eucharist, and the 11 pm “Midnight Mass” with Choir and Orchestra preceded by a Carol Prelude at 10:30 pm. You may also access services on the Grace Cathedral Youtube channel and website at any time.
Because of the increasing levels of infection (Covid, RSV, flu) across the Diocese and the stress on the hospital system, we are respectfully requesting that everyone entering Grace Cathedral mask, stay up-to-date on vaccines, or stay home if you are not feeling well (please join us online, though)!
From 6:30-9:30 pm now through January 2, visit Grace Cathedral for Projecting Grace, a glorious multimedia event projecting imagery on the cathedral’s facade. Spearheaded by Bishop Marc Andrus, the light show includes a soundtrack of seasonal favorites by the Grace Cathedral Music Department from now and years past.
With the Christmas tree and light decorations in Huntington Park, the cathedral corner of Nob Hill is both welcoming visitors to the neighborhood and becoming a holiday tradition.
During the holiday season especially, our faith tradition reaches out to those who are struggling. I want to highlight some of the recent outreach and social action ministry in this area. Led by Community Preschool director Loren Smith; Children, Youth, and Family associate Dr. Steph McNally; and the Congregation Council, we put together a remarkably successful Holiday toy, clothing, food, and hygiene supplies drive. Working with our Glide and Bayview Mission partners, items were wrapped and distributed to hundreds of individuals and families locally and around the city. Learn more in our blog!
This time of the year, we thank the many hands that make all the services and activities at Grace Cathedral possible. For all the congregants, trustees, and staff who are working so diligently in this busy time, a big kudos and thank you. Your efforts are more than mere work; they are the ministry that allows the Good News of Christ’s birth to ring out around the city and Diocese! If you would like to support the numerous ministries here, you can always text “GRACE” to “78276”.
Finally, as we celebrate Christ’s coming into the world and the change from 2022 to 2023, everyone at Grace Cathedral wishes you a happy Christmas and many blessings in the new year. The clergy and staff look forward to seeing you in 2023.
Thanksgiving is its own form of a moveable feast. By that, I mean that the meaning of Thanksgiving and how it is celebrated is evolving.
We have grown beyond the traditional image of pilgrims and Indians eating peaceably together, sanctifying what would become a future European conquest.
Nowadays, it has become a celebration of the earth’s bounty and our stewardship of it. It is also deeply identified with family and loved ones being thankful at the table.
In my family growing up, Thanksgiving was when great uncle George closed his Japanese restaurant for business and opened it to family and friends. The chef cooked a turkey. Everyone else — which meant practically the entire Japanese American community in Anchorage — brought heaping dishes of food. Sushi and sashimi, baked salmon, halibut, shrimp, gyoza, fried rice. Jello molds, banana creme pies, and upside-down pineapple cake, too.
Uncle George also opened the bar. The kids drank Roy Rodgers and Shirley Temples with little umbrellas while the adults… drank whatever they were drinking.
Everyone was happy. People laughed heartily. Crooner music played.
At some point after dessert, the playing cards came out. Adults gathered around tables for poker and blackjack. Grandmother even put on a bingo game for the kids. We all won, usually a box of rice paper candy.
I remember those Thanksgivings as magical. Thanksgiving dinner meant Japanese food. It meant seeing cousins you hadn’t seen in a long time. It meant syrupy drinks with umbrellas. It meant prizes.
Behind it all, I remember uncle George, family patriarch, and son of immigrants, who “made it.” He beamed with pride, sharing his restaurant with family and friends, a glass of scotch in one hand, a cigar in the other.
And we were proud of him.
Uncle George passed away two decades ago. Long before that, the restaurant closed. Kids grew up and moved away.
Though I am grown now, those memories will always embody Thanksgiving to me. I am thankful for them. I am thankful for uncle George and his generation. What they accomplished. What they passed on. How they wanted us all to be a part of it.
However you understand Thanksgiving, celebrated alone or with whomever you consider family, I wish you a happy one. Whatever foods mean Thanksgiving to you, turkey, sushi, vegan loaf, I hope you eat your fill. And I hope your Thanksgiving is filled with blessed experiences and future memories to cherish.
The Rev. Greg Kimura, Ph.D. (Cantab.)
Earlier this week, the US Supreme Court heard arguments in two cases challenging the practice of race-conscious affirmative action in university admissions. US universities are the envy of the world in part because their student populations reflect the rich diversity of the society and world in which we live. US universities have created this environment in part through the policies being challenged.
Grace Cathedral supports the efforts of US institutions of higher learning to ensure all of God’s people are fairly and equitably represented in their student populations. We join with faith communities and civil rights groups across the nation in calling for race-conscious affirmative action to remain one of many tools in university admissions.
We also join the Japanese American Citizens’ League, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, and many other leading Asian American groups in decrying the false argument that these policies disadvantage Asian Americans and others. We denounce this notion as a fallacy designed to divide students and all Americans against each other.
Dear Grace Cathedral Family,
Folks around the Diocese gathered for Clergy Retreat at Bishop’s Ranch this week. We spent time in prayer and learning, especially about Franciscan spirituality, with Bishop Marc. It was an opportunity to meet many of the leaders from the churches in our Diocese — and the first time I had been at the campus in beautiful Healdsburg. It was an experience I will never forget.
This meant that for Grace Cathedral, much of the three-day work was in the capable hands of staff. They have had to carry an extra burden lately, and I want to recognize their extraordinary efforts and excellence in what they do.
Speaking of Francis, this Sunday, we will celebrate the Feast of St. Francis, our city’s patron, with the Blessing of the Animals. You are all invited to bring your pets to church to be blessed after each service, and we offer special photo opportunity on the plaza after the 11 am service.
2022 Artist in Residence Mingwei Lee and Dean Malcolm Young with being in conversation at The Forum, from 9:30-10:30 am; this kicks off a host of activities leading up to Mingwei’s installation Our Labyrinth For Grace, noon-midnight, Saturday, October 8. Learn more here:
These Artist-in-Residence activities by a world-renowned figure like Mingwei are a great reason to join Grace Cathedral as a Cultural Membership. What does it mean to be a Cultural Member? If you believe in the social mission, enjoy world-class art, love programming like The Forum, yoga, and sound bath… and perhaps see yourself as more of a “seeker” than into “church,” Cultural Membership is for you! You support the institution and its values, receive discounts and early bird opportunities, and help us to continue this exciting programming vision.
Finally, we are starting an Inquirers Class 12:30-1:30 pm, Sunday, October 16, continuing for six Sundays after the 11 am service. Think of it as Episcopal 101, Grace Cathedral-style. The classes will be team-led by clergy staff and graduates of Grace’s Education for Ministry program. For more info, contact Roberta Sautter at firstname.lastname@example.org or me at email@example.com.
The Revd Greg Kimura, Ph.D. (Cantab.)
I’d like to thank everyone for helping make last week’s Congregation Sunday a success! The morning began with a Town Hall led by Dean Young, with results of the Congregation Survey shared by Canon for Marketing and Communications Eva Woo Slavitt. After the service, the Congregation Council outdid themselves with a superlative ministry fair on the Plaza, including delicious refreshments. Kudos to Lisa Wong, Moira Dowell, and the entire CC team!
Thank you also to the Grace Cathedral Youth Group and Associate for Children, Youth, and Family Ministry Associate Dr. Steph McNally – the Congregation Sunday fundraiser success goes a long way to send our youth on their 2023 Civil Rights Heritage Pilgrimage.
We have placed a Book of Remembrance in honor of Queen Elizabeth II at the Visitor Services desk. Please share your thoughts, thanksgivings, and prayers. The book will be delivered to the Consulate General of the UK in San Francisco and then conveyed with books from around the world to Buckingham Palace. FYI, Consul General Joe White and Deputy Consul Tammy Sandhu joined Bishop Marc Andrus and Dean Malcolm Young at last night’s Evensong to remember Queen Elizabeth II and pray together. On Monday, we will be replaying the Queen’s funeral during Grace Cathedral’s opening hours. All are invited to visit and watch and observe this historic event.
Join us for Stewardship Sunday this week as we kick off the season of pledging support to our spiritual home. Stewardship is a cherished practice of the Episcopal Church and helps us connect our lives to the mission of Grace Cathedral. Our stewardship theme of 100% GRACE signifies that together, we support our magnificent cathedral and our community. Our tagline this year is Hearts Connected, reflecting the love we have for each other and our neighbors. By making your 2023 stewardship pledge now, you’ll help us plan for the coming year.
A big shout-out and thank you to the Choir Guild families hosting coffee hour this Sunday!
Finally, after the 11 am service, you are welcome to stay for a free screening of the documentary GIFT, which features several of Lee’s inimitable projects and get to know his work before his residency. It will be followed by a discussion between Dean Malcolm Clemens Young and the director, Robin Siobhan McKenna.
The Rev. Dr. Greg Kimura
Vice Dean of Grace Cathedral
P.S. Yoga For Change: Next Saturday, join us for an uplifting morning of yoga at 10 am. Save your spot today and help The Community Preschool provide accessible, equitable, and high-quality early childhood education for all. Tickets are on sale now.
I write this Congregation Update just after returning from a Grace Cathedral mission to the border. Eight folks were able to visit shelters and early learning centers in Tijuana and environs, including what is probably the largest current shelter (1,700 people) for asylum-seeking Central American, Indigenous Mexican, and Haitian families.
Although the media have largely forgotten the migrant crisis at our southern border, the conditions causing it and the thousands of souls in peril remain. The visit was led by CEO Lindsay Weissart and Glenda Linares of PILA Global, a UNESCO-supported nonprofit establishing early learning centers next to migrant shelters. They provide the highest-quality education and emotional support to some of the most traumatized young folks at the most vulnerable time in learning development. One of the many things I love about PILA is that their classrooms, even in developing world environments, are set up just like they would be in a place like San Francisco. They believe education is a fundamental right — and the critical piece missing in support for refugee and asylum-seeking families. We’ll give folks who went on the Grace mission to the border a chance to share what we saw. Suffice it to say for now that it was a transformative visit for those who attended.
Special events coming in the next few weeks:
- The school year is kicking off for the Cathedral School for Boys. Please join us for the Choir Investiture at Evensong on Thursday, September 1, at 5:30 pm.
- Mark your calendar for Thursday, September 8. Honorary canons will be installed at Evensong.
- The annual Grace Cathedral Town Hall meeting will occur on Sunday, September 11, at 9:30 am, between the morning services. Dean Malcolm Clemens Young will share data from the recently completed congregational survey, amongst other things.
- After the 11 am Choral Eucharist on the same day, September 11, we will hold Congregation Sunday. Booths will be set up on the plaza to advertise and share all the different ministries at Grace Cathedral and various ways to get involved. A very big “thank you” to the Congregation Council for organizing and staffing this event.
The Rev. Dr. Greg Kimura
Vice Dean of Grace Cathedral
“Lord, teach us to pray…”Lk 11:1
This Sunday’s Gospel begins with Luke’s version of the Lord’s Prayer (a pared-down version of the more familiar one in Matthew). A disciple, unnamed, asks Jesus to teach them to pray in the manner that John the Baptist did with his followers. So Jesus does… and we’ve been praying it ever since, including every Sunday as part of the Eucharist!
How are we to pray to God? How do you pray?
This scripture reminds us that even with the prayer form he gives us, sometimes we search for the right way. Or the right words. Occasionally, we don’t know. Sometimes, the words don’t come. At times like this, I’m drawn to Paul’s observation in Romans 8:26. When we cannot find the words, when we do not know what to say, the “Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.”
I love this phrase. In the gap between our feeling and knowing, the Holy Spirit fills the space, bridging the distance between God and ourselves.
A few announcements:
Backpacks for Bayview Mission: The Congregation Council and Youth Group will be purchasing, filling up, and distributing backpacks to students in need at Bayview Mission. Backpacks will be blessed at the 11 am, August 13 service and packed by members of the congregation and the youth group afterward. Please visit the wishlist for supplies.
Immigration reform and humane treatment of migrants: I’ll lead a couple of day trips across the border to see the situation on the ground and connect with a couple of nonprofits serving migrants and asylum-seekers. If you are interested in learning more or attending, please contact me. Learn more in a recent KQED story on one of the groups.
Sunday, July 24, Coffee Hour after 11 am service: The Congregation Council hosts the fourth Sunday coffee hour, an informal social hour for and about our Grace congregation and community. This month, we will co-host with Women in Community and other collaborators. Please join us as we welcome Malcolm and Heidi back home from their tour of European cathedrals, along with all Grace congregants, community members, and visitors. The pleasure of your company is requested — the coffee hour is about you and Grace.
Special announcement from Bishop Marc: Marc gathered the diocese for noonday prayer. He then shared his plans for retirement in July 2024, and the timeline for the election of a new Bishop of California. Bishop Marc was joined by the President of the Standing Committee, the Rev. Dr. Deborah White; the role of the Standing Committee includes the election of a new bishop.
The Rev. Dr. Greg Kimura
Vice Dean of Grace Cathedral
P.S. SF Marathon occurs this Sunday and many streets will be closed. To plan ahead, please view the map here.