There’s a place in Joshua Tree National Park where two deserts merge – and there is a signpost designating You are here – at the Mojave and the Colorado deserts’ meeting place.
The sign illustrates some of the distinct elements of the two ecosystems – a slow blending of terrain and plant and animal biodiversity that I’d never have been able to see were it not for the helpful signage.
Much like a transition from one terrain into another might be imperceptible by gradation, the new church year we enter this Sunday could sneak up on us were it not for the church’s own sort of signage that helps us slow down and perceive our gradual approach toward Christmas.
On Sunday, we begin the church year again, turning from green to blue and hearing the words of prophets and the wonder that help designate and delineate this time – a sort of holy You Are Here point on the cartography of the church calendar.
Beginning with this week’s first week in Advent, the church allows four weeks to instruct and to invite us to see the signs of transition – a becoming that is happening right here and all around us, if only we will take a good look.
There are many ways to engage this turn of liturgical season at Grace Cathedral.
On Sunday at 3 pm, you’ll want to be sure to greet the new liturgical year and anticipate the promise of Christmas with The Advent Procession of Lessons and Carols sung by the Cathedral Choir of Men & Boys.
With movements from darkness to light, scripture, and song, the Advent Procession engages the heart, mind, and senses in a hope-filled journey toward God’s coming among us.
After The Advent Procession, join the festive Advent Tea after the service in the Chapter House Dining Room, across the plaza from the cathedral.
The season of Advent helps us prepare for Christmas. I hope as you prepare for this time, you find God’s metaphorical pin drop – God’s eternal and omnipresent signpost saying, “See where you are and know that I am coming in a new way to be with you.”
In addition to a liturgical season’s change, another transition is also underway. On Saturday, The Diocese of California will elect the Bishop Coadjutor from three finalists. Deanery representatives and members of the clergy will vote at Grace Cathedral, and we hope to have news of that election soon afterward to share. Please add your prayers for the candidates and for those voting.
With gratitude and joy at entering a new season with you,
The Rev. Cn. Mary Carter Greene
“There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.”
– Margaret J. Wheatly
Dear Grace Cathedral Family,
What do we care about as a community? Our life together in faith is an ongoing inquiry into what matters to us and our faithful engagement with what we care about inspires transformation.
Our community’s priorities are at the heart of our discernment with the three candidates for Bishop of California who are visiting the Diocese of California this week.
Our conversation with the candidates last night demonstrated that the Grace Cathedral community cares deeply about our continued and faithful engagement together.
While the election of a bishop is rare in the life of the diocese, Grace Cathedral’s stewardship campaign is an annual invitation to express what we care about by making financial commitments to the life and work of the cathedral. With the impactful array of worship, programming, formation, and arts events upcoming, this is a critical year for full engagement in stewardship.
We need your help to reach our goals. At present, we are significantly below where we had hoped to be. Compared to this time last year, we are 20% behind in the number of pledgers and total dollars raised.
To be fully engaged with giving, like embracing change, takes courage. And this year’s theme 100% Grace: Courage invites us to live into our discovery of what we care about with courage.
Because of the courage of our community to pledge financial support, our ministries thrive, and people are drawn to Grace Cathedral for faithful engagement, comfort, and inspiration. Making a commitment to stewardship by pledging is itself an act of courage and responsibility to our cathedral programs, to San Francisco, and beyond.
At Grace Cathedral, courage has always meant living from the heart, serving with love, and being a sign of hope in the world. From this courage we act for justice, offer help, and lead bravely. We need courage in the world today, and Grace Cathedral cares about continuing to model and inspire courageous living. Through our stewardship together, we can.
If you have not yet pledged for 2024, we invite you to join us in becoming 100% Grace with courage that inspires transformation.
With gratitude and enthusiasm for what we are creating together,
The Rev. Canon Mary Carter Greene
Dear Grace Cathedral Friends,
“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”
This Sunday, we celebrate the life and work of St. Francis, the patron saint of our city, and we give thanks for all of God’s creation in our annual Feast of St. Francis and Blessing of the Animals.
This Feast Day not only brings our furry and feathered friends to church; it reminds us of our place in and responsibility for all of God’s creation.
Sometimes concerns about big issues like the environment can seem overwhelming, but as the St. Francis Quote above encourages, taking necessary and possible steps results in outcomes that previously may have seemed impossible. This is one of the reasons we gather as a faithful and active community.
What environmental steps, necessary and possible, might St. Francis invite us to address? What are the practical steps you are taking or considering in order to help the environment?
A Grace Group on Creation Care is being added to our growing list of Grace Groups resuming for the Fall quarter. Maybe this is a place to begin making the impossible possible.
Grace Groups are small affinity groups that share an interest or identity. This fall, our groups are connecting around the following areas of interest:
Creation Care, Youngish Adults (30s and 40s), LGBTQ+, Poetry, Contemplative Practices, Self-Care, and Understanding + Action on the Housing Crisis. Some topics have multiple groups.
Larger group gatherings are coming soon too! Seniors with Grace invites you to Senior Fall Fun Day at Grace Cathedral on Wednesday, October 18, from 10 am to 3 pm. We’ll enjoy brunch, an insider’s cathedral tour, a labyrinth walk, worship, and top the day off with tea and cookies. Registration is required and limited to 50. We welcome you to sign up now.
Our Edge of Halloween spooktacular for families with children and youth returns on Sunday, October 29, and we need the help of volunteers to help set up and break down the event or to participate in costume to create a memorable experience for the 400 we are expecting! Share your interest here or email Steph McNally!
Finally, Sunday Coffee Hour following our morning services is always a great place to make new friends and to find ways to plug into the community. This Sunday, we give thanks for Grace Cathedral’s Women in Community, who are sponsoring Coffee Hour. If you would like to sponsor/provide Coffee Hour as an individual or as a Grace Cathedral Ministry, please reach out to our newest Office of the Congregation Grace Cathedral Staff member, Kate Seagrave, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
St. Francis calls us to do.
Every blessing on these efforts!
The Rev. Cn. Mary Carter Greene
Jesus did some of his best work in a small group! We can too.
Grace Cathedral is a big place with lots of members, and our desire to be a loving community unites us. Joining a Grace Group offers a way to build that community through shared interests with new people, deepening encounters with God, and gentle attention to the Spirit’s call through one of these low-pressure, high-return opportunities.
Grace Groups, facilitated small affinity groups, will gather in-person or online for three months at a time. At the end of each quarter, groups who wish to continue meeting together will do so, and those with openings will invite new members to join them. New groups will also form as needed.
Five Grace Groups are forming now. We hope you’ll join one of them. Grace Group facilitators will reach out to negotiate times and locations after registrations are full.
The five groups this quarter will gather around shared interest in the following areas: Poetry, Parents of Teens and Tweens, Contemplative Practices, LGBTQ+, and Seniors. Grace Groups will vary in their interest area but follow shared practices that encourage deepening knowledge of the topic, honest and safe sharing, appreciative listening, group development, and prayerful presence.
I felt myself a steady, fixed point on the earth round which a whirling gathered and spun a center. Then it was that I seemed to be no one, to belong to no one, and suddenly beholding the russet light of the turning sumach tree in the pasture, I thought,
I am leaf and I am wind and I am light. Something in the world likes faces and leaves and rivers and woods and wind together and makes of them a string of medallions with all our faces on them, worn forever round our necks, kin.
~ from THE HOUSE OF BREATH by William Goyen
We are the kin God has brought together at Grace Cathedral. I hope a Grace Group will offer you a place to make, “a string of medallions with all our faces on them, worn forever round our necks, kin.”
Feel free to reach out to me with any questions, reflections, or ideas.
With swirling and gathered blessings,
The Rev. Canon Mary Carter Greene
“To really belong to one another and to depend on one another–to really share a common destiny–is difficult for a community. It is also the community’s only hope of survival. Whether or not we will be honest with each other, whether or not we will let ourselves be truly known, determines everything.”
Dear Cathedral Friends,
The quote above by N. Gordon Cosby from his collections of sermons, Seized By the Power of a Great Affection, helps frame the love I think many of us feel for Grace Cathedral’s inclusivity—that we invite people to be truly who they are and to be fully known.
I especially appreciate how this charism continues. Recently we declared our commitment to our LGBTQ+ identity and allyship by hanging a bold banner with the words/the identities of people whom many legislators around the country seem to be trying to erase but whom we affirm God loves without exception.
At the end of this month, the Pride Steps will return and lead people up and through the Great Doors of the cathedral again. The Pride Steps will be blessed at the opening on June 4, at 6 pm Pride Mass, Grace Cathedral’s annual feast day of inclusion celebration that offers San Francisco’s Pride Month an inauguration with blessing, prayer, and love.
In addition to calling us to celebrate each other in God’s image, Cosby’s words above remind us of our ongoing invitation to be a community made of people who belong to one another, an inclusive, honest, known community.
With a congregation of 520 pledging households, joined by many guests and tourists each Sunday, it can be hard to know how to belong. Hence, congregation events and upcoming initiatives offer ways to grow in the community.
- Grace Groups: Small groups gathering around a common interest—offer an opportunity to grow in community with people who share an affinity area. Our inaugural groups include groups related to seniors, parents of teens and tweens, LGBTQ+, Poetry, and Contemplative Practices. Jesus did some of his best work in a small group. We can too! Register today and reach out to me for more information.
- Join your Grace Cathedral community for a wonderful time of fun, food, and friendship at Bishop’s Ranch in Healdsburg from May 27-29. This intergenerational weekend is a rare opportunity to unwind, make new friends, and explore the Spirit’s movement among us in the spectacular setting of a hillside ranch in Healdsburg. Register by Monday, May 15, to share this time together. Contact me or email@example.com for more information and to register.
We were each made in the image of God, and we are each invited to be known as one whom God truly loves. I hope you let yourself be seen and known in this community. Doing that, as Gordon Cosby wrote, determines everything.
With great gratitude and many blessings,
The Rev. Canon Mary Carter Greene
We must confine ourselves to the present moment without taking thought for the one before or the one to come… so that stirrings of Grace can be followed; so that God can direct us.
Dear Grace Family,
This counsel from Jean Pierre de Caussade in the spiritual classic The Sacrament of the Present Moment, offers a contemplative understanding of what God is doing in us, speaking to us through what happens to us moment by moment.
Our Seniors with Grace group is just back from a retreat at Bishop’s Ranch, where we indulged in this practice, quieting down and listening to ourselves and the inspiration in each other. Under the wonderful guidance of the Rev. Margaret Deeths, we enjoyed three days of exploration around the topic of the ordinary Saints we have known—the people who made differences in the moment-to-moment of our lives. It was a wonderful chance for us to reflect on the blessings we know and grow together as a community at our fabulous diocesan retreat center in Healdsburg.
The Lenten season is a rare gift that the church year offers us to practice the sort of spiritual quieting de Caussade and all the contemplatives describe that can attune us in this way as well. In calling us to metanoia, the season invites us to slow down, quiet down, look not outward but inward, and turn to the message that God is offering us.
I hope you find this true and that your practices and prayer this Lenten season reveal, as Julian of Norwich said, “things hidden and the things longed for.” With that clarity of vision, I pray you are looking toward Holy Week and the Easter season with hope and inspiration.
Curious about ways to quiet down? Our contemplative practices group meets this Sunday at 1 pm in the Chapel of Grace. Join us for a conversation about Christian Meditation and a brief practice of it.
Interested in connecting with other people more closely at Grace Cathedral? Join a small group. Online and in-person groups will meet around different interests and topics beginning in May. Stay tuned for details.
Your clergy team has you on our hearts these final weeks of Lent especially. We have been praying for you individually and mailing out cards to let you know this. Check your mailbox soon for a message from us.
Finally, thank you to the Rt. Rev. Dr. Marc Handley Andrus, my colleagues, congregants, and friends who made the installation yesterday possible. What an honor. It was the moment of a lifetime!
With great gratitude and every blessing,
The Rev. Canon Mary Carter Greene
Do Not Be Afraid.
Afraid? Wondering what fear has to do with this beautiful season of Advent… the gorgeous and contemplative waiting time for Christmas?
. . . an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.”
Sunday’s Gospel from Matthew offers an angelic epiphany that leads fearful Joseph to reverse his impulse to run from the potential scandal of Mary’s pregnancy and risk, instead, abiding with God’s will.
Admittedly, fear is not an emotion regularly associated with the run-up to Christmas, and yet acknowledging fear’s presence in Joseph’s reconciliation with God’s will, and admitting to fear’s presence in our own lives, invites us to spend a minute with that emotion and consider what it has to tell us. By not running from it but allowing our fear to sidle up with the more often advertised emotions of the season, joy, hope, love, and peace, the message of God’s promise to set us free presents something new, the possibility that no matter the season, no matter the emotion, no matter what we face in life, we need not run, we need only turn to God.
In this season of waiting and anticipating God’s great gift to us in the baby Jesus, the church acknowledges the breadth of the human experience – the terrible and the wonderful, and your community at Grace Cathedral hopes you’ll join us however you are feeling, whatever your situation, to share in God’s promise that is always being delivered.
As a favorite Advent hymn invites, “Come thou long-expected Jesus, born to set thy people free; from our sins and fears release us, let us find our rest in thee,” we can find all that we wait for in the peace and presence of God.
“The question, then,” as Joan Chittister wrote, “is not whether God is with us in life; the question is, are we with God who is waiting for us to realize this relationship?”
Come, join your Grace Cathedral family online or in person on Sunday, December 18, the fourth week of Advent, as we realize this relationship with God and await Christ’s coming in the community. After the 11 am service, head down to Gresham Hall for the Advent Sale of beautiful, handcrafted gifts along with savory and sweet treats.
Before we know it, Christmas will be here! Join your Grace Cathedral family for Services:
Christmas Eve, Saturday, December 24
- 11 am The Bishop’s Christmas Pageant (Registration and masks are required.)
- 4 pm Lessons and Carols
- 7:30 pm Choral Eucharist
- 11 pm Choral Eucharist with Choir and Orchestra (Choral Prelude at 10:30 pm)
Christmas Day, Saturday, December 25
- 11 am Choral Eucharist
Dear Grace Cathedral Community,
Release, receive, renew. At my training last month at Chartres Cathedral with the Rev. Dr. Lauren Artress, I learned these are the guiding directions for a labyrinth walk.
Release while walking into the labyrinth.
Receive at the center of the labyrinth.
Return a new walking the same way out.
Lauren says of this sequence that the part we find most challenging is the middle step, receiving and discerning what the Spirit has in mind for our community or us.
One of the clear messages we clergy have been hearing from the congregation is that you are looking for ways to get involved, to paraphrase Lauren’s terms, looking for places to receive and be renewed. And great news! There are several ways to get involved right now:
Join our New Choir
Do you like to sing? Our renowned music program is growing, and men, women, and youth can be a part of it! Join our new mixed-voice choir. The first rehearsal will be this Sunday, October 23, at 4 pm. For more info, contact Chris Keady or Gabriel Fanelli at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Volunteer for our Children’s Edge of Halloween Event
On Sunday, October 30, Children, Youth, and Family Ministries will be joined by numerous staff and cathedral volunteers (might you be one of them?) to offer our second annual festive treasure hunt inside the cathedral. Volunteers are needed to help decorate and staff the event. Contact Steph McNally at email@example.com.
Special Coffee Hour Honoring Cathedral Staff
On Sunday, November 6, at the 11 am Eucharist and following Coffee Hour, our cathedral congregation will honor and recognize the cathedral staff’s steadfast support and commitment during the pandemic shutdown, recovery, and return. Please join us at the 11 am Eucharist and the following celebration at Coffee Hour, when our congregation will meet and thank the incredible team behind the cathedral’s success. Cathedral staff holds our shared Grace community so lovingly in all that we are and do. Thank you to our docents for hosting last week, they really outdid themselves! If you wish to contribute to the coffee hour on Nov 6, please contact Joanne Compean at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sponsor a Coffee Hour
Love to cook or host events? Sign up to host coffee hour after a Sunday service. This is a great way to get to know people at the cathedral and share your gifts of hospitality. Contact Pete Young at Petey@gracecathedral.org.
Attend Inquirers Class
Want to learn more about Grace Cathedral and the Episcopal Church or to get to know some new people? Sunday following the 11 am service, join us in the Chapter Room across the plaza from the cathedral to join an interesting discussion about our tradition.
I hope one of these opportunities will invite you and offer you renewal and inspiration that you can take out to the world. And if you are still looking for inspiration, perhaps one of our labyrinths is calling you to walk it and to hear that still, small voice.
Finally, in preparation for the All Souls’ Requiem, Sunday, November 13 at 11 am, submission of Tributes for your beloved dead that are received by Monday, October 31, will be recognized in the Requiem service leaflet.
With every blessing,
The Rev. Mary Carter Greene
Minister for Congregational Life
Dear Members of the Grace Community,
While we ride the Easter tide, we are reminded that there is so much to celebrate in this season of new life. After two long years of covid restrictions, it’s wonderful to see long-beloved programs coming back. Two notable returns include Seniors with Grace and the Congregation Retreat.
Seniors with Grace resumes a once-a-month in-person gathering and Eucharist beginning next month. Seniors (and those who identify as seniors) are invited to join us from 10-1 for brunch, programming and the Eucharist on the second Wednesday of each month, beginning May 11. RSVP with email@example.com
The Congregation Retreat is back too! From May 28-30, join clergy, staff and new and old friends from the cathedral for fun, delicious food and spiritually enriching programming at the relaxed and spacious Bishop’s Ranch in Healdsburg. A limited number of prime spaces are available for registration and we invite you to sign up early. Scholarships for new attendees are also available. Contact Petey@gracecathedral.org for more information.
Celebrate Charles Shipley’s 30 years at Grace Cathedral and join the blessings on his next adventure at Evensong on Thursday, April 28 at 5:30 pm, followed by a festive reception.
Finally, next week we mark and bless the lives of two beloveds who have died during the Covid pandemic.
Margaret Leonetti’s service will be held on Monday, April 25 at 11 am in the Chapel of Grace. Margaret served on the cathedral’s Board of Trustees, on several liturgical ministries and with assiduous attention to detail as head of the Altar Guild.
Jim Durfee’s Requiem will be Wednesday, April 27 at 10:30 am in the Chapel of Grace, where he is missed as a regular 8:30 am attendee. Known for his brilliant art restoration, Jim donated a generous set of vestments which will be in use during his service.
May new life continue to sustain you and bring you joy.
The Rev. Mary Carter Greene
Minister for Congregational Life