All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

Ruthless Hope

Fourth Sunday of Easter, May 7, 2017
Acts 2:42-47Psalm 23

In the reading from Acts, we just heard that all who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need.

Uhh, oops. Some of the loudest voices in our country seem to have gotten that precisely wrong this week. Epic fail.

The loudest voices in our country seem to have said this week, The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not be in want, but you’re on your own. God makes me to lie down in green pastures or golf courses. God leads me beside still waters and exotic beaches at your expense. The Lord prepares a table for me, but that table is not big enough for you or anyone who does not look or act like me. My cup runneth over, but there’s not enough for you.

In truth, the speaker is not an affluent white man, for example, setting out to take healthcare away from others. I know that the speaker truly is only one who would be affected by such decisions. Yet as I have pondered and tried to dwell with Psalm 23 this week, it has felt incongruous to me in light of “the world”; in light of what I know is going on in some your lives, and my life; in light of all of us who have the preexisting condition of being human, with all of its uncertainty and loss.

This week I have thought, “Where exactly is that table, that banquet of love spread in the face of hatred? Where is that shepherd (or in this place, the fabulously dressed shepherdesses of our Christmas Pageant) and is that one really calling our name, each of our names, calling us beyond ourselves and into hope?”

Okay, for real, you guys, pondering Psalm 23 this week has felt to me like watching The West Wing. Let’s take a moment and revel in the glory that is President Jed Bartlet’s administration. Comforting! Inspiring—every day! Full of hope! And today, for me, crushing—because it is so painfully far from our current reality.

The 23rd psalm may well have struck many people in first-century Palestine in the same way, too. Think of the Jewish common people under Roman occupation, simply trying to live lives of peace, abundance, and faithfulness to God’s law. The psalm offered them, as it does for us, “a powerfully countercultural summons to our imagination [and] a poetic witness that, in spite of all evidence to the contrary”—in spite of all the evidence to the contrary—“the peace of God is…objectively with us.” And so they, our forebears in faith, and we in our own valleys of death and darkness “rehearse the prayer”. We recite “it against and in spite of” all of the “life-diminishing voices that would tell us”—falsely—who we are or what we are, “voices with which Jesus…was deeply familiar.”1

The psalm is a ruthlessly hopeful one. And, it’s hard to accept the notion that we’re staring into the face of something that’s socially or personally catastrophic, and at the same time we’re saying, “Yes, goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our lives.” It seems incongruous, even presumptuous, doesn’t it.

The psalm is ruthlessly hopeful, and we must be, too. Yet how do we claim that hope? I think of one of our volunteer chefs on Tuesday evenings and on Sundays at our periodic All Saints’ Cafes. Some of you know him and have worked with him and have heard him speak recently. Of his experience volunteering with Ravenswood Community Services, John says, “Love is not a feeling; it is a behavior.”

Which also makes me think of something that Jim Wallis, an author and activist, has said. He’s said that “hope is not a feeling; it is a decision. [Hope is] a choice [we] make based on…faith or…conscience, or whatever most deeply motivates you…Hope is something you decide and not something you feel.”2

That’s part of the challenge that Psalm 23 presents us with today: how to claim that hope without blithely accepting it and its comforts and promises, and without saying “There’s not enough, so it’s only meant for some,” and without despairing.

The decision before us is somehow to acknowledge both that the halls of power seem focused on a program that would make them enemies, and that we trust that the arc of history bends toward justice and that our hope may be part of that justice.

Jim Wallis says that “the decision to hope is what always has changed the world.” Which brings me back to The West Wing. Think back with me to that episode in season four, towards the end, when President Bartlet promotes one of his staffers, Will, to a new position. Before President Bartlet makes it official, he says to Will, “There’s a promise that I ask everyone who works here to make”—and then he quotes Margaret Mead by saying—“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Do you know why?”

Will says, “Because it’s the only thing that ever has.”3

It’s the only thing that ever has. Our decision this Easter to hope, ruthlessly, will change the world, because the reason for our hope—in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ—is the only thing that ever has, and ever will.

1 J. David Dark, Feasting on the Word, Year A, Volume 2, p. 432

2“Campfires of Hope”, December 23, 2014

3“Inauguration – Part II: Over There”, Season 4, Episode 15

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Dear Friends,

Emily, Colin, vestry member Joe Wernette-Harnden, and I have all just finished a week of intense training at the College for Congregational Development. It was a real honor for me to do my second round of training at "the college" with colleagues from All Saints'.

What has become ever clearer for me, doing this training as a group, is that we have the people in place for All Saints' to take our next big step in our community and world. I'm not even sure what that step may be. What I do know, although we are not perfect, we are a faith community called to take significant actions to alter the condition of our world, even as we feed ourselves and our neighbors, body and soul. With our gifts, resources, leadership, and faith we have no other choice but to take part in and initiate movements of change and meaning. Our vestry (governing body) has been exploring these questions for the past several months, they'll be working on them even more in the month of August. I hope that we'll have some thoughts to guide a congregation-wide conversation in the fall. I'm thinking that congregational conversation may happen on Sunday, October 22. It's all very much in flux and formation now-but I wanted to let you know a bit of what I've been thinking about and what our vestry has been contemplating.

Tomorrow our former seminarian, current youth group leader, and Bishop Anderson house Chaplain, Paul Goodenough will be our preacher tomorrow. I've had a preview of his sermon and I found it wonderfully challenging and intriguing. Emily will be celebrating and Colin and some of our choir members will be creating wonderful music.

I'll be away tomorrow and for pretty much the remainder of the summer. I'll be doing some paddling trips in Canada and Scotland and spending some significant time in Virginia with my dad and siblings.

Please know how very much I enjoy being a priest at All Saints!

All the best,

We are very excited that the Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas will be spending a weekend with us this fall, September 23 and 24. Kelly was formerly the Canon Theologian at our National Cathedral. In the fall she will become the first Dean of the Episcopal Divinity School, now located at Union Theological Seminary. We've invited Kelly to spend the weekend with us so that we might again return to our work on confronting racism. Kelly is an amazing preacher and theologian and we are beyond honored that she is making time in her incredibly busy schedule to be with us. Look for more details in the next few weeks on the spirituality and theology that we will be exploring together. 

In the event that you find yourself looking for some interesting summer reading, here are some books she has suggested we investigate: HomecomingThe Color of Law, and one by Kelly called Stand Your Ground. She also suggested that watching 13th on Netflix would be helpful.
Racism is an issue that we are called to confront and challenge and end. It is not something that will just die a gentle death. Our hope is that with our time with Kelly and one another, we may again return to this important work. 

revelationsMonday nights at 7:30, Beginning July 10

Bible study is back! If the current U.S. presidency and administration is causing you to wonder if we're living in "apocalyptic times," then studying the Book of Revelation is perfect for this summer's Bible study! The Monday nights for this, from 7:30 to 9 p.m. (6 to 7:15 p.m. for dinner beforehand at O'Shaughnessy's), are July 10, 17, 24 and 31.

Your "tour guide" on this journey will be parishioner Jerome Wilczynski. Jerome holds a Master's degree in Systematic Theology and New Testament from Catholic Theological Union, and a Doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology. He is Associate Professor/Core Faculty in the department of Counselor Education and Supervision at Argosy University, Chicago. The point of our study will be to de-mystify this all too often misunderstood text from Scripture. The main commentary Jerome will use to assist us in unearthing the rich symbolism of this book will be Wilfrid Harrington's Revelation from the Sacra Pagina series, in case you want to buy it—but don't feel you have to.


Summer Lineup Selected
The All Saints Book Club met on May 11th and decided on a lineup of books for the next year. The book club is open to anyone who enjoys reading. The meetings start at 7:30 PM usually at the home of a member. The locations and further details are on our Facebook page
Here is the schedule for the next several months:
  • July 13 -  "The Warmth of Other Suns" by Isabel Wilkerson
  • August 10 - "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" by John Berendt
  • September 14 - "Operation Breadbasket" by Martin Deppe
  • For additional information, contact Mike Burke (


    Gardening at 10am
    For the rest of June and July - although Sunday school classes do not meet at 10 during the summer - Atrium I will continue to be open during the 9 o'clock service until the end of July. Atrium I children who attend the 11 o'clock service will be welcome in the nursery during the service.
    At 10 o'clock children are encouraged to come help water, weed and harvest vegetables from the garden we're planting to support the Ravenswood Community Services kitchen and food pantry

    We're running low on paper and reusable bags for our Tuesday night pantry. Please bring us your extras! 
    We will be taking donations on Tuesday evenings, M-F 9am-4pm, and on Sundays during church services. Look for the bins by the doors. Thanks for your help!

     Sundays at 2pm

    breakersbibleWe are very excited to announce that every Sunday at 2:00 pm, All Saints' offers something new at the Breakers - An Evening Prayer Service! Our first event was Sunday, December 4th, and went marvelously well - we had 13 attendees! Folks are very pleased that there's a Protestant service being offered in addition to the current choices (which are Catholic and Moody Bible.) The Prayer Service itself is printed in large print and in bulletin style with scripture taken each week from the Common Lectionary.

    The weekly service starts at 2:00 pm, upstairs on the second floor Meditation Room, and lasts about 15 minutes. Please contact Paul Mallatt if you have questions, or comments at 773-860-4649. When you can, stop by the Breakers (5333 N Sheridan Rd) where the parking is free (for 2 hours), the coffee is hot, and the folks are friendly!


    Tuesdays 6:15-8:00pm 


    RCS is looking for help serving and cleaning up after dinner on Tuesdays from 6:15-8:00pm.
    If you're able to volunteer, contact Emily or Operations Manager Parker Callahan, or call 773-769-0282.


    helloDo you feel called to create an open, welcoming, hospitable environment at All Saints? Do you like meeting and connecting with people? Join the new Hospitality Ministry! Members of the Hospitality Ministry will help the clergy and vestry create a welcoming culture by greeting new members, engaging new faces at coffee hour, and helping connect new members of All Saints with our various programs.

    Interested? Contact Diane Doran or Michelle Mayes. Include "Hospitality Ministry" in the subject line.

    Our new Associate Rector, Emily Williams Guffey, is enjoying getting to know everyone in our congregation. Help her put names and faces together by adding yourself to our online directory!

    If you are a member of All Saints' and haven't already registered for the directory, please contact our resident web guru Jim Crandall at and he will send a user name, password, and instructions.

    Join the All Saints' Care Ministry! 

    casseroleThe Care Ministry at All Saints' is a quiet one, simply providing meals after a new baby arrives, after surgery, during an illness. Because when life gets complicated, dinner is often the last thing on our minds--but sometimes a meal and visit from a friend is exactly what we need!

    If you can provide a meal, give someone a ride, or run an errand once in awhile, please email You'll be contacted when a need arises and you can sign up to help at your convenience.


    tinaParishioner, Tina Tchen, accepts Bishop Maryann Budde's invitation to preach at the National Cathedral Sunday, May 8. Click here to see the video.


    Please consider supporting the restoration project of our historic building. To make a donation, click here

    1883 Construction web 

    This week’s stories of the bell tower: The beams and posts in the bell tower are being filled with epoxy and fungicide to prevent future insect damage and to restore their strength and integrity. Here are some photos of the work currently taking place. Everywhere you see white is where the post or beam is being rebuilt, restored and protected.
    The blue hue in the photo is from the tarp surrounding the bell tower enabling Ron Young and his crew to continue working in the dropping temperatures.

    Here is a collection of photos of the progress of our 1883 Project. Here is a collection of bell tower photos. Check back often for updates.

    Sunday Service Times

    8:00 am Inclusive Language Eucharist
    9:00 am Holy Eucharist with Choir
    10:00 am Children's Church School
    10:00 am Coffee Hour
    11:00 am Holy Eucharist with Choir


    Contact Us

    4550 N. Hermitage in Chicago, IL 60640 (Directions)

    Phone (773) 561-0111


    Information about pastoral care.


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    Bonnie on Huffington Post

    Occasionally Bonnie's sermons are published on the Huffington Post. Here are some links.

    Pain. Change. Hope.

    November 15, 2015

    What Does St. Francis of Assisi Have to Say to Us Today?

    October 4, 2015

    Wake Up Calls

    September 6, 2015

    Christmas Reminds Us That We, Like God, Are Human, Too

    December 24, 2014

    The Deep Sleep of Racial Oblivion: One Pastor's Sin of Omission

    November 30, 2014

    Pulpit Swap

    The Pulpit Swap between St Thomas and All Saints is part of our ongoing effort to bring our parishes closer together as we engage in a conversation about systemic racism and how we can work together to forge new possibilities and outcomes.

    Going Home—Changed

    Pulpit Swap Sermon By The Rev Bonnie Perry of All Saints Episcopal Church on October 16, 2016.  

    When Prayers Go Unanswered

    Pulpit Swap Sermon By The Rev Dr Fulton L Porter celebrating at All Saints Episcopal Church on Oct16 2016.