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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Annual Meeting Jan. 28, 2018: Rector's Address

Annual Meeting Jan. 28, 2018: Rector's Address

Here is a link to download Bonnie's address.

Weekly Message for February 18

Weekly Message for February 18

Dear Friends,    


How much longer will the killing continue? 
Here are some groups and activities you might consider supporting with your time and your money: 
  • The IL Council Against Handgun Violence 
  • Moms Demand Action 
  • Gabby Giffords' PAC 

  • And here's a list of congressional representatives who have received the most amount of money from the National Rifle Association. Apparently they are all praying for the people in Florida directly affected by our country’s latest mass shooting. I invite you to pray for their souls and to drop them a note wondering if God is answering their prayers. Will it make a difference? I don’t know. But, being held hostage by a diabolical association that has convinced our elected officials that it is the God-given, constitutionally-sanctioned right of every American to wander around with a semi-automatic rifle is absurd. Seems like all of us ought to start loudly pointing out this insanity.
    I’ll be at the Moms Demand Action Lakeview gathering on the 24th of February. Let me know if you’d like to come with me. Please let me know what other courses of action you plan to take to end gun violence in our country.
    This evening, All Saints’ will be hosting a gathering for the friends, family, and neighbors of our long-term neighbor John Vanzo at 7:00. Tomorrow morning at 10:30 there will be a visitation in the sanctuary and a memorial service at 11:00 am. All are welcome. 
    I’m super excited that we will finally kick off the All Saints’ Youth Group with an overnight this Saturday. Please RSVP to Hilary Waldron if your 7-12 grade child is planning on attending. 
    Following the 11:00 Worship service we will have a Newcomer’s Brunch at O’Shaughnessy’s at 12:15. Please join us!
    This Sunday, Emily will be preaching, I’ll be celebrating, and our choir will be singing some wonderfully moving Lenten music. It seems like the right time to be praying and repenting. So please come and join me.
    All my best,


    Annual Bake Auction

    Annual Bake Auction

    Dear Friends,
    For nineteen years, All Saints' has been creating an Africa Bake Auction that changes people's lives. Last year we raised over $26,000 by buying cakes that we baked! With the money raised during the auction between our 9am and 11am worship services, our young people chose to fund:
  • wells and clean water for people in South Sudan
  • a women's collective tea store, creating a place for women entrepeneurs
  • scholarships for Sudanese refugees in Uganda
  • financial aid for two scholars working on LGBT issues in Africa
  • health care for women, children, and men in the Diocese of Renk, South Sudan
  • In terms of what it buys in South Sudan, our money is multiplied by a factor of ten. And now, more than ever, our assistance is needed. What you do--what we give--helps people so very much.
    So come with your debit cards, bring your friends, bake some goodies, and get ready to make an investment in the lives of people in South Sudan.
    Susan and I will be spending at least $750 to make a difference. I'll be baking my no frills, simply chocolate, kinda ugly, really tasty cake!
    And during our worship services on Sunday, each offering that isn't marked "pledge" will be given to our friends in South Sudan.  
    Please start baking, and email a title and brief description to Polly Tangora so she can streamline check-in by preparing your bid forms in advance. Then post your amazing goodies on Facebookor Instagram, tagging All Saints' and using the hashtag #AfricaBakeAuction. 
    All the best, 
    March For Our Lives - A Lenten Pilgrimage

    March For Our Lives - A Lenten Pilgrimage


    Dear Friends,

    I invite you to join me on a pilgrimage to Washington DC on March 24th to support the young people from Florida who are marching in memory of their slain friends, murdered in their high school.

    I believe this journey to DC or a shorter trip to Downtown Chicago needs to be an intrinsic part of our Lenten Discipline this year. This country can no longer sigh and wring our collective hands and be lulled into thinking that there is nothing else we can do. We can show up. We can show up by the thousands, by the hundreds. That showing up begins when each one of us changes a plan and alters a schedule to be there to show we care. Because we do. 

    For DC, we’ll leave Friday evening at 5:00, March 23rd. Click here for more information and to purchase bus tickets. We’ll March during the day on the 24th. And return Saturday night so that we all may be back in time for Palm Sunday Services, March 25th. Know that the procession we take part in on Saturday will be a Palm Sunday Procession for the world and not just our church.

    I hope you can be there, with your family and friends in either DC or Downtown.

    All my best,



    Lenten Evening Prayer

    Lenten Evening Prayer

    On Thursdays, February 15-March 22, brief services of Evening Prayer will be offered at 7:00pm, with scripture, poetry, and song. Come find rest for your souls.

    Inquirers’ Class

    Inquirers’ Class

    On Thursdays, February 15—March 22, the Inquirers’ Class will take place in the Reading Room next to the sanctuary. Designed especially but not exclusively for those new to All Saints’ and/or the Episcopal Church, this 6-week series is an exploration of adult spirituality through history, prayer, scriptures, theology, church polity, and more. If desired, it may also serve as preparation for the rite of confirmation or reception into the Episcopal Church in May or June.

    The book we’ll refer to occasionally in the class is called Jesus was an Episcopalian (and you can be one, too!): A Newcomer’s Guide to the Episcopal Church by Chris Yaw. If you’re interested in joining the class, consider getting a copy to look over.

    Contact Bonnie or Emily for more info.

    Bags for RCS

    Bags for RCS

    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!

    Community Kitchen Volunteers Needed

    Community Kitchen Volunteers Needed

    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.

    Donate to The 1883 Project

    Donate to The 1883 Project

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

    1883 Construction web 

    Fixing This Old Church

    Fixing This Old Church

    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.



    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.