All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

How Long O Lord

July 2, 2017
Psalm 13
Bonnie A. Perry

Good Morning!

What do you say in your head, when everything around you is going down in shreds? Its one thing to keep our wits about us, when all is good and right with the world, but what about when its not all good? When we are touched by disappointment, or overrun with grief, or brewing with anger? What do you say to hold yourself afloat, to enable yourself to be buoyed along by this stream called life, rather than being buried by rapids of upset?

When life takes a wrong turn, are there any words, mantras, phrases or prayers that you offer to God and the universe? When you find yourself recirculating in weirs of sadness and holes of despair—are there any words that you say to metaphorically keep your head above the rising muck and your soul intact?

For me, in moments of stress and sadness, times of trial and tempers, I find myself sighing and saying to myself if people are around or aloud if only my dogs are present,(work with me) ---I’ll say the name of my old therapist a couple three times. In doing so, reminding myself of all the hard work I’ve put in, attempting to access my best self. I just repeat her first and last name, several times, to remind me that there are perfectly normal people, (one or two) who know me well and still believe in me. If it’s a really bad day, I’ll say my therapist’s name followed by my partner Susan’s.

Then there are moments, when names of people who know and love me is not enough—instinctively I sigh—(for the Spirit intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words) and find myself repeating lines from several different psalms I’m come to know over the years.

My go to psalm when I am sad, in a bad way, or on the verge of not being my best self is a portion of Psalm 51.

I find myself saying in my head or quietly under my breath

Create in me a clean heart O God,
Renew a right spirit within me,
Cast me not away from your presence
And take not your spirit from me.

At other points, if I need to remind myself that I’m not alone I start into Psalm 139,

Lord you have searched me out and known me,
You know my sitting down and my rising up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.

You trace my journeys and my resting places
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Indeed there is not a word on my lips that,
But you O Lord, know it all together. ..
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I climb up to heaven you are there;
If I make the grave my bed, you are there also.
If I take the wings of the morning
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
Even there your hand will lead me
Your right hand hold me fast.

Then when my mouth gets ahead of me, when I say things I should not say, for that is my besetting sin, I turn to Psalm 39. If not for solace but at least to know that I’m not the only one who has spoken in haste…

I said, “I will keep watch over my ways,
So that I do not offend with my tongue.

I will put a muzzle on my mouth
While the wicked are in my presence.
So I held my tongue and said nothing;
I refrained from rash words
But my pain became unbearable.
My heart was hot within me;
While I pondered, the fire burst into flames;
I spoke out with my tongue.
Lord, let me know my end and the number of my days…

Lately though, my usual standby psalms have not been been enough. It has been something of a hard year, for me personally. I know many of you have faced even greater challenges. Compound these personal sadnesses with our elected state and federal government officials’ inability to lead and govern, the upcoming anniversary of the shooting of Philando Castille and the subsequent acquittal of Officer Yanez. Well I have found myself awash in sadness, stuck in a backflow of despondency.

Its in times like these that the early verses of Psalm 13—no longer seem overwrought

How long O Lord will you utterly forget me:
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I suffer anguish in my soul,
And be so grieved in my heart day and night:
How long shall my enemy triumph over me?
How long O Lord?

This psalm, considered to be the quintessential psalm of lament, touches my inner core. Where are you Holy One? Why have you left us God? You and your promises. Right now I’m not impressed with your ability to be with us always; you are gone, absent, seemingly unaware, or unmoved by our pain.

When we find ourselves in a flooding tide of sadness—when as I said to someone the other day in response to an innocent question inquiring how I was doing, “My mom died on March 23rd, and three months later, it turns out she’s still dead.” (That pretty much stopped the conversation.)


I’m not alone. So many of us have faced death, sadness, fear, and disappointment this year.

When we find ourselves in times like these—what good is a psalm like this?

One that laments God’s absence in the opening lines and then in the last two lines, seems to resolve itself?

The author moves from abandonment to hope—

But my trust is in your mercy:
Let my heart be joyful in your salvation.
I will sing to you O Lord,
Because you have dealt so lovingly with me:
I will praise your name most high.

Or to paraphrase—“where are you God—you’ve left me---“

Then—“I know you are merciful and you will save me.”

Therein lies the power of this piece of biblical poetry—

How long O Lord?

A lament that is not demanding data from God, (exactly when will you be arriving?) but rather as commentators Walter Bruggemann and William Bellinger say, “a statement of impatient hope.”

It is saying, “I know there is something more.”

Lament—turning to God—and saying aloud with all our force and fear, ‘Here is where you have left me.’ ‘This is my life.’

To do this is to abandon our crushing solitude and to dare to hope, dare to imagine something more, dare to believe that our lives can and will change. As theologian Jim Bruckner says, “Lament is the first act of hope, a seed bed of hope….the alternative is turning inward and being consumed by despair.”

Naming our pain, the world’s pain, before God, aloud for ourselves and all to hear, begins to alter the world in which we live.

Listen now to this great act of lament from Martin Luther King Jr. —and tell me if you agree,

“How Long? Not long, because no lie can live forever. How long? Not long, because you still reap what you sow. How long? Not long, because the arm of the moral universe in long but it bends toward justice. How long? Not long, ‘cause mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”

How long O Lord?

I’m waiting.


  1. This Week
  2. Services Times
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  4. Sermons
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.