All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

 

I’m in Love with the Shape of You

Song of Songs
July 9, 2017
Bonnie A. Perry

I propose to show that in the Song of Songs there is an incarnational grounding in our physicality, so that those hearing this sermon will read these words both for ways to enrich our relationship with the one we love and with the Holy of Holies.

True Confessions. My most favorite song these days, besides the Canticle of the Turning, is Ed Sheerhan’s, Shape of You.

I’m in love with the shape of you
We push and pull like a magnet do

Though my heart is falling too
I’m in love with your body
Last night you were in my room
Now my bedsheets smell like you.
Everydaydiscoveringsomethingbrandnew
I’m in love with your Body
I’m in love with your body.
Every day discovering something brand new
I’m in love with the shape of you

Listen, its’ my lover:
Here he comes now,
Leaping upon the mountains
Bounding over the hills.

My lover is like a gazelle
Or a young stag.
Here he stands now
Outside our wall,
Peering through the windows
Peeking through the lattice

My lover spoke and said to me,
Rise up my dearest,
my fairest and go.
Here the winter is past:
The rains have come and gone.
Blossoms have appeared in the land,
The season of singing has arrived.

A few verses later:

I belong to my lover
And he belongs to me…

Upon my bed, night after night,
I look for the one whom I love
With all my heart

I belong to my lover and he belongs to me
Song of Songs

Well then….its not that often I can conflate Holy Scripture with an erotic pop song.

The Song of Songs, the Song of Solomon, the Canticle of Canticles, has many names and only 8 short chapters, but there it is The Song of Songs nestled in our scripture between the wisdom of Ecclesiastes and the prophecy of Isaiah.

A book in the Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament which is, as theologian Stephanie Paulsell says, “Unusual among biblical books for what is includes and what it leaves out. What it includes is erotic poetry that leaves no body part uncelebrated, no fragrance or taste of the beloved undescribed. What it leaves out is any reference whatsoever to God.” (Lamentations and the Song of Songs: A Theological Commentary on the Bible p 172.)

Despite lacking an overt divine reference this book made it into the Hebrew and Christian Canon and was the most commented and preached upon piece of scripture in Medieval Christianity. (E. Ann Mattter, The voice of my Beloved: The of Songs in Western Medieval Christianity p 6.)

Bernard of Clairaux, the 12th century Cistercian writer, managed to pen 86 sermons on the Song of Songs. This fascination was not just limited to celibate Christian monks, medieval Rabbi Ezra ben Solomon taught that the Song of Songs belonged to God and God sang it every day.

Sixteenth century, mystic and carmalite, Teresa of Avila, also joined the Song of Songs party, she like Bernard, saw and heard in the verses a yearning that echoed her own search and longing for God. “Reading the Song is a consolation, because a soul in love with God experiences the kinds of ‘swoons, deaths, afflictions, delights, and joys that one reads of in the Song of Songs.” (p 175 Paulsell).

Here’s the interesting piece for those of us who have been shaped in a somewhat puritanical view of religion and spirituality, Teresa of Avila, Bernard of Clairvaux, Rabbi Ezra, do not reject the erotic quality of scripture, instead as Paulsell says, “they recognize the erotic quality of life with God.”( P 175)

Any of us who has ever had a moment of spiritual clarity, a time of some type of mystical transcendence, long for it, much as we may long for the feeling of that first kiss of a relationship that matters, the blush and rush, the physicality of a connection that enables us to move beyond ourselves. The medieval mystics understood that incarnational connection is not merely a spiritual event.

Biblical theologian, Dianne Bergant goes a step farther by saying, “God is not found beyond human endeavor but at the very heart of it. (Song of Songs: The love Poetry of Scripture p 21). And then making the literal connection between mystical moments and our human relationships she says, “human love is a value in and of itself and a sign or symbol of divine love and that we love God precisely in the act of loving others.”

Any of us who has ventured into the world of relationships knows that though those early moments may overwhelm us with a sense of connectivity, inevitably there is the separating. The push and pull of coming together (like magnets do) and moving apart, our seeming inability to read the other person, to meet their needs, understand their desires, or our own inability to set our longings and wants aside to be there completely for that other person.

Or the vulnerable hurt of expressing our needs and longings and having the one to whom we have turned, miss our signals, misunderstand our words, or fail once again to read our minds. So there are those scars and scabs of not connecting.

I was sleeping

A sound! My love is knocking:
Open for me, my dove my perfect one.

The woman replies,
I’ve taken off my tunic
Why should I put it on again?
I have bathed my feet, why should I get them dirty?

Time goes by…

I went and opened for my love,
But my love had turned, gone away.

I nearly died when he turned away.
I looked for him
I called out to him but he didn’t answer me.

Song of Songs

Yet what the Song of Songs shows us is the ebb and flow of all relationships. The longing for and missing of the other and the willingness to seek out the beloved.

I looked for the one I loved whom I loved with all my heart.
I looked for him but could not find him.
I will rise now and
go through the city,
through the streets and the squares,
I will look for the one I love with all my heart.” (vv 3:1-2)

Even in scripture, connections are missed, lovers are lost.

But in scripture, these missed opportunities are not the final word.

Set me as a seal over your heart,
As a seal upon your arm,
For love is as strong as death,
Passionate love is unrelenting as the grave
Rushing waters can’t quench love rivers cannot wash it away.

In this poetry of love, we see the longing, hope, coming together, pulling apart, and coming together again—those connections we long for with each other and with our God.

There’s not much more you could hope for on a beautiful summers morning.

Copyright Bonnie A. Perry July 2017

 

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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,
    Bonnie

     

    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, 
    Bonnie
    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,

    Bonnie

     

    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

    Email info@allsaintschicago.org 

    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.