All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

Dwelling in Love, without Enemies

Homily, July 30, 2017
The Rev. Andy Guffey

Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or lack of clothes, or peril, or sword? ...No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through the one who loved us.

In the name of the one who loved us and who holds us still. + AMEN

I think most of you by now know who I am. I am Andy Guffey. I am Emily's husband, a priest in the diocese, and the chaplain of the Canterbury House, the Episcopal campus ministry at Northwestern. Over the last couple of years, one of the defining aspects of the Canterbury House is that has become something of a place of refuge. At Canterbury, we're working on our own mustard seed parable: starting small—we had four students coming when I arrived; now we have about fifteen—we are becoming a place where students feel they can come and "nest in our branches"—or at least, nap on our couches. This is especially, but not exclusively, true of our queer students. The students who have been most committed to the Canterbury House in the two years I've been there have been queer. Maybe it's a coincidence, but I doubt it. Because I think, whatever else the kingdom of heaven might be, it is a safe space.

What is the kingdom of heaven like? In today's Gospel reading, Jesus tells a number of parables about the kingdom of heaven. He sketches for us similitudes, saying "The kingdom of heaven is like..." A mustard seed, yeast, a treasure hidden in a field, a pearl of great price, and a net thrown into the sea. Each one has somewhat different effect. Each tries to capture just a slice of what the kingdom of heaven is like. But none of them is a description. Jesus does not say, "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, small seed, big bush...and let me expand on that a bit, let me tell you exactly what I mean by that, I've got five points I'd like to talk through with you." Instead, in the parables, Jesus gives us an image, an analogy that maybe runs tangent to the reality of the kingdom of heaven, shedding just a little light on it here, a little there. In these parables, Jesus invites us to wonder, to use our imaginations to discover new ways of turning the world around. Through the parables, the kingdom of heaven is a way of conceiving how we might live if we didn't have to follow the scripts we are given, if we were free to live our lives like we were really and truly loved by a God whose love is bottomless.

I've been thinking, of course, of all the trans soldiers whose worth Mr. Trump so cavalierly and unceremoniously denied this week. And I thought of Paul's powerful words, "If God is for us, who can be against us?" And it seemed to me that the kingdom of heaven really is like a refuge, a safe space, and a way of living without enemies, or maybe, living as though we had no enemies. I don't mean that there are not people out there who want to abuse others, who want to abandon others. If you are queer or if you know and love someone who's queer, or if you pay any attention to the news at all, you know that there are people who are dead set on being enemies to others, simply because those others have different skin or because their desires are configured differently.

Last night, as I was writing this sermon, something popped up in my facebook feed: a prayer, written by one of the Canterbury students, for the person who had just called him a "fag" from their balcony. That person was set on being an enemy. I would not have blamed this student if he had written a screed, if he had torn the man to pieces in a facebook rant. And the sting of the encounter was by no means dulled in the prayer—at one point he hopes, "May you one day have more personality than an Adidas flip-flop." Still, he turned his anger into a prayer for the man. It was his way, I think, of remembering that the heart of justice is mercy, that just because that man wanted to be his enemy was no reason to treat him like one.

Let me be clear—if you are in an abusive relationship, get out! If your dignity is threatened, resist! There are those who will try to keep you from the safe space of the kingdom, and they do that by becoming enemies. "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!" Jesus says in Matthew 23.13, "woe to you, for you lock people out of the kingdom of Heaven. For you do not go in, and when others are going in, you stop them." Don't let anyone stop you from entering into the safe embrace of God.

As I was mulling these things over, I thought of the recent song by Kesha, which has also been rattling around in my head. (I figured if Bonnie could use Ed Sheeran a couple of weeks ago, I could talk about Kesha.) In this song, "Praying," she sings to someone we could call her enemy, but she refuses to let her enemies define her: she sings "I hope you're somewhere praying/I hope your soul is changing/I hope you find your peace/Falling on your knees/Praying." And again, I thought of Paul's words: "Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words." Because how do you pray for those who abuse you? How do you pray for those who would be your enemies? We do not know how to pray as we ought, and so we give ourselves over to the Love that is stronger than we are.

Because here's the good news—and it's really good news. You. Are. Loved. Listen again, to the words of St. Paul:

What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? The one who did not whithold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? Who will bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, "For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through the one who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Nothing. God's love for you, whether you are black, white, brown, interracial, gay, trans, man, woman, intersex—it doesn't matter—God's love for you is so strong that nothing, absolutely nothing can separate you from that love. God loves you, and God will not be moved from loving you, no matter how many stand at the gates and say you are not worthy to do this or to be that. And that is what gives us the audacity to live as though our enemies were not enemies, because everyone needs love. We give what we receive, and in doing so, we find ourselves living ever more into the joy of the kingdom of heaven.



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Weekly Message for December 10

Weekly Message for December 10

Dear Friends,    

Tomorrow morning, Saturday the 9th, from around 10am to 2pm, I’m looking for people who might want to assist me in doing some Christmas decorating for the outside of our church building. Ahn Gallagher has graciously agreed to hang some lights in our bell tower, now I’m looking for assistance is getting lights in our oak tree out front. I’ll be able to put on my climbing saddle and rig a belay and climb the tree, but it will be much easier and way more fun if I have assistance. Right now our beautifully restored building looks GREAT in the day and kind of dark at night. I hope to fix that tomorrow. Dress warm and come join the fun!
Two Wednesdays from now, on December 20th, our evening prayer will be extended to include more silence for reflection, more music for our souls, and an opportunity for anointing. Christmas can be a very difficult time, particularly if we are in the midst of a transition or have lost someone we love. We hope to create a time and some space to acknowledge those difficult feelings and offer some solace and consolation. I invite you to take an hour to care for yourself with some prayer and music.
This Sunday I’ll be preaching, Emily will be celebrating, the children will be rehearsing our presidentially-recognized Christmas Pageant, #HamiltonmeetsJesus, and Colin and our choir will be creating seasonal music that will lift our spirits.
I look forward to seeing all of you!
All the best,
Working Against the Virus of Racism

Working Against the Virus of Racism

kellybdWe 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. 

All Saints' Book Club

All Saints' Book Club

midnightFall Reading List Selected

The All Saints Book Club has defined its reading list through the fall. 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:

  • August 10 - "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" by John Berendt
  • September 14 - "Operation Breadbasket" by Martin Deppe (meet in the Reading Room at the church)
  • October 12 - "Saints and Villains" by Denise Giardina
  • November 9 - "The Haunting of Hill House" by Shirley Jackson
  • December 14 - Pick your own poetry book and share favorite poem(s)

For additional information, contact Mike Burke (

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!

Evening Prayer at The Breakers

Evening Prayer at The Breakers

 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!


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.

New Opportunity: Hospitality Ministry

New Opportunity: Hospitality Ministry

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.

Join Our Member Directory!

Join Our Member Directory!

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.

Love on a Plate

Love on a Plate

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.


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 

This OLD Church

This OLD Church

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.
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.