All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

Beyond Our Clouds

The Feast of the Transfiguration • August 6, 2017

Exodus 34:29-352 Peter 1:13-21Luke 9:28-36

Ever since the night of November 8, I feel like I’ve been in a fog. Watching the election results roll in that night was like watching a cloud roll across the country from east to west, and stay there. It is a cloud that weighs on me, a cloud that dulls my sight, a cloud that dampens my sense of possibility, and hope. That Ray LaMontagne song keeps coming to mind, Is that sun ever gonna break, break on through the clouds, shine down in all its glory, onto me, here upon the ground? ‘Cause I can’t hear a sound, ‘cept my own sad story. I get so tired a starin’ at the wall, weight so heavy and that mountain so tall.

Today three disciples—Peter, James, and John—follow Jesus up a mountain so tall. When they get to the top of the mountain, Jesus begins to pray, and as he does, the three of them watch his face change—he’s glowing! And it’s not just his face but also his clothes—they’re “dazzling white”. As if this were not astonishing enough, Moses appears! And Elijah! And they don’t just stand there but they talk with Jesus, as if those three are caught up in a conversation that God has been having since the beginning of time.

The three disciples are having the quintessential mountaintop experience. The glory of the Lord is literally all around them.

And they are “weighed down with sleep.” The preacher Sam Wells underscores that they are “present at one of the most dramatic moments in the history of the world” and yet they are weighed down with sleep.

I would laugh, except I understand. I understand being tired, being in a fog, running on fumes, being weighed down. And when I am in that place, I am afraid, pessimistic, unable to see wonder all around me.

In the Scriptures, a cloud is where God is. The ancient Hebrews carried around with them the tabernacle, with its holy of holies, and surrounding the tabernacle was always a pillar of cloud. They could say, “That’s where God is.” So it’s no coincidence that on this mountaintop, where Jesus is transfigured, the disciples find themselves caught up in a cloud that is, apparently, the glory of God.

What is glory? Do we even see it anymore?

The glory of God is the otherness of God, the holiness of God, the power of God. It is the hope of God, and the love of God that keeps speaking. The good news, Wells points out—frustrating as it may be and terrifying as it may be—is that the glory of God is not something we can do. “The transfiguration is not something the disciples could bring about by their own efforts”; it is not something they could make happen.

But I love to make stuff happen! It’s so fun! That’s what it’s all about, right?

Except when it’s not. The glory of God is living and active quite beyond us, and that is underscored in the disciples’ behavior on the mountain, because while the glory is literally all around them, they want to sleep. As Wells says, “Their sleepy humanity couldn’t prevent the revelation of Jesus’ dazzling divinity…Glory is the wonder that God is dazzling, even when we are yawning. Glory is the wonder that God is a cloud surrounding us, even when we are trying hard” to ignore or avoid “or contain or control” or run away from God. “Glory is the wonder that is always beyond us” yet always surrounding us and saying, “Beloved.”

There is a writer who published a piece this week about grief, specifically the grief that she and her husband endured when they lost a child to miscarriage at nineteen weeks. She was weighed down by grief, unexpected and unanticipated. She could not see through this cloud. She lost her hope.

That winter, weighed down, devoid of hope, and so tired she couldn’t get out of bed, her husband asked, “Might you be pregnant?”

She replied, “It’s impossible.”

But, having lost her will to do anything, much less to argue with her husband, she took the test, and she writes, “I was pregnant that December. By late August a little girl entered my life. I was pregnant two Decembers after that. By late August, two little boys had entered my life. From somewhere in the high heavens, the places I could not see, far beyond my gaze, there was a future floating down…and slowly it covered me up.”

Rainer Maria Rilke writes to a young poet, “If only it were possible for us to see farther than our knowledge reaches, and even a little beyond [our predicament], perhaps we would bear our sadnesses with greater trust than we have in our joys…So you mustn’t be frightened…if a sadness rises in front of you, larger than any you have ever seen; if an anxiety, like [a cloud] moves over your hands and over everything you do. You must realize that something is happening to you, that life has not forgotten you, that it holds you in its hand and will not let you fall.”

When Jesus goes up the mountain, he prays, and that is when everything changes. Do you offer your sadness to God? Do you offer your not-knowing, your fear, your hurt to God? And when you do, do you believe that it is possible that God could change you, that God can transfigure you?

And, do you believe that in your fatigue and your failure, God might be working in you, quite beyond your abilities and your awareness, to be a light to someone who needs it? Have you ever received that light?

I ask, because what I want to say to you is that there really isn’t anything that can separate us from the love of God—not fatigue, not discouragement, not fear, not death, not grief, not change, not any kind of dark night of the soul. God is in the clouds around us. God is in the clouds around us, saying, “You are my beloved. Listen.”

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Dear Friends,

As wildfires in California continue to burn and Illinois Republicans of Lake County hold a fundraiser where an assault rifle and an assortment of other guns will be raffled, we might begin to find ourselves losing hope. Yet as people of faith we are called to not let ourselves be carried from the shore by a rip of despair. We are called to hope and to action and to prayer, perhaps in that order and perhaps in another. Action, hope, and prayer. Prayer, hope, and action.
 
And yes, we are also called to create space for rest and for sorrow. I am unclear how any one of us can read the newspapers, listen to the radio, immerse ourselves on our Facebook and Twitter feeds and not be filled with grief and sorrow.
 
So on Sunday, come join me as we create space for sadness and grief while simultaneously praying for change and acting in hope. I’ll be preaching, Emily will be celebrating, and Colin and our choir will be creating music that offers balm for our souls. 
 
In the midst of all that is going on in the world, our slice of the global community experienced a dear loss in the death of Jeanne Marie Uzdawinis. Jeanne, her husband John Boesche, and their daughter Maddy have been longtime friends of All Saints’, always supporting our ministries. Jeanne was a co-owner and co-founder of Cafe Selmarie, one of Lincoln Square’s and Ravenswood’s best restaurants. Here's an obituary that appeared in the Sun-Times on Tuesday. Services for Jeanne will be held at All Saints’ on Saturday, October 28 at 5:00 pm. I am honored and so so very sad to be officiating at Jeanne’s memorial service. I miss her so very much. 
 
And through it all, we continue on as a people of hope, action, and prayer.
 
Enjoy the weather. We’ve got that in our favor.
 
All my best,
Bonnie
 
Stop by the church tomorrow or Sunday-we’ll be welcoming hundreds of visitors as once again we will be a part of Open House Chicago.

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. 

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 (mebcat@gmail.com)

Gardening at 10am

churchschool2010

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 website@allsaintschicago.org 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 care@allsaintschicago.org. 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

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.