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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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.