All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

Is it Going to Get Better?

Psalm 23

April 21, 2013

Bonnie A. Perry

Here we stand God.  And we want some answers.
In your Holy Name we pray.

Good Morning.

Midnight, came and went and a week passed that needed to be put down, stomped out, separated and strewn all over never to occur again  so we could  be released from our misery. 

Then as I watched the day dawn,   I thought, as the blood red ball transitioned from to orange,  to gold, yellow and then to pupil contracting white, I thought, is it  going to be any better?  My eyes may squint, but will mine eyes see the glory of the coming of the Lord? That is—will this day—this coming week be any better?

Last week, just in case you were traveling in the Sahara or Mars, last week was one to remember or forget.  Monday was tax day.  My day began with a graveside ceremony in Joliet.  Followed by a flat tire on the way back in, later, while sitting in a coffee shop—I realized that I was looking at headline news—brought to me by ESPN.   Having paid close attention to NPR's Morning edition as I journeyed  to Joliet I remembered, as I watched the video of the bomb blast over and over again,  I remembered that the VIP section for the Marathon was right at the finish line.  And it was in the VIP section  where the many families from Newtown were to be seated.   Every mile of the marathon had been dedicated to one of the slain teachers and children from Newtown. (I wish that the remaining footage had been offered in memory of the young man who'd done the shooting and his mom.)

The news continued and I did what I imagine most of us did,  I realized  how very sheltered and immune I long to be from the world’s chaotic debris.   But once again, I saw people who look like me terrified on TV and I felt a chill in the marrow of my being. 

Tuesday we heard more, tried to move on.  Wednesday the Senate, our leaders politely disregarding what 90% of the electorate asked them to do, voted no, voted no, voted no to expanded background checks and assault weapons ban.  And then came the rains, the flash floods, sink holes, and the fertilizer plant exploded.  A horrific  event only to be eclipsed by the most televised man-hunt since OJ Simpson.  Bombs, guns, blood and brothers;  that’s merely the public part of this week, I’ve omitted the personal parish events: trips to the hospitals, students murdered and loved ones in ICUs. 

Ironically, parishioner and Washington Bureau chief of the New York Daily News, Jim Warren, e-mailed me last Sunday asking if we might have a conversation about how we care about all that is happening in the world without going nuts—he e-mailed me before all of this happened. 

The sun is well up over the horizon, now, and I ask you—what the hell are we going to do?  How are we going to be?  Here’s the real kicker—how are we as people of faith going to be? 

Individually cynical? Collectively numb? Naively optimistic? Corporately despairing?

How about—uniformly angry?  How about gravely hopeful?  How about Christian people willing to test our stated beliefs that destruction, death and despair does not have the final say?  How about being Christians three weeks after Easter Sunday?  How about claiming and acting as if resurrection is not just a theological excuse to hire a trumpeter?  How about being resurrection people?

If we believe Jesus got up from the grave, if we believe something real happened on that day 2000 years ago then who are we to let the death-dealing polices of the NRA dictate an entire swath of US domestic policy?

Is that how Resurrection people act?

What of Boston, what of Waco Texas, what of every family who lost a loved one murdered on the streets of this city, how do Resurrection people act?  How do we behave? 

Sometimes, good faithful progressive people, think its all about the doing and acting.  And heaven help us if we do not act—if we do not respond in concrete, tangible ways.  But dear friends we cannot overlook or undervalue—what it means to lament and pray.  Filled with the sorrow of our world—we need now to begin all of work as the ancients did—when they too faced oppression, death and massive communal injustices.  We cannot fix this on our own.  We need to communally rage as the ancients did, “FROM WHERE DOES OUR HELP COME?  FROM THE MAKER OF HEAVEN AND EARTH.”

When we gather in corporate communal prayer, we might dare to risk voicing our deepest despair.  Our desperate sense that we might be in this alone—to say as the ancients did, “Where in God’s name are you?  Why have you forsaken me and so far from our anguished groans?   Please O Lord, do not be far from me, trouble is all around? My bones have fallen apart, my heart is wax and melts, my strength is dried up—my god my god o why have you forsaken me?   Psalm 22—and comes a portion of  the answer in Psalm 23----

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death—though I am in that deep dark valley, though I know all about death and darkness rising, though I am now in that valley—yet I will walk through it.  I will not remain forever lodged in it, particularly if I am in that valley with you.  With all of you.  Each of us reminding the other when we can bear it no longer and have forsaken our beliefs—then each of us reminds the other that our God has with the people acted before.  And our God with the people will act again. 

Plagues have come, plagues have been conquered.  Wars have come—wars have ended--to remember this in our corporate lament.

An act of corporate lament may not look the way you may think it might.  I am thinking of  Carlos Arredondo—the man with the straw cowboy hat standing, watching, bearing witness at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.  Carlos was there cheering on the marines who ran the marathon in full combat gear in memory of their fallen comrades.  Carlos was there bearing witness to those marines because his son was a marine killed in Afghanistan in 2004.  His other son committed suicide as a result of his brother’s death in Afghanistan.  Carlos was there at the finish line when the bomb exploded.  He hoped the fence and pulled off his shirt and a created a tourniquet for Jeff Bauman who had lost  his legs.  Carlos saved Jeff Bauman’s life.  He could have been home.  Overwhelmed and alone with his grief—instead he was there at that finish line—bearing witness, publicly lamenting his loss.  Carlos was there and now Jeff Bauman is alive.

Through corporate lament we remember God has acted,  we remind one another God has acted and that God will act again.  God will act with us and God will act through us and with God we too shall pass through –we too will move through the valley of the shadow of death.  And we will no longer fear evil, for we are a resurrection people. 

We are a resurrection people. 
Alleluia. Christ is risen.
The Lord is risen indeed.  Alleluia.


Copyright Bonnie A. Perry April 2013


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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.