All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

“That Person”

John 21:1-21
Bonnie A. Perry
April 14, 2013


He was that person.

 “That person” takes several forms.

  That person can be the one

 who says the thing

 that makes everyone else wince. 

 True though it may be—

everyone else knows—

some tidbits are not to be uttered aloud. 

 Every one else understands this truism

 except “that person.” 


 In the world of kayaking trips, 

“that person” is the one 

everyone else is always waiting for.  

He or she is the last person packed, 

the last person 

    with her sleeping bag stuffed into her boat, 

the one whose foot pegs 

     need to be adjusted on the water, 

the one who has forgotten 

a vital piece of gear or equipment some place else.  


In one of my 

high-end kayak training classes in Scotland, 

where I was the only American, 

and the only woman, 

the only one under 5’10”,

 I was also the only one

 who had forgotten

 her life jacket, spray skirt, and paddle 

    in another bag, back at the gear shed.  

Seriously they all looked at me 

and took a collective step away

…I was “that person”…

(the instructor though—when I suggested he chide me said,

 “Seriously Bonnie I can’t imagine 

that I could say anything to you 

that you haven’t already said to yourself

and much louder.”)


Well he was that person. 

 He was the one 

everyone else was really glad

 that they weren’t.  

This was about a lot more

 than not having his gear

 in the right place at the right time. 

 He was the one 

     who was going to be there.  

He was the one 

     who promised to stick with him

          through it all.  

But after the arrest, 

as Jesus was being questioned 

   by the high priests, 

after the fickle crowds 

did what fickle crowds do—

when the obnoxious girl 

made fun of his accent 

and said,

 right there in the high priest’s courtyard

—“listen to you—

you’ve got the same hick accent he has—

you’re a Galilean—

he’s a Galilean—surely you are one of them.”  


“No no no.  Not me.”  

No no no—

I don’t know who or what you are talking about.” 

 Yeah he, Peter,

 just became “that person.”  


Think about it—

he’s probably the only one

 who is kind of 

narcissistically ambivalent 

about Jesus’ resurrection appearances. 

 How’s that got to feel?  

Hey he’s not dead—he’s alive.  

Great. Wait—

oh right—Jesus knows I’m that person. 


 Ever had that feeling? 

When you see 

that side of yourself, 

that shallow, flawed, frail side, 

that side of you that you know so well

 and like so little?  


They go to Galilee, 

because Mary Magdalene said

 that Jesus, up from the grave,


 he has said, 

go to Galilee and there

 I will meet you. 

 So they go. 

 Peter who was supposed to be the rock

—upon which all will be built—

Peter goes too. 

 But I gotta figure 

he must have been something of a mess.  


So they get to the sea.  

Peter says, I’m going fishing.  

And the rest of the gang follows along. 

 There’s got to be some comfort

 in at least doing the thing

 Peter knows how to do.  

Going back 

to what he was doing long before

 Jesus of Nazareth walked into his life.


All night long—

in two different boats—they fish.  

I have to say, (as an aside) 

there doesn’t ever seem to be 

a single story in scripture 

of these guys being successful fishermen—

     without divine intervention.  

Anyway—all night long 

they ply the waters 

and come up with nothing, nada.  


Then as they are heading back to shore,

 as the first rays of the sun

 are beginning to splice through 

the water’s darkness 

a man from the beach calls out to them.  

“Lads—did you catch anything? 


Try throwing your nets off to the right side…”


Bang—more fish

 than the dudes from Discovery Channel’s 

Deadliest Catch ever had.  

Fish everywhere.  

Then John, the apostle  

the one who stayed by the cross,

 the one who was with Jesus

 to the very end, 

he’s not blinded by self-loathing—

he sees who it is. 

 He sees that it’s Jesus on the beach.  

He tells Peter.  


Peter, God Bless him, 

Peter puts on his clothes 

and dives into the water. 

 He swims to shore.  

He may be that person

 but he’s not hiding from Jesus.  He goes for it.  

He gets to shore—now what? 


Jesus has a little bar-b-q going: 

fish and bread on the grill.  

No one else has yet gotten to shore-

--Peter can’t stand being himself

 with Jesus alone.  

He goes back, wades into the water

 and greets the boat as it lands.  

He hauls out the net.  

And then—

well he must have lined up that catch on the beach

—one flapping fish—

laying next to another—

how else would we know there were 153 of them?  


Well eventually Jesus says, 

“Come on over and get some food.”  

Breakfast on the beach. 

 Food never tastes better 

than when we get to eat it on the beach.  


And in front of everyone else, 

Jesus asks  Peter, “Do you love me?”

  Peter no doubt horrified

 that he had denied Jesus before

—immediately says

“yes, you know I do.” 

 “Do you love me?

     Yes I do.  

Do you love me, 

“Yes yes yes.” 

I think Jesus asks him three times, 

just so that Peter can hear himself say aloud

 I love you Jesus—

as many times as he denied Jesus. 


Jesus ends his interchange with Peter by saying, 

“Follow me.” 

 Because with Jesus that person,

 doesn’t stay on the edge.  

“That person”, 

the one the rest of us are all stepping away from, 

that person is the one

 Jesus moves toward.   

With Jesus not one of us

 is ever lost, let go of 

      or written off.  

“That person” just doesn’t exist in Christ’s world.  


In baptism this morning—

as we pour waters 

from around the world on Nell, 

we are saying to her

 and reminding each of us—

that baptism—is what washes

 the grit of shame and despair away.  


Let’s be clear –not that Nell has any need of that—

no way—no how 

she is beautiful and pure 

and made in the image and likeness of God.  

But this day 

as we pour water on her beautiful head

 we do so reminding ourselves

 that for us and for her

 from this day onward

 we can never be forgotten,

 excluded or set aside.  

Nothing we can ever do

 can permanently separate us from God.   


In God, in Christ, 

“that person” does not exist.  


Alleluia. Christ is risen.  

The  Lord is risen indeed.  Alleluia.



Copyright Bonnie A. Perry 2013




  1. This Week
  2. Services Times
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  4. Sermons
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.