All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

Tell me your Name: Demons & Pigs

Luke 8:26-39
June 23, 2013
Bonnie A. Perry


Come Holy Spirit….

Please be seated.

Good Morning!

The crowds are big and growing each day: a servant healed, a son raised, stories told, religious authorities prodded. He is the sensation. In a place and time without cable or internet, he is the attraction. He is their own personal reality TV show. So people come to see, to hear, to gather and afterwards to compare notes and dissect the stories.

Jesus’ group, because that sort of attention can be wearying, his group has hopped in the boats and crossed the several miles of the Sea of Galilee mostly to get a break. Once on the other side they are no longer in a place where Jews are the majority. The unspoken hope is they will find a day or so to be left alone. They have made their way to the Gerasenes’ land. There is some confusion does this story take place near Gerasa with is some 30 miles inland from the Sea of Galilee or is it Gadara—a smaller town much closer to the sea. Either way each is a gentile dominated area. They Jews are not there so who is going to care about their arrival or presence.

However, Jesus no sooner sets foot on the Gerasene soil, than a man comes to him from the tombs. A tormented soul, possessed in some way, who says to Jesus, “What do you want? Do not harass me! Why do you torment me?” Whoa—so much for a little beach get away.

The man is naked. He exists in the tombs amidst the decaying, rotting bodies of the town’s buried citizens. He is a man, we find out, who is possessed. Possessed by demons, mental illness what name we call it matters little. He is a man existing on the double yellow lines of life—in between, a time limited balancing act. Is he human or is he a demon? Is he alive or is he dead? He is betwixt, between both lanes.

Because of the demons that reside in his mind when he is in town the citizens chain him up, shackle him down. This restraint among the living he cannot bear. So with the strength only seen in the desperate he breaks those bonds, leaves the living and goes to dead. There he is naked, beyond vulnerable making his way between the putrid decaying corpses and the scavenging insects, rodents and animals. Is this a life he is living?

Then Jesus appears. The man approaches, screaming at Jesus. “Leave me alone. Do not torment me.” He has heard Jesus command the demons to leave or some such thing.

What does Jesus do? What does Jesus do? Please remember this please—What does Jesus do? He asks the man his name. ‘What is your name?’ We do not ask beasts their names or expect animals to offer us their names nor would we ever inquire of a demons what it would prefer to be called—we ask humans. We ask people, with whom we’d like to be in relationship. We say to them, “So tell me your name.”

“Legion,” the man says. “My name is ‘Legion’” for many demons had entered him. Legion it is. Then the man, or the demons, your pick the story is some 2000 years old you can read into it what you will. Some entity, residing in the man’s mind asks Jesus if rather than being cast into the abyss—“Can we please go into those pigs over yonder?” ‘Why not?’ says Jesus. Why not go into the pigs. Jesus is a Jew, it’s not like he cares about the pigs. Thus we may have the first biblical record of pigs functioning as “scapegoats”.

Here’s the thing—most who know this story remember the part about the pigs. They remember that the pigs run down the hill, or in an older translation they rush headlong off the cliff (fail to fly) and land in the Sea of Galilee. The pigs perish. That is what they recall. I am sure that this will make a most riveting scene when HBO gets around to filming this portion of the bible.

The folks who were witnesses as the swine flew….ran back to town and told everyone what happened. How the pigs are now dead. Yet having now made the obligatory quip about pigs flying it’s not where I want to focus.

What I find most compelling is that when the townspeople return to find the pigs in the sea they also find Legion, a man who was chained, sitting next to Jesus. Clothed, cleaned and in his right mind. I want to focus upon and ponder a man, exiled, now cared for, neglected and now tended to, sitting peacefully with the strangers who recognize his humanity.

The townspeople are terrified. Is it because of the change in Legion’s demeanor? Is it because the pigs became possessed and are now dead? Is it because the pigs were a major component of the town’s economy. The major consumer of said pigs being the garrisoned Roman army? And now with the supply gone the town has a whole new ‘legion’ for which they will have to contend. The townspeople are terrified, but that’s not my focus.


‘What’s your name?’ He asked him his name. Isn’t that always the way? Every prayer of substance, every prayer that matters doesn’t it always begin with, “Tell me your name?” Here we see, in the midst of all the other special effects, the power of our names, the beginning of all relationships.

On this bright summer morning may we remember and take heart, that no matter where we find ourselves, be we solid, upright citizens disturbed by a sudden downturn in the economy, or distressed, distraught and overwhelmed shells of ourselves existing in the tombs, Jesus comes to us with only one question: What is your name? The question that begins all relationships.

On the shores of galilee, on the streets of Chicago—“So, tell me your name?”

Amen.


Copyright Bonnie A. Perry June 2013

 

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Dear Friends,

It continues, more hurricanes of movie-like proportions, earthquakes, typhoons, floods, and wildfires, in addition to terrorist attacks and neo-Nazi marches. The New York Times interviewed theologians and religious studies professors at Harvard, Fordham, and UC Santa Barbara to get their take on whether or not the apocalypse is upon us. The most interesting quote came not from the academics but from science fiction writer John Scalzi, who said, "These aren't the End Times, but it sure as hell feels like the End Times are getting in a few dress rehearsals right about now."

Is it the end of the world as we know it? Perhaps. This is, I believe, the new normal. This is the weather and world that humanity is in the midst of creating.

So what then is the Christian response? What is our response as individuals and as a Christian community of faith? These are the questions and realities I invite us to consider seriously. Who are we? How do we talk to our children about our world? How are we called to be in the midst of these confounding realities? I'll be preaching tomorrow and will begin to grapple with these enormous questions. I hope you'll be there to join me in this journey of faith.

I'm delighted to be back home and extremely excited for this coming fall. Many thanks to Emily, Andrew, Colin, Lori, and Parker for all of their work in the past weeks while I have been away.

Here is a bit of what is on the schedule:

Church School starts this Sunday, and next Sunday we'll have our annual Backpack Blessing at the 9 and 11 o'clock worship services.

This year we have distributed plain black backpack "canvasses" to about fifty local students and artists. We'll be displaying their creations around our altar for both the Ravenswood ArtWalk and our Backpack Blessing. Come celebrate their work and learn more about our ministry of feeding people and supporting our local schools at a reception we'll be hosting on Saturday evening, September 16th, from 6-8pm.

paintedbackpack1Pictured here are some of the backpacks we'll be displaying. Choir member and local art teacher, Sarah Wain, has painted a marvelous creation reminiscent of pop artist Takashi Murakami, who was recently featured at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Pam Carter, a nationally recognized Scottish artist, has contributed a piece with scenes from the Isle of Skye on its front and side panels. I can hardly wait to see the other pieces done by local students.paintedbackpack2

We need more paper for our altar! Every year at our Backpack Blessing we remove the wooden altar and pulpit and replace them with paper we have collected, and then donate the paper to our local schools. Right now we have about 1000 pounds--thank you! We need another 1000 to meet our goal of collecting one ton. If you can, buy a box of paper and just have it shipped to the church at 4550 N Hermitage Ave, 60640.

Next week's guest preacher will be P.J. Karafiol, principal of Lake View High School. P.J. is a parishioner at St. Paul and the Redeemer Episcopal Church in Hyde Park. I'm very much looking forward to what he will offer us on Backpack Sunday.

After the Backpack Blessing and Church School start, things just get busier. Theologian the Very Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas will be with us the following weekend, September 23 and 24, for two in-depth days reflecting on race and anti-blackness.

On a lighter note, the annual Pet Blessing will be on October 1st! This year, we'll have dogs for adoption from the Anti-Cruelty Society and a coffee hour program by Dr. Steve Larson (8:00am parishioner and RCS volunteer) and veterinarian at West Loop Veterinary Care.

All of which is to say we have a LOT coming up. I'm looking forward to seeing all of you this Sunday. I am so blessed to be starting yet another program year here at All Saints'.

All my very best,
Bonnie

back2017Sunday, September 17

Mark your calendars for the annual Backpack Blessing on September 17. PJ Karafiol, principal of Lake View High School, will be the guest preacher, and educators will speak on a panel during the 10am coffee hour.

Once again we will be collecting ONE TON OF PAPER to distribute to our neighborhood public schools. And there is even more up our sleeves to make this the most incredible Backpack Blessing yet...

Want to help make it happen? You're invited to join the planning meetings this Wednesday, August 2, 6-9pm, and Wednesday, August 23, 7-9pm. Contact Emily for more information.

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)

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. 

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.