All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago


Bishop Jeffery D. Lee 
Bishop of Chicago

As members of my family (or a few choice friends) will tell you, my favorite television program, in fact the only television I watch at all when I can, is that paragon of televised excellence, that pinnacle of dramatic inspiration, that mesmerizing piece of broadcast theater ... Chopped. I love it. Please don't tell me that you have never seen it or know what it is. But if you do not, then let me just say that it is a foodie's dream. Cooking is my favorite hobby and this show has got my number. Contestants line up before a panel of celebrity chefs, they are presented with a basket of often bizarre mystery ingredients and given 20 or 30 minutes on the clock to make of them something worthy of the celebrity palates. Three courses: appetizer, main and desert. One by one the hapless contestants are eliminated until the finale, the climax round of desert. Only one contestant is left standing to collect his or her 15 minutes of fame ... and $10,000.

Well, believe it or not, all this came to mind this week as I was considering the readings set before us today. I mean, come on. God says to Amos, "Amos, what do you see?" And the "duh" answer comes back, "I see a basket of summer fruit. Whaddya think I'd see?" And what follows next from God ... well that's what minds me of Chopped. On Chopped, you never know what you're gonna find inside that innocuous looking little basket. "Open your baskets, contestants," barks Ted ... , the host. "For your appetizer course you've got Gummy Bears, star fruit, and rusty nails." Things are just rarely what you hope you're gonna get on Chopped, and over and over again in the bible they often seem that way with God too. A basket of summer fruit? Look inside and we get this litany of dire and challenging consequences for Israel unless they shape up and start practicing the kind of justice, bearing the kind of good fruit God expects.

It's not that God is playing tricks on us like some cosmic Ted .... We're not in a heavenly contest to see who can figure out what to do with the basket of nonsense life sets before us. No, not like that. What the scriptures give us is the truth that our view of things is always partial, always just not quite adequate to grasp what God is really up to ... either with us or in this world. My ways are not your ways, and your thoughts not my thoughts, says God in Isaiah. The stuff in the basket of my life, and maybe yours too, the stuff that's in the basket we call this world isn't necessarily or uniformly bad, it's just not always easy to figure out or put together. Not on my own anyway. Not quickly and not always very obviously.

I think I've become pretty good at spotting early on in the Chopped contest who is likely to win, or at least make it to the final round. It's almost never the chef contestant whose eyes get just a little wild at the first sight of the cuttlefish and peanut butter in the basket. It's almost never the one who as soon as the clock starts ticking begins running around the pantry, frantically gathering up arm loads of spices, dry ice and Greek yogurt. The chefs who prevail are more likely to be the ones who seem non-plussed by what's in their basket, they have a benign or even a slightly amused look at it all. They seem, we'll, contemplative about their ingredients and then with a certain calm and confident demeanor go about concocting something that if the judges say doesn't exactly taste like it came out of a four star restaurant kitchen, at least looks like it might have. "Elements of this dish," they will say, "Are quite well executed."

I think this points to the theme of all our readings today. Christ is the perfect image of God says the Letter to the Colossians. The perfect image, the icon as the Greek has it. In the Eastern Orthodox tradition, icons are sometimes called widows into heaven. They are meant to be seen, seen deeply, contemplated, not just looked at. I saw a Facebook posting this week, one more piece of commentary on the acquittal of George Zimmerman -- it was a cartoon with a caption that ran, "We don't need neighbors to be watched ... We need neighbors to be seen." We don't need a God who is only to be watched. We don't have a God who is simply watching us from a distance. Jesus isn't a picture on a shelf. The Risen Christ is a living mystery who is drawing us and all the world into a relationship of love, a relationship the bible finally describes as a great feast, the heavenly banquet, where everyone has a place and all are filled beyond any expectation.

And this brings me to that original episode of Chopped, there in the combination dining room and kitchen in the house of Jesus' friends in Bethany, Mary and Martha. I used to be able to do sermons on this text by taking all too obvious, witty little potshots at Martha Stewart, but that just doesn't even seem fair anymore. Even Macy's seems to be a little tired of her. But we don't need to berate poor Martha of Bethany for being some kind of domestic perfectionist (gosh, somebody had to get dinner on the table). No, I don't think it's the simple fact of her busyness that Jesus is commenting on, I think it's that it is keeping her from really seeing the real possibilities of the feast that's right in front of her. She's the contestant rushing around trying to find the red pepper flakes and missing the simple goodness of the fresh flounder that ought to be the star of the plate. Mary on the other hand, Mary isn't just looking at Jesus, she isn't just sitting there. She is taking him in. And it is enough. More than enough.

What about us? What about you and me? What are we doing with the basket on the counter in front of us? What's in it? And what do we make of it? What might we make out of it? This parish knows a few things about feasting. At this table, week in and week out. At those tables next door in the parish hall. I will never forget my first visit to All Saints. I hadn't been ordained bishop yet, Lisa and I showed up without any fanfair one Sunday and it just happened to be the Sunday of the annual meeting. Now, I hope it won't shock you to know that not every parish's annual meetings in this diocese are quite like yours. Let's just say that the theme that year was "The Golden Globes," complete with tuxedoes, slinky evening gowns and paparazzi. Yeah, you know what I mean. I have also shared at table in that hall with those who are genuinely, physically, emotionally and spiritually hungry. I have received the grace of contemplation put into action there, truly seeing and being seen by the guy across the table as we formed the image of Christ who is the perfect icon of the living God.

And here it is again. Right here, right now. At this table this morning. Let's follow Mary's example. She's the odds on favorite in today's episode. Let us behold the lives we lay down on this counter, whatever they contain. Let us behold them, not just look, but see, see them charged with possibility and promise, even if it seems improbable, even if it seems impossible. Let's bring our lives to Jesus and see just what he can make out of them -- for us, and for this hungry, hungry world.

  1. This Week
  2. Services Times
  3. Contact Us
  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.