All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

Have Faith

Matthew Zaradich

August 18

O, Great cloud of Witnesses,
Intercede for us to the Lord, our God;
Pray for our strength
To train our hearts, our minds, our bodies
To run the race,
To keep the fire burning,
That we might work to bring the Kingdom of God to our broken world.

Amen.


Have faith. 

Today's second reading is an epistle to the Hebrews, though it might be better to call it a sermon. The book has classically been ascribed to Paul, though we don't actually know who wrote it. The name of the book "To The Hebrews" might throw some of us off--these aren't Jews living in Palestine to whom the author is exhorting. Rather, these are new Christians living in Greece and Italy.

And they are on the brink.

Nothing seems to be going right--and Christ has yet to return. Where is the glory they've been promised? Where is the Kingdom of God? So far, everything in their lives has been the same... or worse.

So, why did they ever change in the first place?

Why not just go back and live in the comfort of what they used to know?

In this passage (and for many passages prior, frankly) the author works his hardest to basically paint the Torah as a prequel to Christ's birth, life, death, resurrection, and future coming in glory. All of the biblical heroes and prophets were just setting the field, as it were, preparing the track meet for Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. Abel setting up the high jump, Noah preparing the hurdles, Abraham readying the discus, Isaac and Jacob putting out the shot puts, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, and Samuel all putting out the starting blocks on the track.

"Run the race," the author says. "No matter what, have faith."

Run the race.

Have faith.

This is the best we can get? Tell the Hebrew that just got diagnosed with cancer to "have faith". Tell the Hebrew that just lost his job to "run the race".

Tell it to the Hebrew that just got divorced.
That lost their spouse.
That lost their child.
That feels hurt.
That feels hungry.
That feels alone.
That longs for love.

It's kind of like telling someone that just experienced a death in the family, "Oh don't worry... They're in a better place." As my mother explained to many of us when my father was killed, that was hardly a balm for her grief.

So, what, then, is our solace?

Well. Let us look to our greatest comfort.

In the Gospel today, Jesus is... well, he's not the usual Jesus we encounter. He's not, frankly, the Jesus we even want to encounter.

He's brash from the outset.

"I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed!"

I can hear the Hebrews saying it now: Not exactly what we were looking to hear, Jesus. Nothing is going right, we don't understand why, and you're yelling at us?

No. It's not the Jesus we want to hear.

It's the Jesus we need to hear. It's the cry of a Jesus that knows he has to scream what is coming next--because he must show us that no matter the screams we will have in our own life, he must scream before us.

He takes the path of pain, ahead of us. He takes the path of sorrow, ahead of us. He takes it all, endures it all, wades through it all.

And all for love's sake.

It is the gift of Hope that is the gift of Christ.

Hope of resurrection. Hope of salvation. Of forgiveness. Of enduring love.

Jesus is come to light a fire on this earth.

That fire is what divides this world. The fire is hope. And if faith is the assurance of things hoped for, then by God, this fire divides us as the faithful.

Will we be a resurrection people? Will we be a people of hope? What more could we have been given than the gift of salvation? Than the gift of reuniting with our loved ones again?

We don't dabble in hope, friends. We live it. And no, hope isn't always easy. But we have to try.

And I am here to preach to you today this one thing: that hope is possible. And it is possible precisely because our savior Christ showed us it was. And the great cloud of witnesses that have gone before us live in that hope.  


In 2012, I ran the Chicago Marathon with Team LIVESTRONG, working to raise money for cancer survivors and their families. Lance Armstrong aside, The LIVESTRONG foundation has done a world of good for those living with cancer, as well as their friends, families, and the community at large.

I didn't choose the charity arbitrarily. Rather, I ran for someone very special to me, that I had lost to cancer five years earlier.

My Aunt Nettie. Her real name was Annette. Annette Moffatt, nee Sparks, but saying Aunt Annette, I imagine, was too difficult for the young articulations of my eight siblings prior to me. So, by the time I rolled around in 1982, it was Aunt Nettie.

Remembering Aunt Nettie means remembering some very specific things: black and white films, clogging, swing dancing, jazz, and home made apple sauce.

There's something I'd rather not remember: how she died. But it's important to note. Because without it, her story isn't complete.

After battling cancer for a very long time, her final relapse brought the cancer back with such ferocity that there simply was no stopping it. It had spread throughout her body so completely, that she could no longer dance through it all. She had to stop. She had to lay down her arms. She had to give in to what was coming.

My God, do I hate cancer. While we would like to believe it is some foreign demon come out of hell to wreck the lives of God's good children, its unfortunate origins lie precisely where we don't want it to: our own cells-- our own cells, created by the being to whom I will direct us to continue worshipping.

It's enough to make you say "enough". How many more do we have to watch die terrible deaths before we just throw our hands up and say, "Enough." Enough of God, and belief, and faith, and prayer. Let's just be done already.

Years later, as I embarked on an eighteen week training period, I looked to Nettie to be with me, especially on my long runs. Lonely Saturday and Sunday mornings become even more lonely when running 18 miles. You hurt. You're tired. You're ready for a cheeseburger.

And throughout it all, Nettie would visit me on my runs. I would see her in someone laughing as I passed them by. I would see her in a lovely couple holding hands on a park bench, tapping their feet to a jazz rhythm. I would see her as I passed the homeless woman, dancing with a surprising joy in the morning light by Chicago's Lakefront. And I would hear her voice, soft in the wind, over me singing songs from old movie musicals.

That I hear that voice. That I see her with me. That I feel her around me.

That's why I can't say "Enough".

Like the flags above our heads on All Saints' Day, here in this sanctuary, she has joined the great cloud of Witnesses above, saints and all, letting me know that yes, she is proud of me. But most of all, letting me know that she had run her race. That she had done it with dignity. And that I can, too.

That those who have gone before us ran the race we are running now. That it will, indeed, be OK.

That if she endured that terrible pain, that wretchedness, by God I can get through it.

That love is with us. That it will never leave us. That we will all see each other again.

I hope so.

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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,
    Bonnie

     

    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, 
    Bonnie
    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,

    Bonnie

     

    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

    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.