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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Weekly Message for December 10

Weekly Message for December 10

Dear Friends,    

Tomorrow morning, Saturday the 9th, from around 10am to 2pm, I’m looking for people who might want to assist me in doing some Christmas decorating for the outside of our church building. Ahn Gallagher has graciously agreed to hang some lights in our bell tower, now I’m looking for assistance is getting lights in our oak tree out front. I’ll be able to put on my climbing saddle and rig a belay and climb the tree, but it will be much easier and way more fun if I have assistance. Right now our beautifully restored building looks GREAT in the day and kind of dark at night. I hope to fix that tomorrow. Dress warm and come join the fun!
 
Two Wednesdays from now, on December 20th, our evening prayer will be extended to include more silence for reflection, more music for our souls, and an opportunity for anointing. Christmas can be a very difficult time, particularly if we are in the midst of a transition or have lost someone we love. We hope to create a time and some space to acknowledge those difficult feelings and offer some solace and consolation. I invite you to take an hour to care for yourself with some prayer and music.
 
This Sunday I’ll be preaching, Emily will be celebrating, the children will be rehearsing our presidentially-recognized Christmas Pageant, #HamiltonmeetsJesus, and Colin and our choir will be creating seasonal music that will lift our spirits.
 
I look forward to seeing all of you!
 
All the best,
Bonnie
Working Against the Virus of Racism

Working Against the Virus of Racism

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. 

All Saints' Book Club

All Saints' Book Club

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)

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!

Evening Prayer at The Breakers

Evening Prayer at The Breakers

 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!

 

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.

New Opportunity: Hospitality Ministry

New Opportunity: Hospitality Ministry

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.

Join Our Member Directory!

Join Our Member Directory!

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.

Love on a Plate

Love on a Plate

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.

 

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 

This OLD Church

This OLD Church

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.
 
 
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.