All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

Relationships that Matter

Luke 20
November 10, 2013
Bonnie A. Perry

Years ago Annie Dillard had an exquisite article in Harper’s Magazine. I remember her opening line was something to the effect of—“If, you stop to think about it there really are very many more dead people than alive.” There really are very many more dead people than alive… I read that and read it again and air just leaked out of my lungs. I remember, clearly, sitting up, looking around my living room, my then dog Annie was curled up under Susan’s chair and Susan was preparing a class at the dining room table. I remember thinking, what the hell am I doing? What am I doing that really matters? Given, that death is where we are all headed what am I doing here and now? With whom am I doing it?

Today’s Gospel, from Luke, is another scene in Jesus’ on-going fencing match with the Pharisees and Sadducees. Religious authorities who typically would have been content to spar with each other have for a variety of reasons joined together to tag team Jesus and hopefully, eventually take him down. Today’s absurd theological conundrum, right up there with what color wings might an angel wear were it to dance upon the head of a pin…” Concerns a woman who marries seven brothers each of whom precedes her in death. The question the Sadducees ask of Jesus is : in heaven whose wife is she? Now, in our context we might want to ask—what the heck is happening that every single one of her husbands is now dead….? Different times….

Jesus’ answer although also somewhat convoluted has a line in it that makes sense—that really stands out to me. Jesus says, quoting Moses, who quotes God, “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of the living for all of them are alive.” The God of the living…Jesus’ point being that those who have died are yet alive which is great news, but of more interest to me—is what does it mean to be the God of the living. What does it mean for us to be alive?

I officiated at a marriage yesterday evening. It was an opposite-sex marriage so it wasn’t one of the trendy ones—but it was sweet. It was good. Emily Rowe and David Wiegand. Some of you may know Emily. She’s an 11 o’clocker. Late twenties, been attending here for 4 years or so. Tall, long curly hair, she ushers regularly. She used to leads a cooking team once a month for our community kitchen and food pantry she is a leader at our All Saints’ Cafes. She is of this place. And what an honor to preside at her ceremony. Two folks in it for the long-haul—making huge promises come what may.

I have to say as I was doing the rehearsal on Friday night I did indeed find myself tearing up. It might have been the combination of singing: Charles Wesley’s: All Love Divine, All Love and Meatloaf’s, I can do anything for love…. Maybe that brought tears to my eyes or maybe it was the simple fact that now, in this state of ours and in this diocese of ours, in this church of ours I will soon be able to officiate at marriages: for opposite and same sex couples. Each equal. Each valid. Each pregnant with possibilities. I have to say it made me cry.

What does it mean to be in alive? What does it mean to be in relationship with the God of the living? It means to be in it for the long haul—come what may.

My last evening in Mexico we went out of the city and up into the hills to do an evening prayer service. It was cold for Xalapa—around 50 and windy and raining. We hopped in a borrowed car four of us, the other borrowed car had stools. I had the heavy backpack filled with the Spanish Book of Common Prayer books.

We drove for 25 minutes. Parked and walked up a paved street to a dirt street, to a dirt trail to a series of ruts that went up for about quarter mile or so. We went past, cows, chickens, and dogsUp we walked. I was happy I changed into sneakers. Up we went. As we neared the top of the hill Byron and the three other lay leaders—started knocking on the doors of the tiny rooms in which families live. “Come join us—we’ll be having evening prayer.” It being the end of the All Saints’ and All Souls day weekend it was a perfect time to gather and pray. Unlike the other times they had invited people to pray while I was visiting—this time only a handful of people joined us. Hace frio—it was cold.

We gathered on a mud ridge of sort—between the two rooms that are Juanita’s home. On one end is the room where she cooks—with a propane cylinder chained to a fence post. Clean laundry hung in effort to dry under the ubiquitous blue plastic tarp. Although the floor was cement, clods of red rich clay covered the floor. In contrast the other room—the room where she and her family slept—that floor was immaculate—I noticed each time she entered that room she left her shoes at the door and switched to pretty pink slippers.

Junanita, herself—looked a bit like many of you. She was taller than me—in Southern Mexico—it turns out that I’m tall. She was mid-forties, hair dyed light brown, she wore a dark knit sweater and a pair of dark brown pants with black flip flops. I was amazed at how incredibly clean she was—given that it was fiercely raining and there was mud everywhere. My sneakers were now red clay distributers their yellow color well South of orange and heading fast to brown. I’d been on the hill for 30 minutes and my clothes were a mess, she lives there and she was immaculate.

Juanita’s daughter and granddaughter were with her. We placed the plastic stools in a circle under the tarp and waited for others to arrive. Seven or so women and men and two little boys appeared. Out came a lovely wooden table, with a pressed immaculate doily upon it Juanita placed and a plastic 2 foot tall statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. A candle was lit. The prayers began.

What caught me by surprise was opening the Spanish Book of Common Prayer and seeing in front of me signatures of people from All Saints’. Karen and David Howe, had bought the books, brought them to All Saints’ a bunch of us signed them and then the Howe’s shipped them down to Xalapa. Of course, I remembered all of that but that still didn’t stop me from initially being taken aback at seeing our signatures in such a foreign space. Two worlds colliding, overlapping, coming together and making a whole—two worlds of relationships, one to the other.

What matters? What is exceptional in our lives upon which we must focus? Upon which the God the living will share our concern? How then are we daring to connect? How are we vulnerable? Learning and Caring? How are we pushing ourselves, taking our souls beyond ourselves? How are we in long-term relationships? It is at the limits of our personal orbits that we will encounter the sacredness of our lives……push ourselves beyond that which makes us comfortable.

Long-term—that matters—long-term intimate relationships and connections of all types and sorts well that is Holy work. For it puts us in a spot where our souls can be broken open—caring. Where we encounter the mystery, the grief, the sorrow, the happiness, the joy and wonder—it is in those connections that we encounter the living God.


Copyright November 2013 Bonnie A. Perry

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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,


    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.