All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

The lives we thought we had are gone

December 8, 2013
Bonnie A. Perry

Create in me a clean heart o God
Renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence.
In your Holy Name we pray.
Amen.

There’s a line, a sentiment floating around the congregation these days. I know because I’ve heard it in at least three different places from three different people. I think people are quoting 9:00 parishioner and Northwestern Hospital Chaplain Jeanne Wirpsa. I don’t actually know what Jeanne said but the version of the quote as I have heard it goes something like this. “We think, we think we are in control of our lives. Then well, then something happens and the lives that we had, the lives we thought we had are just suddenly gone. It’s all different.” And each person who I’ve heard say this—then shakes his or her head and looks away.

It is not a sentiment that we haven’t all heard in one way or another. It is I believe something we all know—we are not in charge—we don’t really control our lives— we know this. I know this; much along the same lines as I know that one day I will die. I know this. But I do not comprehend it. It’s like the island of Fiji. I know it exists, but I don’t actually think I’m ever going to visit.

The lives we thought we had are gone.

Our body betrays us. We betray our body. Our parents, our child, our spouse: a loved one becomes ill. Someone dies. We lose a job. We fail to get a job for which we were perfect. We become intimately associated with death and her second cousin: vulnerability. Something has happened and now, shattered, shards of glass lay at our feet. What we thought was a window on our world, a clear view, we now know to be nothing more than a mirror of our souls. And now, all that was, is altered. Our call, our vocation, our sense of our place in the world is muddled and perhaps even our belief system is skewed.

The lives we thought we had are gone.

We didn’t think we were actually going to be in paradise here, but maybe a nice ranch house in a suburb of paradise… that would have been okay. Instead we find ourselves in the wilderness. We find ourselves truly seeing and walking in the wilderness of this world, vulnerable, bare.

Although we may have heard it before, never in our lives did we need to listen as we do now.

We hear the voice crying out in that wilderness, “Prepare, prepare, the way of the Lord, make God’s paths straight.”

The lives we thought we had are gone.

For we are in the wilderness, but it is in that barren place that we will find life. Our lives, our true lives, for in the wilderness there is a path. This path is not of our making and manipulating. This path is God’s path of God’s constructing and God’s creating. Prepare the way—for God’s path.

A path where in the midst of our loss and disappointment, we will find each other: God’s path. A path where when I cannot walk, you and someone else will carry me and be with me, and I will do the same for another. God’s path: A path where we cease to fixate on the stones. A path free from hazy nostalgia for the past and absent of distracting day dreams of the future Instead, upon this path, this now, this moment, this today will matter more than all the glories of our past and fantasies of our future. On this path, God’s path in the wilderness we will see and be fully present aware and attuned to that which is now.

More than anything else—on God’s path in this wilderness—we will see clearly that we are not alone. That God is constructing this path, creating this highway with us and for us—completely and utterly grounded in the reality of now and the vision, the hope, possibility of what may be, what can be, with all of us together—now.

The lives we thought we had are gone.

To which we say, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord.’

Amen.

 

Copyright Bonnie A. Perry 2013

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Dear Friends,    

This seems to be the year where I realize that the young people who were 8 and 10 years old 18 years ago, are now in their late twenties; time doing what time does. This week is particularly poignant for me as I spend the weekend watching Patrick Pressl, (the man whom many of you know of as our amazing Christmas Pageant Donkey) become a 2nd Lt. in the United States Marine Corps. 
 
I won't be with you all on Sunday because I've flown to Quantico, VA to be with Patrick and his family to celebrate his wonderful achievement. My dad is a retired Lt. Col. in the Marines, so I find this milestone for Patrick to be particularly moving. It is such a gift to be with this faith community for this long and to see our children become faithful adults with purpose, pride, and an abiding sense of justice. 
 
This Sunday, Emily will be celebrating. Parishioner and retired pastor, the Rev. Martin Deppe, will be preaching and Colin and the choir will be creating compelling music. I'll be back Sunday night.
 
Many thanks to Parker Callahan and Emily Guffey and the very, many volunteers who enabled last week's All Saints' Cafe to be one of our best ever. The food was amazing and the dishwashing crew was stupendous. 
 
Advent evensong and reflections begin Wednesday, November 29th. I am looking forward to having the beauty of Holden Evening Prayer wash over me and to then spend some extended time studying and reflecting on W. H. Auden's poem, "For the Time Being: A Christmas Oratorio." Please join me Nov 29, Dec 6 and Nov. 13. 
 
Enjoy the return of Fall. 
 
All my best,
Bonnie

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. 

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)

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.

 

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.