All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

Joann Lagman—August 17, 2014

17 August 2014

Good morning. Thank you for inviting me to be your guest preacher today. When Fran and I first talked about this while we were at O'Shaunessy's or "The Annex" as I hear you like to call it, I looked at the bio's of all your guest preachers on the All Saints website. I saw the heading "boring stuff" and I thought, "uh oh". And now I see the bio's are under "Summer of Awesome Preachers", so I hope that I will live up to that expectation.

In the Philippines, the stars are brighter at night than they are here. I'm not sure if it's because of the lack of a lot of city lights in rural areas, proximity to the equator, or even the silence sharpening my other senses.

When I was fifteen due to a whole multitude of reasons, I ended up going to a boarding/ convent school in the Philippines. I grew up in a household with Filipino parents and had spent the first fifteen years of my life in the suburbs of Chicago. And now, here I was, far from my parents with a bunch of Roman Catholic old Spanish nuns, in boarding school. It was a very difficult time in my life. Though I looked Filipino, I couldn't speak the language, and I was really an American. The cultural norms and nuances of interaction with members of extended family often went over my head. I was in trouble a lot.

The years passed and after three different high schools in three different years, things settled down a little bit. I went to college and then medical school, to return to the United States in my mid twenties... only to move back in with my parents. (Which was awesome, by the way.)

Today's first reading is about Joseph reuniting with his brothers. In last week's readings, we find that Joseph is the favorite son of his father. His brothers are jealous, plan to kill him, but instead decide to sell him into slavery. He is then taken to Egypt. Much transpires then, including imprisonment. He dreams, and God is with him. He is released and rises to a position of power, saving Egypt and the surrounding nations from famine and death. !17 August 2014! All Saints Episcopal Church, Chicago ! There are elements of this story that most of us can probably identify with. Jealousy, anger, lies, dreams - prophetic or otherwise, maybe even imprisonment or some other brush with the law. My sister can, as my brother and I ganged up on her mercilessly. My brother can, in his relationship with our father. I can, because of Andrew Lloyd Weber's version in "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" that Donny Osmond was in. You know the one, with the song, "Close Every Door" in it. The lyrics go:! Close every door to me, Hide all the world from me! Bar all the windows And shut out the light! Do what you want with me, Hate me and laugh at me! Darken my daytime, And torture my night

(Be happy I didn't sing that for you.)

Joseph is the son of Jacob, who wrestled with the angel. And now, he wrestles in this darkness. There is now an inner darkness that accompanies his outer darkness. The reality here, beyond the musical, is an uncertainty as to whether he lives or dies, and if he lives, what sort of life will it be? Darkness into the depths.

What is darkness anyway, besides the absence of light? We associate darkness with depression and death. With crime and isolation. Maybe even vampires, according to Barbara Brown Taylor in her book, Learning to Walk in the Dark. “Darkness”, she continues, "is shorthand for anything that scares me—that I want no part of— either because I am sure that I do not have the resources to survive it or because I do not want to find out. The absence of God is in there…"

So in a primal and even post-modern fear, humanity works to eliminate darkness. We turn on fluorescent light after fluorescent light until we have a city that never sleeps. We run and we hide. We go to sleep with night lights. But sometimes the darkness catches up. And sometimes we respond with fear and with anger. We lash out, or we turn it 17 August 2014! All Saints Episcopal Church, Chicago inward so that it gnaws at our insides or makes us feel like we're falling into a bottomless pit.

What would happen if for one moment we stopped, took a deep breath and looked at the darkness? To actually feel it on our skin, and listen to it? It takes enormous grace and courage to stop running, turn around, and experience it.

Psalm 139! Even the darkness is not dark to You,! And the night is as bright as the day.! Darkness and light are alike to You.

It is in this darkness, not the darkness of evil, where I believe that we can find God. I believe as we turn and look and find God, there is a turning of our hearts that occurs. We begin to look at each other with eyes of compassion. And as we recognize our own darkness and become present with the darkness of others, it can lead to forgiveness.

In November of 2013 typhoon Haiyan struck Tacloban and the northern part of Panay in the Philippines. It was the strongest tropical cyclone ever recorded. There was more than 6000 fatalities, destruction of infrastructure, loss of crops, and other sources of livelihood, and people were left with nothing.! ! Filipinos and members of the world community asked themselves what they should do. I certainly didn't know. I knew I didn't want to go. I wanted to maybe give a little donation, post something on Facebook, and go on with my life. I had spent years in Iloilo, on the Island of Panay where there had been a large number of fatalities. As I mentioned, it had not been a happy place for me. The fifteen year old in me, alone, powerless, and in trouble did not want to go.

This was my darkness where God was present. The type where you expect a loud voice, but instead get a whisper. The type where instead of seeing a bright, blinding 17 August 2014! All Saints Episcopal Church, Chicago light, you feel depth and presence. Where instead of prayers done over a microphone in front of a congregation, you hear the silence of your heart. And in that silence, I started to heal.

You see, something about this particular tragedy had stopped me in my tracks. When I looked at everything objectively, never mind the fear, it seemed that I had every tool that one who wanted to be helpful could possibly have. I'd learned two Philippines languages, one that belonged to the people we were going to serve on this mission trip. And here I was, twenty one years later a board certified physician. I had attended medical school in the Philippines, and so I was familiar with how medicine is practiced there. My family was safe. I had family and friends who are members of the local government, medical personnel, and clergy. God even gave me a church that was so touched by the tragedy that occurred half way around the world that the they were willing to spend time and energy to raise money for a mission trip, and even go themselves to the Philippines to help.

I realized in a very real way that there had been purpose in my difficulty. ! We weren't going to be able to "save" the Philippines, but we were going to try to make a difference in the lives of some of the people affected by this. And I felt my heart start to heal.

So Church of the Holy Nativity in Clarendon Hills planned a medical-humanitarian mission for February of this year. By the end of our ten day mission trip, we had taken care of one thousand and four hundred patients, also immunizing four hundred and sixty of them against pneumonia. We gave away 500 shovels, hammers, and saws, two hundred mosquito nets and blankets, two fishing boats, five hundred fruit trees, and two hundred vegetable plants.

I am aware as I write this that it seems patchy and a little (or a lot) bumpy. Looking in through my own darkness is an ongoing process for me, and probably will be the rest of my life. Sometimes it's the type that's not dark to God, and sometimes it's the type 17 August 2014! All Saints Episcopal Church, Chicago where I think that God is absent. This is part of my own humanity. I sometimes ask God if there couldn't have been some easier way. My heart continues to heal.

If I may, I would like to leave you with one last image. It is sort of archaic, but one I have found fitting for my life. One way I think of God is as a master weaver. One who takes the complexities of the pattern of threads in my life and weaves it into the fabric of the universe along with everyone else. I sin, I make mistakes, and sometimes I let the grace in, just like everyone else. He takes all these things to Himself and makes the stars that illuminate the darkness.

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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.