All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

Always Leftover

An ode to HBO's 'The Leftovers', and a sermon on Matthew 16:21-28

Matthew Zaradich
August 31, 2014 

O unfathomable God,

whose peace passes all understanding:
calm our anxieties,
strengthen our spirits,
teach us to persevere,
as we lose what must be lost.

Amen.

For those who don't know me, my name is Matthew Zaradich. Most people call me Matty. I've been a member here for some time, and I serve on the Vestry, as well as in a number of other capacities.

It's always an immense honor to preach from the pulpit of All Saints', where I've heard such words of truth that could bring tears to my eyes, and a quickening to my heart.

In pursuit of such a lofty goal, I'll begin my sermon by talking about a most hallowed institution: the television network, HBO.

In HBO's new drama 'The Leftovers,' adapted from Tom Perotta's novel of the same title, two percent of the world's population vanishes.

That's about 140,000,000 people.

Poof. Gone. Departed. Lost.

There is no explanation, no note left behind. There is no voice from above declaring those left behind as damned. All the leftovers on earth are left with is each other, and the agony of constantly asking themselves, "Why?"

It's an agony they are actively engaged in trying to forget.

The show's premise calls to mind rapture theology, the 19th century mode of religious thought developed by preacher John Nelson Darby. Based on esoteric readings of a few brief verses in the New Testament, Darby held that a period of tribulation will occur before the return of Jesus. This period will only come at the advent of the rapture— that is, the event in which the Hebrew God will mysteriously raise a select group to Heaven. Those left behind will face an intense seven years of trials, until the return of Jesus and his thousand-year reign on earth.

Rapture theology remains a popular theological view, especially in America, with many Christians looking toward books and films like Left Behind as probable versions for what lies ahead of humanity. According to a 2010 poll from Pew Research Center, 41% of Americans definitely or probably believe Jesus will return to earth by the year 2050. If we look to the popularity ofLeft Behind as an indicator, we find 63 million copies sold of a book that relies on the rapture as its centering plot, with seven volumes of the series hitting #1 on the New York Times bestseller list.

The Leftovers, which I've watched diligently this first season (each episode at least twice), has left me feeling haunted and anxious— I can't fathom losing so many people at one time.

But that's the dramatic trick at play on the viewer here. What's happening on screen isn't some event far off in the future.

We are experiencing the rapture every day. Every moment of our lives.

You see, we are constantly in loss.

Every day, we might lose something dear to us: a loved one dies, a relationship ends, we are fired or laid off. A plane crashes. A war begins. Children are murdered.

We're never delivered an immediate explanation, never given an answer that actually makes sense when we, understandably, ask "Why me?"

We are left bereft, questioning if we will ever feel normal again, whatever that means.

We're never in control of what may happen to us on any given day, and it's an amazing feat of the human psyche that we are somehow able to avoid thinking of this notion every waking moment of our lives.

In The Leftovers, we encounter a world where everyone is dealing with the same loss. This isn't apples and oranges— instead, everyone is dealing with the same raspberry God seems to be blowing at his creation. Encountering each other in this world, people are left seeing each other in new, vulnerable ways. Looking around, each person in the world sees the empty spaces once occupied by living souls.

The show isn't so much about the origin of the sudden departure, or even where the departed went. Rather, it's much more centered on the lives of those who are leftover.

In the Gospel today, I'm less concerned about Jesus than I am about Peter.

Poor Peter. I might as well say, "Poor Matty," for I would have had the same reaction.

This leader, this Jesus, this lover, this brother, this man, this savior, this hope, this everything: I've given everything over to him.

I need this to work out, because it's my final hope. My final hope of salvation. My final hope that this isn't all some cruel joke, this life. That this is worth something. That I mean something. That I am loved. That I exist. That I'm not dreaming.

But Jesus lays Peter flat— "Get behind me, Satan."

Such cruel words in such a tender moment.

And if you, like me, feel the sting when you hear Christ saying, "Get behind me, Satan," you're not alone.

Aren't you tired of being left behind?

Aren't you, too, tired of the struggle?

Why can't everything work out— just once?

Why can't this life be everything we ever dreamed it would be?

Why am I always leftover?

Christ tells us today, for the first time, what's coming. The world as we know it is about to end, and we will be left over.

Put yourself there.

It's a dark night, I imagine. The apostles are tired, and they've been traveling for a while. It's been an entirely new experience for them, these poor men of Palestine. They've given up the old ways of life— fishing, farming, laboring, tax collecting —to follow a man in what today might be considered a messianic cult.

They've seen miracles performed.

They've seen more of the lands around them than they ever had before.

They're popular.

This Jesus, this man from Nazareth, this amazing preacher, talks to them about God in wholly new ways. Makes them feel like they never have before. Gives them something they've rarely had before:

Hope.

Hope for a better world. One of justice. Where the poor are lifted and the mighty rich brought down.

But on this night...

On this night, Jesus seems to snatch that hope away.

"I'm going to die," he tells them.

"I'm going to be betrayed, captured, tortured, crucified, and murdered.

And once it's done, I won't be buried immediately.

Instead I'll hang on the cross.

All of this will happen.

Because it must happen."

"No," Peter cries. "No no no no, no more. Lord, we need you."

"Lord, I need you.

Lord, I can't suffer any more.

Lord, I can't lose anything else."

I'm right there with Peter. He's already feeling leftover

I don't need to believe in rapture to know that every day we're losing something. Every day we're leftover.

Every day we're left wondering, What's next?

We live in a world where Jesus will be crucified. We live in a world where it already happened.

We live in a world where it continues to happen every. Single. Day.

He was crucifiefd in Missouri, when Michael Brown lay bleeding to death in the street, in the hot sun for over four hours.

He was crucified in Palestine and Israel, as old men made decisions about the lives of women and children— and chose death each time.

He was crucified on the south side of Chicago when nine year-old Antonio Smith was shot, execution style, in his own backyard just last week.

All around us, all over the world, Jesus has been crucified.

Where was I when they crucified my Lord?

Well, I was on a run.

Well, I was on the couch.

Well, I was eatin' popcorn. Watchin' a movie.

My friends, I've tried to find the sunshine in the Gospel today. I don't think it's there.

And you know... I think that's OK.

Do I like what Jesus said? "Get behind me, Satan!"

No, not really. I wish instead he would have said "Sorry," to each one of the apostles. Sorry you have to endure more. Sorry you have to lose again. Sorry this has to happen.

But he said what needed to be said.

While everyone is looking for Jesus... I say give the man some room. Follow his advice today, because the people around you are slipping away. Every day your world is a little closer to ending.

Take up your own cross. Weep with those who weep, as Paul reminds us. Answer your call, and in the midst of all this damn heartache and suffering, cry out

HERE I AM.

I'm not here today to preach to you about how your life might be better tomorrow. I'm here today to remind you there might not be a tomorrow.

And for this reason:

-Hug those around you tighter.

-Love stronger.

-Act now.

Don't try to hold on, like Peter.

Instead, know it has to happen. Deal with the pain that is ahead.

Persevere, and make the Kingdom of God happen now.

Before it's too late... who knows what we might lose tomorrow.

Amen.

 

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Dear Friends,

Next Sunday evening, June 4th, is the 38th All Saints' Cafe, when we transform our kitchen and parish hall into a gourmet restaurant for our hungry neighbors -- and we need your help to make it happen!

Please sign up here to volunteer that evening as a server, busser, dishwasher, host, food runner, food plater, or beverage attendant. Or sign up here to prepare the meal in the kitchen along with our fabulous chefs next Saturday or Sunday.

Bonnie is out of town for the weekend, and the church office will be closed on Monday for Memorial Day.

Blessings upon all of you who are traveling this weekend. And blessings upon you who are staying in town!

I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible this Sunday.

Peace,
Emily

coffeecup

Sign-up Now Open

Believe it or not, summer is coming (albeit very slowly). It's time to plan vacations and then to find a Sunday or two when you're going to be around and can host Coffee Hour. We will only schedule Summer Coffee Hour on those Sundays when we have a volunteers.

Click here to see the full list of dates and sign up now! (It will make my summer easier.)

Thanks,
Karen Howe


andreaThe last few Sundays of our church school year are quickly approaching:

Sunday, June 11th - Our last official day in the atrium is the day we recognize the children who are graduating to a new atrium level and introduce them to their new atrium community. This day is a simple but lovely celebration of how all of our children have grown, what has been accomplished during the year, and anticipation of the transition to a new atrium year.

Sunday, June 18th - The Annual Ice Cream Social when church school hosts coffee hour and what's better than ice cream!
There will be a variety of ice cream flavors and many possible toppings for do-it-yourself Sundaes served on the lawn in front of the church. Children help with set up serve (and eating!) ice cream, and clearing away the debris

The rest of June and July - Although Sunday school classes do not meet at 10 during the summer, Atrium I will continue to be open during the 9 o'clock service until the end of July. Atrium I children who attend the 11 o'clock service will be welcome in the nursery during the service.

At 10 o'clock children are encouraged to come help water, weed and harvest vegetables from the garden we're planting to support the Ravenswood Services Community Kitchen.

Saturday, June 10, 11:00am at St. James Cathedral 

If you have taken an Inquirers Class or equivalent and would like to make an adult profession of faith by being confirmed or received into the Episcopal Church by our bishop, Jeffrey Lee, please contact Bonnie or Emily. A diocesan-wide liturgy of confirmation and reception will be held at St. James Cathedral on Saturday, June 10, at 11:00am.

Sunday, June 11, 10:15am

breadbasketAll Saints' parishioner The Rev. Martin Deppe recently published the book Operation Breadbasket: An Untold Story of Civil Rights in Chicago, 1966-1971

This is the first full history of Operation Breadbasket, the interfaith economic justice program that transformed into Jesse Jackson's Operation PUSH (now the Rainbow PUSH Coalition). Begun by Martin Luther King Jr. during the 1966 Chicago Freedom Movement, Breadbasket was directed by Jackson. Martin was one of Breadbasket's founding pastors. He digs deeply into the program's past to update the meager narrative about Breadbasket, add details to King's and Jackson's roles, and tell Breadbasket's little-known story.

On Sunday, June 11 between services, All Saints' will once again host Martin for a discussion and book signing. Book copies will be available for purchase.

In Martin's words, "I much prefer telling the story to selling books!" We hope you'll join us to hear this story.

sinclairlewisSummer Lineup Selected

The All Saints Book Club met on May 11th and decided on a lineup of books for the next year. The book club is open to anyone who enjoys reading. 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:

  • June 8 - "It Can't Happen Here" by Sinclair Lewis
  • July 13 - "The Warmth of Other Suns" by Isabel Wilkerson
  • August 10 - "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" by John Berendt
  • September 14 - "Operation Breadbasket" by Martin Deppe

For additional information, contact Mike Burke (mebcat@gmail.com)

Sunday, June 4 at the 9 and 11am Services
 
If you would like to have your child baptized at All Saints' on Pentecost, June 4, please plan to attend a preparation session on Saturday May 20 from 9-10:30am. 
 
To RSVP to a session, contact Andrew in the office. Note: Babies and children - including siblings of little ones being baptized - are entirely welcome at the pre-baptismal sessions!

Tuesday, May 30, 5:00-6:00pm 

RCS' 5th Tuesday Family Nights are a chance for parents and children to volunteer together. On Tuesday, May 30, children ages 4 and up accompanied by their parents are invited to meet in the parish hall at 5:00pm to decorate cookies for that evening's dinner. At 5:30pm, we'll head to the nursery for a snack and children's story about social justice. At 6:00pm, childcare will be available so that parents can serve the 6:30pm dinner. Kids 10 and up may serve the dinner, too.
Please RSVP to Emily by Sunday, May 28.

 

 

Individual Actions Towards Racial Equality

Volunteer Opportunities, Events, and Recommendations

(re)imagining: Racial Justice Summit Sponsored by YWCA Evanston/North Shore:


Thursday, April 6 from 6 - 8 pm
Friday, April 7 from 9 am - 4 pm
 
Unitarian Church of Evanston
1330 Ridge Ave., Evanston, IL
 
Goal: "To bring people of all ages and demographics together to deepen their understanding of their own racial identities, develop skills to work for change, formulate action plans and engage with others."

For Information and Registration, click here

"The Scottsboro Boys" at Porchlight Theater through March 12th
 
A musical production that is getting rave reviews, "nominated for 12 Tony Awards, and presented in the style of the notorious "minstrel show", this true-life story of nine African American teenagers accused and put on trial in Memphis for a crime they did not commit is one America's most notorious episodes of injustice; inaugurating a wave of social changes leading up to the modern Civil Rights Movement."

For information and ticket prices, click here

Suggested reading, non-fiction: 
Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America by Michael Eric Dyson, January, 2017

This book has been described as "...a provocative and deeply personal call for change. Dyson argues that if we are to make real racial progress we must face difficult truths, including being honest about how black grievance has been ignored, dismissed, or discounted."

 
Recommended as a "companion piece to the film rather than a stand-alone book." One reviewer recommended "seeing the film first, and then using the book for meditation and revisiting afterward."

Volunteer opportunity: GROWING HOME "We have a vision of a world of healthy people and communities. Everyone deserves to have a good job, and everyone deserves to eat well." Since 2002, Growing Home has trained and employed and, most importantly, given a second chance to people with employment barriers. You may be familiar with their Wood Street farm in Englewood. Their farms are the first and only USDA-certified organic high-production urban farms in Chicago, and because they strive to also feed their community well, all their produce is grown, harvested, cleaned, and sold within a 20-mile radius. Read more at http://growinghomeinc.org

Volunteer opportunity: Non-profit Reading In Motion has successfully refined its mission over its 30+ years to help give kindergarten and first grade students foundational reading skills they need to start on a path for lifetime learning. They partner with public school teachers and have been extremely successful in making a difference in children's lives. Click here for more info.

 

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!

 

Jeff Lee
Dear Polly and All Saint's Kids,
 
I am writing to you from a meeting of the board of Episcopal Relief & Development in Bogota, Columbia. We are meeting here to visit some of our partner ministries with people in need. I have seen the amazing results of this year's bake sale (in fact, I'm looking at photos of some of the cakes - wow!), and you have reminded me that we don't have to travel to Columbia or South Sudan to make a huge impact for the good of God's people.
 
I am so proud and grateful for you and the work you do. You guys are heroes. Our friends in South Sudan will be blessed by your effort.
 
In Christ,
 
Jeffrey D. Lee
Bishop of Chicago

Sundays at 10am

The phrase Imago Dei means the Image of God. Specifically, the image of God as it is found in humanity. The image of God in us - it is what makes us spiritual people - valued as whole and complete. What does it mean to creatively live as whole people? How do we live in relationship with others - respecting and sharing one another's security and one another's discomfort?

Join us on Sunday mornings between services as we figure out together how to help one another take practical responsibility for living in this world - especially as racial and spiritual beings.

True - our time will be uncomfortable because it will mean talking about race, violence, personal helplessness, and personal failure. Also true - this will be comforting and supportive because it will mean getting to be honest, practicing together, and caring for one another.

Every week we will ask one another "What have you done in these past 7 days with who you are and within your sphere of influence when it comes to the realities of race?" the answers will be different for each person and it won't be a competition. We will be lifting up the everyday choices we make and don't make. Sometimes we will like what happens and sometimes we won't.

And - we will be doing it together.

The Middle Eastern refugees and immigrants served by the Iraqi Mutual Aid Society were deeply moved by the notes of welcome from All Saints. We shared them at our community lunch on Thursday, and now they will hang in our conference room to remind people of your warm welcome in the days to come. Thanks!

Peace,
Laura Youngberg

breadbakersSignup online to bake for a month

Calling all bakers! If you love the smell of fresh-baked bread filling your kitchen, please consider signing up to bake communion bread for our services. This involves a one-month commitment that you'll share with another baker, and you can do all your baking at once and add to the reserves in our freezer.

Signing up is easy, just click here for our page on Signup Genius and reserve your favorite month.

Contact Jennifer Simokaitis, or Anne Ellis if you have any questions.

Yard Signs Available 

Grow Community has created yard signs for anyone who would like to display support for our local public high schools. Signs and sign holders are available in the Reading Room.

 
 

 

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.

 

tinaParishioner, Tina Tchen, accepts Bishop Maryann Budde's invitation to preach at the National Cathedral Sunday, May 8. Click here to see the video.

 

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.

 

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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.