All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago


The Wilderness Journey

The Rev. Fran Holliday

Sunday September 28, 2014

So here we are again,confronted with the whiny Israelites. Their complaints that we just heard began last Sunday when we read that the Israelites were finding the trek into the wilderness difficult; so much so that they began to rethink their newfound freedom.

“The whole congregation of the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” Following this- the Lord heard their complaint and gave them their fill of bread.

But now they need water and instead of recalling that God had just fed them in their time of need, they become afraid and angry once again. The people thirsted for water and complained against Moses and said “Why did you bring us out of Egypt to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?”
Why would the Israelites mistrust Moses? Why would they not feel that God was with them now just as God been there with them through so many other tribulations?

Most especially after their dramatic deliverance from slavery as they passed through the red sea waters onto dry land as the Egyptians pursued them. How could they now question the motivation of Moses? How after all this how could they feel that God had abandon them? In their distress the Israelites quarreled bitterly with Moses.“Is the Lord among us or not?” they demanded.

Now I have to admit I can relate to the Israelites very well. It is easy to feel that God is with us when things are going well or perhaps after we have come through some difficulty and made it to the other side beyond hopelessness and despair.But then when we are thrown back into the struggles of life and times are tough it is hard not to question God or ask ourselves. Is God among us or not?

To be fair to the Israelites they were faced with a pretty harsh situation. Not having any water to drink – their very lives were at stake once again. I think on some level we can all relate to the Israelites. We are often thrust into the wilderness of life and no matter how many times we have made it through before we ask “Why has God done this” “Where is God?" Or we may ask "Does God really care or really exist?"

These questions are all too human. When we lose a job. When we find out our child has learning disabilities and we can’t find the help they need at the school. When friends or family die. When we feel adrift without goals or a purpose. When we are in the throws of depression. When we feel unhappy in a relationship. When the money gets tight. When illness strikes and puts our entire future into question.It is not uncommon to ask Is God among us or not? Why did God lead us to this dead end?

The story of the Israelites journeying through the wilderness is our story as well. We all have our own wilderness journey. And with it comes those all too human questions and doubts. Why God? Where are you? What are you thinking now? Are you there at all? This story in particular invites us to understand that doubting, questioning and arguing with God or expressing an all out disbelief in God is part of our human condition. It is a part of our journey that we must just come to embrace.

This story however invites us as well into another role, if you will. Yes, we are all travelers on the wilderness road however, sometimes and perhaps more often than not we are also called to be the one to lead others out of the wilderness and to provide the living water. Even as we stumble around in our own wilderness and grapple with our own doubts we are called to reassure others that there is a light at the endof the tunnel.

Take a look at Moses, this man who we regard as one of the greatest biblical leaders. Yet he too was lost in his own wilderness even as he led. Moses had his own hardships, lets not forget that when God called him he was hiding out tending sheep in Midian and living on the edge after having murdered an Egyptian. Pharaoh was looking for him to have him killed. Not exactly the kind of trouble free upstanding life that we want from our leaders.

After he risked his own life and led the Israelites out of Egypt he too was thrust out again into wilderness and now he was the object of everyone’s anger and mistrust. After parting the red sea on God’s command and leading the people out of bondage he is now the enemy of the people. Moses cried out to God, “What shall I do? The people Are ready to stone me!” This is wilderness I would not want to find myself in. But none the less, despite his own troubles and journey, Moses continued on and he faithfully led the people to the living water that God provided.

There are many times in life that we are called upon to point the way--even as we ourselves struggle. Our spiritual task in life to realize that we are called to be hope to one another despite of all the struggles and doubts of our own wilderness journey. God did not call Moses after he got his life together. He called him from the wilderness he was in. And God is calling each one of us as we are from whatever wilderness we find ourselves, to reach out to others on the journey and to help point they way.

Sister Joan Chittister a Benedictine nun, speaker and author writes, “Our role in life is to bring the light of our souls to the dim places around us.” There are many dim places around us and we often get so lost in the muck and mire of own lives, that we forget that the wilderness of our problems, doubts and worries, do not define us. While all of this may be part of who we are we also have light and hope to offer. Our call to light the path for others is also part of the journey through the wilderness.

Over the past 5 years that I have served here as the Associate Rector, I have certainly witnessed so many of you lighting the path, holding out hope and being a life giving presence to one another. I know that when I first started here at All Saints’ my sister died and that was a wilderness journey that I was in no way prepared to take. So many of you were there with your presence, sharing your own experiences of loss and reaching out to me. It was life giving water indeed, and I am grateful for your presence to me.

This church has lots of new people coming here all the time. They all are seeking something. They all have their own wilderness journey and you are called to light the way. Continue to reach out, continue to welcome, continue to light the dim path that is all around us. It is easy to get caught up in our doubts and fears. It is common place for us to get so busy and overwhelmed with our own issues.

It is human for us to think that God could not possibly call us or use us in the state we are in. But nothing could be farther from the truth. Even in the midst of our wilderness journey God is calling us. This is a journey we are all on together.



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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.