All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

I See Nothing . . .

Love the Lord your God with all your heart . . .
Matthew 22:34-46
October 26, 2014
Bonnie A. Perry

Oh Gracious Holy One,
Be with us.
In your Name we pray.

Please be seated.

Good Morning.

Many of you know or would be able to deduce from some of my sermons that I sometimes struggle with my faith. I wish I had my faith, completely nailed down, totally wrapped up, tightly packaged and readily available for the summoning at a moments notice. But that’s not always the case.

Instead, I feel as if God and I are an old married couple: many days happy and content, other days bickering. And I sometimes find myself exasperated, annoyed, and angry. Then when all else fails, I’ll turn my heart, mind and soul away from God hoping that my cold shoulder and lack of interaction will wound God, prick God’s conscience, and propel God to my flailing self who feels lost and abandoned.

Now, why I think this will work with God when it is resoundingly unsuccessful with humans is perhaps an indicator of my overall level of obtuseness or sadness.

You shall Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul. And you shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Oh how I miss the unhindered faith of my youth.

When I was 16 I went on a retreat that altered the course of my life. On that retreat I wound up telling the priest that I was scared to death of God, because if God knew everything I’d thought, everything I’d done, (and more to the point for me) everything I’d ever said, then I was pretty sure God wasn’t going to like me. So I was afraid of God. The very smart priest asked me if I’d ever told God that.

“Well No.” “If God knows everything then why would I have to tell God that?” The priest just looked at me. So taking one of the bigger risks of my life, having seen a crucifix across the room, I said, I prayed, “God I am so afraid of you.”

Then as some of you have heard me tell, “This thing happened, a warmth flooded my body, starting at my feet and going all the way up to my face.” I couldn’t stop crying and I couldn’t stop laughing. I must have blushed for 45 minutes. And in that moment I knew without a doubt that God in the person of Jesus Christ loved me for who I was and how I was, completely and utterly.” It was then that it went from being my parent’s religion to my faith. I know it happened and I didn’t make it up—because I didn’t know something like that could happen and it took me completely by surprise.

Never since have I had something like that happen. It was a mountain top, life changing experience. That’s the upside. The downside is well –that was 36 years ago.

I miss the unhindered faith of my youth.

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your mind and all your soul. And you shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Seriously God, another shooting, in another school, with another gun, legally obtained; medical doctors infected and possibly infecting

after offering comfort, care and succor to strangers in the world’s latest version of the plague.
That’s just yesterday’s headlines.
Oh dear Lord—Why?

Oh dear Lord, I’m having a hard time loving you because I’m having a hard time finding you. I need more proof of your presence and your care.

When I find myself in moments like this, when I hear and see my doubts writ large, I then say to myself, well if I were more spiritual then I would have this all dialed in. Maybe—

Joan Chittister, a wonderful theologian and author tells the following story in her book, Scarred by Trouble, Transformed by Hope.

It seems Godfrey Diekmann, a legendary Benedictine liturgist, was out gathering watercress one day in a nearby swamp, when suddenly he found himself stuck and sunk up to his hips. [He was in very real danger.] Eventually he was rescued by being pulled out by a truck hoist. It was a delicate and dangerous business. In the Christmas letter he wrote following the event he said that after more than fifty years of monastic life, “What bothers me is that during the entire ordeal I didn’t have a single pious thought!” Says Chrittister—even when we live in the presence of God for our entire lives, there is no sudden spiritual awareness when the hard times come. P 41 (Scarred by Struggle, Transformed by Hope)

Oh dear, is this good news or bad.

******* ****** ******
On Retreat last February, these thoughts came to me.

Darkness. Sitting in the refectory of the retreat house, I woke early, my neighbor’s service dog was restless through the night, (seriously who has a Yorkie as a service dog?) I woke early and it became clear to me that I needed to see the sun rise that morning. Needed maybe to see the dark disappear. So I made my tea, mixed my yogurt and raw oats together, grabbed a few books and wandered over to the main building. There, in the window-filled dining hall, with only a few perimeter lights on, I sat down and began to think. Maybe pray. Mostly wish. It was dark—in the West was a full moon getting ready to set; in the East the barest of red glows on the horizon. The lights of the cars from the road periodically distracted me, as I wondered where the drivers might be going at 5:30 in the morning on a -8 degree Saturday. Then, in what can only be described as a slightly sappy turn in my spiritual quest Cat Steven’s version of “Morning has Broken” came to me. I quietly sang it. No one was around to hear when remarkably I hit a note or to notice when more expectantly I went flat.

Soon, what I noticed, as the earth continued to revolve and it became a bit lighter was that the outlines of the tree branches interspersed along the prairie were now visible. When I’d arrived in the dark, those branches so clearly visible now were hidden. Their detail and very existence going unnoticed by me. What’s it mean about our ability to know and to see when something so detailed, so clearly present at 6:36 in the morning is completely obscured at 5:40?

In the dark we cannot see all that is present. When we are in the dark, much around us goes unnoticed. And if we were to rely on our senses alone, we would have to say there is nothing there. I see nothing, there is nothing. But then light reveals what had been there all along. So it is with God. I see nothing now, I feel nothing now; there must be nothing. But then, as the world revolves and the light shifts, the barest outlines begin to emerge.

Now I see the snow, the prairie grass and, of course, the trees. All of which had been there all along. Morning has broken.

You shall love your God with all your heart, with all your mind, and with all your soul.




  1. This Week
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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.