All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

Thankfulness – a life stance

I Thessalonians 5: 1-18

In my first parish on the west side of Chicago, I experienced, with Peg, our one and only home invasion. It was early in the afternoon when we returned with our infant son, Andrew, in arms and found the front door of our parsonage ajar. After retreating a few steps, and checking the property, we set foot inside.

On the first floor most everything looked OK. Then we spotted the empty space where our radio should have been. This little handmade AM-FM radio, made from a kit by my brother John for our wedding, had disappeared. There was no TV and no other technological gadgets to be had. Upstairs the bedrooms had been rifled, drawers pulled open, clothes and jewelry strewn about, but nothing of value missing. How would the thieves know that we had no valuables at this stage in our lives!

This break-in was totally unexpected, like a thief in the night, only this was broad daylight! St. Paul tells his fellow followers of Jesus that the day of the Lord will be like that. It will come with no warning at all.

As we approach the end of the Church year looking to Advent and Christmas, the Scripture readings last week, this week and next point to the end time, the Alpha and Omega, the Son of man coming in glory, the eschaton, “the last things.” In the early Church after Pentecost, Jesus’ followers, including Paul, expected his coming in their lifetime. Each reading is a pastoral word alerting the faithful to be ready.

I pondered these passages seeking to discern the pastoral word we need to hear today.

Clearly we live in frightening times – extreme weather somewhere almost every day, the latest version of horrific terrorism, uncontrolled gun violence on our streets and campuses, endless strife in the land of Jesus, cancer striking loved ones, including three in my extended family, and now Ebola.

Paul reminds his fellow Christians in Thessalonica and in Ravenswood, Chicago, that these times and seasons, distressing and fear-filled as they may be, are nothing new, that we know Jesus will come at any time regardless of season or sin or any other condition in all the universe. Paul warns: get ready!”

Well, you ask, how can we get ready? In the very next verses, beyond the lection, Paul offers a simple preparation we can make for Jesus’ coming.

Take a listen: Encourage one another, be at peace, help the weak, do not repay evil with evil but seek to do good to one another and to all, pray without ceasing, and then these unusual words: Give thanks in all circumstances. Or in the NEB: “Give thanks, whatever happens!” What! Impossible!

Martin Luther wrote that the entire life of a Christian is one of thankfulness. Thankfulness is a life stance, an eschatological stance. Give thanks, whatever happens! That is the pastoral word for this season; the word for our upcoming Thanksgiving holiday; the perfect attitude for responding to the All Saints pledge campaign – gratitude for this astonishing community of faith. It is the precise mood and motivation for these touching tributes above us on paper triangles. The mood of thanksgiving is the feeling of a human being in touch with life. It is not a one-day-a-year matter. It is a total attitude and stance!

To feel thankful is the best preparation we can make to be ready for the coming of the Holy One.

Many years ago a little 5 year old girl ran into the living room one bright morning and exclaimed, "Daddy, don't you just love the world!" Daddy was so amazed and thankful for this precious child, and still is! God would have us hold on to this 5 year-old gratitude every day of our lives.

'Give thanks, whatever happens,’ was certainly the attitude of the Pilgrims, those early immigrants to our shores. They were undocumented by the way! You recall they lost half of their numbers that first winter of 1620. Every other person died of disease, cold, starvation. In spite of this calamity they gathered together to give thanks, joined by their local Native American neighbors. “Give thanks, whatever happens.”

Many years later, 1863, in the midst of a devastating civil war, President Abraham Lincoln called all citizens to "observe the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens." Isn't that incredible. Abe knew that even in the midst of barbarity and insanity, the human being needs to be thankful.

Thankfulness as a life stance brings to mind a story told by a colleague of mine years ago. Rev. Ross Calame taught his two young girls to always say, "Thank you, Jesus," for even the simple things, for a glass of milk, for someone holding a door open, or helping them put on a winter coat!

One day Ross was walking home from church. As he approached their house, one of the girls saw him and turned her tricycle around and drove toward him as fast as she could go. Just before reaching her Dad, she fell off the bike and skinned both knees! As she stood up and was about to burst into tears, she quickly regained control and declared, "Thank you, Jesus!"

Our Hebrew sisters and brothers offered thanks by giving the first fruit of the harvest back to God. The Psalms resonate with ‘thankfulness and praise.’

I ask you to contemplate your stance to life, your readiness for the coming of Christ. Through the thick and thin, the joys and the hurts, the temptations and the mistakes, the celebrations and the achievements, the losses, surprises, the broken ankles and the home invasions – are you ready? Are you thankful?

It will not be easy for someone laid off last week. For someone diagnosed with a brain tumor. For someone deported back to Latin America, separated suddenly from family, for our friends from Renk, South Sudan, living in terror and uncertainty. And yet the pastoral word to them and to us is the same: “Give thanks in all circumstances.”

Strange as it may seem, there are those who have received much, the very privileged among us, who, I’ve observed, do not feel it necessary to be thankful, or to express thanks, because they have come to assume that they are just entitled to these material comforts and pleasures.

I hunch it may be even harder for our pampered and over-programmed progeny to recognize the incredible gifts given them and the sacrifices made for them, than it was for us. And that is a challenge, at least to me, to demonstrate in my own live what gratitude I feel, to remind my loved ones that I thank God for every single day, ever since that first open heart surgery 31 years ago. Each day has been a gift and I want to impart that attitude, that stance, to all whose lives I touch.

Give thanks, whatever happens! I will never forget an experience during my Fulbright year in Germany. On a trip to Berlin in the spring of 1958 several of us students took the elevated train into East Berlin one Sunday morning. (this was before the Wall went up) We went directly to the Marienkirche (Church of Mary) where Bishop Otto Dibelius was to preach.

The church was packed; Communist plain-clothesmen were standing in their crumpled trench coats along the walls; the 80 year old prelate, who had fought Hitler and now the Communists, began to preach.

I did not understand every word in German, but again and again I heard the word Dankbarkeit (thankfulness).

The Bishop told his flock, from my translated notes: "in spite of the world's powers we are ultimately under God's will, so let us give thanks and praise! Whoever lives in God's will and does God's will, can expect a happy and blessed life"

He contrasted the evil of the hour with God's will – faithlessness and faithfulness. He asserted, "Atheism in the East or in the West is confronted by our faith rooted in eternity."

And then this final word: "Dankbarkeit must be the spirit in our homes, at our work, in our lives. If we live under God's will we will abide forever and ever!"

Here in the midst of then East Germany, in the presence of not so secret police, in the midst of oppression and danger, Bishop Dibelius called for thankfulness! "Give thanks, whatever happens!" Later we took Communion from his hands. I was deeply touched by this humble man and the gift he brought us that day.

Yes, “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you,” Paul concludes in his word to the Thessalonians. And as the old warrior Bishop told his flock, "If we live in God's will and do God's will we can expect a happy and blessed life." To which there is but one response - to give thanks.

Thankfulness is a life stance, an eschatological stance for the approaching Day of God. Come, Lord Jesus. Amen.

Rev. Martin Deppe
All Saints Episcopal Church, Chicago
16 November 2014

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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.