All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

On The Move

Emily Williams Guffey
All Saints' Episcopal Church,
Chicago June 28, 2015
• 5th Sunday after Pentecost • Proper 8B
Mark 5:21-43

In the name of the living God,
whose love is breaking every barrier down. Amen.

As a friend of mine said yesterday, "This week has been a better week for God."

Last week was very stormy, in the wake of the massacre in Charleston. This week I've been so glad to see some justice trickling down – as in Amos' prophecy, "justice rolling down like a river, righteousness like an ever-flowing stream" (5:24).

If last week the weights of racism and violence felt particularly acute, particularly unbearable, this week I'm so glad that there's been some joy, some hope, to buoy us up.

Last week's Gospel took place on the water; Jesus and his disciples were all in a boat, and a storm came upon them. Today's Gospel takes place on land; they have just "crossed again to the other side".

Last Sunday's Gospel was about a storm and we were in one. Today's begins on a shore and we have just arrived on one: the long-awaited shore of marriage equality in this country.

But notice in this Gospel that Jesus does not stay on the shore. He is on the move. He is on the move toward others who need healing, he is on the move toward others who demand recognition of their inherent wholeness, he is on the move toward others who are demanding salvation.

It is a gutsy thing to demand salvation. In this Gospel we meet two people who do so. First is a man, a leader in the synagogue. His name is Jairus. Amid the big crowd of people gathering around Jesus, he comes right up to Jesus; he's in his face, falling at his feet, and asking for healing for his daughter. Jesus agrees, and they start heading toward Jairus' house.

On the way, another person demands salvation: a woman, who remains nameless in this story. She doesn't approach Jesus face to face, but sneaks up behind him. She's one of my favorite characters in the Bible, because I've always been intrigued at why she does this.

In part, it's because she knows she shouldn't even be out in public. In the social and religious milieu of that time, to have a bleeding disorder as she did, or a skin disease (like leprosy), or to have recently touched a dead body meant that you were ritually "unclean". To be unclean meant that you could not touch others and they could not touch you.

It is interesting to me that in today's Gospel, Jesus touches and heals this woman who is bleeding and the girl who has died – and a few chapters earlier he has touched and healed a man with leprosy, thus systematically breaking down these barriers.

This woman has had these hemorrhages for twelve years, but we're probably meant to think that it's been even longer than that. In the Bible, twelve is a number that symbolizes fullness, completion. For example, there were twelve tribes of Israel, twelve disciples. She has been ill for twelve years, and Jairus' daughter has been alive for those same twelve years. These numbers are not coincidental.

We're meant to understand that for altogether too long, she's been excluded. She's been on the margins. On the outside looking in. It's been forever since she even felt human touch.

But she's heard about Jesus; this man about whom people say, "When you're with him, it's like you're with God"; this man who can heal. She knows it'd be against the rules for him to touch her, but she also knows she cannot wait any longer. She can't continue like this for another day.

So she crouches behind him and reaches for the hem of his coat thinking, "If I but touch his clothes, I will be healed." She has guts.

She was in South Carolina yesterday. She climbed a pole outside of the statehouse and took down the Confederate flag with her own hands. She knew it was against the law, too, but she did it anyway, because she "couldn't wait any longer". She "couldn't continue like that another day."

She, the activist Bree Newsome, said, "It's time for a new chapter where we are sincere about dismantling white supremacy and building true racial justice and equality."

She was arrested for defacing public property and she knew she would be, but did you notice that while she climbed up the pole and while she climbed down, and even when she was led away in handcuffs, she was praying. She was reciting psalms of trust in God in the face of fear and opposition. "The Lord is my light and my salvation," she said, "Whom shall I fear?" (Psalm 27:1) "Even though I walk through the valley of death," she said, "I will fear no evil, for thou art with me, thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me." (Psalm 23:4)

I believe that yesterday in South Carolina, as well as in our ancient Gospel story, she heard Jesus say, "Daughter, go in peace. Your faith has made you well."

For a long time, I thought that faith was something of the mind. Something with which I either agreed or disagreed, either embraced or dismissed with my mind. So if that is faith, then what does it have to do with being "made well"?

So we're getting to know each other, right? One thing you should know about me is that I love to play with languages. It is fun for me to read not just the English Bible but to dig into the original Greek and Hebrew scriptures, too, to pursue mysteries just like this.

I realized that the Greek word for "made well" (it's called sodzo, isn't that a cool word?) means more than to "be healthy" or to "be free of disease". It means these things, but it has more layers of meaning, too.

It also means "whole", it means "safe from harm", it means "free".

It also means "saved".

"Saved". I know, I know, that's a churchy word. I don't usually like churchy words, and I certainly know that Episcopalians don't say things like "saved" – but actually, we're all about it.

Because biblically speaking – even if you just look at the Greek word for "saved" / "made well" or its Hebrew counterpart – you see that salvation in the Bible is never just an individual condition.

It's not just about you being saved and me not being saved, or whatever. It's about us being saved with each other, all of us being saved together. Salvation doesn't mean much if it's accessible to only a few. Or as our President put it so well the other day, "Our Christian faith...is about more than just our individual salvation; it's about our collective salvation."

We know this at All Saints', yes? We know that it is a good and joyful thing to gather around and feast at this table today, but how much more is it to gather in this space again on Tuesdays to feed and talk with our neighbors. It is a good and joyful thing to love Jesus, but how much more is it to, in the words of Bree Newsome, be "sincere about dismantling white supremacy and building true justice and equality." It is a great and joyful thing to celebrate the fantastic shore we're on – that of marriage equality in this country – but how much more is it to continue to pray and work for marriage equality in our church and for freedom from discrimination for all people. We celebrate well our shore today, knowing that there also are many other shores to reach.

Jesus is on our shore but he is on the move. Can you feel the momentum? As we move, too, I wonder: What is standing between you and the freedom you need? To whom are you reaching out, even just for the hem of their clothing – yet perhaps it seems just out of your reach? Who is coming up to you, in your face, begging you to recognize their wholeness? And who, in the large crowd of our lives, our city, our world, is coming up behind you – out of sight, perhaps out of mind – but nevertheless yearning for connection?

Let us follow Jesus in loving the unlovable, touching the untouchable, seeing the invisible, daring the unthinkable, and breaking every barrier down.

 

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Dear Friends,

Emily, Colin, vestry member Joe Wernette-Harnden, and I have all just finished a week of intense training at the College for Congregational Development. It was a real honor for me to do my second round of training at "the college" with colleagues from All Saints'.

What has become ever clearer for me, doing this training as a group, is that we have the people in place for All Saints' to take our next big step in our community and world. I'm not even sure what that step may be. What I do know, although we are not perfect, we are a faith community called to take significant actions to alter the condition of our world, even as we feed ourselves and our neighbors, body and soul. With our gifts, resources, leadership, and faith we have no other choice but to take part in and initiate movements of change and meaning. Our vestry (governing body) has been exploring these questions for the past several months, they'll be working on them even more in the month of August. I hope that we'll have some thoughts to guide a congregation-wide conversation in the fall. I'm thinking that congregational conversation may happen on Sunday, October 22. It's all very much in flux and formation now-but I wanted to let you know a bit of what I've been thinking about and what our vestry has been contemplating.

Tomorrow our former seminarian, current youth group leader, and Bishop Anderson house Chaplain, Paul Goodenough will be our preacher tomorrow. I've had a preview of his sermon and I found it wonderfully challenging and intriguing. Emily will be celebrating and Colin and some of our choir members will be creating wonderful music.

I'll be away tomorrow and for pretty much the remainder of the summer. I'll be doing some paddling trips in Canada and Scotland and spending some significant time in Virginia with my dad and siblings.

Please know how very much I enjoy being a priest at All Saints!

All the best,
Bonnie

We are very excited that the Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas will be spending a weekend with us this fall, September 23 and 24. Kelly was formerly the Canon Theologian at our National Cathedral. In the fall she will become the first Dean of the Episcopal Divinity School, now located at Union Theological Seminary. We've invited Kelly to spend the weekend with us so that we might again return to our work on confronting racism. Kelly is an amazing preacher and theologian and we are beyond honored that she is making time in her incredibly busy schedule to be with us. Look for more details in the next few weeks on the spirituality and theology that we will be exploring together. 

In the event that you find yourself looking for some interesting summer reading, here are some books she has suggested we investigate: HomecomingThe Color of Law, and one by Kelly called Stand Your Ground. She also suggested that watching 13th on Netflix would be helpful.
 
Racism is an issue that we are called to confront and challenge and end. It is not something that will just die a gentle death. Our hope is that with our time with Kelly and one another, we may again return to this important work. 

revelationsMonday nights at 7:30, Beginning July 10

Bible study is back! If the current U.S. presidency and administration is causing you to wonder if we're living in "apocalyptic times," then studying the Book of Revelation is perfect for this summer's Bible study! The Monday nights for this, from 7:30 to 9 p.m. (6 to 7:15 p.m. for dinner beforehand at O'Shaughnessy's), are July 10, 17, 24 and 31.

Your "tour guide" on this journey will be parishioner Jerome Wilczynski. Jerome holds a Master's degree in Systematic Theology and New Testament from Catholic Theological Union, and a Doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology. He is Associate Professor/Core Faculty in the department of Counselor Education and Supervision at Argosy University, Chicago. The point of our study will be to de-mystify this all too often misunderstood text from Scripture. The main commentary Jerome will use to assist us in unearthing the rich symbolism of this book will be Wilfrid Harrington's Revelation from the Sacra Pagina series, in case you want to buy it—but don't feel you have to.

 

Summer 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:
  • 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)

     

    Gardening at 10am
     
    churchschool2010
    For 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 Community Services kitchen and food pantry

    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!

     

    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.