All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

Arriving to Where One Loves

Staycie Flint
All Saints' Episcopal Church
June 26, 2016

God of Invitation, as you moved in the lives of Elijah, Elisha, and Jesus, move in our lives.
Open the eyes of our hearts, and let the light of Your truth flood in.
Shine Your light on the hope You are calling us to embrace.
Invite us to journey into unknown territory - learning to listen for your voice in our lives.
Help us know when and how to speak in a world that does not always want to hear.
Grant us the courage we need to journey, trust, listen, and speak.

I stand here this morning feeling torn.

It is Pride Parade day in chicago and there is a clear invitation to celebrate all that is proud and beautiful about being queer and we are also remembering sorrows cry of tragic loss.

As Orlando joins the massacres that plague this country ... our own communities...

Deaths broken spines go by unaccounted for ...

One year since Charleston we are still decimated by the reality that even the places folks seek out as sacred havens are not immune from horror.

I stand here wanting there to be good and bad people. I want life with the Divine to be as simple as choosing which one I want to be.

I watched a story this week of a contingency from Hawaii who braided a 49 strand lei for each life killed in Orlando. I listened as they spoke in front of the memorial and announced that there still are good people in this world.

And I find myself desperately wishing that freedom was that simple...

I want the freedom talked about in Galatians chapter five to be simple.

I want the simplicity of loving my neighbor as myself to be as simple as having the freedom to choose to be good person or a bad person.

Yet, again and again, I hear of people lifting up and mourning the dead without lifting up the neglect and bigotry the victims endured while living - sometimes by the actions of the same ones who now mourn.

I am reminded that loving our neighbor as ourselves—walking in the light of truth—can be both harsh and beautiful, even at odds.

Loving our neighbors as ourselves requires intimacy with the paradoxes of our own souls and our own communities.

It means learning that the Pulse killer was possibly gay and not being surprised (because anyone who truly loves queer folks knows that self-hate is never easily undone).

I stand here angry and not wanting to learn how to love and desperately needing to know how to love.

How to love myself
How to love you
How to love the stranger
How to love my enemy

Philosophers, mystics, teachers, and prophets throughout the ages have long taught us that the uniqueness of the way each individual loves is best seen in who they become and that becoming and loving is a continuous call and response process, not a sequence of events.

Galatians 5:1 states "For freedom Christ has set us free."

Philosophers, theologians and thinkers everywhere have dedicated a great deal of time to understanding the concept of freedom—particularly how freedom is connected to our wills and our doing, and therefore to our loving.

Understanding that freedom is attached to the choices we make and the liberty to do or to omit things is a commonality for many of us who have grown up in the United States, the Land of the Free.

The land where people have had to fight for the right to say yes or no to marriage.

When we think of freedom as it is attached to what we can and cannot do, we only need to look at the origins of this Nation, and the recent events within the European Union and the United Kingdom, in order to understand that conversations around what is good and bad and right and wrong often dance to a tempo set by a few ones who get to control what is "good" and and what is "right."

While Galatians does talk about freedom as liberty of choice the word used in the Greek in verse one is eleutheria (el - u - there- ee - ah)

One commentary I read points out that the etymology—the parts that construct the word eleutheria—can be understood as meaning "arriving to where one loves."

Arriving to where one loves.

At the risk of causing the theologians among us to squirm (because etymology is not theology!) I do suggest that in Galatians the author is lifting up the principle that in Christ we are free to arrive where one loves.

We are freed to love one another and be on a journey to get there.

We are freed to love ourselves as whole people who—who are at once limited and limitless...

The unfolding answer to "How do we love our neighbor as ourselves?" is deeply influenced by how we live relationships and own our own becoming.

"How do I love my neighbor?" is a question we must keep finding answers to amidst the calls of relationships with ourselves, each other, and our Maker.

In the face of the loneliness and exile of devastation we must attune ourselves to the Maker of Hearts whispering to us through relationships:

the hands of caregivers,
the rhythm of the liturgy,
the transparency of song,
the largess of creation,
the attentions of loved ones,
and ways that only the individual can hear.

The Whisper persists in saying our loving.... my loving .... your loving ... does not happen in isolation.

The fact that we have been given a boundless heart fully capable of loving and relationship opens us to where we are headed.

One born into an ultimate box that was terribly void of relationship to the world around her, Helen Keller was lifted into her own becoming through relationship with her teacher Anne Sullivan. Over time she found her own way into an abundance of relationship with the whole world and it wasn't always accepting.

In a letter to Senator Robert La Follette, Helen Keller wrote:

"So long as I confine my activities to social service and the blind, they compliment me extravagantly, calling me 'arch priestess of the sightless,' 'wonder woman,' and a 'modern miracle.' But when it comes to a discussion of poverty...that is a different matter! It is laudable to give aid to the handicapped. Superficial charities make smooth the way of the prosperous; but to advocate that all human beings should have leisure and comfort, the decencies and refinements of life, is a Utopian dream, and one who seriously contemplates its realization indeed must be deaf, dumb, and blind."

See, there is a risk in loving and living the wholeness of ourselves. It will not always be received well by others.

Dr. Audre Lorde said, "There's always someone asking you to underline one piece of yourself—whether it's black, woman, mother, dyke, teacher, etc.—because that's the piece that they need to key into. They want to dismiss everything else."

I highlight this resistance because I want to acknowledge that we can't be about loving our neighbor without claiming our relationships to our personal social location and how it engages the social location of those around us.

Responding with a critical self-awareness to the call of relationships that resist us and seek to limit us is as important to shaping our love of neighbor and self as the response to the call of our encouraging relationships.

Hellen Keller needed the pretentiousness and devaluing of a senator as surely she needed the support of Anne Sullivan in her learning to love.

Martin Luther King Jr. needed the ignorance and cowardice of Bull Connor as surely as he needed the inspiration and guidance of Howard Thurman to live into his becoming.

So I repeat, truly, the work of becoming puts the wide world in relationship with us.

One of the most powerful things Christianity teaches the larger world is that a tomb of emptiness and abandonment can give way to life unmeasurable.

And this is the hope and assurance we have.

In our loving we are connected to a source of life that goes way beyond our earthly days and the paradoxes of our soul.

Dr. Howard Thurman, spiritualist and mentor to Martin Luther King Jr., frames our loving in this way, he states:

"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive."

When you are answering "How do I respond to the Divine's invitation to love my neighbor?" don't forget that the answer best speaks to how your Creator has made you to come alive!

Also, don't forget that your source of this life is a boundless Divine who has become all things—not just a few things, all things!

As Rev. Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou of Ferguson and Baltimore reminds us, "We have seen the face of God, and God has got tattoos on God's face, and God sags God's pants, and God is angry and God is queer."

One of the few promises in life that I am comfortable making is that the Maker and Keeper of hearts gives life and sustains our wholeness by giving us boundless hearts that know no limits—unless we create them.

I close by wondering what awaits you as you go about the continual work of answering "How do I love my neighbor?"

The more we trust and practice being open to the call and response of all that surrounds us—the good, the bad, the ugly, both within ourselves and without ourselves—the clearer it becomes that it is not the events of our lives that define us but how we belong to this world.

It is how we embrace the freedom to love ourselves and our neighbor―how we respond to the calls of this world―that defines the events of our lives.

I paraphrase a conversation Krista Tippet shared with Courtney Martin when I point out that we are often asked to show up in life as only slices of ourselves. To feel like we're showing up as our whole selves in different settings is a rebellious act.

It is an act of freedom to know Christ, to walk with each other, to be freed to love ourselves—our whole selves—and the whole selves of others, even the pieces we do not like - truly humbling and difficult work.

I sometimes wonder if I am too angry with evil and the human capacity for evil in myself and others to ever freely do this work of wholehearted loving.

But, I find hope in knowing that we have been freed to learn how.

So, I invite you to go forth... learn about this mysterious connection between freedom and loving

Rebel!

I invite you to take in your whole self in the presence of your Maker, be vulnerable to this ongoing work of loving, show up with the fullness of all you can grasp, and rebel against the powers that would ask of you and the Divine's beloved community for less.

  1. This Week
  2. Services Times
  3. Contact Us
  4. Sermons
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,
    Bonnie

     

    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, 
    Bonnie
    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,

    Bonnie

     

    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

    Email info@allsaintschicago.org 

    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.