All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

Don't Nobody Bring Me No Bad News

The Rev. Kevin M. Goodman

On Thursday evening, at the Democratic National Convention, Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the parents of the fallen Iraqi War hero Captain Humayun Khan, told a story.

Mr. Khan shared, "Like many immigrants, we came to this country empty-handed. We believed in American democracy — that with hard work and the goodness of this country, we could share in and contribute to its blessings. We were blessed to raise our three sons in a nation where they were free to be themselves and follow their dreams. Our son, Humayun, had dreams of being a military lawyer. But he put those dreams aside the day he sacrificed his life to save his fellow soldiers. (I believe) Hillary Clinton was right when she called my son 'the best of America.' We can't solve our problems by building walls and sowing division. We are stronger together."

People cheered. Others cried. Many pondered the images of Muslims that have been held up before us in the previous weeks. I heard the story of faithful Americans. Others heard "those people are coming to kill us."

What story have you heard?

What story do you need to hear?

"The Wiz" debuted on Broadway in October, 1974. It is a musical retelling of The Wizard of Oz from the African-American perspective. It won seven Tony awards, including best musical. The story is well known. Dorothy is blown out of Kansas by a tornado. Her house falls on a witch. She travels down a yellow brick road, meeting friends who have been told by others that they are stupid. Have no heart. Lack courage. As they travel together, they share each other's stories, realizing that they have come to believe what others have said about them.

When "The Wiz" debuted to critical acclaim, my grandmother was genuinely perplexed. "Why did they have to take our favorite movie and tell it from the black perspective?" she would ask. I wouldn't call my grandmother a racist. Her father was a civil rights lawyer, a man she loved deeply. My pawpaw was the man I wanted to be. He was a faithful Catholic, a man of principle and reason, a lawyer who fought for those who had no voice, whose stories remain untold. He travelled all over Mississippi and Alabama, signing up and defending an African-American's right to vote.

I would visit him on weekends. The Ku Klux Klan would stop by to burn crosses in his yard. I was terrified. My pawpaw, - not so much. He would say, "these people are just ignorant. They don't know the world. One day Kevin, there will be no races. We will have loved each other so much, we will all be the same color."

Because he had raised my grandmother, because his stories shaped and formed my entire family, I was a little taken aback by my grandmother's reaction to "The Wiz." She wasn't a racist. But it was racism. It was something she didn't recognize within herself. Everything she read, every song she heard, every picture in magazine she saw supported and affirmed her life experiences. She heard and read and saw her story. "The Wiz" was not how the story had been told. When the popular narrative is challenged, we experience discomfort, discontent.

The stories around us are changing rapidly. We are so surrounded by bad news. A police officer kills a citizen over a busted out tail-light. An armed civilian kills cops from skyscraper rooftops and city street corners. Terrorists are killing everyone and everything. There's Brexit, a failed Turkish coup, Syrian refugees, unrest in Afghanistan, the Palestinian crisis, the Chinese encroachment, the Rio Olympics, the Republican National Convention, the Democratic National Convention, email theft from Russian Hacks, violence right here on the streets of Chicago, and it goes on and on and on.

We are so overwhelmed by these shifting narratives, we have no time to reflect on how these stories change us, challenge us, shape us, call us to something new. Often, we just have time to react. Stories shape and form us as people of the United States of America.

In the broadway musical "The Wiz," Evillene, the wicked witch of the west, owns a sweat shop. She enslaves her people, in order to crank out the latest fashions demanded by the residents of Emerald City - a city ruled by elite urbanites. The citizens of OZ control the poor and disadvantaged residents by encouraging them to dream about the lifestyle of the rich and famous.

"Live our life. See our story on TV. Admire our photographs in the Vanity Fair. Believe the promises of wizards and politicians and all of this can be yours."

When I can't find myself in the stories that surround me, I come to believe that my story is irrelevant. My life has no value.

What story are you hearing?

What story do you need to hear?

Evillene, the wicked witch of the west, sings an amusing musical number called "Don't Nobody Bring Me No Bad News."

Evillene says, "I wake up already negative and I have wired up my fuse... When you're talking to me don't be crying the blues. You can verbalize and vocalize but just bring me the clues... If you're gonna tell me something tell me, something I can use but don't you bring me no bad news. Don't you bring me no bad news."

As an Emerald City outsider, Evillene is trying to shape her narrative. Control her story.

What story are you hearing?

What story do you need to hear?

Our Old Testament reading this morning is from the book of Ecclesiastes. It is one of my favorite books however calling it a book is misleading. It is an odd gathering of platitudes, of fortune cookie sayings, presenting a sarcastic yet whimsical look at the absurdities of this life. The sayings are attributed to Qoheleth which literally means "teacher."

Qoheleth is frustrated with the limitations of humankind and is downright jealous and angry with God who created all of this. Qoheleth's anger comes across as cynicism. God has freedom. Limitless. Is unbounded. But God, you created a world full of voices of dissent. I am right. The "other" is wrong. I have worked for all that I have but why? What do I get from all of this? What am I entitled too? Why do I feel entitled to things I did not even earn? Things I inherited from others. Is this vanity?

Is all of it just vanity?

In the midst of all the noise, the hatred, the blatant disregard for human life, the total disgust of the other, the teacher is struggling to figure out what is good and true and why.

The Good News for us is Jesus walks into our world, in the midst of all the mess, to change the narrative. To open our hearts. To challenge our thinking. To remind us of our story.

Sometimes I understand totally the frustrations of Qoheleth, the teacher of Ecclesiastes. The people of God have forgotten who they are. We have forgotten our Holy Story. We are not listening. We ignore God. We do not love our neighbors. We murder. We steal from the poor. Leave the hungry for dead. Do not welcome the stranger into our homeland.

Don't nobody bring me no bad news.

What stories are you hearing?

What stories do you need to hear?

Jesus shares stories of healing for the tossed aside and forgotten. Fair wages for the working poor, for all in the vineyard, and all you have to do is show up. The hungry fed. The dead brought back to life.

When the stories of ALL the people of God are heard and claimed as sacred, the mission and ministry of the people of God is clear.

Have I heard the story of a transgendered person?

Do I know what happens to a refugee family?

Can I possibly understand or imagine the amount of trauma experienced by a police officer during the course of a day?

Even Jesus was changed by listening to story.

The Canaanites are mentioned over 150 times in the Bible. They are depicted as wicked, idolatrous people who were descended from Noah's grandson Canaan. A Canaanite woman's daughter was possessed by an evil spirit. No one, not even Jesus, cared about the experiences of the Canaanites. But she yelled after him and demanded that he hear her story. Jesus's friends begged him to send her away. She is bothering me. She is yelling after us. She is a Canaanite. Who cares?

"Get away from us you dirty Canaanite woman."

Annoyed, Jesus said to the Canaanite woman, "It is not fair to take the children's food and throw it to the dogs."

She answered, "Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table."

Suddenly, in an instant, Jesus' eyes were opened. The narrative in his head shifted. Jesus answered her, "Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish."

And her daughter was healed instantly.

I take great comfort knowing that even Jesus had to listen to the experiences of others in order to change his prejudices.

What voices am I hearing and ignoring?

What story do I need to hear?

At the end of "The Wiz," Dorothy realizes she has been changed through sharing and hearing and becoming a part of the stories of her friends. She is able to recognize her heart, her brain, her courage, her God-given dignity.

Dorothy sings, "Suddenly my world has changed its face but at least I know where I'm going. I have had my mind spun around in space and thanks be to God I've watched it growing."

May it be so for all of us.

 

  1. This Week
  2. Services Times
  3. Contact Us
  4. Sermons
Weekly Message for December 10

Weekly Message for December 10

Dear Friends,    

Tomorrow morning, Saturday the 9th, from around 10am to 2pm, I’m looking for people who might want to assist me in doing some Christmas decorating for the outside of our church building. Ahn Gallagher has graciously agreed to hang some lights in our bell tower, now I’m looking for assistance is getting lights in our oak tree out front. I’ll be able to put on my climbing saddle and rig a belay and climb the tree, but it will be much easier and way more fun if I have assistance. Right now our beautifully restored building looks GREAT in the day and kind of dark at night. I hope to fix that tomorrow. Dress warm and come join the fun!
 
Two Wednesdays from now, on December 20th, our evening prayer will be extended to include more silence for reflection, more music for our souls, and an opportunity for anointing. Christmas can be a very difficult time, particularly if we are in the midst of a transition or have lost someone we love. We hope to create a time and some space to acknowledge those difficult feelings and offer some solace and consolation. I invite you to take an hour to care for yourself with some prayer and music.
 
This Sunday I’ll be preaching, Emily will be celebrating, the children will be rehearsing our presidentially-recognized Christmas Pageant, #HamiltonmeetsJesus, and Colin and our choir will be creating seasonal music that will lift our spirits.
 
I look forward to seeing all of you!
 
All the best,
Bonnie
Working Against the Virus of Racism

Working Against the Virus of Racism

kellybdWe 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. 

All Saints' Book Club

All Saints' Book Club

midnightFall Reading List Selected

The All Saints Book Club has defined its reading list through the fall. 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:

  • August 10 - "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" by John Berendt
  • September 14 - "Operation Breadbasket" by Martin Deppe (meet in the Reading Room at the church)
  • October 12 - "Saints and Villains" by Denise Giardina
  • November 9 - "The Haunting of Hill House" by Shirley Jackson
  • December 14 - Pick your own poetry book and share favorite poem(s)

For additional information, contact Mike Burke (mebcat@gmail.com)

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!

Evening Prayer at The Breakers

Evening Prayer at The Breakers

 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!

 

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.

New Opportunity: Hospitality Ministry

New Opportunity: Hospitality Ministry

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.

Join Our Member Directory!

Join Our Member Directory!

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.

Love on a Plate

Love on a Plate

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.

 

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 

This OLD Church

This OLD Church

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.
 
 
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.