All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago


The Rev. Emily Williams Guffey
4 September 2016 • The 16th Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 18, Year C
Deuteronomy 30:15-20, Luke 14:25-33

Imagine that you’ve just heard of this guy. Let’s call him Yeshua (which is Hebrew for Jesus, and I am talking about Jesus, but let’s pretend for a moment that you’ve never heard anything about him before!) So anyway, you’re just starting to hear about this guy named Yeshua. You heard a radio spot about him. You saw an article in the paper, something about Yeshua speaking in New York, and Boston, and LA. A friend mentioned him the other day, too: “Have you ever heard of this guy, Yeshua? He’s kind of…interesting.” And then, you were just on Facebook and saw that a friend invited you to an event: “Yeshua in Chicago”. This guy, Yeshua, it turns out, will be in Lincoln Square, starting at Giddings Plaza and then heading down to Welles Park.

You mark on the Facebook event: “Interested”. You just might go.

Saturday, the day of the event, comes. Now, you could be going to the gym or to the beach (it’s a gorgeous day just like today) or having brunch or just hanging out at home, but you have this nagging curiosity about this guy, Yeshua. So you head over to Giddings Plaza, along with your family, and your coffee squarely in hand. You see a crowd in the plaza near the fountain. And just at about the time you get there, the crowd starts to move. They’re heading south on Lincoln toward Wilson, following this guy Yeshua.

As you’re getting close to Wilson you see Starbucks and you’re like, “Ah! Good, I’ll grab a second cup”, when the crowd stops, because the man has stopped, and turns around to face the crowd, saying:

“Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, even life itself, cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? Or what president, going out to wage war against another country, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able to oppose the one who comes against him? If he cannot, then, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms of peace. So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions!” (Luke 14:25-33, adapted)

And then he turns and keeps walking ahead.

So what do you do?

Do you get out of there, taking your family with you? (Admittedly, you see many others making this decision.) Like “Heyyy, this is not what I was expecting.”

Or do you drop your coffee cup and your bag and walk away from your family to follow him? He said, “Give up your possessions!”

Or, do you linger behind Yeshua—your family, too, if they want—to hear a little more. You’re compelled, quite beyond yourself. You cannot put your finger on why, but something in his startling words sounded true.

At the beginning of the 2010 film The Way, sixty-something California opthalmologist Thomas Avery is driving his forty-year-old son Daniel to the airport. Both men are grieving and readjusting after the death of Thomas’ wife, Daniel’s mother. Daniel has decided that he is going to travel the world. And so this day, he’s traveling to Europe on a one-way ticket, to see what he can see. To find himself.

In the car, Daniel says, “You should come, too, Dad! A father-son trip.”

At this point in the film, we have seen Thomas working in his ophthalmology office and playing charity golf with colleagues. He doesn’t look happy but he looks comfortable.

Thomas, played by Martin Sheen, replies to his son, “I don’t want to go. My life here might not seem like much, but it is the life I choose.”

Daniel responds, “You don’t choose a life, Dad. You live one.”

Later, when Thomas receives the devastating call that his son has been killed, he rushes from California to France to identify the body. Daniel has lost his life in an accident at his outset on the Camino de Santiago, an 800-kilometer trek from southern France westward through northern Spain to the city of Santiago de Compostela, the cathedral of which is reputed to hold the remains of St. James—Sant-Iago—the apostle of Jesus.

At first, Thomas plans simply to bring his son’s body home to California. But then, when he learns what the Camino is, learns that for over a thousand years, pilgrims have made the trek from various starting points within Europe to the northwest coast of Spain, and that his son was doing it, too—he decides to have his son’s remains cremated, packs them in his son’s backpack, and with all of his son’s gear, sets out on the path.

The French police captain who has helped Thomas there says, “Mr. Avery, you are not prepared to make the trek. You have not trained. And with no disrespect, you are more than sixty years old.”

Thomas says simply, “I’m walking.”

Why is he, why was Daniel, why are the other pilgrims compelled to do this? What do they seek? One of Thomas’ fellow walkers, “Jack from Ireland”, is curious about this, too, and asks every other pilgrim he meets why they’re walking the Camino. And at the end of the Camino, if a pilgrim wants a compostela or certificate of completion, he or she must state their reasons for walking.

Was it for a religious reason? A personal reason, an emotional reason, a health reason? Invariably, they have trouble articulating why exactly they do it. But I notice that what they have in common is that they feel compelled from deep within them, a place deeper than words.

I think this compulsion—this curiosity, this call—characterizes for many of us what it feels like to follow Jesus. Which is why today’s Gospel passage about calculating the cost of discipleship ahead of time sounds, to me, so strange.

You know, in some ways, this Gospel passage is like the Congregational Assessment Tool, a survey that many of us took several months ago about our experiences and values here at All Saints’—at least that infamous Spiritual Vitality Index! Imagine survey questions like: Do you give up your family? Do you give up your stuff? Did you calculate ahead of time or do you at least realize now what you’re getting into, following Jesus?


Then you’re not a disciple!

These sound to me like the kinds of survey questions we did have: Do you think about God all the time? Do make all of your daily decisions based on your awareness of God in your life? Do you pray every day at least once?

No? Maybe? Kind of? Not sure? These aren’t quite the words you would have chosen?

Then you don’t have “spiritual vitality”! Or at least you have less spiritual vitality than 98% of people in other churches.

I am facetious not because I think there is any lack of spiritual vitality in this place—quite the opposite!—but because the wording of the survey’s questions, like the words Jesus chooses today, sound off-putting, almost foreign in its assumptions. It can be hard to find ourselves in today’s Gospel.

The truth is that there is a cost to following Jesus, though most of us do not or cannot calculate it in advance, nor do many of us choose to follow Jesus because of the cost it exacts.

Another truth is that Jesus does not ask of the crowd or of us any more than is asked of himself. Think about it: As this crowd follows him, he knows—but they don’t—that he is heading all the way to Jerusalem, where he knows (and again, they don’t) that it is there he will make the ultimate sacrifice. Is he giving up his possessions? Is he giving up his family? Is he giving up his very self, his own life? Will he even carry a cross (a reference that we get now, but the crowd at the time could not have)? Most literally, yes.

But he knows that as painful as these costs may be, it is they that help open the way to new, unimagined life. Like a pilgrim on the Camino trekking miles and miles and miles with only a backpack, we should consider what we might give up. Perhaps the costs are more subtle: “our need to acquire,” as theologian Emilie Townes suggests, or “our yearning for success, our petty jealousies, our denigrating stereotypes of others, our prejudices and hatreds”, and God knows what else (Feasting on the Word, Year C, Volume 4, p. 46). Moreover, what I think is not immediately obvious from today’s Gospel passage is that the process of following Jesus is just that: a process. A journey.

Echoing Daniel Avery, we may not choose our life or have it figured out ahead of time, but we live it. We live into encounters with God: the mystery of Communion, the mystery of serving food to friends and strangers (who, as human beings, are beautiful mysteries themselves), the various claims God has put on our lives, the calls that God has placed in our hearts that we cannot explain—but we are compelled. Each of these encounters and mysteries gives us the grace and the strength to take one step, and then another. 

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Dear Friends,

Tomorrow afternoon I'll hit a milestone that astonishes me. I'm honored to be officiating at Kate Gannett and Jamison Merrill's wedding. Katie was one of the five or six little ones who were here at All Saints when I first arrived almost 25 years ago. She was five years old... Now she's working on a graduate degree at Johns Hopkins. She and Jamison met while working in South Africa.

So much has changed since then and yet this community of faith, although much bigger (and heaven knows our building looks much better), retains the same "let's just give this a try and see what happens" spirit. Back then we had Clyde Propst and a few dedicated church school teachers who were willing to give their time to be with our young people and let them know that they mattered. Today we still have Clyde Propst, and more than 10 other people, working with and serving our young ones. In addition, one of the little ones from back in the day, Hilary Waldron, now facilitates our incredibly active 7-12 grade youth group. Taking young people seriously can make a huge difference in their lives! I am so grateful to our nursery, church school teachers, and youth group advisors. Thank you for all that you do and give.

This weekend, in addition to Kate's wedding, I'll be getting my sermon ready for Sunday and anticipating our amazing end-of-the-church-school-ice-cream social. 

Colin and the choir will be creating some lovely music and Emily will be catching some time away after an incredibly packed Spring!

I look forward to seeing you all on Sunday!

All the best,


The last few Sundays of our church school year are quickly approaching:

Sunday, June 18th - The Annual Ice Cream Social when church school hosts coffee hour and what's better than ice cream! There will be a variety of ice cream flavors and many possible toppings for do-it-yourself Sundaes served on the lawn in front of the church. Children help with set up serve (and eating!) ice cream, and clearing away the debris

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 Services Community Kitchen.


redbirdUnderstanding Vocation in a Complex World

Parishioner Liz Futrell and her colleague Kate Rademacher both work in international public health with a focus on trying to increase access to contraception for women in developing countries. Both women feel a sense of vocation in this work. However, with birth control remaining a controversial topic in the political and religious landscapes, understanding this work as a vocational calling can raise challenging questions. Liz and Kate will talk about how their work intersects with their faith. Kate will read from her new memoir about her recent conversion to Christianity, and Liz will read from a piece about her career path that's been included in a new anthology of women's stories.

Discussion will take place Sunday, June 25, during coffee hour. There will be time for open discussion and the group will be invited to share their experiences and thoughts about discernment and understanding vocation.


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 (


    Individual Actions Towards Racial Equality

    Volunteer Opportunities, Events, and Recommendations

    (re)imagining: Racial Justice Summit Sponsored by YWCA Evanston/North Shore:

    Thursday, April 6 from 6 - 8 pm
    Friday, April 7 from 9 am - 4 pm
    Unitarian Church of Evanston
    1330 Ridge Ave., Evanston, IL
    Goal: "To bring people of all ages and demographics together to deepen their understanding of their own racial identities, develop skills to work for change, formulate action plans and engage with others."

    For Information and Registration, click here

    "The Scottsboro Boys" at Porchlight Theater through March 12th
    A musical production that is getting rave reviews, "nominated for 12 Tony Awards, and presented in the style of the notorious "minstrel show", this true-life story of nine African American teenagers accused and put on trial in Memphis for a crime they did not commit is one America's most notorious episodes of injustice; inaugurating a wave of social changes leading up to the modern Civil Rights Movement."

    For information and ticket prices, click here

    Suggested reading, non-fiction: 
    Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America by Michael Eric Dyson, January, 2017

    This book has been described as "...a provocative and deeply personal call for change. Dyson argues that if we are to make real racial progress we must face difficult truths, including being honest about how black grievance has been ignored, dismissed, or discounted."

    Recommended as a "companion piece to the film rather than a stand-alone book." One reviewer recommended "seeing the film first, and then using the book for meditation and revisiting afterward."

    Volunteer opportunity: GROWING HOME "We have a vision of a world of healthy people and communities. Everyone deserves to have a good job, and everyone deserves to eat well." Since 2002, Growing Home has trained and employed and, most importantly, given a second chance to people with employment barriers. You may be familiar with their Wood Street farm in Englewood. Their farms are the first and only USDA-certified organic high-production urban farms in Chicago, and because they strive to also feed their community well, all their produce is grown, harvested, cleaned, and sold within a 20-mile radius. Read more at

    Volunteer opportunity: Non-profit Reading In Motion has successfully refined its mission over its 30+ years to help give kindergarten and first grade students foundational reading skills they need to start on a path for lifetime learning. They partner with public school teachers and have been extremely successful in making a difference in children's lives. Click here for more info.


    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!


    Jeff Lee
    Dear Polly and All Saint's Kids,
    I am writing to you from a meeting of the board of Episcopal Relief & Development in Bogota, Columbia. We are meeting here to visit some of our partner ministries with people in need. I have seen the amazing results of this year's bake sale (in fact, I'm looking at photos of some of the cakes - wow!), and you have reminded me that we don't have to travel to Columbia or South Sudan to make a huge impact for the good of God's people.
    I am so proud and grateful for you and the work you do. You guys are heroes. Our friends in South Sudan will be blessed by your effort.
    In Christ,
    Jeffrey D. Lee
    Bishop of Chicago

    Sundays at 10am

    The phrase Imago Dei means the Image of God. Specifically, the image of God as it is found in humanity. The image of God in us - it is what makes us spiritual people - valued as whole and complete. What does it mean to creatively live as whole people? How do we live in relationship with others - respecting and sharing one another's security and one another's discomfort?

    Join us on Sunday mornings between services as we figure out together how to help one another take practical responsibility for living in this world - especially as racial and spiritual beings.

    True - our time will be uncomfortable because it will mean talking about race, violence, personal helplessness, and personal failure. Also true - this will be comforting and supportive because it will mean getting to be honest, practicing together, and caring for one another.

    Every week we will ask one another "What have you done in these past 7 days with who you are and within your sphere of influence when it comes to the realities of race?" the answers will be different for each person and it won't be a competition. We will be lifting up the everyday choices we make and don't make. Sometimes we will like what happens and sometimes we won't.

    And - we will be doing it together.

    The Middle Eastern refugees and immigrants served by the Iraqi Mutual Aid Society were deeply moved by the notes of welcome from All Saints. We shared them at our community lunch on Thursday, and now they will hang in our conference room to remind people of your warm welcome in the days to come. Thanks!

    Laura Youngberg

    breadbakersSignup online to bake for a month

    Calling all bakers! If you love the smell of fresh-baked bread filling your kitchen, please consider signing up to bake communion bread for our services. This involves a one-month commitment that you'll share with another baker, and you can do all your baking at once and add to the reserves in our freezer.

    Signing up is easy, just click here for our page on Signup Genius and reserve your favorite month.

    Contact Jennifer Simokaitis, or Anne Ellis if you have any questions.

    Yard Signs Available 

    Grow Community has created yard signs for anyone who would like to display support for our local public high schools. Signs and sign holders are available in the Reading Room.



    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 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 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


    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.