All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

Go and tell John what you hear and see

December 11, 2016
Matthew 11:2-11
The Rev. Martin Deppe

For a long time Cub fan, after an interminable Advent of waiting, the question for the last several months has been: Is this the year? Is this the end of our waiting? Is this the team? Yes, indeed!

But, back to the world of hum drum reality and the Advent question before us this morning. John the Baptist is in prison, having upset Herod Antipas the tetrarch, son of Herod the Great who had tried to eliminate the Holy Child in Bethlehem years earlier, and failed. Now his son, Herod Antipas, has been confronted face to face by this locust-eating prophet, accusing him of adultery and no doubt other serious sins of his regime.

The pay-back is that John is now behind bars and his ministry along the Jordan has been halted. John is concerned that the call to repentance be continued, that the people be warned that the kingdom of heaven is at hand. John has already baptized one Jesus of Nazareth, and has heard through the grape vine that this Nazarene is proclaiming a similar message, so he decides to check this out.

From his prison cell, John sneaks a message to Jesus: "Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?" This is a key Advent question. It is addressed in the world of darkness, in the world before Christ, a world in despair, poverty, hopelessness and fear, a world waiting for something good. Evil is has run amok. Decency is flogged. Truth is turned inside out. Anything and everything is normal.

In the words of the poet, W. H. Auden, penned in 1944:

Darkness and snow descend on all personality...
The prophet's lantern is out and gone the boundary stone...
The evil and armed draw near;
The weather smells of their hate
And the houses smell of our fear...
As the evil and armed draw near.
A fugal chorus intones:
Great is Caesar: He has conquered Seven Kingdoms.
The seventh is the Kingdom of Popular Soul...
When he says, You are happy, we laugh;...
When he says, It is true, everyone believes it;
When he says, It is false, no one believes it;
When he says, This is good, this is loved;
When he says, That is bad, that is hated.
Great is Caesar: God must be with Him."
The narrator continues:
These are stirring times for the editors of newspapers:
History is in the making; Mankind is on the march.
The longest aqueduct in the world is already
Under construction;1

And into this world, then or now, the question is posed: "Are you the one who is to come, or shall we wait for another?"

For us today, we need to address this question of "Are you the one?" to -

The powers that be, city, state and the president-elect team. Can City Hall make our streets safe? Will the State of Illinois pay its bills? Will the new team in DC serve the general welfare of all the people?

We need to ask 'are you the one' of Facebook and Twitter, where news is passed on instantly, whether it is verifiable or rumor, whether true or fake. How does this relate to the Scriptural promise that the truth will make us free?

We might even ask 'are you the one' of self-driving cars?

We should ask 'are you the one' of Santa Claus, and the fun side of the holy days?

We should ask 'are you the one' of the entire package of weeks-long consumer-driven Christmas extravaganza?

We need to ask 'are you the one' of ourselves. In this selfie obsessed time dare we presume that we can redeem ourselves?

To each and every one of these scenarios the answer is Not a chance! No way! Negative! The answer comes to us here today from Jesus himself, in his message sent back to the prison:

"Go and tell John, what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised and the poor have good news brought to them."

Our Lord is saying, 'in the midst of these deeds you will observe the one who has come. In the midst of healed bodies, liberating good news and resurrected lives, there you will find me. ......

It might be on the street, in a boardroom, bedroom, brothel, factory, an office, a homeless shelter, any place of pain, distress or brokenness. Whenever and wherever these deeds of mercy are performed, and especially for the poor, they have been done to me.' That is Christ's total identification, his incarnation and penetration of our messy world. "The Word became flesh and lived among us."

How does that translate into our situation today? How do we express a "radical esteem for the Incarnation," in the words of William Stringfellow, that John Baptist-like Episcopalian layman, lawyer, and colleague of mine back in the 1960s and 70s? Bill Stringfellow wrote,

"A Christian is not distinguished by his (or her) political views, or moral decisions, or habitual conduct, or personal piety, or least of all by his churchly activities. A Christian is distinguished by his radical esteem for the Incarnation."2

For the God who gives mercy to those who fear him, who scatters the proud in the fantasies of their hearts, who brings down the powerful and lifts the lowly, who fills the hungry and sends the rich away empty-handed. How do we engage, how do we esteem this Incarnate God, this one who has pitched a tent among us?

Would Christ not be standing beside the 5 year old Muslim boy in Charlotte, NC, who has been allegedly bullied and harassed by his classmates and teacher since classes began in September at his Elementary School? The boy has been routinely singled out and required to carry a heavy backpack, throughout the day causing major back pain, and the teacher has called him "bad Muslim boy" on multiple occasions.

Then on Nov. 16th, after the election incidentally, the teacher reportedly grabbed the boy by the neck and began choking him, before another teacher separated them and consoled the boy who was crying and extremely shaken." School officials are investigating and the boy has not returned to the school since the choking incident.

Would Christ not be standing beside that boy? If Christ is standing there, if we esteem the Incarnation, should we not also be standing with that boy and all boys and girls and all adults as well who face discrimination, and slurs and even deportation?

Would Christ not be standing with the Danny Davis family and all the other families in Chicago who have and are losing children to unending gun violence. Did we not stand there in our "Crosswalk" a few years ago? Christ is surely in the midst of this daily horror in our town.

Would Christ not be standing with the Standing Rock protesters, Native Americans and supporters who are defending in the Kingian spirit of non-violence their sacred land and their source of fresh life-giving water in North Dakota, against attack dogs, and water cannon and other weapons of the powers that be?

La Donna Brave Bull Allard has said, this pipeline "erases our footprint in the world, it erases us as a people." Clearly, this helps explain why the Standing Rock event has become the largest gathering of indigenous nations in modern American history. Is this not part of the moral arc of history bending toward justice? Ought we not consider standing with them in prayer, in solidarity, and even in presence?

Would Christ not be standing with the frightened and targeted owners of a small pizzeria in Washington, DC which is the object of fake news accusing it of harboring a child porn ring led by one of the presidential candidates, and leading to shots fired by a believing conspiratorialist! Ought we not stand up to fake news wherever we see it on behalf of verifiable facts and unassailable truths.

And especially now, when the winning presidential candidate told complete lies 74% of the time and the voters said we do not care. In the words of the Poet, "When he (Caesar) says, "It is true, everyone believes it."

Let us remember that a contemporary prophet, standing on the steps of the Capitol in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1965, cried out, and I paraphrase, that "However difficult the moment, however frustrating the hour, truth crushed to earth will rise again, because no lie can live forever. You shall reap what you sow." Are we prepared to speak truth, live the truth and defend the truth that alone sets us free?

Finally, Jesus of Nazareth was an infant refugee in Egypt. Would not Christ today accompany refugees as they flee relentless bombing, hunger, landmines, persecution, rape and even execution? Will we stand with Christ welcoming them to our own shores?

Go and tell John what you hear and see. Indeed, we are seeing and hearing numerous situations that need us, that cry out for us who hold a "radical esteem for the Incarnation," to stand with our Christ against any evil, and attempt to overcome such evil with good.

The Advent question, are you the one, is answered by the one who comes into our midst, who stands beside us, who beckons us to follow him into the center of our darkened world and to join Him in lighting the way, resisting evil, announcing good news, and living with a spirit of faith, hope and love for all people. Go and tell John. Amen.


1 Wystan Hugh Auden, “For the Time Being: A Christmas Oratorio (1944)”
2 William Stringfellow, “A Private and Public Faith”



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Dear Friends,

Next Sunday evening, June 4th, is the 38th All Saints' Cafe, when we transform our kitchen and parish hall into a gourmet restaurant for our hungry neighbors -- and we need your help to make it happen!

Please sign up here to volunteer that evening as a server, busser, dishwasher, host, food runner, food plater, or beverage attendant. Or sign up here to prepare the meal in the kitchen along with our fabulous chefs next Saturday or Sunday.

Bonnie is out of town for the weekend, and the church office will be closed on Monday for Memorial Day.

Blessings upon all of you who are traveling this weekend. And blessings upon you who are staying in town!

I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible this Sunday.



Sign-up Now Open

Believe it or not, summer is coming (albeit very slowly). It's time to plan vacations and then to find a Sunday or two when you're going to be around and can host Coffee Hour. We will only schedule Summer Coffee Hour on those Sundays when we have a volunteers.

Click here to see the full list of dates and sign up now! (It will make my summer easier.)

Karen Howe

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

Sunday, June 11th - Our last official day in the atrium is the day we recognize the children who are graduating to a new atrium level and introduce them to their new atrium community. This day is a simple but lovely celebration of how all of our children have grown, what has been accomplished during the year, and anticipation of the transition to a new atrium year.

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.

Saturday, June 10, 11:00am at St. James Cathedral 

If you have taken an Inquirers Class or equivalent and would like to make an adult profession of faith by being confirmed or received into the Episcopal Church by our bishop, Jeffrey Lee, please contact Bonnie or Emily. A diocesan-wide liturgy of confirmation and reception will be held at St. James Cathedral on Saturday, June 10, at 11:00am.

Sunday, June 11, 10:15am

breadbasketAll Saints' parishioner The Rev. Martin Deppe recently published the book Operation Breadbasket: An Untold Story of Civil Rights in Chicago, 1966-1971

This is the first full history of Operation Breadbasket, the interfaith economic justice program that transformed into Jesse Jackson's Operation PUSH (now the Rainbow PUSH Coalition). Begun by Martin Luther King Jr. during the 1966 Chicago Freedom Movement, Breadbasket was directed by Jackson. Martin was one of Breadbasket's founding pastors. He digs deeply into the program's past to update the meager narrative about Breadbasket, add details to King's and Jackson's roles, and tell Breadbasket's little-known story.

On Sunday, June 11 between services, All Saints' will once again host Martin for a discussion and book signing. Book copies will be available for purchase.

In Martin's words, "I much prefer telling the story to selling books!" We hope you'll join us to hear this story.

sinclairlewisSummer 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:

  • June 8 - "It Can't Happen Here" by Sinclair Lewis
  • 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 (

Sunday, June 4 at the 9 and 11am Services
If you would like to have your child baptized at All Saints' on Pentecost, June 4, please plan to attend a preparation session on Saturday May 20 from 9-10:30am. 
To RSVP to a session, contact Andrew in the office. Note: Babies and children - including siblings of little ones being baptized - are entirely welcome at the pre-baptismal sessions!

Tuesday, May 30, 5:00-6:00pm 

RCS' 5th Tuesday Family Nights are a chance for parents and children to volunteer together. On Tuesday, May 30, children ages 4 and up accompanied by their parents are invited to meet in the parish hall at 5:00pm to decorate cookies for that evening's dinner. At 5:30pm, we'll head to the nursery for a snack and children's story about social justice. At 6:00pm, childcare will be available so that parents can serve the 6:30pm dinner. Kids 10 and up may serve the dinner, too.
Please RSVP to Emily by Sunday, May 28.



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.