All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

A Recipe for Weary Souls

M. Jeanne Wirpsa

February 5, 2017
All Saints’ Episcopal Church

Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored?” (Matthew 5:13)

I don’t know about the rest of you but I have absolutely no idea what salt tastes like when it has lost its flavor. Maybe during Mathew’s days they had different techniques for mining and storing salt that led to this depletion of taste. The salt I buy – be it Morton Salt or Kosher salt – always seems to fill its function just fine. Since I don’t really “get” the salt metaphor, humor me while I offer another one from the culinary world that hopefully will invite us to think about the question on my mind today – How do we sustain ourselves for the work of justice and mercy to which we are called? How do we find the staying power we need for the long road ahead?

I don’t know about you, but I’m in need of more than a little sustenance right now. On a personal level, I’m wrestling with some old demons from my past. I did not get the promotion at work I wanted. The darkness of winter combined with the darkness of our political system threatens to rob me of energy and light. I’m tempted to give in to the feelings of demoralization and weariness.

And yet, I know I don’t have that luxury. The vulnerable, the unwanted, the stranger don’t have the luxury of laying down their load, so neither can I. Neither can we. Now is NOT the time to hide under the covers or, to use Mathew’s other metaphor, to hide our light under a bushel.

So here’s my remedy by way of metaphor: One of my favorite vegetarian recipes is an old Tuscan soup, Ribollita. It is often referred to as the “poor man’s stew.” It literally means “re-boiled” as the servants used to take the old broth from yesterday’s Minestrone soup, add food-soaked trenchers from the Lord’s banquets and boil them for their own dinners. There are now many variations but the main ingredients always include leftover bread, cannellini beans, crushed tomatoes, nearly a pound of Lacinato kale, and inexpensive vegetables such as carrots, celery, and onions. The version I love is topped with a layer of bread, thinly sliced red onions, and parmesan cheese.

Now while I’m convinced the crispy layer is the sole reason my vegetarian daughter eats the soup, the key to the success of this dish are the herbs. As the broth simmers, you add not only the usual suspects – garlic, salt and pepper, bay leaves – but also FRESH sprigs of rosemary and thyme. Yes, fresh whole sprigs of rosemary and thyme. I once tried to make it using dried herbs – trust me, it just did not taste the same. As the soup simmers, the kitchen becomes saturated with the aroma of rosemary and thyme. The savory, comforting smell soon reaches every corner of the house and it’s as if you are transported to a small village in the south of Italy where all is right with the world.

Lest I leave you confused about the recipe, please note that it helps to use ripe Italian tomatoes, fresh kale, and real (not that fake, canned) parmesan cheese. But these ingredients fall flat without the herbs. It is the rosemary and thyme that make the tomatoes pop and the kale sing. It is the rosemary and thyme that call forth the full flavor of the Ribollita.

Salt or rosemary or thyme or ginger or lime…you name it. It is always one or two simple, understated, and unexpected ingredients that make or break a dish. It’s the same for our individual lives as well as our community.

So take a second and think. Shift your focus from this week’s worries about bills or health care, from news of more violent deaths, and from harmful, frightening presidential edicts. Shift your focus from organizing and agitating and protesting. Just for this moment, shift your focus from feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and welcoming the stranger. Focus on who or what it is that gives YOU comfort, strength, and joy. Who or what are your rosemary and thyme?

As many of you know I work as a chaplain at NMH, mostly with patients and families facing serious and life-limiting cancers. The course of treatment for many of these cancers is arduous and long, and the outcome uncertain. The weight of the diagnosis and treatment together can be crushing. Weary is the word I hear often from patients and their loved ones. Weary to the bone.

Since every other profession in the hospital gives out prescriptions (you know -- two pills three times a day, chemo once a week), I like to do the same every now and then, especially in response to bone crushing weariness. My prescription read something like this: “I so wish I had the power to take this load off you. I can’t change what you must go through if you want to try to fight this cancer. So here’s what I’ve learned from other patients and families: You need a double dose of beauty and joy to balance out the badness and suffering.” Now if there is even a slight sign of interest, we then go on to explore small places where they might find such sustenance – binge watching old I Love Lucy or Friends Episodes, connecting deeply with an old friend, lavender oil, or an image of resting under the shelter of God’s wings.

I’ve been trying to follow my own prescription lately. I’ve been doubling up on those activities I know renew my spirit – exercise, a walk by the lake, quiet time for prayer and meditation, and yes cooking, lots of cooking! I’ve also found sustenance in surprising places.

On Inauguration Day I knew I needed to shift my focus from fear, bigoted arrogant language, and darkness to that which was life-giving. It would have been easy to listen to NPR on my drive in to work or to sneak a look at the day’s events while visiting patients. I chose to do neither. Instead, I decided the best way to face the day was to attend the Dr. Martin Luther King Humanitarian Awards, an event held annually at our hospital. As I heard the story of how five ordinary persons (all employees of the hospital) were effecting change in their communities and our world, the truth of Dr. King’s prophetic words hit home – “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.”

The five honored humanitarians received rousing applause for their good works. The crowd really came to life, however, when the children from the hospital day care paraded in, dressed in little purple choir robes, to sing a sweet, slightly off key tune about Dr. King’s dream. This unexpected dose of pure delight was what we all truly needed to be able to go back to our work as bearers of suffering and healers of bodies and souls.

In his essay The Meaning of Joy, theologian Paul Tillich challenges those who envision the Christian life as one purely of discipline, hard labor, and sacrifice. He reminds us that the Bible abounds in admonitions to rejoice. Joy, however, he goes on, is different than mere pleasure. Seeking pleasure for the sake of pleasure is our attempt to fill a place of emptiness, to avoid engaging with reality. In contrast, we find joy when we connect deeply with the abundance of creation, with others, and with the Source of Life itself (our God).

“You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored?” Fresh sprigs of rosemary and thyme to make the tomatoes in the Ribollita pop and the kale sing. Whichever metaphor you choose, the message is the same – to do God’s work of justice and mercy for the long haul we need to be fed. We need not deny ourselves rest, prayer, and yes, great joy to be disciples of Christ. AMEN.


Mark Bittman's Ribollita recipe from the New York Times.

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Dear Friends,

I’m delighted that tomorrow we’ll be celebrating the many gifts of our young people. Liam Koehler, senior at Northside College Prep and long time member of the All Saints’ Youth Group, will be our guest preacher. In his sermon Liam compares his high school career to the stoning of St. Stephen, the first deacon of the church. As you might imagine this could go many ways. Liam, however, has a touching take that I know will resonate with many of us. In addition to Liam, many of our young people will be assisting with our services at 9 and 11 o’clock, so I invite you to come and celebrate their very many gifts and talents.
We’ll also be remembering and offering thanks for all of our moms and all those people in our lives who have mothered us.
My return from Maine was delayed a bit this week, as I had to fly to Baltimore instead of Chicago. My spouse Susan was visiting her mom and spending some time at our tiny house on the Eastern Shore of Maryland when she fractured her ankle. So I flew to Baltimore to drive Susan, her broken ankle, and our two dogs back home. Susan will be having surgery to fix her ankle on Tuesday morning. I am grateful for our health insurance and even more incensed at certain of our elected officials who consider comprehensive health care to be a privilege rather than a basic human right and necessity.
In spite of surgeries and political turmoil, I am reminded as I prayed my way around our neighborhood, taking our dog Izzy on her early morning walk, what a beautiful morning it is. I invite you, in the midst of the upheavals, joys and disappointments of our lives to relish the beauty and love we do see and find and experience with each other.
All my best,
P. S. - Many thanks to Helen Poot, Jen Simokaitis, and all of you who helped create another wonderful “Reality Fair” for the 7th and 8th graders of Ravenswood School.
¡Veinte de Mayo! May 20th at 6:30pm
¡Hola amigos!
This year's Mexican Fiesta will be extra special, with music by Mariachi Herencia de México. Of course you don't want to miss Colin Collette's Margaritas or Steve Pike and his crew's great fajitas, rice and beans either. Our auction includes Mexican handicrafts and clothing, art and stays in Guanajuato, Mexico and two blocks from the beach in Union Pier, MI.
Tickets at the door are $35 adults/$10 children
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!
Sunday, May 21 3:30 - 7:30pm
All Saints' will host a community dinner for Middle Eastern refugees on May 21, sponsored by families in Oak Park. We need volunteers to help set-up, prepare food, lead kids' activities, serve, and clean up. Any time you can volunteer to welcome our guests will be great! 

To volunteer, please CLICK HERE or contact Laura Youngberg at


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.



Sunday, June 4, 5:00-7:00pm
The Cafe is a bi-annual event that transforms our kitchen and parish hall into a gourmet restaurant complete with a menu, servers, bussers, and musicians.
Volunteer sign up is now open! Cafe jobs include servers, bussers, runners, dishwashers, hosts, and more! Please specify in the comment section if you're an adult or if you're under 18.


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.


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.