All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

The Woman at the Well

Bonnie A. Perry
March 19, 2017

I come to the well every day.
I come to the well of our ancestor Jacob every day to draw water.
I come to the well of our ancestor Jacob every day to draw water at noon.

I come to the well at noon, when the sun is fierce, the air is hot, and it is deserted.

The rest of the women, come a dawn. That amazing time when night and morning meet, the dark gives way to day. It’s cool then and quiet. Then slowly out of the shadows the women from around the village emerge. Large jars on their head, some with poles across their shoulders, matching empty buckets on either side swaying. The women move quickly as they walk.

Then, when they reach the well, quiet murmurs of greeting and snippets of stories exchanged, encouragement offered, consolations received, plots unfolded in a daily installment plan. Here, at the well, is where they laugh, here is where they cry. Here is where they are known.

When the women leave the well, their day’s long labor begins, but for that forty minutes before they carry the water home, that is their time, their place.

But I go to the well at noon, for I am not like them. They shut me out long ago—maybe on husband three or four. (To be fair, two of them died, I liked older men, one went back to his mother, something about my cooking, and the other two found prettier women, who didn’t believe in sharing their opinions.)
I am not like them, or perhaps, I am too much like them, like their silent voices buried deep inside.

I do not go to the well at dawn, because no one talks to me. They snub me, they ignore me, they turn away from me. When I appear at dawn, the quiet grace of the well is replaced with judgment and blame.

So I go at noon, no one to talk to then, but no one to mock me either.

Then, that day, like any other day, except…

I go to the well at noon and there he sits, a Jew.

I’m not turning around.
I need the water.
I ignore him.

“Give me drink,” he says.


It’s lines like this, that got me to the well at noon in the first place.
I give him my stop this now look, remind him of the basics. Jews don’t speak to Samaritans, and certainly not men to women.

But he persists.

“If you knew who I was, you’d be asking me for water. And I would have given you living water.”

You don’t even have a bucket. That well is deep. So how do you get this living water?

Then he starts talking about living water. How if you drink it, you don’t ever get thirsty again. It’s just a spring of water gushing forth, a well of water offering eternal life.

Gushing, running water, offering eternal life. Sure, of course I want that. So that’s intriguing—but crazy.

But I listen to him. I keep interacting with him, because he is interacting with me. Not talking down, or trying to pick up. It’s a normal conversation. It’s been years since anyone has talked to me this way.

So I say, Ok—give me this water.

He says, “Go get your husband.”

There it is…

Well, never mind, it was nice while it lasted.

But he was real, so I was real right back.

“I don’t have a husband.”

He says, just matter of fact, “No. You don’t. You’ve had five husbands. And the one you are living with now, he’s not your husband.”

But he says it looking at me, to me, not above me or through me. To me. He sees me. He knows me. He is not judging me. He’s not judging me.

So, sir, you are a prophet…

He’s still looking at me. Seeing all of me. Not turning away from me. So I stay. I engage him at the level he is engaging me.

“You Jews say that we can only worship in Jerusalem, but our people worshipped on this mountain. What do you believe?”

He doesn’t answer my question, at least not in terms of location, instead he tells me, that soon where we worship God will not matter. But instead what will matter is the spirit and the truth of our lives we offer to God.”

I say, “I know sir that the Messiah is coming. When he comes he will proclaim all things to us.”

And then he says, still looking right at me. Looking right at me, he says, “I am he.”

And it was then, as he said that to me, it was then that I knew, that I mattered. It was then I knew, what it meant to be seen as true and holy and loved, for exactly who and how I am.

He saw me.
He knew me.
He loved me.

I left my jar.
I left my jar at the well at noon.

I went back to the town and began to tell everyone about this man.
I told everyone, all of them, all who had ignored me, judged me, avoided me.
I told them all.

Because, now, it was different. I was different. He saw me. He loved me. He knew me.

“Can this be the Messiah?” I asked?

They who had not seen me, for years, listened.

He stayed two more days.

They came.
They saw.
They heard.
They believed.

****** ****** *******

I am a Christian. Because God, in the person of Jesus Christ Crosses all borders, ignores all bias and sees all of us. Knows all of us. Loves all of us.
Even those of us who are sure that we are not worthy.


  1. This Week
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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,
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 (

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 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 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


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.