All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago


Sunday, May 28, 2017
Feast of the Ascension, observed
Acts 1:1-11Ephesians 1:15-23Luke 24:44-53

I’m thinking a lot this Memorial Day weekend of my friend Andy Becker, who, as some of you know, died in March when the fighter plane he was flying crashed during a training exercise on his Air Force base in New Mexico. He was 33. We had grown up together; he was like a little brother to me.

His memorial service was held near our hometowns in Michigan at the end of March, and as is the custom in Michigan and other places to honor fallen servicemen, on the day before his funeral, flags on public property were flown at half-mast throughout the state.

So as my family and I drove across the state that day, from the southwest corner nearest Chicago all the way to the suburbs of Detroit, I looked at every flag. Sure, not all of them were at half mast; many of them, in fact, were not, such as the ones outside gas stations and restaurants—and of course, when you’re driving along I-94, these are legion. But the flags at state rest stops and public schools and parks, and even some random office buildings, God bless them, all of these were at half mast.

It was so weird to know exactly for whom they were lowered, and to have known him since he was a little boy—the same age as my own are now—to have played with him and laughed with him and admired him, especially as he grew up into an entirely respectable, super smart, and selfless man. I was looking desperately for each of these flags because each was a sign of him and of his commitment to his vocation as a pilot for the protection of our country. It was not lost on me, however, that they were also signs of his absence.

As Jesus, the resurrected Jesus, was being taken up into the sky, two men dressed in white robes suddenly appeared beside the disciples and asked them the most obvious of questions, “Men of Galilee, why are you looking up toward heaven?” They might have answered: “Because our friend is flying up there in the sky. We’ve never seen this before. It’s kind of interesting. We want to watch.”

They might also have added: “Because our friend is leaving us. And we want him here. Right now.”

I am certain that as they watched him, they were remembering the story1 in the Scriptures of when the prophet Elijah was taken up into heaven, just like this. And how after Elijah was taken up, a group of about fifty men went out looking for him, because, they said, “If God has picked him up, then maybe God has also put him down somewhere, on that mountain or in that valley.” How I understand why they looked for him.

And thinking of Elijah, the disciples must also have been recalling that day2 in their recent memory when Elijah and Moses both appeared with Jesus. It was that day, they remembered—how could they forget—when Jesus went up a mountain to pray with Peter, James, and John, and then Jesus’ clothes flashed white like lightning and his face shone like the sun and Elijah and Moses themselves were talking with him. And Peter said, “Oh my gosh, it is so good that we’re here. I’m going to build a house for each of you—for you, and you, and you—so that you stay with us.” How I understand what Peter was thinking.

And the women among the disciples that day must especially have been remembering that day3, only forty days ago, when they went to Jesus’ tomb to take care of his body, his beloved body, but instead they found those two men in white robes asking another strange question, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?”

So today when these same men (and who knows, maybe they are Moses and Elijah, but at least they are meant to remind us of them) ask the disciples—and us—“Why do you stand looking up toward heaven?” I wonder if their asking the question implies that there is, somehow, another answer besides the obvious.

“Why do you stand looking up toward heaven?” they say. “This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

This day, our observance of the Feast of the Ascension, marks a turning point: a turning point between Jesus’ going up to heaven and his coming back. It is also a turning point between Jesus’ going up to heaven and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Today and for the past several weeks, Jesus has been saying, “I am going to leave you. But I will not leave you alone. I will send you the Holy Spirit to comfort you, to counsel you, to guide you, to inspire you, to be your inner fire.” But we are not quite there yet.

It is also no coincidence that the story of Jesus on the mountain with Elijah and Moses—the story of the Transfiguration—is read on the last Sunday of Epiphany before Lent begins: another turning point. I wonder if such times invite us to turn from ourselves toward others, to turn from ourselves and minister beyond ourselves.

Thinking again of Elijah: When he went up to heaven, standing on the ground watching him was his disciple/student/apprentice/protégé Elisha. When Elijah went up, his coat fell down, and Elisha picked it up; he literally picked up the mantle of his teacher. Before Elijah went up, he had said to his student, “I am going to leave you. Before I go, what do you need from me?”

“What do I need?” Elisha cried. “I need everything! I need your spirit—no, I need twice your spirit! I need you.” And when his teacher left, Elisha said, “What now.” He literally said, “Where are you, God, now?”

“Where are you, God, now?”

Jesus, in opening their minds to the scriptures, is saying that somehow there is fulfillment in him—that the stories of Moses and Elijah and Elisha, and the guys who went looking for Elijah in the mountains and valleys, and Peter who wanted to build little houses for everyone, and Luke and James and John and Mary Mother of God and Mary Magdalene, and my friend Andy and you and me and everyone who lives in our hearts are all caught up, somehow, in him and the promise and reality—the reality—of eternal life. All of our stories are caught up together, and each is a small yet indelibly precious part of a much greater mystery.

I wonder if my friend Andy had a sense of this as he flew. I wonder if that’s why he loved flying. There was a text shared at his service called “A Pilot’s Creed” and some of it goes like this: I believe in flying, our noble inheritance from God, which enables me to view the wonders of the universe from a high vantage point, exceeded only by infinity. Through this experience I learn humility in the knowledge that I am but one of insignificance among so many who are truly great.

On our drive back to Chicago from Michigan, a friend called to ask, “How are you? No, how are you really? How was the service? How is your family?” As we talked, first of all my spirit was revived by such care. Second, from this one who was looking for signs on the whole drive there, I kid you not that as we talked, the sky opened up and the sun shined after two entire days of clouds and rain.

So my questions for you, for all of us, today are: What is going on in your story? Who are you remembering, and how are you different? How might others become different because of them? Is there a mantle that you have picked up? Maybe you didn’t want to. Is there a mantle that you might pick up?

And all of this makes me think of a poem4 that Jan Richardson wrote for today, Ascension Day. She writes:

I know how your mind rushes ahead, trying to fathom what could follow this.
What will you do, where will you go, how will you live?
You will want to outrun the grief.
You will want to keep turning toward the horizon,
watching for what was lost to come back, to return to you and never leave again.
For now, hear me when I say, all you need to do is to still yourself,
is to turn toward one another, is to stay.
Wait, she says, and see what comes to fill the gaping hole in your chest.
Wait with your hands open to receive what could never come
except to what is empty and hollow.
You cannot know it now, my friend, cannot even imagine what lies ahead,
but I tell you the day is coming when breath will fill your lungs as it never has before and with your own ears you will hear words coming to you new and startling.
You will dream dreams and you will see the world ablaze with blessing.


12 Kings 2

2Luke 9:29-33

3Luke 24:1-12

4From “Stay: A Blessing for Ascension Day”

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Annual Meeting Jan. 28, 2018: Rector's Address

Annual Meeting Jan. 28, 2018: Rector's Address

Here is a link to download Bonnie's address.

Weekly Message for February 18

Weekly Message for February 18

Dear Friends,    


How much longer will the killing continue? 
Here are some groups and activities you might consider supporting with your time and your money: 
  • The IL Council Against Handgun Violence 
  • Moms Demand Action 
  • Gabby Giffords' PAC 

  • And here's a list of congressional representatives who have received the most amount of money from the National Rifle Association. Apparently they are all praying for the people in Florida directly affected by our country’s latest mass shooting. I invite you to pray for their souls and to drop them a note wondering if God is answering their prayers. Will it make a difference? I don’t know. But, being held hostage by a diabolical association that has convinced our elected officials that it is the God-given, constitutionally-sanctioned right of every American to wander around with a semi-automatic rifle is absurd. Seems like all of us ought to start loudly pointing out this insanity.
    I’ll be at the Moms Demand Action Lakeview gathering on the 24th of February. Let me know if you’d like to come with me. Please let me know what other courses of action you plan to take to end gun violence in our country.
    This evening, All Saints’ will be hosting a gathering for the friends, family, and neighbors of our long-term neighbor John Vanzo at 7:00. Tomorrow morning at 10:30 there will be a visitation in the sanctuary and a memorial service at 11:00 am. All are welcome. 
    I’m super excited that we will finally kick off the All Saints’ Youth Group with an overnight this Saturday. Please RSVP to Hilary Waldron if your 7-12 grade child is planning on attending. 
    Following the 11:00 Worship service we will have a Newcomer’s Brunch at O’Shaughnessy’s at 12:15. Please join us!
    This Sunday, Emily will be preaching, I’ll be celebrating, and our choir will be singing some wonderfully moving Lenten music. It seems like the right time to be praying and repenting. So please come and join me.
    All my best,


    Annual Bake Auction

    Annual Bake Auction

    Dear Friends,
    For nineteen years, All Saints' has been creating an Africa Bake Auction that changes people's lives. Last year we raised over $26,000 by buying cakes that we baked! With the money raised during the auction between our 9am and 11am worship services, our young people chose to fund:
  • wells and clean water for people in South Sudan
  • a women's collective tea store, creating a place for women entrepeneurs
  • scholarships for Sudanese refugees in Uganda
  • financial aid for two scholars working on LGBT issues in Africa
  • health care for women, children, and men in the Diocese of Renk, South Sudan
  • In terms of what it buys in South Sudan, our money is multiplied by a factor of ten. And now, more than ever, our assistance is needed. What you do--what we give--helps people so very much.
    So come with your debit cards, bring your friends, bake some goodies, and get ready to make an investment in the lives of people in South Sudan.
    Susan and I will be spending at least $750 to make a difference. I'll be baking my no frills, simply chocolate, kinda ugly, really tasty cake!
    And during our worship services on Sunday, each offering that isn't marked "pledge" will be given to our friends in South Sudan.  
    Please start baking, and email a title and brief description to Polly Tangora so she can streamline check-in by preparing your bid forms in advance. Then post your amazing goodies on Facebookor Instagram, tagging All Saints' and using the hashtag #AfricaBakeAuction. 
    All the best, 
    March For Our Lives - A Lenten Pilgrimage

    March For Our Lives - A Lenten Pilgrimage


    Dear Friends,

    I invite you to join me on a pilgrimage to Washington DC on March 24th to support the young people from Florida who are marching in memory of their slain friends, murdered in their high school.

    I believe this journey to DC or a shorter trip to Downtown Chicago needs to be an intrinsic part of our Lenten Discipline this year. This country can no longer sigh and wring our collective hands and be lulled into thinking that there is nothing else we can do. We can show up. We can show up by the thousands, by the hundreds. That showing up begins when each one of us changes a plan and alters a schedule to be there to show we care. Because we do. 

    For DC, we’ll leave Friday evening at 5:00, March 23rd. Click here for more information and to purchase bus tickets. We’ll March during the day on the 24th. And return Saturday night so that we all may be back in time for Palm Sunday Services, March 25th. Know that the procession we take part in on Saturday will be a Palm Sunday Procession for the world and not just our church.

    I hope you can be there, with your family and friends in either DC or Downtown.

    All my best,



    Lenten Evening Prayer

    Lenten Evening Prayer

    On Thursdays, February 15-March 22, brief services of Evening Prayer will be offered at 7:00pm, with scripture, poetry, and song. Come find rest for your souls.

    Inquirers’ Class

    Inquirers’ Class

    On Thursdays, February 15—March 22, the Inquirers’ Class will take place in the Reading Room next to the sanctuary. Designed especially but not exclusively for those new to All Saints’ and/or the Episcopal Church, this 6-week series is an exploration of adult spirituality through history, prayer, scriptures, theology, church polity, and more. If desired, it may also serve as preparation for the rite of confirmation or reception into the Episcopal Church in May or June.

    The book we’ll refer to occasionally in the class is called Jesus was an Episcopalian (and you can be one, too!): A Newcomer’s Guide to the Episcopal Church by Chris Yaw. If you’re interested in joining the class, consider getting a copy to look over.

    Contact Bonnie or Emily for more info.

    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!

    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.

    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 

    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.