All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

Me, Too

Trinity Sunday • June 11, 2017
Genesis 1:1-2:4a (“The Creation” by James Weldon Johnson) • Psalm 8

“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read,” said James Baldwin in 1963. “It was books,” he said, “ that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive or who had ever been alive.”

The contemporary author Cheryl Strayed quotes Baldwin as she goes on to suggest that the “grand mission” of literature is “to tell the complicated truths about what it means to be human, but the most powerful proof,” she says, “that any writer has achieved that lofty goal is in the humble phrase: me, too.”

“Me, too: I have suffered. Me, too: I have loved. Me, too: I have [felt] joy. Me, too: I know what it is to forgive and struggle and…lose and triumph. Me, too: I am just like you, even though we are entirely different.”1

It seems that our God is a God of me, too. “I’m lonely!” God says. “I’ll make me a world.”2 If only I could just make a world whenever I’m lonely. But later God looks upon all he had made—his sun, her moon, his little stars, all her living things—and God says, “I’m lonely still.”

Could it be that at the heart of God is loneliness? A longing to be with? To know and to be known, to love and be loved? That at the heart of God is desire, for us?

Who are we that God would be mindful of us?3 And yet here we are. As children of God, made in God’s image, we are no strangers to desire; it is in us just as it is in God. Desire is in our marrow, in our souls, at the center of our lives, it drives us; we are “congenitally dis-eased…forever restless, dissatisfied, frustrated, and aching.”4

Prayer, says theologian Sarah Coakley, is a crucible for our desires.5 Prayer is to spend time before God to sort out which desires are good for us, and which, not so much; which desires illuminate the next right step forward, and which would actually have us retreat backward. The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for us according to the will of God.6 Prayer, says Coakley, like the Trinity is “one experience of God, but God as simultaneously (i) doing the praying in me, (ii) receiving that prayer, and (iii) in that exchange” creating me to be more like Christ”: one God, searching our hearts and longing for our response, pointing us toward our Creator, and changing us, always creating us, to be who we are7—because God wants us, and without that desire, all of our own prayer and striving is fruitless.8

Coakley admits that this happens over a good long time, sometimes joyfully and sometimes really painfully, and always with the help of others,9 especially those confidantes who hear you, who point out your truths before you might even know them, who hold you and love you in all of your glories and imperfections10—and as such, are precious clues to God’s patient love for us, God’s desire, burning since before the world began, to delight in us and with us.

Cheryl Strayed is talking about writing, but I think she just as easily is talking about praying: that act that begins usually in solitude, usually in private, usually somewhat silent, and that slowly and surely changes us and those we love, and the world. To write—and to pray—is to illumine our darkest corners with language, to tell truth after truth that at first seemed impossible to bear. To let our desires meet God’s desire for us is, in part, to excavate the things we’ve buried most deeply, of which we’re most afraid. To be a Christian is to tell God and one another those stories of when we got lost, and those stories of how we found our way back—together. Me, too. Me, too. Me, too.11


1 “The Power of ‘Me Too’”, May 16, 2017, https://onbeing.org/blog/cheryl-strayed-the-power-of-me-too/

2 “The Creation” from God’s Trombones, James Weldon Johnson, 1927, https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/creation. This was read in place of the Genesis at two of the three services.

3 Psalm 8:5

4 Ronald Rolheiser, The Holy Longing: The Search for a Christian Spirituality, p. 3

5 “Prayer as Crucible”, The Christian Century, March 2011, https://www.christiancentury.org/article/2011-03/prayer-crucible

6 Romans 8:26-27

7 Sarah Coakley, “Living into the Mystery of the Holy Trinity: Trinity, Prayer, and Sexuality”, Anglican Theological Review, Vol. 8, No. 2, Spring 1998, p. 230

8 Coakley, “Crucible”, p. 37

9 “Crucible”, p. 38

10 Courtney E. Martin, “The Gifts We Give, The Gifts We Are”, June 8, 2017, https://onbeing.org/blog/courtney-martin-the-gifts-we-give-the-gifts-we-are/

11 This paragraph heavily quoted from / adapted from / in conversation with / a remix of Cheryl Strayed, “The Power of ‘Me Too’”

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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,
    Bonnie

     

    Memorial Service for John Vanzo

    Memorial Service for John Vanzo

    AUGUST 13 2013 11The memorial service for our friend and neighbor John Vanzo will be held at All Saints' this Saturday the 17th, at 11:00 am. There will be a visitation in the sanctuary prior to the service, beginning at 10:30am. All are welcome. 

    On Friday evening, the 16th, we will host a time of conversation and story telling for John's friends and family. All are invited from 7 to 9pm to share a drink, and hear and tell a favorite story of the very many sides of John.

    May John's soul and the souls of all the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

     

    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

    Email info@allsaintschicago.org 

    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.