All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

Loving Bodies

Proper 7 • June 25, 2017
Matthew 10:24-39

Body is something you need in order to stay
on this planet and you only get one.
And no matter which one you get, it will not
be satisfactory. It will not be beautiful
enough, it will not be fast enough, it will
not keep on for days at a time, but will
pull you down into a sleepy swamp and
demand apples and coffee and chocolate cake.

Body is a thing you have to carry
from one day into the next. Always the
same eyebrows over the same eyes in the same
skin when you look in the mirror, and the
same creaky knee when you get up from the
floor and the same wrist under the watchband.
The changes you can make are small and
costly—better to leave it as it is.

Body is a thing that you have to leave
eventually. You know that because you have
seen others do it, others who were once like you,
living inside their pile of bones and
flesh, smiling at you, loving you,
leaning in the doorway, talking to you
for hours and then one day they
are gone. No forwarding address.

“Living in the Body”, which is the title of this poem by Joyce Sutphen, is what it is to be human, what it is to be on this planet.

Loving the body—loving your own and loving others, viscerally pursuing what is real and true, and tending that, standing up for it, relishing it—this I believe is what it is to follow Jesus.

How many people did Jesus touch and heal? The blind men, the lepers, the women with their “women’s problems”, the children, the people who were out of their mind, the man who couldn’t walk, the one who couldn’t speak, the one whose hand didn’t work, whose legs didn’t work…

In God incarnate, there are no categories of people. There is not even a binary of people—us and them, whole and sick, right and wrong. There are and have always been just people, trying to live and love in bodies.

As usual, I think of Mumford & Sons: “In these bodies, we will live. In these bodies, we will die. Where you invest your love, you invest your life.”1

This week I was watching a TED Talk that one of my friends is in. She’s an Episcopal priest in New York and she’s speaking along with one of her colleagues, a Lutheran pastor also in New York. They talk about what the Bible says—and doesn’t say—about sexuality. In our culture, we would think that the Bible has quite a lot to say about who to love and who not to love, but as they point out and as we all have talked about, it really doesn’t say much at all about who not to love. It commands us to love this one, and this one, and this one, to love and love and love and love and love.

I’m reminded of what Saint Augustine says about Scripture and love. He says, “Anyone who thinks they have understood the scriptures or any part of them, but cannot by this understanding build up their love of God and of neighbor, has really not understood them at all.”2

How do we understand this love? How do we invest in love?

The first thing we are called to do, through the ministry of Jesus, is to love bodies. We are to invest our love in a body who loves bodies of the same gender, to invest our love in a body who loves bodies of the opposite gender, in a body who loves both genders, in a body who is transitioning from one gender to another or who otherwise does not feel at home in gender; we invest our love in a body with diabetes, in a body ravaged by cancer, in a body with acne, a body that weighs six pounds, a body that weighs three hundred pounds, a body with rich dark skin, a body with pale skin, a body with olive skin; we invest our love in a body that runs swiftly, in a body that sits still, in a body that annoys us, a body that attracts us.

We do not invest our love in the idea of someone—of which category they fit into or don’t fit into, who we want them to be or don’t want them to be—but who they are in flesh and blood, who they are for real.

Of course to do this, we must love ourselves, our own bodies, which is difficult, I know. There is risk in knowing ourselves fully and letting ourselves be known. There is risk in recognizing and daring to celebrate the truth that lives inside, and there is fear in imagining what that truth might be like once it is outside of our bodies.

Jesus tells us in the Gospel today not to fear anyone who would hurt our bodies. He tells us to live in the light and proclaim our truth from the housetops, for there is no secret that will not become known. He tells us not to fear anyone who would hurt our bodies, but to fear God instead. Now, I’m not sure that this sounds better. Fearing God sounds even scarier than fearing people.

Except, he says, this is a God who knows the number of hairs on our head. I remember learning this verse when I was about five or six and visiting my grandparents’ Baptist church. Whenever I visited the Sunday School there, I was asked to sit down and memorize Bible verses—and coming from a mostly Catholic upbringing, the Bible (much less memorizing it) was a foreign concept—but one day this was the verse and it really made an impression on me. God knows the number of hairs on my head, and on your head, and your head? It blew me away, and it still does. Even more, this is a God who knows and loves every sparrow that flies outside. And we are of more value—of much more value, Jesus says—than each of these tiny, beautiful creatures. Amazing.

Our bodies matter to God. We know this through the scriptures and through Jesus’ ministry and death and resurrection. “This is my body”, Jesus says. There’s a sketch in which comedian Eddie Izzard has God talking to Jesus, and God says, “So what did you do down there?” And Jesus says, “Oh, I said, ‘Eat this bread, it is my body.’”

“You what? Why didn’t you say, ‘Eat this bread, it is my favorite?’ What else did you do?”

“Umm, I said, “Drink this wine, it is my blood.”

“What?! Why didn’t you just say, ‘Drink this wine, it’s a Merlot’? That would have been easier.”

Easier, but not as true. “This is my body,” Jesus says, “given for you, and for you, and for you”, so that you can be you.

There is a woman who was my priest during graduate school, and she would often say, sometimes in her preaching and sometimes in conversation but mostly in how she carried herself, “Put God first in your life. Orient your entire being toward the sacred. Not because I’m telling you that you should, not because it’s what scripture tells you to do. Do it because it’s who you are. It’s who God made you to be.”3 And to those of us who were struggling to love our bodies, especially in a world that wanted to punish them, this really meant a lot.

We’re called to live the truth that is inside us and at the same time is bigger than us4—and not just to live it, but to love it, relish it, celebrate it, stand up for it, call it out of others, encourage it, and tell it from the rooftops. “In these bodies, we will live. In these bodies, we will die. Where you invest your love, you invest your life.”

 


 

1 “Awake my Soul”, Sigh No More, 2009

2On Christian Teaching

3 Elizabeth M. Edman, Queer Virtue: What LGBTQ People Know About Life and Love and How It Can Revitalize Christianity (Beacon Press, 2016), p. 41

4 Edman 56

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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.