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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Dear Friends,

Emily, Colin, vestry member Joe Wernette-Harnden, and I have all just finished a week of intense training at the College for Congregational Development. It was a real honor for me to do my second round of training at "the college" with colleagues from All Saints'.

What has become ever clearer for me, doing this training as a group, is that we have the people in place for All Saints' to take our next big step in our community and world. I'm not even sure what that step may be. What I do know, although we are not perfect, we are a faith community called to take significant actions to alter the condition of our world, even as we feed ourselves and our neighbors, body and soul. With our gifts, resources, leadership, and faith we have no other choice but to take part in and initiate movements of change and meaning. Our vestry (governing body) has been exploring these questions for the past several months, they'll be working on them even more in the month of August. I hope that we'll have some thoughts to guide a congregation-wide conversation in the fall. I'm thinking that congregational conversation may happen on Sunday, October 22. It's all very much in flux and formation now-but I wanted to let you know a bit of what I've been thinking about and what our vestry has been contemplating.

Tomorrow our former seminarian, current youth group leader, and Bishop Anderson house Chaplain, Paul Goodenough will be our preacher tomorrow. I've had a preview of his sermon and I found it wonderfully challenging and intriguing. Emily will be celebrating and Colin and some of our choir members will be creating wonderful music.

I'll be away tomorrow and for pretty much the remainder of the summer. I'll be doing some paddling trips in Canada and Scotland and spending some significant time in Virginia with my dad and siblings.

Please know how very much I enjoy being a priest at All Saints!

All the best,
Bonnie

We 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. 

revelationsMonday nights at 7:30, Beginning July 10

Bible study is back! If the current U.S. presidency and administration is causing you to wonder if we're living in "apocalyptic times," then studying the Book of Revelation is perfect for this summer's Bible study! The Monday nights for this, from 7:30 to 9 p.m. (6 to 7:15 p.m. for dinner beforehand at O'Shaughnessy's), are July 10, 17, 24 and 31.

Your "tour guide" on this journey will be parishioner Jerome Wilczynski. Jerome holds a Master's degree in Systematic Theology and New Testament from Catholic Theological Union, and a Doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology. He is Associate Professor/Core Faculty in the department of Counselor Education and Supervision at Argosy University, Chicago. The point of our study will be to de-mystify this all too often misunderstood text from Scripture. The main commentary Jerome will use to assist us in unearthing the rich symbolism of this book will be Wilfrid Harrington's Revelation from the Sacra Pagina series, in case you want to buy it—but don't feel you have to.

 

Summer Lineup Selected
 
The All Saints Book Club met on May 11th and decided on a lineup of books for the next year. The book club is open to anyone who enjoys reading. 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:
  • July 13 -  "The Warmth of Other Suns" by Isabel Wilkerson
  • August 10 - "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" by John Berendt
  • September 14 - "Operation Breadbasket" by Martin Deppe
  • For additional information, contact Mike Burke (mebcat@gmail.com)

     

    Gardening at 10am
     
    churchschool2010
    For the rest of June and July - although Sunday school classes do not meet at 10 during the summer - Atrium I will continue to be open during the 9 o'clock service until the end of July. Atrium I children who attend the 11 o'clock service will be welcome in the nursery during the service.
     
    At 10 o'clock children are encouraged to come help water, weed and harvest vegetables from the garden we're planting to support the Ravenswood Community Services kitchen and food pantry

    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!

     

    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 website@allsaintschicago.org 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 care@allsaintschicago.org. 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

    Email info@allsaintschicago.org 

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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.