All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

How Long O Lord

July 2, 2017
Psalm 13
Bonnie A. Perry

Good Morning!

What do you say in your head, when everything around you is going down in shreds? Its one thing to keep our wits about us, when all is good and right with the world, but what about when its not all good? When we are touched by disappointment, or overrun with grief, or brewing with anger? What do you say to hold yourself afloat, to enable yourself to be buoyed along by this stream called life, rather than being buried by rapids of upset?

When life takes a wrong turn, are there any words, mantras, phrases or prayers that you offer to God and the universe? When you find yourself recirculating in weirs of sadness and holes of despair—are there any words that you say to metaphorically keep your head above the rising muck and your soul intact?

For me, in moments of stress and sadness, times of trial and tempers, I find myself sighing and saying to myself if people are around or aloud if only my dogs are present,(work with me) ---I’ll say the name of my old therapist a couple three times. In doing so, reminding myself of all the hard work I’ve put in, attempting to access my best self. I just repeat her first and last name, several times, to remind me that there are perfectly normal people, (one or two) who know me well and still believe in me. If it’s a really bad day, I’ll say my therapist’s name followed by my partner Susan’s.

Then there are moments, when names of people who know and love me is not enough—instinctively I sigh—(for the Spirit intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words) and find myself repeating lines from several different psalms I’m come to know over the years.

My go to psalm when I am sad, in a bad way, or on the verge of not being my best self is a portion of Psalm 51.

I find myself saying in my head or quietly under my breath

Create in me a clean heart O God,
Renew a right spirit within me,
Cast me not away from your presence
And take not your spirit from me.

At other points, if I need to remind myself that I’m not alone I start into Psalm 139,

Lord you have searched me out and known me,
You know my sitting down and my rising up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.

You trace my journeys and my resting places
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Indeed there is not a word on my lips that,
But you O Lord, know it all together. ..
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I climb up to heaven you are there;
If I make the grave my bed, you are there also.
If I take the wings of the morning
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
Even there your hand will lead me
Your right hand hold me fast.

Then when my mouth gets ahead of me, when I say things I should not say, for that is my besetting sin, I turn to Psalm 39. If not for solace but at least to know that I’m not the only one who has spoken in haste…

I said, “I will keep watch over my ways,
So that I do not offend with my tongue.

I will put a muzzle on my mouth
While the wicked are in my presence.
So I held my tongue and said nothing;
I refrained from rash words
But my pain became unbearable.
My heart was hot within me;
While I pondered, the fire burst into flames;
I spoke out with my tongue.
Lord, let me know my end and the number of my days…

Lately though, my usual standby psalms have not been been enough. It has been something of a hard year, for me personally. I know many of you have faced even greater challenges. Compound these personal sadnesses with our elected state and federal government officials’ inability to lead and govern, the upcoming anniversary of the shooting of Philando Castille and the subsequent acquittal of Officer Yanez. Well I have found myself awash in sadness, stuck in a backflow of despondency.

Its in times like these that the early verses of Psalm 13—no longer seem overwrought

How long O Lord will you utterly forget me:
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I suffer anguish in my soul,
And be so grieved in my heart day and night:
How long shall my enemy triumph over me?
How long O Lord?

This psalm, considered to be the quintessential psalm of lament, touches my inner core. Where are you Holy One? Why have you left us God? You and your promises. Right now I’m not impressed with your ability to be with us always; you are gone, absent, seemingly unaware, or unmoved by our pain.

When we find ourselves in a flooding tide of sadness—when as I said to someone the other day in response to an innocent question inquiring how I was doing, “My mom died on March 23rd, and three months later, it turns out she’s still dead.” (That pretty much stopped the conversation.)


I’m not alone. So many of us have faced death, sadness, fear, and disappointment this year.

When we find ourselves in times like these—what good is a psalm like this?

One that laments God’s absence in the opening lines and then in the last two lines, seems to resolve itself?

The author moves from abandonment to hope—

But my trust is in your mercy:
Let my heart be joyful in your salvation.
I will sing to you O Lord,
Because you have dealt so lovingly with me:
I will praise your name most high.

Or to paraphrase—“where are you God—you’ve left me---“

Then—“I know you are merciful and you will save me.”

Therein lies the power of this piece of biblical poetry—

How long O Lord?

A lament that is not demanding data from God, (exactly when will you be arriving?) but rather as commentators Walter Bruggemann and William Bellinger say, “a statement of impatient hope.”

It is saying, “I know there is something more.”

Lament—turning to God—and saying aloud with all our force and fear, ‘Here is where you have left me.’ ‘This is my life.’

To do this is to abandon our crushing solitude and to dare to hope, dare to imagine something more, dare to believe that our lives can and will change. As theologian Jim Bruckner says, “Lament is the first act of hope, a seed bed of hope….the alternative is turning inward and being consumed by despair.”

Naming our pain, the world’s pain, before God, aloud for ourselves and all to hear, begins to alter the world in which we live.

Listen now to this great act of lament from Martin Luther King Jr. —and tell me if you agree,

“How Long? Not long, because no lie can live forever. How long? Not long, because you still reap what you sow. How long? Not long, because the arm of the moral universe in long but it bends toward justice. How long? Not long, ‘cause mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”

How long O Lord?

I’m waiting.


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Dear Friends,

It continues, more hurricanes of movie-like proportions, earthquakes, typhoons, floods, and wildfires, in addition to terrorist attacks and neo-Nazi marches. The New York Times interviewed theologians and religious studies professors at Harvard, Fordham, and UC Santa Barbara to get their take on whether or not the apocalypse is upon us. The most interesting quote came not from the academics but from science fiction writer John Scalzi, who said, "These aren't the End Times, but it sure as hell feels like the End Times are getting in a few dress rehearsals right about now."

Is it the end of the world as we know it? Perhaps. This is, I believe, the new normal. This is the weather and world that humanity is in the midst of creating.

So what then is the Christian response? What is our response as individuals and as a Christian community of faith? These are the questions and realities I invite us to consider seriously. Who are we? How do we talk to our children about our world? How are we called to be in the midst of these confounding realities? I'll be preaching tomorrow and will begin to grapple with these enormous questions. I hope you'll be there to join me in this journey of faith.

I'm delighted to be back home and extremely excited for this coming fall. Many thanks to Emily, Andrew, Colin, Lori, and Parker for all of their work in the past weeks while I have been away.

Here is a bit of what is on the schedule:

Church School starts this Sunday, and next Sunday we'll have our annual Backpack Blessing at the 9 and 11 o'clock worship services.

This year we have distributed plain black backpack "canvasses" to about fifty local students and artists. We'll be displaying their creations around our altar for both the Ravenswood ArtWalk and our Backpack Blessing. Come celebrate their work and learn more about our ministry of feeding people and supporting our local schools at a reception we'll be hosting on Saturday evening, September 16th, from 6-8pm.

paintedbackpack1Pictured here are some of the backpacks we'll be displaying. Choir member and local art teacher, Sarah Wain, has painted a marvelous creation reminiscent of pop artist Takashi Murakami, who was recently featured at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Pam Carter, a nationally recognized Scottish artist, has contributed a piece with scenes from the Isle of Skye on its front and side panels. I can hardly wait to see the other pieces done by local students.paintedbackpack2

We need more paper for our altar! Every year at our Backpack Blessing we remove the wooden altar and pulpit and replace them with paper we have collected, and then donate the paper to our local schools. Right now we have about 1000 pounds--thank you! We need another 1000 to meet our goal of collecting one ton. If you can, buy a box of paper and just have it shipped to the church at 4550 N Hermitage Ave, 60640.

Next week's guest preacher will be P.J. Karafiol, principal of Lake View High School. P.J. is a parishioner at St. Paul and the Redeemer Episcopal Church in Hyde Park. I'm very much looking forward to what he will offer us on Backpack Sunday.

After the Backpack Blessing and Church School start, things just get busier. Theologian the Very Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas will be with us the following weekend, September 23 and 24, for two in-depth days reflecting on race and anti-blackness.

On a lighter note, the annual Pet Blessing will be on October 1st! This year, we'll have dogs for adoption from the Anti-Cruelty Society and a coffee hour program by Dr. Steve Larson (8:00am parishioner and RCS volunteer) and veterinarian at West Loop Veterinary Care.

All of which is to say we have a LOT coming up. I'm looking forward to seeing all of you this Sunday. I am so blessed to be starting yet another program year here at All Saints'.

All my very best,

back2017Sunday, September 17

Mark your calendars for the annual Backpack Blessing on September 17. PJ Karafiol, principal of Lake View High School, will be the guest preacher, and educators will speak on a panel during the 10am coffee hour.

Once again we will be collecting ONE TON OF PAPER to distribute to our neighborhood public schools. And there is even more up our sleeves to make this the most incredible Backpack Blessing yet...

Want to help make it happen? You're invited to join the planning meetings this Wednesday, August 2, 6-9pm, and Wednesday, August 23, 7-9pm. Contact Emily for more information.

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 (

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. 

Gardening at 10am


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 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 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


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.