All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

Act and Then Believe

Mark 1:16-20

I don't know about you, but I'm trying to wrap my brain around this: Jesus comes into Galilee saying, "Now is the time! Here come's God's Kingdom. Change your hearts and lives...then he wanders past two brothers who are fishing, Andrew and Simon, and he says to them, "Come follow me and soon I'll have you fishing for people" they leave their nets and follow him...[then] while the brothers James and John are in their boat, repairing nets with their father. Jesus passes by calls out to them, invites them along, and BOOM they drop their nets, get up and go, and leave their dad with the hired hands.

Does this make any sense at all to you? Were all of these guys just looking for a career change?

He calls. They go. How did they come to believe so very fast?

I've been trying to figure this stuff out for years. I still don't have the faith in me to act, not like that.

The German theologian, who resisted the Nazis and was later executed by them, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, reflects on how Jesus calls his apostles in his book Cost of Discipleship. He says, "How could the call immediately evoke obedience?" (p 62) It seems that in this instance faith does not precede obedience.

Many of us long for a sure and certain faith that will enable us to do good and great things; If we had a deep abiding faith, freed from doubt, we'd happily risk much and take great steps to embody God's hope for our world.

Bonhoeffer questions if we should try to grow our faith so that one day we might be able to act, rather he believes that answering God's call, just acting before we believe, that will be how our faith grows.

One of our Tuesday night chefs, John Leonard, often says that love is a verb, it is not so much something we feel, rather it is something we do. I believe faith is the same. We've got it wrong, thinking that faith is a thing that is dropped upon us, rather it too is a verb, a muscle that comes into being when we act, when we do.

Could it be, when we answer the call, that is how faith begins?

This reminds me a bit of the Alcoholics Anonymous slogan, "Fake it, til you make it." That is, I will today, at this moment, act like a person who does not need to drink. For this moment, and then for the next, patching together one moment after another of sobriety.

Or as Harvard Business Review author, Herminia Ibarra says in her book, Act like a Leader, Think like a Leader (2015) "We only increase our self-knowledge in the process of making changes. We try something new and then observe the results – how it feels to us, how others around us react – and only later reflect on and perhaps internalize what our experience taught us. In other words, we act like a leader and then think like a leader."

To put a less heady, more embodied perspective on acting then believing, listen to some excerpts from a StoryCorps interview that I heard on NPR Friday morning.

A favorite pastime for April Gibson and her teenage son, Gregory Bess, is simply talking to one another.

"I think I learn more from those conversations than school," says Gregory, who turned 17 on Thursday.

But during a recent StoryCorps conversation in St. Paul, Minn., April,[who is] 33, knew he wanted to talk about a subject the two hadn't really explored.
April invited her son to ask about what that time was like for her, as a young black mother. "Now you can ask me the hard question," April says.

"What did you feel like when I was born?" Gregory asks.

"I actually didn't feel anything," April says. "I was 16, and I was a kid. I didn't know what I was doing. So when I took you home, I didn't know how to feel. I made a bad choice according to everybody. 'You're just like all the rest of them.'"

April Gibson gave birth to Gregory Bess in 2001.
Courtesy of April Gibson

In the beginning, those judgments masked her own feelings. "I don't know what 'the rest of them' means," she says, "but I know what it felt like. Like I didn't deserve to feel the way women who do the right things do — because why would you celebrate someone making such a poor choice?"

Because April didn't know what to feel, she says she felt nothing. "And I just took care of you," she tells Gregory. "I did what I was supposed to do."

Then one day, she had a realization. "I couldn't believe what people told me about myself or about 'those people' like me," she says. "This is my baby, and I love him, and I can feel something. It's not a fairy tale, it's not a failure. It's just a process, and now we're here, 16 years later."

When he was younger, Gregory says, he wanted to find someone to look up to. "But it's always been right in front of me," he says. "You're just the greatest person that I[have] ever known. And I just want to be like you."

It is in the doing that we believe, it is in the acting that we begin to know.

Many of us were out marching yesterday. Do we know where those marches will lead us? Do we have set before us a roadmap of change? We do not, yet we needed to show up. To act. To take a step. One after the other. Faith is a verb, that grows as we act.

Jesus said, "Come follow me." And they got up and went.


Copyright Bonnie A. Perry 2018


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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,


    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


    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.