All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

Is it Going to Get Better?

Psalm 23

April 21, 2013

Bonnie A. Perry

Here we stand God.  And we want some answers.
In your Holy Name we pray.

Good Morning.

Midnight, came and went and a week passed that needed to be put down, stomped out, separated and strewn all over never to occur again  so we could  be released from our misery. 

Then as I watched the day dawn,   I thought, as the blood red ball transitioned from to orange,  to gold, yellow and then to pupil contracting white, I thought, is it  going to be any better?  My eyes may squint, but will mine eyes see the glory of the coming of the Lord? That is—will this day—this coming week be any better?

Last week, just in case you were traveling in the Sahara or Mars, last week was one to remember or forget.  Monday was tax day.  My day began with a graveside ceremony in Joliet.  Followed by a flat tire on the way back in, later, while sitting in a coffee shop—I realized that I was looking at headline news—brought to me by ESPN.   Having paid close attention to NPR's Morning edition as I journeyed  to Joliet I remembered, as I watched the video of the bomb blast over and over again,  I remembered that the VIP section for the Marathon was right at the finish line.  And it was in the VIP section  where the many families from Newtown were to be seated.   Every mile of the marathon had been dedicated to one of the slain teachers and children from Newtown. (I wish that the remaining footage had been offered in memory of the young man who'd done the shooting and his mom.)

The news continued and I did what I imagine most of us did,  I realized  how very sheltered and immune I long to be from the world’s chaotic debris.   But once again, I saw people who look like me terrified on TV and I felt a chill in the marrow of my being. 

Tuesday we heard more, tried to move on.  Wednesday the Senate, our leaders politely disregarding what 90% of the electorate asked them to do, voted no, voted no, voted no to expanded background checks and assault weapons ban.  And then came the rains, the flash floods, sink holes, and the fertilizer plant exploded.  A horrific  event only to be eclipsed by the most televised man-hunt since OJ Simpson.  Bombs, guns, blood and brothers;  that’s merely the public part of this week, I’ve omitted the personal parish events: trips to the hospitals, students murdered and loved ones in ICUs. 

Ironically, parishioner and Washington Bureau chief of the New York Daily News, Jim Warren, e-mailed me last Sunday asking if we might have a conversation about how we care about all that is happening in the world without going nuts—he e-mailed me before all of this happened. 

The sun is well up over the horizon, now, and I ask you—what the hell are we going to do?  How are we going to be?  Here’s the real kicker—how are we as people of faith going to be? 

Individually cynical? Collectively numb? Naively optimistic? Corporately despairing?

How about—uniformly angry?  How about gravely hopeful?  How about Christian people willing to test our stated beliefs that destruction, death and despair does not have the final say?  How about being Christians three weeks after Easter Sunday?  How about claiming and acting as if resurrection is not just a theological excuse to hire a trumpeter?  How about being resurrection people?

If we believe Jesus got up from the grave, if we believe something real happened on that day 2000 years ago then who are we to let the death-dealing polices of the NRA dictate an entire swath of US domestic policy?

Is that how Resurrection people act?

What of Boston, what of Waco Texas, what of every family who lost a loved one murdered on the streets of this city, how do Resurrection people act?  How do we behave? 

Sometimes, good faithful progressive people, think its all about the doing and acting.  And heaven help us if we do not act—if we do not respond in concrete, tangible ways.  But dear friends we cannot overlook or undervalue—what it means to lament and pray.  Filled with the sorrow of our world—we need now to begin all of work as the ancients did—when they too faced oppression, death and massive communal injustices.  We cannot fix this on our own.  We need to communally rage as the ancients did, “FROM WHERE DOES OUR HELP COME?  FROM THE MAKER OF HEAVEN AND EARTH.”

When we gather in corporate communal prayer, we might dare to risk voicing our deepest despair.  Our desperate sense that we might be in this alone—to say as the ancients did, “Where in God’s name are you?  Why have you forsaken me and so far from our anguished groans?   Please O Lord, do not be far from me, trouble is all around? My bones have fallen apart, my heart is wax and melts, my strength is dried up—my god my god o why have you forsaken me?   Psalm 22—and comes a portion of  the answer in Psalm 23----

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death—though I am in that deep dark valley, though I know all about death and darkness rising, though I am now in that valley—yet I will walk through it.  I will not remain forever lodged in it, particularly if I am in that valley with you.  With all of you.  Each of us reminding the other when we can bear it no longer and have forsaken our beliefs—then each of us reminds the other that our God has with the people acted before.  And our God with the people will act again. 

Plagues have come, plagues have been conquered.  Wars have come—wars have ended--to remember this in our corporate lament.

An act of corporate lament may not look the way you may think it might.  I am thinking of  Carlos Arredondo—the man with the straw cowboy hat standing, watching, bearing witness at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.  Carlos was there cheering on the marines who ran the marathon in full combat gear in memory of their fallen comrades.  Carlos was there bearing witness to those marines because his son was a marine killed in Afghanistan in 2004.  His other son committed suicide as a result of his brother’s death in Afghanistan.  Carlos was there at the finish line when the bomb exploded.  He hoped the fence and pulled off his shirt and a created a tourniquet for Jeff Bauman who had lost  his legs.  Carlos saved Jeff Bauman’s life.  He could have been home.  Overwhelmed and alone with his grief—instead he was there at that finish line—bearing witness, publicly lamenting his loss.  Carlos was there and now Jeff Bauman is alive.

Through corporate lament we remember God has acted,  we remind one another God has acted and that God will act again.  God will act with us and God will act through us and with God we too shall pass through –we too will move through the valley of the shadow of death.  And we will no longer fear evil, for we are a resurrection people. 

We are a resurrection people. 
Alleluia. Christ is risen.
The Lord is risen indeed.  Alleluia.


Copyright Bonnie A. Perry April 2013


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Weekly Message for December 17

Weekly Message for December 17

Dear Friends,    

Tomorrow is our long awaited and much anticipated #HamiltonMeetsJesus Christmas pageant. As I write this note, I remember Fonzi and the writers’ of that beloved 70s TV show, Happy Days, and conclude that this year’s pageant may truly have "jumped the shark." That said, our young people have spent an inordinate amount of time working on this year’s production. Tomorrow you will see that the camel and sheep legislators are busy amending the celestial republic’s founding documents, the shepherds are trying to figure out their new tax bills, the innkeeper offers Joseph some sage advice, “Smile more, talk less,” Mary is adjusting to a new donkey, the archangels have an opening rap that really puts some flesh on the notion of the virgin birth, and King Herod is quite sure that the immigrant Wise Men will be back. All of which is to say, it’s pretty much business as usual for the All Saints’ Christmas Pageant which will be premiering at the 9 and 11 o’clock worship services. 

In the midst of the Hamilton hoopla one truth I hope to offer to all of us is that God, in the infant Jesus, came into this world to show each of us the unending power of love. While Alexander Hamilton and the founding parents of our republic took a step toward liberty and justice, I invite you to remember and hold dear that the real revolution, the true up-ending of our world, comes not through government policy, but through our ability to live our lives in such a way that the love of God is made real in all we do. Please let that revolution begin.

To avoid donkeys, camels, and chaos, attend the 8:00 service and then return for the absolutely amazing Advent and Christmas Lessons and Carols that our choir will be offering at 4:30 tomorrow afternoon. To end a long day at 5:30 we’ll all journey to the back room of O’Shaughnessy’s Pub for Beer and Caroling! At noon—we’ll be serving a light lunch and transforming our sanctuary from Advent austerity to Christmas greenery. Please come and join in any or all the activities that may feed your soul in this season of expectation and birth. 

All my very best to you on this my MOST FAVORITE WEEKEND of the year,


Working Against the Virus of Racism

Working Against the Virus of Racism

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. 

All Saints' Book Club

All Saints' Book Club

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 (

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!

Evening Prayer at The Breakers

Evening Prayer at The Breakers

 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!


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.

New Opportunity: Hospitality Ministry

New Opportunity: Hospitality Ministry

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.

Join Our Member Directory!

Join Our Member Directory!

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.

Love on a Plate

Love on a Plate

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.


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 

This OLD Church

This OLD Church

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.
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.