All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

“That Person”

John 21:1-21
Bonnie A. Perry
April 14, 2013


He was that person.

 “That person” takes several forms.

  That person can be the one

 who says the thing

 that makes everyone else wince. 

 True though it may be—

everyone else knows—

some tidbits are not to be uttered aloud. 

 Every one else understands this truism

 except “that person.” 


 In the world of kayaking trips, 

“that person” is the one 

everyone else is always waiting for.  

He or she is the last person packed, 

the last person 

    with her sleeping bag stuffed into her boat, 

the one whose foot pegs 

     need to be adjusted on the water, 

the one who has forgotten 

a vital piece of gear or equipment some place else.  


In one of my 

high-end kayak training classes in Scotland, 

where I was the only American, 

and the only woman, 

the only one under 5’10”,

 I was also the only one

 who had forgotten

 her life jacket, spray skirt, and paddle 

    in another bag, back at the gear shed.  

Seriously they all looked at me 

and took a collective step away

…I was “that person”…

(the instructor though—when I suggested he chide me said,

 “Seriously Bonnie I can’t imagine 

that I could say anything to you 

that you haven’t already said to yourself

and much louder.”)


Well he was that person. 

 He was the one 

everyone else was really glad

 that they weren’t.  

This was about a lot more

 than not having his gear

 in the right place at the right time. 

 He was the one 

     who was going to be there.  

He was the one 

     who promised to stick with him

          through it all.  

But after the arrest, 

as Jesus was being questioned 

   by the high priests, 

after the fickle crowds 

did what fickle crowds do—

when the obnoxious girl 

made fun of his accent 

and said,

 right there in the high priest’s courtyard

—“listen to you—

you’ve got the same hick accent he has—

you’re a Galilean—

he’s a Galilean—surely you are one of them.”  


“No no no.  Not me.”  

No no no—

I don’t know who or what you are talking about.” 

 Yeah he, Peter,

 just became “that person.”  


Think about it—

he’s probably the only one

 who is kind of 

narcissistically ambivalent 

about Jesus’ resurrection appearances. 

 How’s that got to feel?  

Hey he’s not dead—he’s alive.  

Great. Wait—

oh right—Jesus knows I’m that person. 


 Ever had that feeling? 

When you see 

that side of yourself, 

that shallow, flawed, frail side, 

that side of you that you know so well

 and like so little?  


They go to Galilee, 

because Mary Magdalene said

 that Jesus, up from the grave,


 he has said, 

go to Galilee and there

 I will meet you. 

 So they go. 

 Peter who was supposed to be the rock

—upon which all will be built—

Peter goes too. 

 But I gotta figure 

he must have been something of a mess.  


So they get to the sea.  

Peter says, I’m going fishing.  

And the rest of the gang follows along. 

 There’s got to be some comfort

 in at least doing the thing

 Peter knows how to do.  

Going back 

to what he was doing long before

 Jesus of Nazareth walked into his life.


All night long—

in two different boats—they fish.  

I have to say, (as an aside) 

there doesn’t ever seem to be 

a single story in scripture 

of these guys being successful fishermen—

     without divine intervention.  

Anyway—all night long 

they ply the waters 

and come up with nothing, nada.  


Then as they are heading back to shore,

 as the first rays of the sun

 are beginning to splice through 

the water’s darkness 

a man from the beach calls out to them.  

“Lads—did you catch anything? 


Try throwing your nets off to the right side…”


Bang—more fish

 than the dudes from Discovery Channel’s 

Deadliest Catch ever had.  

Fish everywhere.  

Then John, the apostle  

the one who stayed by the cross,

 the one who was with Jesus

 to the very end, 

he’s not blinded by self-loathing—

he sees who it is. 

 He sees that it’s Jesus on the beach.  

He tells Peter.  


Peter, God Bless him, 

Peter puts on his clothes 

and dives into the water. 

 He swims to shore.  

He may be that person

 but he’s not hiding from Jesus.  He goes for it.  

He gets to shore—now what? 


Jesus has a little bar-b-q going: 

fish and bread on the grill.  

No one else has yet gotten to shore-

--Peter can’t stand being himself

 with Jesus alone.  

He goes back, wades into the water

 and greets the boat as it lands.  

He hauls out the net.  

And then—

well he must have lined up that catch on the beach

—one flapping fish—

laying next to another—

how else would we know there were 153 of them?  


Well eventually Jesus says, 

“Come on over and get some food.”  

Breakfast on the beach. 

 Food never tastes better 

than when we get to eat it on the beach.  


And in front of everyone else, 

Jesus asks  Peter, “Do you love me?”

  Peter no doubt horrified

 that he had denied Jesus before

—immediately says

“yes, you know I do.” 

 “Do you love me?

     Yes I do.  

Do you love me, 

“Yes yes yes.” 

I think Jesus asks him three times, 

just so that Peter can hear himself say aloud

 I love you Jesus—

as many times as he denied Jesus. 


Jesus ends his interchange with Peter by saying, 

“Follow me.” 

 Because with Jesus that person,

 doesn’t stay on the edge.  

“That person”, 

the one the rest of us are all stepping away from, 

that person is the one

 Jesus moves toward.   

With Jesus not one of us

 is ever lost, let go of 

      or written off.  

“That person” just doesn’t exist in Christ’s world.  


In baptism this morning—

as we pour waters 

from around the world on Nell, 

we are saying to her

 and reminding each of us—

that baptism—is what washes

 the grit of shame and despair away.  


Let’s be clear –not that Nell has any need of that—

no way—no how 

she is beautiful and pure 

and made in the image and likeness of God.  

But this day 

as we pour water on her beautiful head

 we do so reminding ourselves

 that for us and for her

 from this day onward

 we can never be forgotten,

 excluded or set aside.  

Nothing we can ever do

 can permanently separate us from God.   


In God, in Christ, 

“that person” does not exist.  


Alleluia. Christ is risen.  

The  Lord is risen indeed.  Alleluia.



Copyright Bonnie A. Perry 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.