All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

Jesus Didn’t Come to Found A Church!

Bishop C. Christopher Epting 
Assistant Bishop of Chicago

Sunday, July 7

While I was serving on the Presiding Bishop’s staff as ecumenical officer, I ran across something called the “Emergent (or Emerging) church.” This is a kind of movement initially started by young, evangelical pastors who were trying to relate to the post-modern, post-Christian, post-nearly-everything-else world of the 21st century, and to discern what – if anything – the Holy Spirit might be trying to say to the churches in our day.

Many of these young people had been involved in big, evangelical “mega-churches,” those big box structures with the full parking lots one can see on the outskirts of most American cities these days. And, they had become disenchanted with all the hype and the manipulation and the “marketing” of Christianity as well as with the notion that the whole Christian faith revolves around nothing but personal conversion, and being saved from the fires of hell by “accepting Jesus Christ as one’s personal Lord and Savior!”

They began noticing, as they talked and studied and prayed together, that the Bible really has very little to say about that…when compared to its evolving message about liberation for the oppressed, justice for the poor, and peace and harmony for the whole world! They began noticing that – far from what they had been taught – Jesus did not come to found a Church. He came to inaugurate the Kingdom of God -- To announce the ultimate Reign and Sovereignty of God. They began to discover that evangelism and social action are really two sides of the same coin. And, if the Church has a message in our day, this may be part of it!

I think today’s Gospel (Luke 10:1-11, 16-20), with Jesus sending out 70 disciples on what looks very much like an “apostolic” mission, may have something to say to all that. Let’s take a look at it. First of all, Jesus sent them out in pairs. That says something about the essential nature of Christian community for our mission. You can’t really be a “solo Christian” and being part of the Christian community is absolutely essential -- whether that community is a large one like All Saints or just “two or three gathered in Christ’s name” in a household or a cell group. Community is central!

Secondly, Jesus tells them to go out in a spirit of vulnerability and humility – “like lambs in the midst of wolves.” In contrast to a kind of triumphalist, muscular Christianity we see so much of today, these disciples are to be humble and even vulnerable as they interact with the world. Not to have all the answers, but perhaps at least asking the right questions!

Third, they are to “travel light.” “Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals, and greet no one on the way.” They were to be itinerant preachers and evangelists, not encumbered with a lot of “stuff,” and single-minded in their purpose, not getting distracted. Well, the Church of today – whether big box evangelicals or gothic mainstreamers – has a lot of “stuff!” And one of the things we are going to have to figure out in a day of economic stress, and changing priorities, is how we are going to deal with our “stuff.” Can it be used for mission and ministry? If not…do we really need it? How do we keep “the main thing, the main thing” in our mission?

Fourth, they are to be peacemakers: “Whatever house you enter, first say, Peace to this house.” There should be a peaceful, centeredness in our Christian discipleship. Whatever situation we walk into, we should bring something of “the peace of God which passes all understanding” with us. In a conflicted society and a violent world, what more important message is there than the message of peace?

Next, Jesus tells them that, while they are itinerant preachers and evangelists, they are not to “move about from house to house” but to “remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide.” In other words, they are to build relationships! And sometimes you do that by letting other people serve you! Sometimes, we are to provide hospitality to others, but at other times we need to be humble enough to let others provide hospitality to us! “Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you… (and) cure the sick who are there.”

Cure the sick. Healing! Another essential ministry for Christian disciples: we are to bring healing. That may come in the traditional forms of prayer and the laying on of hands or sitting with people bringing counsel and spiritual direction. Or it may entail the healing of society – working to end gun violence, or for just immigration reform, or marriage equality for all God’s people. However we do it, just as it is incumbent upon Christians to be peacemakers, so we are also to become healers.

Then, the last step: “Say to them: The kingdom of God has come near you!” At some point, we have to make the connection that it is God who “has given us the will and the wisdom to do all these things!” And, just as our evangelical friends have often failed to engage in the work of peacemaking and justice building, so we have often failed to make the connection for people that the reason we are about those tasks is not because they are “politically correct,” because we are in the service of God’s kingdom – we are about the task of cooperating with the Reign and the Sovereignty of God in this world!

Once again, what the emergent church folks are learning is that Jesus did not come to found a Church. Jesus came to inaugurate the Kingdom, the Reign, and the Sovereignty of God in the world. We need to learn the same thing.

Years ago, the evangelism office of The Episcopal Church put out a rather colorful poster. When you first looked at it, it appeared to be a chalice. But, it was an optical illusion and, when you looked at it more carefully, you could see that it was two faces, in profile, talking to one another. And there were three words beneath the picture: Go…Listen…Tell.

That was an attempt to articulate a simple, but effective, evangelism strategy for Episcopalians. A strategy which, I believe, is based on our Gospel story today of the sending out of the Seventy. Go – outside the doors if this church after we are dismissed at the end of the Liturgy. Go, into your homes and neighborhoods and schools and workplaces this week. And…

Listen. Don’t talk so much, but listen! Listen to your family and friends and co-workers and people you meet on the street. Listen to their pain and their struggles, to their joys and their celebrations. Listen deeply like those first disciples sharing meals in the homes of their new acquaintances. Then…and only then…

Tell. Tell them your story. Tell them about how God helped you when you were going through something like what they are going through. Tell them about how the Church – this church – has been there for you, in the good times and the bad. And then invite them here…

…So that they can discover for themselves the peace which passes all understanding, the healing of body, mind, spirit, and relationships that you yourself have experienced. For, when you’ve done that, they – like those first disciples’ hearers – will know that “the kingdom of God has come near…”

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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,
    Bonnie

     

    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

    Email info@allsaintschicago.org 

    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.