All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago


Bishop Jeffery D. Lee 
Bishop of Chicago

As members of my family (or a few choice friends) will tell you, my favorite television program, in fact the only television I watch at all when I can, is that paragon of televised excellence, that pinnacle of dramatic inspiration, that mesmerizing piece of broadcast theater ... Chopped. I love it. Please don't tell me that you have never seen it or know what it is. But if you do not, then let me just say that it is a foodie's dream. Cooking is my favorite hobby and this show has got my number. Contestants line up before a panel of celebrity chefs, they are presented with a basket of often bizarre mystery ingredients and given 20 or 30 minutes on the clock to make of them something worthy of the celebrity palates. Three courses: appetizer, main and desert. One by one the hapless contestants are eliminated until the finale, the climax round of desert. Only one contestant is left standing to collect his or her 15 minutes of fame ... and $10,000.

Well, believe it or not, all this came to mind this week as I was considering the readings set before us today. I mean, come on. God says to Amos, "Amos, what do you see?" And the "duh" answer comes back, "I see a basket of summer fruit. Whaddya think I'd see?" And what follows next from God ... well that's what minds me of Chopped. On Chopped, you never know what you're gonna find inside that innocuous looking little basket. "Open your baskets, contestants," barks Ted ... , the host. "For your appetizer course you've got Gummy Bears, star fruit, and rusty nails." Things are just rarely what you hope you're gonna get on Chopped, and over and over again in the bible they often seem that way with God too. A basket of summer fruit? Look inside and we get this litany of dire and challenging consequences for Israel unless they shape up and start practicing the kind of justice, bearing the kind of good fruit God expects.

It's not that God is playing tricks on us like some cosmic Ted .... We're not in a heavenly contest to see who can figure out what to do with the basket of nonsense life sets before us. No, not like that. What the scriptures give us is the truth that our view of things is always partial, always just not quite adequate to grasp what God is really up to ... either with us or in this world. My ways are not your ways, and your thoughts not my thoughts, says God in Isaiah. The stuff in the basket of my life, and maybe yours too, the stuff that's in the basket we call this world isn't necessarily or uniformly bad, it's just not always easy to figure out or put together. Not on my own anyway. Not quickly and not always very obviously.

I think I've become pretty good at spotting early on in the Chopped contest who is likely to win, or at least make it to the final round. It's almost never the chef contestant whose eyes get just a little wild at the first sight of the cuttlefish and peanut butter in the basket. It's almost never the one who as soon as the clock starts ticking begins running around the pantry, frantically gathering up arm loads of spices, dry ice and Greek yogurt. The chefs who prevail are more likely to be the ones who seem non-plussed by what's in their basket, they have a benign or even a slightly amused look at it all. They seem, we'll, contemplative about their ingredients and then with a certain calm and confident demeanor go about concocting something that if the judges say doesn't exactly taste like it came out of a four star restaurant kitchen, at least looks like it might have. "Elements of this dish," they will say, "Are quite well executed."

I think this points to the theme of all our readings today. Christ is the perfect image of God says the Letter to the Colossians. The perfect image, the icon as the Greek has it. In the Eastern Orthodox tradition, icons are sometimes called widows into heaven. They are meant to be seen, seen deeply, contemplated, not just looked at. I saw a Facebook posting this week, one more piece of commentary on the acquittal of George Zimmerman -- it was a cartoon with a caption that ran, "We don't need neighbors to be watched ... We need neighbors to be seen." We don't need a God who is only to be watched. We don't have a God who is simply watching us from a distance. Jesus isn't a picture on a shelf. The Risen Christ is a living mystery who is drawing us and all the world into a relationship of love, a relationship the bible finally describes as a great feast, the heavenly banquet, where everyone has a place and all are filled beyond any expectation.

And this brings me to that original episode of Chopped, there in the combination dining room and kitchen in the house of Jesus' friends in Bethany, Mary and Martha. I used to be able to do sermons on this text by taking all too obvious, witty little potshots at Martha Stewart, but that just doesn't even seem fair anymore. Even Macy's seems to be a little tired of her. But we don't need to berate poor Martha of Bethany for being some kind of domestic perfectionist (gosh, somebody had to get dinner on the table). No, I don't think it's the simple fact of her busyness that Jesus is commenting on, I think it's that it is keeping her from really seeing the real possibilities of the feast that's right in front of her. She's the contestant rushing around trying to find the red pepper flakes and missing the simple goodness of the fresh flounder that ought to be the star of the plate. Mary on the other hand, Mary isn't just looking at Jesus, she isn't just sitting there. She is taking him in. And it is enough. More than enough.

What about us? What about you and me? What are we doing with the basket on the counter in front of us? What's in it? And what do we make of it? What might we make out of it? This parish knows a few things about feasting. At this table, week in and week out. At those tables next door in the parish hall. I will never forget my first visit to All Saints. I hadn't been ordained bishop yet, Lisa and I showed up without any fanfair one Sunday and it just happened to be the Sunday of the annual meeting. Now, I hope it won't shock you to know that not every parish's annual meetings in this diocese are quite like yours. Let's just say that the theme that year was "The Golden Globes," complete with tuxedoes, slinky evening gowns and paparazzi. Yeah, you know what I mean. I have also shared at table in that hall with those who are genuinely, physically, emotionally and spiritually hungry. I have received the grace of contemplation put into action there, truly seeing and being seen by the guy across the table as we formed the image of Christ who is the perfect icon of the living God.

And here it is again. Right here, right now. At this table this morning. Let's follow Mary's example. She's the odds on favorite in today's episode. Let us behold the lives we lay down on this counter, whatever they contain. Let us behold them, not just look, but see, see them charged with possibility and promise, even if it seems improbable, even if it seems impossible. Let's bring our lives to Jesus and see just what he can make out of them -- for us, and for this hungry, hungry world.

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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.