All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood?

Mary Deeley

July 14, 2013

Earlier this week, I was looking for a birthday card. I wanted to find the right one and they have so many to choose from. On a whim, knowing today’s readings, I suddenly began looking for a different card altogether. Do you know what kinds of cards are not at Walgreen’s – cards for neighbors. You know what they would look like..”Thanks for being such a good neighbor…nice fence.” Do you know where there are lots of conversations about neighbors? Dear Abby and Ask Amy. But those conversations are not about nice neighbors. Those conversations almost always begin like this: “Dear Abby, My neighbor has a dog…” “Dear Amy, My neighbors are copycats…” “Dear Abby, my neighbors children lack neighbors…there is a strange person leaving my neighbor’s house early in the morning…my neighbor is a troubled woman.”

To all of these letters, both Abby and Amy have three basic responses: “Mind your own business, “Speak to them politely, but firmly,” or “Move out or live with it.” What strikes me is that is all of this, whether people are good or bad, their identity as neighbors is defined by their proximity to the writer’s house. That’s how we all do it, isn’t it? My neighbors are those who live next door, or on my block, or in my area.

But today is about so much more than that. Today is about wresting our definition from self-centeredness to other-directedness. Today is about questions on how we give witness to our encounter with the living God. Today is not about people who lived long ago, it is about us who live today with more ways to communicate and stay in touch with friends and neighbors than ever before and, more than ever before, able to avoid the face to face, down to earth messy encounters that are the essence of what it is to be a neighbor.

When I was preparing for today, I could not get the words of that great 20th century theologian out of my mind – that’s right, Mr. Rogers. He asked: “Would you be my, could you be my, won’t you be my neighbor?” This is where we start – with a question for our childhood in faith. Children need to know that someone is open to them, willing to accept them and our first tentative steps on the path of love begin with letting someone else know that we will be open to them. What I notice is that in all that openness, we still require the other person to make the response and take the risk. They have to decide whether or not to be our neighbors. This is where the lawyer is when he asks Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” His question easily could have been phrased “Who has agreed to be my neighbor? Who do I have to love?” And, like many of us in our lives, we will wait until someone volunteers or accepts our openness or at least our tolerance.

But in his story and his words to the lawyer, Jesus challenges us to shift perspective with the question for our adult Christian lives: “Who are you a neighbor to?” Suddenly we find that it is no longer enough to be open to others, it is a matter of declaring ourselves to be the neighbor to whomever we encounter, wherever we encounter them. What does that mean? The story itself is a clue. We are neighbors when we bind the wounds not just of those we like or who are like us, but of those who would cross to the other side of the street if they saw us coming. We are neighbors when refuse to take advantage of someone else’s brokenness or vulnerability and, instead, offer help and solace, even if it costs us something. This is neighbor no longer defined by proximity and similarity. It is neighbor defined by compassion, mercy and the recognition of our common humanity and origins as children of God.

(Different Services heard different stories here. This is the one the 11:00 service heard)

Just yesterday, a trial ended in Florida which touched the heart of an often divided nation. What would it have been like, we might wonder, if George Zimmerman had decided to be a neighbor to Trayvon Martin. Yes, we would like to live in that world. But if you want to glimpse the real risk we take when we decide to accept the challenge to do what the Samaritan did, then imagine this: that a few months or years from now, one of Trayvon Martin’s family members comes upon George Zimmerman beaten, bloodied, robbed, and, instead of passing by, stops to patch up his hurt and pay for his shelter. This is what it might be like when we live our lives as a declaration that we are neighbors to all we meet. A good spiritual exercise this week might be to think about people who have hurt you or your family or friends and imagine being their neighbor – healing their wounds, helping them get on their feet. And if that’s hard, pray and ask yourself why? What is getting in the way?

What might it look like – a life lived with the intention of being a neighbor and loving those we meet? Paul tells us of his prayers of gratitude that we can and do love all the saints because of the hope laid up for us. What is that hope? Maybe it is simply the confidence we have that the word of God does live and has planted seeds deep in the hearts of women and men who don’t become blind to color, race, status, religion, or orientation, but joyfully become neighbors and welcome them into their lives.

Maybe this is what Paul meant when he said, “Live a life worthy of the Lord…” Maybe his exhortation is to be laid alongside Jesus’ command to the lawyer, “Go and do likewise…” Because when we do that, when we become a neighbor and live that life…it looks like strength – to carry another person’s burdens or even another person just a little bit further down the road. It looks like first responders carrying civilians to safety in a disaster, like family members caring for a loved one ravaged by disease, disability, or deep woundedness of body, mind, or spirit.

It looks like patience, like parents reading the same book over and over again to their children, like people who open their homes, hearts, and checkbooks to those who have been displaced by acts of God or acts of human cruelty. It looks like the students I know and the people you know who build, tutor, or feed people they don’t know - whether in this city or halfway around the world. It looks like old friends, old couples, and long -time congregations who know each other’s great strengths and really rough edges and love them as neighbors and friends anyway, because that’s what makes them who they are.

It looks like joy at the sheer gift of life and faith and community and a world filled with the presence of God, marked in all kinds of ways by all kinds of people to whom we are called to be neighbors. It looks like Dorothy Day and Mother Teresa, like Martin Luther King, and Mahatma Ghandi. It even looks like a lawyer who had the audacity to ask, “Who is my neighbor?” and got an answer that pushed him to go further and risk more than he ever bargained for.

And living a life worthy of the Lord looks like all of us when we stop waiting for someone to be our neighbor and start being neighbors to all we meet – wherever and whomever they may be. “Would I be your…Could I be your…Won’t I be your neighbor?” Who knows, maybe someday there will even be a card for it.

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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.