All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

I Think Simeon Had His Doubts

Bonnie A. Perry
February 2, 2014

I think Simeon must have had his doubts. Promised early on as a young man that he would one day see the messiah, how long can a man wait? How long can a man hold his breath? The world knew him as a righteous one, devout. Early on, he knew the Spirit's call and heard clearly the words that came to him: you will see my beloved one, you will see the Lord's anointed. You will not die before the hope of Israel is revealed to you. You, the Spirit promised him.

If you think about it this type of promise well it has its upsides and its down. "You will not die before you see my chosen one." Does that mean that after the messiah is revealed that it's then just one great, big, slippery slide off to the end?

Or is there more to come after the Holy One is made known? Does Simeon then carry on, but now with celestial insights? After he sees the messiah what then?

But, of even more interest for me is what of before? What's it like to spend one's life actively looking for God? To be on the lookout for the Holy? Did he frequently take himself to the Temple looking for the incarnation of God's promise? Were there many with whom he confused? While there at the temple watching, looking, thinking this must be the one, rejoicing and then, then as the individual's composition revealed more clay than Christ lamenting. What was that like for him, week after week, day after day, moment after moment?

What the heck was Simeon like He is the first person in Luke's story of Jesus who we are introduced to after the shepherds have seen Mary, Joseph and Child laying in the manger. He is the first person we meet after the shepherds have returned to their fields. What was Simeon like?

Was he a man who lived in a constant state of disappointment or bitterness? Always subtly discontent, half hungry no matter how much he had eaten. Always waiting for that thing to fill him? Or was he a man of wonder? Open, looking, longing, being, staying forever in a moment of grace: eyes and ears, nose attuned, pricked waiting for a whiff of holiness. Was he always looking for what must be coming, always looking beyond never actually seeing who and what was in front of him or had he mastered the zen of life and only concerned himself with the proximity of now? Living acutely in every single moment as it ticked by thinking this could be the time when my eyes will see the Savior.

What was Simeon like? I think he might have been like us. Like me. Like you. We have a promise: at baptism the water is splashed on us and the priest says, "You are sealed by the power of the Holy Spirit and marked as Christ's own forever." Is the promise of holiness enough? For him or for us?

I have to say, frequently it is not enough for me. I want more from God. Perhaps I am greedy, or as Susan is want to say a bit too literal. But I'd be lying if I didn't tell you that I want more. I want to see, touch and know holiness in my pores and in my bones. If I were to tell his story I'd say Simeon was a man who was restless and bit bummed, wondering if he'd got it all wrong—that part about the Spirit telling him he'd eventually see God's holy one.

I think he was restless, but here's where I think he differs from many others who are longing for God. I think he was tenacious. I think his longing may have displayed itself as a bit of discontent, yet it was always coupled with a commitment to see it through. Simeon, keeps showing up, over and over again. He keeps looking. And so he was there on that day when Mary and Joseph bring Jesus to the temple there he is open to the calling and scent of God. There he is in the Temple courtyard when he sees the family he has looked for his entire life. The promise becomes fact as he holds the little ones in his arms and says,

Lord you now have set your servant free to go in peace as you have promised; For these eyes of mine have seen the Savior, whom you have prepared for all the world to see: A light to enlighten the nations, and the glory of your people Israel.

So here is a bit I hold out to all of us who may be looking and longing for the Holy and not getting near enough the blessed one in this fraught world of ours. Showing up is what matters. If we do not look, if we do not go, if we have no expectancy of God than no God we will find.

Just as the big wet blobs of snow that fall from the sky rarely add up to a storm's worth of accumulation so too for our prayer life or holiness search. It is the tiny, granular pellets, the small crystals that seem so minute in the air that collect, build and pile up to solid drifts. It is the small tending to our spiritual lives, the stepping daily on the elliptical of prayer that enables God's promise and God's presence to seep through our calcified bones to the marrow of our souls.

Simeon showed up. And Simeon saw the Holy. What about you, what about me—how are we showing up?



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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.