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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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.