All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

The Sacrament of Relationship

The Rev. Fran Holliday
All Saints’ Episcopal Church
Sunday February 16, 2014

If there is one thing that I have learned in my 10 years of being ordained it’s “never go to the grocery store wearing my collar.” Yes I have made that mistake on a few occasions, and it always makes for an interesting shopping excursion. The last time I did it I was in a long line at the Jewel and the woman in front of me turned around, looked at me and then asked me if I was a nun. When I told her I was an Episcopal Priest she proceeded to ask me “What made you decide to become a priest?” I really just wanted the cream and sugar for my coffee and I wanted to get home.

As we stood in the line she looked at me waiting for an answer so I blurted out, “Relationships, Christian community, That is what really matters in life and that is what I think most matters to God.” I am not sure if that was a sufficient answer for her because she was by then checking out and went on her way. But as I pondered this conversation and my response I know that I answered her truthfully.

For me, what I call the sacrament of relationship is by far the most important sacrament. Everything else follows from this. We do not consecrate bread and wine privately it is done in the midst of community and by the community. Likewise baptism is done in the midst of community. We say our baptismal vows in the presence of one another not just to ourselves. We publically pledge as a community of faith to support the newly baptized.

Everything we do flows out of our relationships. The sacrament of relationship is the primary thing that defines and shapes us. It is the most crucial element for our existence and growth and it is here in the midst of our relationships messy though they can be at times- it is here -where we find hope and new life.

A quote I once read comes to mind, “Did you know that a person can live weeks without food, days without water, minutes without oxygen. But not one moment without hope?” Relationships are the key ingredient that we need, to create, foster and sustain hope within us. And we all need hope not just to survive but live abundantly.

We need connections and relationships with others to sustain us, to feed us and to move us beyond ourselves especially during times of difficulty and despair. I don’t know about you but I often cannot muster up a sense of hope all on my own—especially when life gets hard and disappointments come. On my own I am stuck in my own head replaying my own negative tapes, thinking my own thoughts and caught up in a reality of my own making.

In community I have reminders that my failings do not define me—and the support to see that life will go on—no matter the situation. Relationships provide the door to new life and new possibilities if we dare to engage in them. I am reminded of a young man named Michael who I met many years ago while I was in high school. Michael had lost his place on the high school football team, he had lost his closest friends following his family’s move to a new suburb.

In general he suffered from depression but never spoke of it to anyone. He kept all of this pain and sense of loss to himself. Over time he became more and more isolated until one day he attempted suicide. He lay on the floor in his room and cut his writs. He became weaker as he lost blood which, he was doing quickly. Then something inside him made him call out to his family who was two floors up having dinner. A relative heard his faint cry and rushed to the lower level. He was quickly taken to the hospital and saved.

Michael was the brother of my high school psychology professor and every quarter he came to her class to tell his story. He came to talk about his battle with depression. But most of all he came to the high school to implore us not to isolate with our problems. He reminded us that isolation is often the road to deeper despair. He came to tell us that once he began to share what was going on with himself with others he began to gain back a sense of hope—this was a turning point.

Choosing to be in relationships with others and deciding to be honest with someone about what is going on in our life can open the door to hope and new life. We may not find ourselves in an extreme situation like Michael, but we often are faced with choosing between hope sustaining relationships with others, or the despair of isolation.

Throughout our lives and most especially during times of stress, disappointment and crisis, we stand at a crossroad and we must choose: What will we do? We are reminded in this mornings reading from Deuteronomy that often the choice between doing that which brings death and that which brings new life and hope is ours to make. The Israelites are crossing over into the promised land and Moses cannot go with them. At that moment he reminds them that they are at the crossroad and they must make a choice. “I have set before you today death and life.” Which will you choose?”

As a community of faith we are called to make the choice of being in relationships with one another. To create, foster and sustain hope. There are many ways we can and already do provide support for each other in this place. Most of you know that Bonnie and I are available for hospital visits and to be with you during medical emergencies. We are also available for pastoral conversations especially during times of crisis. Additionally this community has the Care Ministry which is a group of volunteers providing visits, rides and meals on a short term basis during times of life transitions, such as the death of a family member the birth of a baby, a new job or a move.

We also have lay chaplain, John Sattelmaier, who brings communion to homebound and hospital bound people and we have more Lay Chaplains being trained as we speak to provide these supportive visits. It is our hope to have our “listening circle” up and running in a couple of months. This is a peer facilitated support group that will meet once or twice a month. If you need this type of support or if you would like to volunteer to be part of the care ministry team please contact me. We always need new volunteers to sustain these supportive ministries.

But in addition to all of this I invite you to connect with new people, and with each other. Right now you can sign up to be part of a Lenten supper group, the Monday night Lenten bible study or the newcomers inquirer’s class also meeting in Lent. These are great opportunities to connect with others. Reach out to someone you don’t know and meet them. Have coffee with one person you have not spoken to before. If you are a newcomer or even if you have been here awhile but are not very connected I invite you to reach out—let one person get to know you better.

We need each other—we are called to care for one another to engage in each others lives and provide each other with hope, support and new life. Today and every day we are each standing at a crossroad and we must decide Will we open ourselves to each other, and to this new life? Today God has put before us death and life.

Which will you choose?


  1. This Week
  2. Services Times
  3. Contact Us
  4. Sermons
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.