All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago


Gail Goldsmith
March 9, 2014

I know a shapeshifter.

A shape. SHIFTER.

I've seen this boy shapeshift from one body to the next three times--it is never easy for him and the transformation is always dramatic.

His first body was a child's, with no clear purpose other than to grow. The boy's first shapeshift was from the body of a child to that of a wrestler--coiled muscles and fluctuating weight. This body only lasted as long as a wrestling season, and so with grueling workouts and diets so harsh he wouldn't even partake in birthday cake, the boy shapeshifted into a distance runner, a ganglier body, neck sticking forward as he stretched to cross the finish line.

His next shapeshift, well, that was the real trick.

He went from eating six eggs for breakfast and lean meat to everything in sight, chased by a protein shake, and mediated by hours at the gym. The shapeshifter tripled in size, his neck disappeared into muscle, and he took his place on the offensive line of the football team.

Really, I am not so unathletic to not understand that different sports are supported by different dietary needs, different energies and different muscles, but I was not so unobservant an older sister that I didn't see the calorie-counting, the binge-eating, the resulting mood fluctuations--the obsession. The fracture in the occasion of family dinners--he would make something else, he would stare at the foods he wouldn't eat.

It is exceedingly privileged to be able to manage, calculate, and strategize about food choices, but it isn't just food we crave--affirmation, affection, results, achievement, entertainment and maybe escape. All of these loop a person into a weird conversation with themselves about appetites---what to suppress, what to indulge, what to deny.

Surveys show that the number one thing American Christians give up for Lent is food--using Lent to manage our appetites, kinda like a second chance at New Year's resolution. It probably is not food that will tempt us to disregard the encouraging voice of the Spirit, but rather our own appetite for control. Our idolatry of busy-ness--like we should get a prize for being over-extended, stressed, and sleepless. Or the idea that if we just work hard enough, all our problems will disappear.

Since we already offer up these appetites, drives, and coping mechanisms to God for Lent, we could try to offer up our sense of control? THAT might be the real devilry.
Because stories of temptation that use the symbol of devil are not just folk tales of the Ancient Near East. News coverage of Philip Seymour Hoffman's death described his addiction in terms of demons and devils. Public deaths become magnets for public commentary, but those of us who are families or in relationship, and community with people dealing with addictions may have seen how the struggle becomes less against the demons and devils of appetite to the tempters and adversaries who say "Don't overthink it", "stop being so cautious," "you've got this under control--you can control what everybody else is calling an addiction." The tempters and adversaries are within our very selves and offer us the illusion of control over appetites and drives.

The devil is not offering major sins and extraordinary powers to Jesus. The devil is offering the chance to act as God rather than the Son of Man, the chance to work around the desperate hunger of fasting, get results, and exercise control.
All alone In the stark desert, preparing for his public ministry among crowds and in cities, Jesus resists the temptation as he seeks the wisdom of the Spirit.
The tempter says "If you just do this--everything will be easier."


Jesus remains in a state of holy patience by listening to the voice of the Spirit rather than human urges to hunger and safety. It would be a huge relief if the only obstacle in my search for God's mercy and work in the world was a box of Oreos. I'd be quite happy if that were the only obstacle between myself and the spirit was sugar and frosting because that would not take 40 days to fix.

But holy patience in a results-oriented culture, holy patience among people who idolize busy-ness?

That's. my. real. struggle.

This Lent, I'm seeking holy patience and to spend more time still, to let the Spirit's imagination inspire me and trying to discern what it is that really distracts me. We're lucky to have this time--you and I are offered the rich opportunity of Lent to let God shift our focus past our appetites and attempts at control. To look clearly at our world's hopes and hardships, to look for the guidance of the Holy Spirit both in the desert and in the city, to prepare for Good Friday's sorrow and pain and then Easter's joy.

So we cut out distractions, bad habits, and we add spiritual practices---prayer, reading, worship, reflection, to give all this a try and hope that maybe we can get a little holy patience in our lives too. It might take a whole liturgical season to interrogate how we manage our appetites, our sense of control along with our seeking of the Holy Spirit's voice. 40 days every liturgical year to enter and cultivate a spiritual state of wilderness and desert and to encounter this spiritual state every day beside our life in the city.

40 days to shapeshift. To open ourselves to be shaped by the Spirit. To shift the shape of our desires by letting the Spirit call us, lead us, and sustain us.

What shape will Lent leave us in?



  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.