All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

Joann Lagman—August 17, 2014

17 August 2014

Good morning. Thank you for inviting me to be your guest preacher today. When Fran and I first talked about this while we were at O'Shaunessy's or "The Annex" as I hear you like to call it, I looked at the bio's of all your guest preachers on the All Saints website. I saw the heading "boring stuff" and I thought, "uh oh". And now I see the bio's are under "Summer of Awesome Preachers", so I hope that I will live up to that expectation.

In the Philippines, the stars are brighter at night than they are here. I'm not sure if it's because of the lack of a lot of city lights in rural areas, proximity to the equator, or even the silence sharpening my other senses.

When I was fifteen due to a whole multitude of reasons, I ended up going to a boarding/ convent school in the Philippines. I grew up in a household with Filipino parents and had spent the first fifteen years of my life in the suburbs of Chicago. And now, here I was, far from my parents with a bunch of Roman Catholic old Spanish nuns, in boarding school. It was a very difficult time in my life. Though I looked Filipino, I couldn't speak the language, and I was really an American. The cultural norms and nuances of interaction with members of extended family often went over my head. I was in trouble a lot.

The years passed and after three different high schools in three different years, things settled down a little bit. I went to college and then medical school, to return to the United States in my mid twenties... only to move back in with my parents. (Which was awesome, by the way.)

Today's first reading is about Joseph reuniting with his brothers. In last week's readings, we find that Joseph is the favorite son of his father. His brothers are jealous, plan to kill him, but instead decide to sell him into slavery. He is then taken to Egypt. Much transpires then, including imprisonment. He dreams, and God is with him. He is released and rises to a position of power, saving Egypt and the surrounding nations from famine and death. !17 August 2014! All Saints Episcopal Church, Chicago ! There are elements of this story that most of us can probably identify with. Jealousy, anger, lies, dreams - prophetic or otherwise, maybe even imprisonment or some other brush with the law. My sister can, as my brother and I ganged up on her mercilessly. My brother can, in his relationship with our father. I can, because of Andrew Lloyd Weber's version in "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" that Donny Osmond was in. You know the one, with the song, "Close Every Door" in it. The lyrics go:! Close every door to me, Hide all the world from me! Bar all the windows And shut out the light! Do what you want with me, Hate me and laugh at me! Darken my daytime, And torture my night

(Be happy I didn't sing that for you.)

Joseph is the son of Jacob, who wrestled with the angel. And now, he wrestles in this darkness. There is now an inner darkness that accompanies his outer darkness. The reality here, beyond the musical, is an uncertainty as to whether he lives or dies, and if he lives, what sort of life will it be? Darkness into the depths.

What is darkness anyway, besides the absence of light? We associate darkness with depression and death. With crime and isolation. Maybe even vampires, according to Barbara Brown Taylor in her book, Learning to Walk in the Dark. “Darkness”, she continues, "is shorthand for anything that scares me—that I want no part of— either because I am sure that I do not have the resources to survive it or because I do not want to find out. The absence of God is in there…"

So in a primal and even post-modern fear, humanity works to eliminate darkness. We turn on fluorescent light after fluorescent light until we have a city that never sleeps. We run and we hide. We go to sleep with night lights. But sometimes the darkness catches up. And sometimes we respond with fear and with anger. We lash out, or we turn it 17 August 2014! All Saints Episcopal Church, Chicago inward so that it gnaws at our insides or makes us feel like we're falling into a bottomless pit.

What would happen if for one moment we stopped, took a deep breath and looked at the darkness? To actually feel it on our skin, and listen to it? It takes enormous grace and courage to stop running, turn around, and experience it.

Psalm 139! Even the darkness is not dark to You,! And the night is as bright as the day.! Darkness and light are alike to You.

It is in this darkness, not the darkness of evil, where I believe that we can find God. I believe as we turn and look and find God, there is a turning of our hearts that occurs. We begin to look at each other with eyes of compassion. And as we recognize our own darkness and become present with the darkness of others, it can lead to forgiveness.

In November of 2013 typhoon Haiyan struck Tacloban and the northern part of Panay in the Philippines. It was the strongest tropical cyclone ever recorded. There was more than 6000 fatalities, destruction of infrastructure, loss of crops, and other sources of livelihood, and people were left with nothing.! ! Filipinos and members of the world community asked themselves what they should do. I certainly didn't know. I knew I didn't want to go. I wanted to maybe give a little donation, post something on Facebook, and go on with my life. I had spent years in Iloilo, on the Island of Panay where there had been a large number of fatalities. As I mentioned, it had not been a happy place for me. The fifteen year old in me, alone, powerless, and in trouble did not want to go.

This was my darkness where God was present. The type where you expect a loud voice, but instead get a whisper. The type where instead of seeing a bright, blinding 17 August 2014! All Saints Episcopal Church, Chicago light, you feel depth and presence. Where instead of prayers done over a microphone in front of a congregation, you hear the silence of your heart. And in that silence, I started to heal.

You see, something about this particular tragedy had stopped me in my tracks. When I looked at everything objectively, never mind the fear, it seemed that I had every tool that one who wanted to be helpful could possibly have. I'd learned two Philippines languages, one that belonged to the people we were going to serve on this mission trip. And here I was, twenty one years later a board certified physician. I had attended medical school in the Philippines, and so I was familiar with how medicine is practiced there. My family was safe. I had family and friends who are members of the local government, medical personnel, and clergy. God even gave me a church that was so touched by the tragedy that occurred half way around the world that the they were willing to spend time and energy to raise money for a mission trip, and even go themselves to the Philippines to help.

I realized in a very real way that there had been purpose in my difficulty. ! We weren't going to be able to "save" the Philippines, but we were going to try to make a difference in the lives of some of the people affected by this. And I felt my heart start to heal.

So Church of the Holy Nativity in Clarendon Hills planned a medical-humanitarian mission for February of this year. By the end of our ten day mission trip, we had taken care of one thousand and four hundred patients, also immunizing four hundred and sixty of them against pneumonia. We gave away 500 shovels, hammers, and saws, two hundred mosquito nets and blankets, two fishing boats, five hundred fruit trees, and two hundred vegetable plants.

I am aware as I write this that it seems patchy and a little (or a lot) bumpy. Looking in through my own darkness is an ongoing process for me, and probably will be the rest of my life. Sometimes it's the type that's not dark to God, and sometimes it's the type 17 August 2014! All Saints Episcopal Church, Chicago where I think that God is absent. This is part of my own humanity. I sometimes ask God if there couldn't have been some easier way. My heart continues to heal.

If I may, I would like to leave you with one last image. It is sort of archaic, but one I have found fitting for my life. One way I think of God is as a master weaver. One who takes the complexities of the pattern of threads in my life and weaves it into the fabric of the universe along with everyone else. I sin, I make mistakes, and sometimes I let the grace in, just like everyone else. He takes all these things to Himself and makes the stars that illuminate the darkness.

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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.