All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago


The Wilderness Journey

The Rev. Fran Holliday

Sunday September 28, 2014

So here we are again,confronted with the whiny Israelites. Their complaints that we just heard began last Sunday when we read that the Israelites were finding the trek into the wilderness difficult; so much so that they began to rethink their newfound freedom.

“The whole congregation of the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” Following this- the Lord heard their complaint and gave them their fill of bread.

But now they need water and instead of recalling that God had just fed them in their time of need, they become afraid and angry once again. The people thirsted for water and complained against Moses and said “Why did you bring us out of Egypt to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?”
Why would the Israelites mistrust Moses? Why would they not feel that God was with them now just as God been there with them through so many other tribulations?

Most especially after their dramatic deliverance from slavery as they passed through the red sea waters onto dry land as the Egyptians pursued them. How could they now question the motivation of Moses? How after all this how could they feel that God had abandon them? In their distress the Israelites quarreled bitterly with Moses.“Is the Lord among us or not?” they demanded.

Now I have to admit I can relate to the Israelites very well. It is easy to feel that God is with us when things are going well or perhaps after we have come through some difficulty and made it to the other side beyond hopelessness and despair.But then when we are thrown back into the struggles of life and times are tough it is hard not to question God or ask ourselves. Is God among us or not?

To be fair to the Israelites they were faced with a pretty harsh situation. Not having any water to drink – their very lives were at stake once again. I think on some level we can all relate to the Israelites. We are often thrust into the wilderness of life and no matter how many times we have made it through before we ask “Why has God done this” “Where is God?" Or we may ask "Does God really care or really exist?"

These questions are all too human. When we lose a job. When we find out our child has learning disabilities and we can’t find the help they need at the school. When friends or family die. When we feel adrift without goals or a purpose. When we are in the throws of depression. When we feel unhappy in a relationship. When the money gets tight. When illness strikes and puts our entire future into question.It is not uncommon to ask Is God among us or not? Why did God lead us to this dead end?

The story of the Israelites journeying through the wilderness is our story as well. We all have our own wilderness journey. And with it comes those all too human questions and doubts. Why God? Where are you? What are you thinking now? Are you there at all? This story in particular invites us to understand that doubting, questioning and arguing with God or expressing an all out disbelief in God is part of our human condition. It is a part of our journey that we must just come to embrace.

This story however invites us as well into another role, if you will. Yes, we are all travelers on the wilderness road however, sometimes and perhaps more often than not we are also called to be the one to lead others out of the wilderness and to provide the living water. Even as we stumble around in our own wilderness and grapple with our own doubts we are called to reassure others that there is a light at the endof the tunnel.

Take a look at Moses, this man who we regard as one of the greatest biblical leaders. Yet he too was lost in his own wilderness even as he led. Moses had his own hardships, lets not forget that when God called him he was hiding out tending sheep in Midian and living on the edge after having murdered an Egyptian. Pharaoh was looking for him to have him killed. Not exactly the kind of trouble free upstanding life that we want from our leaders.

After he risked his own life and led the Israelites out of Egypt he too was thrust out again into wilderness and now he was the object of everyone’s anger and mistrust. After parting the red sea on God’s command and leading the people out of bondage he is now the enemy of the people. Moses cried out to God, “What shall I do? The people Are ready to stone me!” This is wilderness I would not want to find myself in. But none the less, despite his own troubles and journey, Moses continued on and he faithfully led the people to the living water that God provided.

There are many times in life that we are called upon to point the way--even as we ourselves struggle. Our spiritual task in life to realize that we are called to be hope to one another despite of all the struggles and doubts of our own wilderness journey. God did not call Moses after he got his life together. He called him from the wilderness he was in. And God is calling each one of us as we are from whatever wilderness we find ourselves, to reach out to others on the journey and to help point they way.

Sister Joan Chittister a Benedictine nun, speaker and author writes, “Our role in life is to bring the light of our souls to the dim places around us.” There are many dim places around us and we often get so lost in the muck and mire of own lives, that we forget that the wilderness of our problems, doubts and worries, do not define us. While all of this may be part of who we are we also have light and hope to offer. Our call to light the path for others is also part of the journey through the wilderness.

Over the past 5 years that I have served here as the Associate Rector, I have certainly witnessed so many of you lighting the path, holding out hope and being a life giving presence to one another. I know that when I first started here at All Saints’ my sister died and that was a wilderness journey that I was in no way prepared to take. So many of you were there with your presence, sharing your own experiences of loss and reaching out to me. It was life giving water indeed, and I am grateful for your presence to me.

This church has lots of new people coming here all the time. They all are seeking something. They all have their own wilderness journey and you are called to light the way. Continue to reach out, continue to welcome, continue to light the dim path that is all around us. It is easy to get caught up in our doubts and fears. It is common place for us to get so busy and overwhelmed with our own issues.

It is human for us to think that God could not possibly call us or use us in the state we are in. But nothing could be farther from the truth. Even in the midst of our wilderness journey God is calling us. This is a journey we are all on together.



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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.