All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

I See Nothing . . .

Love the Lord your God with all your heart . . .
Matthew 22:34-46
October 26, 2014
Bonnie A. Perry

Oh Gracious Holy One,
Be with us.
In your Name we pray.

Please be seated.

Good Morning.

Many of you know or would be able to deduce from some of my sermons that I sometimes struggle with my faith. I wish I had my faith, completely nailed down, totally wrapped up, tightly packaged and readily available for the summoning at a moments notice. But that’s not always the case.

Instead, I feel as if God and I are an old married couple: many days happy and content, other days bickering. And I sometimes find myself exasperated, annoyed, and angry. Then when all else fails, I’ll turn my heart, mind and soul away from God hoping that my cold shoulder and lack of interaction will wound God, prick God’s conscience, and propel God to my flailing self who feels lost and abandoned.

Now, why I think this will work with God when it is resoundingly unsuccessful with humans is perhaps an indicator of my overall level of obtuseness or sadness.

You shall Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul. And you shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Oh how I miss the unhindered faith of my youth.

When I was 16 I went on a retreat that altered the course of my life. On that retreat I wound up telling the priest that I was scared to death of God, because if God knew everything I’d thought, everything I’d done, (and more to the point for me) everything I’d ever said, then I was pretty sure God wasn’t going to like me. So I was afraid of God. The very smart priest asked me if I’d ever told God that.

“Well No.” “If God knows everything then why would I have to tell God that?” The priest just looked at me. So taking one of the bigger risks of my life, having seen a crucifix across the room, I said, I prayed, “God I am so afraid of you.”

Then as some of you have heard me tell, “This thing happened, a warmth flooded my body, starting at my feet and going all the way up to my face.” I couldn’t stop crying and I couldn’t stop laughing. I must have blushed for 45 minutes. And in that moment I knew without a doubt that God in the person of Jesus Christ loved me for who I was and how I was, completely and utterly.” It was then that it went from being my parent’s religion to my faith. I know it happened and I didn’t make it up—because I didn’t know something like that could happen and it took me completely by surprise.

Never since have I had something like that happen. It was a mountain top, life changing experience. That’s the upside. The downside is well –that was 36 years ago.

I miss the unhindered faith of my youth.

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your mind and all your soul. And you shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Seriously God, another shooting, in another school, with another gun, legally obtained; medical doctors infected and possibly infecting

after offering comfort, care and succor to strangers in the world’s latest version of the plague.
That’s just yesterday’s headlines.
Oh dear Lord—Why?

Oh dear Lord, I’m having a hard time loving you because I’m having a hard time finding you. I need more proof of your presence and your care.

When I find myself in moments like this, when I hear and see my doubts writ large, I then say to myself, well if I were more spiritual then I would have this all dialed in. Maybe—

Joan Chittister, a wonderful theologian and author tells the following story in her book, Scarred by Trouble, Transformed by Hope.

It seems Godfrey Diekmann, a legendary Benedictine liturgist, was out gathering watercress one day in a nearby swamp, when suddenly he found himself stuck and sunk up to his hips. [He was in very real danger.] Eventually he was rescued by being pulled out by a truck hoist. It was a delicate and dangerous business. In the Christmas letter he wrote following the event he said that after more than fifty years of monastic life, “What bothers me is that during the entire ordeal I didn’t have a single pious thought!” Says Chrittister—even when we live in the presence of God for our entire lives, there is no sudden spiritual awareness when the hard times come. P 41 (Scarred by Struggle, Transformed by Hope)

Oh dear, is this good news or bad.

******* ****** ******
On Retreat last February, these thoughts came to me.

Darkness. Sitting in the refectory of the retreat house, I woke early, my neighbor’s service dog was restless through the night, (seriously who has a Yorkie as a service dog?) I woke early and it became clear to me that I needed to see the sun rise that morning. Needed maybe to see the dark disappear. So I made my tea, mixed my yogurt and raw oats together, grabbed a few books and wandered over to the main building. There, in the window-filled dining hall, with only a few perimeter lights on, I sat down and began to think. Maybe pray. Mostly wish. It was dark—in the West was a full moon getting ready to set; in the East the barest of red glows on the horizon. The lights of the cars from the road periodically distracted me, as I wondered where the drivers might be going at 5:30 in the morning on a -8 degree Saturday. Then, in what can only be described as a slightly sappy turn in my spiritual quest Cat Steven’s version of “Morning has Broken” came to me. I quietly sang it. No one was around to hear when remarkably I hit a note or to notice when more expectantly I went flat.

Soon, what I noticed, as the earth continued to revolve and it became a bit lighter was that the outlines of the tree branches interspersed along the prairie were now visible. When I’d arrived in the dark, those branches so clearly visible now were hidden. Their detail and very existence going unnoticed by me. What’s it mean about our ability to know and to see when something so detailed, so clearly present at 6:36 in the morning is completely obscured at 5:40?

In the dark we cannot see all that is present. When we are in the dark, much around us goes unnoticed. And if we were to rely on our senses alone, we would have to say there is nothing there. I see nothing, there is nothing. But then light reveals what had been there all along. So it is with God. I see nothing now, I feel nothing now; there must be nothing. But then, as the world revolves and the light shifts, the barest outlines begin to emerge.

Now I see the snow, the prairie grass and, of course, the trees. All of which had been there all along. Morning has broken.

You shall love your God with all your heart, with all your mind, and with all your soul.




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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.