All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

Thankfulness – a life stance

I Thessalonians 5: 1-18

In my first parish on the west side of Chicago, I experienced, with Peg, our one and only home invasion. It was early in the afternoon when we returned with our infant son, Andrew, in arms and found the front door of our parsonage ajar. After retreating a few steps, and checking the property, we set foot inside.

On the first floor most everything looked OK. Then we spotted the empty space where our radio should have been. This little handmade AM-FM radio, made from a kit by my brother John for our wedding, had disappeared. There was no TV and no other technological gadgets to be had. Upstairs the bedrooms had been rifled, drawers pulled open, clothes and jewelry strewn about, but nothing of value missing. How would the thieves know that we had no valuables at this stage in our lives!

This break-in was totally unexpected, like a thief in the night, only this was broad daylight! St. Paul tells his fellow followers of Jesus that the day of the Lord will be like that. It will come with no warning at all.

As we approach the end of the Church year looking to Advent and Christmas, the Scripture readings last week, this week and next point to the end time, the Alpha and Omega, the Son of man coming in glory, the eschaton, “the last things.” In the early Church after Pentecost, Jesus’ followers, including Paul, expected his coming in their lifetime. Each reading is a pastoral word alerting the faithful to be ready.

I pondered these passages seeking to discern the pastoral word we need to hear today.

Clearly we live in frightening times – extreme weather somewhere almost every day, the latest version of horrific terrorism, uncontrolled gun violence on our streets and campuses, endless strife in the land of Jesus, cancer striking loved ones, including three in my extended family, and now Ebola.

Paul reminds his fellow Christians in Thessalonica and in Ravenswood, Chicago, that these times and seasons, distressing and fear-filled as they may be, are nothing new, that we know Jesus will come at any time regardless of season or sin or any other condition in all the universe. Paul warns: get ready!”

Well, you ask, how can we get ready? In the very next verses, beyond the lection, Paul offers a simple preparation we can make for Jesus’ coming.

Take a listen: Encourage one another, be at peace, help the weak, do not repay evil with evil but seek to do good to one another and to all, pray without ceasing, and then these unusual words: Give thanks in all circumstances. Or in the NEB: “Give thanks, whatever happens!” What! Impossible!

Martin Luther wrote that the entire life of a Christian is one of thankfulness. Thankfulness is a life stance, an eschatological stance. Give thanks, whatever happens! That is the pastoral word for this season; the word for our upcoming Thanksgiving holiday; the perfect attitude for responding to the All Saints pledge campaign – gratitude for this astonishing community of faith. It is the precise mood and motivation for these touching tributes above us on paper triangles. The mood of thanksgiving is the feeling of a human being in touch with life. It is not a one-day-a-year matter. It is a total attitude and stance!

To feel thankful is the best preparation we can make to be ready for the coming of the Holy One.

Many years ago a little 5 year old girl ran into the living room one bright morning and exclaimed, "Daddy, don't you just love the world!" Daddy was so amazed and thankful for this precious child, and still is! God would have us hold on to this 5 year-old gratitude every day of our lives.

'Give thanks, whatever happens,’ was certainly the attitude of the Pilgrims, those early immigrants to our shores. They were undocumented by the way! You recall they lost half of their numbers that first winter of 1620. Every other person died of disease, cold, starvation. In spite of this calamity they gathered together to give thanks, joined by their local Native American neighbors. “Give thanks, whatever happens.”

Many years later, 1863, in the midst of a devastating civil war, President Abraham Lincoln called all citizens to "observe the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens." Isn't that incredible. Abe knew that even in the midst of barbarity and insanity, the human being needs to be thankful.

Thankfulness as a life stance brings to mind a story told by a colleague of mine years ago. Rev. Ross Calame taught his two young girls to always say, "Thank you, Jesus," for even the simple things, for a glass of milk, for someone holding a door open, or helping them put on a winter coat!

One day Ross was walking home from church. As he approached their house, one of the girls saw him and turned her tricycle around and drove toward him as fast as she could go. Just before reaching her Dad, she fell off the bike and skinned both knees! As she stood up and was about to burst into tears, she quickly regained control and declared, "Thank you, Jesus!"

Our Hebrew sisters and brothers offered thanks by giving the first fruit of the harvest back to God. The Psalms resonate with ‘thankfulness and praise.’

I ask you to contemplate your stance to life, your readiness for the coming of Christ. Through the thick and thin, the joys and the hurts, the temptations and the mistakes, the celebrations and the achievements, the losses, surprises, the broken ankles and the home invasions – are you ready? Are you thankful?

It will not be easy for someone laid off last week. For someone diagnosed with a brain tumor. For someone deported back to Latin America, separated suddenly from family, for our friends from Renk, South Sudan, living in terror and uncertainty. And yet the pastoral word to them and to us is the same: “Give thanks in all circumstances.”

Strange as it may seem, there are those who have received much, the very privileged among us, who, I’ve observed, do not feel it necessary to be thankful, or to express thanks, because they have come to assume that they are just entitled to these material comforts and pleasures.

I hunch it may be even harder for our pampered and over-programmed progeny to recognize the incredible gifts given them and the sacrifices made for them, than it was for us. And that is a challenge, at least to me, to demonstrate in my own live what gratitude I feel, to remind my loved ones that I thank God for every single day, ever since that first open heart surgery 31 years ago. Each day has been a gift and I want to impart that attitude, that stance, to all whose lives I touch.

Give thanks, whatever happens! I will never forget an experience during my Fulbright year in Germany. On a trip to Berlin in the spring of 1958 several of us students took the elevated train into East Berlin one Sunday morning. (this was before the Wall went up) We went directly to the Marienkirche (Church of Mary) where Bishop Otto Dibelius was to preach.

The church was packed; Communist plain-clothesmen were standing in their crumpled trench coats along the walls; the 80 year old prelate, who had fought Hitler and now the Communists, began to preach.

I did not understand every word in German, but again and again I heard the word Dankbarkeit (thankfulness).

The Bishop told his flock, from my translated notes: "in spite of the world's powers we are ultimately under God's will, so let us give thanks and praise! Whoever lives in God's will and does God's will, can expect a happy and blessed life"

He contrasted the evil of the hour with God's will – faithlessness and faithfulness. He asserted, "Atheism in the East or in the West is confronted by our faith rooted in eternity."

And then this final word: "Dankbarkeit must be the spirit in our homes, at our work, in our lives. If we live under God's will we will abide forever and ever!"

Here in the midst of then East Germany, in the presence of not so secret police, in the midst of oppression and danger, Bishop Dibelius called for thankfulness! "Give thanks, whatever happens!" Later we took Communion from his hands. I was deeply touched by this humble man and the gift he brought us that day.

Yes, “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you,” Paul concludes in his word to the Thessalonians. And as the old warrior Bishop told his flock, "If we live in God's will and do God's will we can expect a happy and blessed life." To which there is but one response - to give thanks.

Thankfulness is a life stance, an eschatological stance for the approaching Day of God. Come, Lord Jesus. Amen.

Rev. Martin Deppe
All Saints Episcopal Church, Chicago
16 November 2014

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Dear Friends,

Tomorrow afternoon I'll hit a milestone that astonishes me. I'm honored to be officiating at Kate Gannett and Jamison Merrill's wedding. Katie was one of the five or six little ones who were here at All Saints when I first arrived almost 25 years ago. She was five years old... Now she's working on a graduate degree at Johns Hopkins. She and Jamison met while working in South Africa.

So much has changed since then and yet this community of faith, although much bigger (and heaven knows our building looks much better), retains the same "let's just give this a try and see what happens" spirit. Back then we had Clyde Propst and a few dedicated church school teachers who were willing to give their time to be with our young people and let them know that they mattered. Today we still have Clyde Propst, and more than 10 other people, working with and serving our young ones. In addition, one of the little ones from back in the day, Hilary Waldron, now facilitates our incredibly active 7-12 grade youth group. Taking young people seriously can make a huge difference in their lives! I am so grateful to our nursery, church school teachers, and youth group advisors. Thank you for all that you do and give.

This weekend, in addition to Kate's wedding, I'll be getting my sermon ready for Sunday and anticipating our amazing end-of-the-church-school-ice-cream social. 

Colin and the choir will be creating some lovely music and Emily will be catching some time away after an incredibly packed Spring!

I look forward to seeing you all on Sunday!

All the best,
Bonnie

icecream

The last few Sundays of our church school year are quickly approaching:

Sunday, June 18th - The Annual Ice Cream Social when church school hosts coffee hour and what's better than ice cream! There will be a variety of ice cream flavors and many possible toppings for do-it-yourself Sundaes served on the lawn in front of the church. Children help with set up serve (and eating!) ice cream, and clearing away the debris

The rest of June and July - Although Sunday school classes do not meet at 10 during the summer, Atrium I will continue to be open during the 9 o'clock service until the end of July. Atrium I children who attend the 11 o'clock service will be welcome in the nursery during the service.

At 10 o'clock children are encouraged to come help water, weed and harvest vegetables from the garden we're planting to support the Ravenswood Services Community Kitchen.

 

redbirdUnderstanding Vocation in a Complex World

Parishioner Liz Futrell and her colleague Kate Rademacher both work in international public health with a focus on trying to increase access to contraception for women in developing countries. Both women feel a sense of vocation in this work. However, with birth control remaining a controversial topic in the political and religious landscapes, understanding this work as a vocational calling can raise challenging questions. Liz and Kate will talk about how their work intersects with their faith. Kate will read from her new memoir about her recent conversion to Christianity, and Liz will read from a piece about her career path that's been included in a new anthology of women's stories.

Discussion will take place Sunday, June 25, during coffee hour. There will be time for open discussion and the group will be invited to share their experiences and thoughts about discernment and understanding vocation.

 

revelationsMonday nights at 7:30, Beginning July 10

Bible study is back! If the current U.S. presidency and administration is causing you to wonder if we're living in "apocalyptic times," then studying the Book of Revelation is perfect for this summer's Bible study! The Monday nights for this, from 7:30 to 9 p.m. (6 to 7:15 p.m. for dinner beforehand at O'Shaughnessy's), are July 10, 17, 24 and 31.

Your "tour guide" on this journey will be parishioner Jerome Wilczynski. Jerome holds a Master's degree in Systematic Theology and New Testament from Catholic Theological Union, and a Doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology. He is Associate Professor/Core Faculty in the department of Counselor Education and Supervision at Argosy University, Chicago. The point of our study will be to de-mystify this all too often misunderstood text from Scripture. The main commentary Jerome will use to assist us in unearthing the rich symbolism of this book will be Wilfrid Harrington's Revelation from the Sacra Pagina series, in case you want to buy it—but don't feel you have to.

 

Summer Lineup Selected
 
The All Saints Book Club met on May 11th and decided on a lineup of books for the next year. The book club is open to anyone who enjoys reading. 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:
  • July 13 -  "The Warmth of Other Suns" by Isabel Wilkerson
  • August 10 - "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" by John Berendt
  • September 14 - "Operation Breadbasket" by Martin Deppe
  • For additional information, contact Mike Burke (mebcat@gmail.com)

     

    Individual Actions Towards Racial Equality

    Volunteer Opportunities, Events, and Recommendations

    (re)imagining: Racial Justice Summit Sponsored by YWCA Evanston/North Shore:


    Thursday, April 6 from 6 - 8 pm
    Friday, April 7 from 9 am - 4 pm
     
    Unitarian Church of Evanston
    1330 Ridge Ave., Evanston, IL
     
    Goal: "To bring people of all ages and demographics together to deepen their understanding of their own racial identities, develop skills to work for change, formulate action plans and engage with others."

    For Information and Registration, click here

    "The Scottsboro Boys" at Porchlight Theater through March 12th
     
    A musical production that is getting rave reviews, "nominated for 12 Tony Awards, and presented in the style of the notorious "minstrel show", this true-life story of nine African American teenagers accused and put on trial in Memphis for a crime they did not commit is one America's most notorious episodes of injustice; inaugurating a wave of social changes leading up to the modern Civil Rights Movement."

    For information and ticket prices, click here

    Suggested reading, non-fiction: 
    Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America by Michael Eric Dyson, January, 2017

    This book has been described as "...a provocative and deeply personal call for change. Dyson argues that if we are to make real racial progress we must face difficult truths, including being honest about how black grievance has been ignored, dismissed, or discounted."

     
    Recommended as a "companion piece to the film rather than a stand-alone book." One reviewer recommended "seeing the film first, and then using the book for meditation and revisiting afterward."

    Volunteer opportunity: GROWING HOME "We have a vision of a world of healthy people and communities. Everyone deserves to have a good job, and everyone deserves to eat well." Since 2002, Growing Home has trained and employed and, most importantly, given a second chance to people with employment barriers. You may be familiar with their Wood Street farm in Englewood. Their farms are the first and only USDA-certified organic high-production urban farms in Chicago, and because they strive to also feed their community well, all their produce is grown, harvested, cleaned, and sold within a 20-mile radius. Read more at http://growinghomeinc.org

    Volunteer opportunity: Non-profit Reading In Motion has successfully refined its mission over its 30+ years to help give kindergarten and first grade students foundational reading skills they need to start on a path for lifetime learning. They partner with public school teachers and have been extremely successful in making a difference in children's lives. Click here for more info.

     

    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!

     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!

     

    Jeff Lee
    Dear Polly and All Saint's Kids,
     
    I am writing to you from a meeting of the board of Episcopal Relief & Development in Bogota, Columbia. We are meeting here to visit some of our partner ministries with people in need. I have seen the amazing results of this year's bake sale (in fact, I'm looking at photos of some of the cakes - wow!), and you have reminded me that we don't have to travel to Columbia or South Sudan to make a huge impact for the good of God's people.
     
    I am so proud and grateful for you and the work you do. You guys are heroes. Our friends in South Sudan will be blessed by your effort.
     
    In Christ,
     
    Jeffrey D. Lee
    Bishop of Chicago

    Sundays at 10am

    The phrase Imago Dei means the Image of God. Specifically, the image of God as it is found in humanity. The image of God in us - it is what makes us spiritual people - valued as whole and complete. What does it mean to creatively live as whole people? How do we live in relationship with others - respecting and sharing one another's security and one another's discomfort?

    Join us on Sunday mornings between services as we figure out together how to help one another take practical responsibility for living in this world - especially as racial and spiritual beings.

    True - our time will be uncomfortable because it will mean talking about race, violence, personal helplessness, and personal failure. Also true - this will be comforting and supportive because it will mean getting to be honest, practicing together, and caring for one another.

    Every week we will ask one another "What have you done in these past 7 days with who you are and within your sphere of influence when it comes to the realities of race?" the answers will be different for each person and it won't be a competition. We will be lifting up the everyday choices we make and don't make. Sometimes we will like what happens and sometimes we won't.

    And - we will be doing it together.

    The Middle Eastern refugees and immigrants served by the Iraqi Mutual Aid Society were deeply moved by the notes of welcome from All Saints. We shared them at our community lunch on Thursday, and now they will hang in our conference room to remind people of your warm welcome in the days to come. Thanks!

    Peace,
    Laura Youngberg

    breadbakersSignup online to bake for a month

    Calling all bakers! If you love the smell of fresh-baked bread filling your kitchen, please consider signing up to bake communion bread for our services. This involves a one-month commitment that you'll share with another baker, and you can do all your baking at once and add to the reserves in our freezer.

    Signing up is easy, just click here for our page on Signup Genius and reserve your favorite month.

    Contact Jennifer Simokaitis, or Anne Ellis if you have any questions.

    Yard Signs Available 

    Grow Community has created yard signs for anyone who would like to display support for our local public high schools. Signs and sign holders are available in the Reading Room.

     
     

     

    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.

     

    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.

    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 website@allsaintschicago.org and he will send a user name, password, and instructions.

    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 care@allsaintschicago.org. You'll be contacted when a need arises and you can sign up to help at your convenience.

     

    tinaParishioner, Tina Tchen, accepts Bishop Maryann Budde's invitation to preach at the National Cathedral Sunday, May 8. Click here to see the video.

     

    Please consider supporting the restoration project of our historic building. To make a donation, click here

    1883 Construction web 

    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.
     
     

    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

    Email info@allsaintschicago.org 

    Information about pastoral care.

     

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    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.