All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

Space in Time

The Rev. Emily Williams Guffey
All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Chicago
11 October 2015 • Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost • Proper 23B
Mark 10:17-31, Hebrews 4:12-16

A couple of days ago, I read a New York Times article called “Work-Life Balance Poses Challenges Regardless of Wealth”. It is about that “riddle that” many of us “can’t seem to solve”: “how to balance the many interests competing for [our] time” – work, relationships, friendships, children, parents, our health, our hobbies. One woman quoted in the article said, “It’s the time squeeze to be a great partner, [to be a great] professional, [to] be in shape, and [to] have a great marriage. You have to be a pretty ruthless prioritizer.” She adds, “On the days when it all works out – when you’ve played and read books with your kids, crushed it at work, and had a nice dinner with your husband – it’s so rewarding. On other days, it’s tough.”

Multi-tasking. Prioritizing. Being “maniacally efficient,” as the article puts it. Being bound and even defined – and honestly, enjoying being defined – by a demanding schedule. These are things I tend to do. Like the woman in the article and perhaps like some of you, I try to squeeze the most out of every minute, every hour, every day. And there are times when I need to.

But following Jesus involves more than squeezing time and being defined by it. It also involves making space in time – or as Jewish theologian Abraham Joshua Heschel puts it, “seeing eternity in time” – and being defined by that.

In our Gospel today, a man runs up to Jesus and asks what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus says, “You know the commandments: ‘Don’t murder, don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t commit adultery, and honor your father and mother.” (I think it’s interesting that he doesn’t include “keep the Sabbath” in this list, although that is one of the Commandments, too.) The man says, “I’ve kept all these since I was a kid.” Then Jesus, looks and him and loves him, and in that love says, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, give the money to the poor, and then come, follow me.” The man was shocked, and walked away with a heavy heart, because he had a lot he’d have to give up.

I’ve had this talk with Jesus. More than once. For me it’s happened to be not so much about possessions, but about time, sense of control, pride in achievement, and basing my identity on these things. We had this talk during my high school years, which were high pressure, high performance, high achievement. We had this talk during my first few months in Virginia, when I was unemployed and underemployed and I struggled to find my identity without work I wanted to do. We had this talk during my discernment about going to seminary for three years, and all that would cost my family and me. And we talk about it now, as I, like so many of us, try to juggle different vocations: family, work, and things that give us pleasure.

How many times Jesus has looked at me and loved me and said, “Emily, you lack one thing: Give up your time, your sense of control of time for your own achievement, your assumption of time as something to pack things into and stake your identity in – and follow me.”

How many times I’ve walked away grieving, at first, because frankly, Jesus, that is a lot to ask.

BJ Miller is a palliative care physician who runs a hospice care center in San Francisco. He does some writing and speaking, too, and has a TED video that we’re actually going to watch in our 10:00am forum next Sunday. At one point in it, he’s talking about the various limitations that are part of being human, and the ways we humans find to make space within and despite those limitations.

For example, he says, our “need for food has birthed cuisine. [Our] need for shelter has given rise to architecture. [Our] need for cover [has birthed] fashion. And for being subjected to [time and] the clock, we invented music.” He goes on to talk about how we might make space death, around our final limitation. How we might make space around our inevitable aging and dying so that we don’t spend our precious minutes and our precious energy just trying to evade death, but might, he suggests, even crescendo toward our ends.

More about that next week. For today, I wonder how we might make space in our own every days, rather than just squeeze them for all they’re worth (though sometimes we need to do that). How might we approach “with boldness” that “throne of grace” to which the author of Hebrews invites us and encourages us? That magnificent throne of grace where we find Jesus looking at us and loving us and saying that we are not our schedules, we are not our relationships, we are not our achievements. We are his beloved. At the throne of grace, he says, “Come, follow me.”

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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.