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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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.