All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

Privilege 

Sermon preached at All Saints Episcopal Church, Chicago

14 February 2016
Lent 1C
The Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows

Good morning Saints! Let me begin with a number: 3275.
Actually, $3,275. That is the monthly rental price for a two bedroom, two bath 1,000 square foot apartment at the Xavier. High efficiency heating and cooling systems keep residents comfortable in an environmentally sustainable way. Indoor dog runs, expansive city views, and roof top chef’s kitchens are among the amenities offered. Conveniently located near public transportation, “good” restaurants, and for good measure, a Target, everything residents might want are just footsteps away. Xavier is located in Cabrini Green, putting residents in close proximity to Chicago’s most vibrant neighborhoods including Old Town, Lincoln Park, River North, Buck Town/Wicker Park and Goose Island.

Of course, when the high-rises that used to grace the site was simply called Cabrini Green, all of this proximity was a problem. Named after Francis Xavier Cabrini, the developers of this high rise say, "We are particularly conscious of this neighborhood's rich and long standing history, and feel the project will have positive long-term impacts on the area." In embracing the area's history, the developers hope that other developers might come to terms with and accept the Cabrini-Green name and the neighborhood's next chapter—which is looking to be dominated by high-end rental towers. And in the way that cities are nothing but layers upon layers of new built on top of the old, many of the new residents may never really know the history of the land on which they now live. Renters with money to pay do not need to know who occupied the land before they arrived. They do not need to concern themselves with who has been displaced without appropriate redress and resettlement in order to improve the neighborhood. Most will not give too much thought as to why most other people in the building look like white, upwardly-mobile professionals. Perhaps there are some people of color who choose to live there may who briefly wonder about it. Maybe. All these new residents of Cabrini-Green know is they have the choice to live anywhere and if they choose the Xavier most will applaud their good taste. These are the benefits of privilege.

Privilege is an oft-used word these days. The gathering of inter-faith leaders and academics that is the White Privilege Conference has been going on for 18 years but it is only recently that the term “white privilege” has become commonplace. Those who have been attending the White Privilege Conference—including some from our own diocese in recent years—hope that the identification and confrontation of privilege might be a critical tool in dismantling systemic racism. Privilege, as you all have been discussing here at All Saints, means not having to see, confront, or change things because they do not impact you personally. Race—particularly being identified as white—gets one a lot of privileges in our society. But so does money and social class standing. This is why Cabrini-Green now with the Xavier apartments can command glossy full-page ads in the Sunday Tribune magazine to draw residents and the largely black and brown former residents who are hoping for access to public housing endure waiting lists that are 3-5 years long.

Cabrini-Green has fascinated me for decades and this Xavier apartment building is a particular irritation. Having grown up in housing projects in New York City, I know that they can be dangerous places but also places of beauty, community, and care. However, there is something about housing—luxury housing—built atop land where the blood of the dead ran too frequently that doesn’t sit right. In another decade, will any recall the generations of black people who lived there or the Italians that preceded them before the housing projects went up some 60 years ago? Segregation compounded by race and class continue to define this city and our world. It is hard to imagine that this is what God intends.

But what does God intend? Our reading from the Hebrew scriptures this morning gives us some help but we have to dig for it. In Deuteronomy Moses recounts what the Israelites were to do upon arrival in the promised land: You shall go to the priest who is in office at that time, and say to him, “Today I declare to the Lord your God that I have come into the land that the Lord swore to our ancestors to give us.” And Moses recites the saving acts of God: their initial homelessness (“A wandering Aramean was my father”);
their migration to Egypt (“lived there as an alien”);
their suffering there (“treated us harshly and afflicted us”);
their cry to God for redemption (“we cried to the Lord, the God of our ancestors”);
their redemption out of enslavement (“the Lord brought us out of Egypt”);
their settling into a fertile land (“flowing with milk and honey”).

For the Israelites these remembrances bring comfort and speak of hope and promises fulfilled. The exodus story is so much like that—the calling forth of a people out of bondage and slavery into freedom and fertile, productive land that will sustain them. It’s like moving from the old Cabrini-Green to the Xavier! Kind of.

But our lesson ends here at verse 11 which is problematic. Indeed, exodus and the promised land might be all we hear. It is such a good story! But were not there people already living in that promised land flowing with milk and honey before the Israelites showed up? What of them? If we are to move beyond our comfort zone and place of privilege we would continue with the rest of the chapter

In verses 12-16 Moses continues, without skipping a beat, to update the rest of the instructions. Every three years the Israelites were to set aside a tenth of the land’s produce and deposit it locally. This was so that the powerless among them could have access to it: the resident aliens, the orphans, the widows. Commentator William Yarchin puts it this way, the point of this lesson is that the redeemed might themselves act on behalf of the powerless in the same way that God has acted, blessing them with abundance. In short, God continues to redeem the powerless, but through the agency of the people of God when they choose to be faithful.

Faithfulness looks like sharing and giving stuff away—like power and privilege. But, we who follow Jesus, are also called to do a far more radical and difficult thing. So much as we are able, we are called not to pick any more than we already have.

Let’s review the temptations of Jesus which we may know so well:

Fresh off the glorious experience of his baptism where God proclaims to all—this is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I well pleased—from this joyous moment Jesus is driven into the desert wilderness. It is in the wilderness that Jesus learns about himself--about what his identity as a beloved child of God really means.

He was tempted three times: first, to turn stones into bread—the privilege of self-sufficiency;
Second: to call upon this magical God to save him—the privilege of access;
and finally, to possess all the political power of the world—the privilege of power
Jesus had a decision to make…and he turned down all three options.

He rejected them all, and over the course of his life and ministry, clear on through this death and resurrection, he still ate and fed people, he remained connected to God the creator of all and gave his friends and disciples the same access, and he continually lifted up the powerless even as he battled powers and principalities and mocked those overly invested in earthly rule. He invited his followers to do likewise. He knew that if his followers actually did these things—actually gave up the power and privilege they had in service to God, or for those who had little, stopped groping for power and privilege reaching instead for the riches of God’s reign—he knew if they did these things, they would be seen as so countercultural as to be dangerous. These acts of resistance would get them in trouble but it was the only way to true freedom.

And that’s the thing. God does not desire that you and I or the poorest among us have more privilege, more money, more power. God desires that we be truly free. Like Jesus we already have the freedom to choose to dismantle racism. We have the freedom to choose to give away privilege when it serves to lift up others or use it rightly to bring about true transformation. And this transformation looks like freedom from defacto segregation, crumbling classrooms and under-resourced teachers; freedom to walk to school safely and drink water free from contamination. Freedom from fear of deportation. Freedom from the fear that a broken tail ight may be the literal death of you.

So I want to encourage you, Saints. With this first Sunday in Lent we embark on a journey to the cross which is about preparing ourselves for resurrection. The work, introspection, bridge-building, reflection that you are doing as a community on the topic of race and racism is preparatory work—for life. And not for yours alone. While indeed you are taking this journey because you believe The blood of the dead is calling you to repent for your sins of racism. The blood of the living and those yet to come need you to be about this work for the rest of your days. You cannot not know what you now know. This is what “staying woke” is about. Like people of color in this country, you are called to live this work, to weave it into your life, your breathing, your habits, your decisions. Let it transform you.

Bonnie and others in this room, I won’t name names, like to kid me because my family and I live in the north suburbs. We spent our first years here in Wilmette and then moved to Skokie. But our son goes to school in Kenilworth. It some ways, those choices kind of “happened to us” but they also didn’t. Raising a black boy in Chicagoland means that there are no uncalculated choices. I wanted to give our son the gift of knowing he could comfortably claim and hold space wherever he wanted to be—even if he was the only person of color in the room. This is another kind of freedom and privilege that I pray will hold him in good stead and keep him alive especially when white folks think he ought to “know his place”. And in using my own privilege to give him these experiences, I’m teaching him, even at the age of five, about what it means to share privilege, that he is wondrously made and loved by God, and that that truth still holds when the rest of the world tells him at every turn that it isn’t so.

The contours of privilege are many and complex. Dismantling systems of racism and classicism, just like sexism and homophobia, is wearying and difficult. It is also holy because it is about fullness of life and God’s freedom. But understand: the devil is a ready tempter, peaking out from behind shiny new addresses and gleaming buildings. Resist him, firm in your faith.

Amen.

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Dear Friends,

maryjaneI am so very sad to tell you that my Mom, MaryJane Fahey Perry, has died. I flew to Virginia last night to be with my Dad and siblings. I will fly back Saturday night and will be in church briefly, but mostly I am coming in to celebrate my spouse Susan's installation as Senior Pastor at People's Church this Sunday at 2:00pm. Please join me there if you are able.

All my best,
Bonnie

Friends, this Sunday, March 26, I will be away to attend the funeral of a close family friend, Andy Becker, who died in a plane crash last week at the age of 33. I am incredibly grateful to Carol Reese and Jeanne Wirpsa, who are stepping in to preside and preach, respectively, on short notice. I also am so grateful to Colin and the choir, who will be leading gorgeous music (like this song), and to Polly Tangora and others who will be making sure things run smoothly. The strength and faith and talent of this place run deep.

I am available by email and phone, and I'll return Sunday night.

We will send a note next week with information about services for MaryJane. In the mean time, I ask your prayers for Bonnie, her father Ray, and all of her family during this terribly difficult time.

Peace,
Emily

 

 

People's Church of Chicago, Sunday March 26, 2pm

susanhBonnie invites you to join her for the installation of her spouse, The Rev. Dr. Susan Harlow, as Senior Pastor of The People's Church of Chicago this Sunday at 2pm. A reception will follow.

People's Church is located at 941 W Lawrence. Parking is available at 850 W. Lawrence at the Chicago Lakeshore Hospital Doctor's Office building. Although not required to park, use of this "permit" would be appreciated, as it helps give organizers notice as to which cars are connected to Peoples Church.

For more details, see the Facebook event here.

 

The Communications Summit previously scheduled for this Saturday, March 25, at 9:00am has been postponed, due to Bonnie's and Emily's last-minute travel. It will be rescheduled for later this spring. Stay tuned.

 

Sunday, April 2 at 10am

asygEver played Human Rock, Paper, Scissors? Ever jammed in a drum circle? Ever had in-depth conversations with teenagers about how faith matters in the ups and downs of our lives? I'm guessing the answers are "No," "Not really," and "Not since I was a teenager." Well, this could be your chance to change all that.

All Saints Youth Group, or ASYG, is (literally) a growing ministry, and we are looking for additional help. On April 2 during Coffee Hour, we will meet in the Parish Hall to share what ASYG is all about and provide information about the many ways you can help support, from joining the leadership team to simply dropping off dinner... and maybe play Human Rock, Paper, Scissors...

 

Wednesdays, March 8 -- April 12, 7:00-7:30pm 
 
Evening Prayer with music and candlelight will be offered at the high altar on Wednesdays throughout Lent. 


Come, join us in taking time to pause and listen for God.

 

Wednesdays, March 8 -- April 12, 7:30-9:00pm 
 
For those new to the Christian faith or to the Episcopal Church, our 6-week Inquirer's Class, led by both Bonnie and Emily, is an exploration of adult spirituality by way of a "spirited" romp through history, prayer, scriptures, theology, church polity, and more. 
 
This lively series offers space to question beliefs, imagine possibilities, learn about All Saints', and make new friends. If desired, it may also serve as preparation for the rite of confirmation or reception into the Episcopal Church in May or June. Contact Emily with any questions.

 

Beginning now and ongoing 
 
The All Saints' Listening Group offers ministry of presence to any member(s) of our church family facing an important decision. Perhaps you are at a crossroads in your career or you're deciding where to move or go to school. The Listening Group is happy to gather with you and provide a supportive, nonjudgmental space in which you can think through your questions more deeply.
 
Gatherings typically run for a couple of hours and are scheduled as needed. If you're interested in meeting with the Listening Group, or if you're looking to serve on the ministry, please contact Jess Howsam Scholl at jessicahowsam@gmail.com.

 

Sunday mornings at 10:15 beginning March 19
 
The Screwtape Letters by the Christian apologist C. S Lewis never grow old precisely because they are about me, you, and the world we inhabit. In a series of letters, Screwtape guides the young demon - his nephew Wormwood -- through the finer points of temptation, the weaknesses and foibles of human beings, and the disaster of his patient becoming a Christian.
 
On Sundays March 19, 26 and April 2, Jim Nixon will lead a discussion of these very human letters from 10:15 to 11:15 AM in the Reading Room.
 
So get the book (easily available on Amazon or local booksellers), grab a cup of coffee and join us in a reading and discussion of this perennial classic. 
 
Any questions? Contact Jim via email or 678.910.4923.

 

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.

 

Sunday, April 23rd, 2017

The Ravenswood Run website is officially open! 

Register now at their website here.

The race times (subject to change) will be 5k - 8:00 AM
Kid's Race - 9:00 AM.

Save the Date! May 12threalityf

The 11th annual Reality Fair will be held Friday morning at Ravenswood Elementary School. Please mark your calendars now, and we'll send more information and sign up instructions later. This is an incredible event which truly affects our children's lives.

If you have any questions, please contact Jen Simokaitis or Helen Poot.

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.