All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago


raftingA River Runs Through It

Revelation 21:10, 22-22:5
May 1, 2016
Bonnie A. Perry

May the God who creates us….

Every once in awhile, the Bible makes sense.

And a river runs through it all…

Scripture begins with the book of Genesis. And it ends with Revelation. In the creation myth we hear…

In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep…On the day that the Lord made the heavens and the earth, when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up… a stream would rise up from the earth… out of the ground the Lord God made to grow…the tree of life in the midst of the garden…and a river flows out of Eden to water the garden…(Genesis 1, 2:4b-6, 9-10.)

Scripture ends with these words in Revelation…

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God…through the middle of the street of the city. One either side of the river, is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. Nothing accursed will be found there anymore…And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light…reigning forever (Revelation 22:1-3a)

We are now somewhere in between the dark void and the eternal light.

And a river runs through it all…
And it is by the river
that we wander and meander through life.
Our call—as people of God—as Christians
is to take the journey on the river.

That’s our theological context—somewhere between formless void—and eternal life—with a river linking the two.

Do you ever find yourself just bobbing along? Not sure exactly where you’re headed, or for that matter if you will manage to stay afloat? Do you ever feel as if there are any number of people depending upon you so there is no real option to just stop and rest. No real time to take a moment and re-assess whatever it is you have found yourself immersed in…Have you ever had a sense that it is as if you are on a conveyor belt that just keeps going, relentless regardless of whether or not you can keep up. Some of us of a certain age may remember the quintessential I Love Lucy episode, where for reasons I cannot now remember Lucy and Ethel wind up working in a chocolate factory—with the never ending parade of candies coming past? Do you find yourself, no matter how accomplished or experienced the world says you are—do you find yourself feeling as if you may be one or two breaths from going under? Work, family, relationships, parents, kids, health—coming at you….relentlessly.

And we, our call, is to live our lives on this river. But perhaps rather than each of us swimming inefficiently, hitting the rocks and getting recirculate in the holes, we may contemplate a different mode of transport from the dark void to the eternal life, in this river that runs through it all.

Some of you may think I have a preferred manner of water transport…

Knowing that I am a boater, a paddler, a kayaker you might believe that you know what my preferred manner of travel,

Going from the dark beginning to the eternal light with a river running through it all.

Yet this trip, this life-long journey of ours, is not about precision or perfection. It is not about cleanly threading our way through the rocks, holes, and wave-trains of a rapid waterway. A needle-nosed slalom boat, or a bulbous bowed creek boat neither of those are what we need. For these are both kayaks: nimble, squirrelly, unforgiving craft, that immediately award mistakes with capsizes and sometimes swims.

In this thing called life, and that’s a mighty long time…

In this thing called life, on this trip from beginning in the dark formless void to eternal light I’m much more inclined to use a self-bailing river raft: those bulky, somewhat ungainly craft: whose occupants are continuously wet, and dependent upon one another. But a self-bailing river raft, with manufactured holes that let water out and water in, squishes, bends, and flexes when it hits something hard. It rebounds, redirects and most importantly usually carries on even after a close encounter with granite, schist or sandstone.

The self-bailing raft is not my preferred water craft for play, a kayak, is a solitary vehicle, typically with one pilot—maybe one crew. A craft where it is only the water, waves, rocks and me: testing my gifts, my talents, my skills, but water will out. And eventually all of us get dumped. All of us fail to roll up. All of us take a swim. It is that time when we need others. Independence is fine for play, but on this river of life, on this journey we are all on—this is communal journey. A trip of this length and duration can only be sustained if we have different talents and gifts. On this life-long journey roles need to shift and change depending upon the circumstance. This is a journey where more than one of us will need to offer leadership along the way. A journey if it is to be successful includes all of us here and frankly many many more. A journey where if we are to thrive, then we cannot be solitary figures, but instead must be in this, all of us together.

The upside and the downside is that some of the people on the raft, may be our favorites and some are not but still here we all are, for we need each other.

In our wet, purposefully leaky raft, in addition to our water sodden companions so also is the Holy one. The same one who moved over the formless void. The same one who sits upon the throne, the same one who died upon the cross and rose again, and calls to us now. When we make our way from the formless void to eternal light on those ungainly rafts we never need be alone, in the midst of it all God is with us.


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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.