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.


  1. This Week
  2. Services Times
  3. Contact Us
  4. Sermons
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.