All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

Arriving to Where One Loves

Staycie Flint
All Saints' Episcopal Church
June 26, 2016

God of Invitation, as you moved in the lives of Elijah, Elisha, and Jesus, move in our lives.
Open the eyes of our hearts, and let the light of Your truth flood in.
Shine Your light on the hope You are calling us to embrace.
Invite us to journey into unknown territory - learning to listen for your voice in our lives.
Help us know when and how to speak in a world that does not always want to hear.
Grant us the courage we need to journey, trust, listen, and speak.

I stand here this morning feeling torn.

It is Pride Parade day in chicago and there is a clear invitation to celebrate all that is proud and beautiful about being queer and we are also remembering sorrows cry of tragic loss.

As Orlando joins the massacres that plague this country ... our own communities...

Deaths broken spines go by unaccounted for ...

One year since Charleston we are still decimated by the reality that even the places folks seek out as sacred havens are not immune from horror.

I stand here wanting there to be good and bad people. I want life with the Divine to be as simple as choosing which one I want to be.

I watched a story this week of a contingency from Hawaii who braided a 49 strand lei for each life killed in Orlando. I listened as they spoke in front of the memorial and announced that there still are good people in this world.

And I find myself desperately wishing that freedom was that simple...

I want the freedom talked about in Galatians chapter five to be simple.

I want the simplicity of loving my neighbor as myself to be as simple as having the freedom to choose to be good person or a bad person.

Yet, again and again, I hear of people lifting up and mourning the dead without lifting up the neglect and bigotry the victims endured while living - sometimes by the actions of the same ones who now mourn.

I am reminded that loving our neighbor as ourselves—walking in the light of truth—can be both harsh and beautiful, even at odds.

Loving our neighbors as ourselves requires intimacy with the paradoxes of our own souls and our own communities.

It means learning that the Pulse killer was possibly gay and not being surprised (because anyone who truly loves queer folks knows that self-hate is never easily undone).

I stand here angry and not wanting to learn how to love and desperately needing to know how to love.

How to love myself
How to love you
How to love the stranger
How to love my enemy

Philosophers, mystics, teachers, and prophets throughout the ages have long taught us that the uniqueness of the way each individual loves is best seen in who they become and that becoming and loving is a continuous call and response process, not a sequence of events.

Galatians 5:1 states "For freedom Christ has set us free."

Philosophers, theologians and thinkers everywhere have dedicated a great deal of time to understanding the concept of freedom—particularly how freedom is connected to our wills and our doing, and therefore to our loving.

Understanding that freedom is attached to the choices we make and the liberty to do or to omit things is a commonality for many of us who have grown up in the United States, the Land of the Free.

The land where people have had to fight for the right to say yes or no to marriage.

When we think of freedom as it is attached to what we can and cannot do, we only need to look at the origins of this Nation, and the recent events within the European Union and the United Kingdom, in order to understand that conversations around what is good and bad and right and wrong often dance to a tempo set by a few ones who get to control what is "good" and and what is "right."

While Galatians does talk about freedom as liberty of choice the word used in the Greek in verse one is eleutheria (el - u - there- ee - ah)

One commentary I read points out that the etymology—the parts that construct the word eleutheria—can be understood as meaning "arriving to where one loves."

Arriving to where one loves.

At the risk of causing the theologians among us to squirm (because etymology is not theology!) I do suggest that in Galatians the author is lifting up the principle that in Christ we are free to arrive where one loves.

We are freed to love one another and be on a journey to get there.

We are freed to love ourselves as whole people who—who are at once limited and limitless...

The unfolding answer to "How do we love our neighbor as ourselves?" is deeply influenced by how we live relationships and own our own becoming.

"How do I love my neighbor?" is a question we must keep finding answers to amidst the calls of relationships with ourselves, each other, and our Maker.

In the face of the loneliness and exile of devastation we must attune ourselves to the Maker of Hearts whispering to us through relationships:

the hands of caregivers,
the rhythm of the liturgy,
the transparency of song,
the largess of creation,
the attentions of loved ones,
and ways that only the individual can hear.

The Whisper persists in saying our loving.... my loving .... your loving ... does not happen in isolation.

The fact that we have been given a boundless heart fully capable of loving and relationship opens us to where we are headed.

One born into an ultimate box that was terribly void of relationship to the world around her, Helen Keller was lifted into her own becoming through relationship with her teacher Anne Sullivan. Over time she found her own way into an abundance of relationship with the whole world and it wasn't always accepting.

In a letter to Senator Robert La Follette, Helen Keller wrote:

"So long as I confine my activities to social service and the blind, they compliment me extravagantly, calling me 'arch priestess of the sightless,' 'wonder woman,' and a 'modern miracle.' But when it comes to a discussion of poverty...that is a different matter! It is laudable to give aid to the handicapped. Superficial charities make smooth the way of the prosperous; but to advocate that all human beings should have leisure and comfort, the decencies and refinements of life, is a Utopian dream, and one who seriously contemplates its realization indeed must be deaf, dumb, and blind."

See, there is a risk in loving and living the wholeness of ourselves. It will not always be received well by others.

Dr. Audre Lorde said, "There's always someone asking you to underline one piece of yourself—whether it's black, woman, mother, dyke, teacher, etc.—because that's the piece that they need to key into. They want to dismiss everything else."

I highlight this resistance because I want to acknowledge that we can't be about loving our neighbor without claiming our relationships to our personal social location and how it engages the social location of those around us.

Responding with a critical self-awareness to the call of relationships that resist us and seek to limit us is as important to shaping our love of neighbor and self as the response to the call of our encouraging relationships.

Hellen Keller needed the pretentiousness and devaluing of a senator as surely she needed the support of Anne Sullivan in her learning to love.

Martin Luther King Jr. needed the ignorance and cowardice of Bull Connor as surely as he needed the inspiration and guidance of Howard Thurman to live into his becoming.

So I repeat, truly, the work of becoming puts the wide world in relationship with us.

One of the most powerful things Christianity teaches the larger world is that a tomb of emptiness and abandonment can give way to life unmeasurable.

And this is the hope and assurance we have.

In our loving we are connected to a source of life that goes way beyond our earthly days and the paradoxes of our soul.

Dr. Howard Thurman, spiritualist and mentor to Martin Luther King Jr., frames our loving in this way, he states:

"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive."

When you are answering "How do I respond to the Divine's invitation to love my neighbor?" don't forget that the answer best speaks to how your Creator has made you to come alive!

Also, don't forget that your source of this life is a boundless Divine who has become all things—not just a few things, all things!

As Rev. Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou of Ferguson and Baltimore reminds us, "We have seen the face of God, and God has got tattoos on God's face, and God sags God's pants, and God is angry and God is queer."

One of the few promises in life that I am comfortable making is that the Maker and Keeper of hearts gives life and sustains our wholeness by giving us boundless hearts that know no limits—unless we create them.

I close by wondering what awaits you as you go about the continual work of answering "How do I love my neighbor?"

The more we trust and practice being open to the call and response of all that surrounds us—the good, the bad, the ugly, both within ourselves and without ourselves—the clearer it becomes that it is not the events of our lives that define us but how we belong to this world.

It is how we embrace the freedom to love ourselves and our neighbor―how we respond to the calls of this world―that defines the events of our lives.

I paraphrase a conversation Krista Tippet shared with Courtney Martin when I point out that we are often asked to show up in life as only slices of ourselves. To feel like we're showing up as our whole selves in different settings is a rebellious act.

It is an act of freedom to know Christ, to walk with each other, to be freed to love ourselves—our whole selves—and the whole selves of others, even the pieces we do not like - truly humbling and difficult work.

I sometimes wonder if I am too angry with evil and the human capacity for evil in myself and others to ever freely do this work of wholehearted loving.

But, I find hope in knowing that we have been freed to learn how.

So, I invite you to go forth... learn about this mysterious connection between freedom and loving

Rebel!

I invite you to take in your whole self in the presence of your Maker, be vulnerable to this ongoing work of loving, show up with the fullness of all you can grasp, and rebel against the powers that would ask of you and the Divine's beloved community for less.

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Dear Friends,

It continues, more hurricanes of movie-like proportions, earthquakes, typhoons, floods, and wildfires, in addition to terrorist attacks and neo-Nazi marches. The New York Times interviewed theologians and religious studies professors at Harvard, Fordham, and UC Santa Barbara to get their take on whether or not the apocalypse is upon us. The most interesting quote came not from the academics but from science fiction writer John Scalzi, who said, "These aren't the End Times, but it sure as hell feels like the End Times are getting in a few dress rehearsals right about now."

Is it the end of the world as we know it? Perhaps. This is, I believe, the new normal. This is the weather and world that humanity is in the midst of creating.

So what then is the Christian response? What is our response as individuals and as a Christian community of faith? These are the questions and realities I invite us to consider seriously. Who are we? How do we talk to our children about our world? How are we called to be in the midst of these confounding realities? I'll be preaching tomorrow and will begin to grapple with these enormous questions. I hope you'll be there to join me in this journey of faith.

I'm delighted to be back home and extremely excited for this coming fall. Many thanks to Emily, Andrew, Colin, Lori, and Parker for all of their work in the past weeks while I have been away.

Here is a bit of what is on the schedule:

Church School starts this Sunday, and next Sunday we'll have our annual Backpack Blessing at the 9 and 11 o'clock worship services.

This year we have distributed plain black backpack "canvasses" to about fifty local students and artists. We'll be displaying their creations around our altar for both the Ravenswood ArtWalk and our Backpack Blessing. Come celebrate their work and learn more about our ministry of feeding people and supporting our local schools at a reception we'll be hosting on Saturday evening, September 16th, from 6-8pm.

paintedbackpack1Pictured here are some of the backpacks we'll be displaying. Choir member and local art teacher, Sarah Wain, has painted a marvelous creation reminiscent of pop artist Takashi Murakami, who was recently featured at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Pam Carter, a nationally recognized Scottish artist, has contributed a piece with scenes from the Isle of Skye on its front and side panels. I can hardly wait to see the other pieces done by local students.paintedbackpack2

We need more paper for our altar! Every year at our Backpack Blessing we remove the wooden altar and pulpit and replace them with paper we have collected, and then donate the paper to our local schools. Right now we have about 1000 pounds--thank you! We need another 1000 to meet our goal of collecting one ton. If you can, buy a box of paper and just have it shipped to the church at 4550 N Hermitage Ave, 60640.

Next week's guest preacher will be P.J. Karafiol, principal of Lake View High School. P.J. is a parishioner at St. Paul and the Redeemer Episcopal Church in Hyde Park. I'm very much looking forward to what he will offer us on Backpack Sunday.

After the Backpack Blessing and Church School start, things just get busier. Theologian the Very Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas will be with us the following weekend, September 23 and 24, for two in-depth days reflecting on race and anti-blackness.

On a lighter note, the annual Pet Blessing will be on October 1st! This year, we'll have dogs for adoption from the Anti-Cruelty Society and a coffee hour program by Dr. Steve Larson (8:00am parishioner and RCS volunteer) and veterinarian at West Loop Veterinary Care.

All of which is to say we have a LOT coming up. I'm looking forward to seeing all of you this Sunday. I am so blessed to be starting yet another program year here at All Saints'.

All my very best,
Bonnie

back2017Sunday, September 17

Mark your calendars for the annual Backpack Blessing on September 17. PJ Karafiol, principal of Lake View High School, will be the guest preacher, and educators will speak on a panel during the 10am coffee hour.

Once again we will be collecting ONE TON OF PAPER to distribute to our neighborhood public schools. And there is even more up our sleeves to make this the most incredible Backpack Blessing yet...

Want to help make it happen? You're invited to join the planning meetings this Wednesday, August 2, 6-9pm, and Wednesday, August 23, 7-9pm. Contact Emily for more information.

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 (mebcat@gmail.com)

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. 

Gardening at 10am

churchschool2010

For the rest of June and July - although Sunday school classes do not meet at 10 during the summer - Atrium I will continue to be open during the 9 o'clock service until the end of July. Atrium I children who attend the 11 o'clock service will be welcome in the nursery during the service.

At 10 o'clock children are encouraged to come help water, weed and harvest vegetables from the garden we're planting to support the Ravenswood Community Services kitchen and food pantry

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!

 

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.

 

 


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.