All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

The Woman at the Well

Bonnie A. Perry
March 19, 2017

I come to the well every day.
I come to the well of our ancestor Jacob every day to draw water.
I come to the well of our ancestor Jacob every day to draw water at noon.

I come to the well at noon, when the sun is fierce, the air is hot, and it is deserted.

The rest of the women, come a dawn. That amazing time when night and morning meet, the dark gives way to day. It’s cool then and quiet. Then slowly out of the shadows the women from around the village emerge. Large jars on their head, some with poles across their shoulders, matching empty buckets on either side swaying. The women move quickly as they walk.

Then, when they reach the well, quiet murmurs of greeting and snippets of stories exchanged, encouragement offered, consolations received, plots unfolded in a daily installment plan. Here, at the well, is where they laugh, here is where they cry. Here is where they are known.

When the women leave the well, their day’s long labor begins, but for that forty minutes before they carry the water home, that is their time, their place.

But I go to the well at noon, for I am not like them. They shut me out long ago—maybe on husband three or four. (To be fair, two of them died, I liked older men, one went back to his mother, something about my cooking, and the other two found prettier women, who didn’t believe in sharing their opinions.)
I am not like them, or perhaps, I am too much like them, like their silent voices buried deep inside.

I do not go to the well at dawn, because no one talks to me. They snub me, they ignore me, they turn away from me. When I appear at dawn, the quiet grace of the well is replaced with judgment and blame.

So I go at noon, no one to talk to then, but no one to mock me either.

Then, that day, like any other day, except…

I go to the well at noon and there he sits, a Jew.

I’m not turning around.
I need the water.
I ignore him.

“Give me drink,” he says.


It’s lines like this, that got me to the well at noon in the first place.
I give him my stop this now look, remind him of the basics. Jews don’t speak to Samaritans, and certainly not men to women.

But he persists.

“If you knew who I was, you’d be asking me for water. And I would have given you living water.”

You don’t even have a bucket. That well is deep. So how do you get this living water?

Then he starts talking about living water. How if you drink it, you don’t ever get thirsty again. It’s just a spring of water gushing forth, a well of water offering eternal life.

Gushing, running water, offering eternal life. Sure, of course I want that. So that’s intriguing—but crazy.

But I listen to him. I keep interacting with him, because he is interacting with me. Not talking down, or trying to pick up. It’s a normal conversation. It’s been years since anyone has talked to me this way.

So I say, Ok—give me this water.

He says, “Go get your husband.”

There it is…

Well, never mind, it was nice while it lasted.

But he was real, so I was real right back.

“I don’t have a husband.”

He says, just matter of fact, “No. You don’t. You’ve had five husbands. And the one you are living with now, he’s not your husband.”

But he says it looking at me, to me, not above me or through me. To me. He sees me. He knows me. He is not judging me. He’s not judging me.

So, sir, you are a prophet…

He’s still looking at me. Seeing all of me. Not turning away from me. So I stay. I engage him at the level he is engaging me.

“You Jews say that we can only worship in Jerusalem, but our people worshipped on this mountain. What do you believe?”

He doesn’t answer my question, at least not in terms of location, instead he tells me, that soon where we worship God will not matter. But instead what will matter is the spirit and the truth of our lives we offer to God.”

I say, “I know sir that the Messiah is coming. When he comes he will proclaim all things to us.”

And then he says, still looking right at me. Looking right at me, he says, “I am he.”

And it was then, as he said that to me, it was then that I knew, that I mattered. It was then I knew, what it meant to be seen as true and holy and loved, for exactly who and how I am.

He saw me.
He knew me.
He loved me.

I left my jar.
I left my jar at the well at noon.

I went back to the town and began to tell everyone about this man.
I told everyone, all of them, all who had ignored me, judged me, avoided me.
I told them all.

Because, now, it was different. I was different. He saw me. He loved me. He knew me.

“Can this be the Messiah?” I asked?

They who had not seen me, for years, listened.

He stayed two more days.

They came.
They saw.
They heard.
They believed.

****** ****** *******

I am a Christian. Because God, in the person of Jesus Christ Crosses all borders, ignores all bias and sees all of us. Knows all of us. Loves all of us.
Even those of us who are sure that we are not worthy.


  1. This Week
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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.