All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

Easter Sunday 2017

April 16, 2017

The Year Mom Died

John 20:1-18
Bonnie A. Perry

Come Holy Spirit and Fill us with you Love.
In your blessed name we pray. Amen.

As many of you know, my mom Mary, Mary Jane Perry died suddenly 24 days ago. And three days, three days after she was buried, my dad and I went to see her grave. We went to visit that place where we had last seen her earthly remains. We went to her grave, to see, as you do, when someone is newly dead; An act of closure, maybe, or the dawning of a different reality. Whatever. It was a beautiful Spring day, much like yesterday. Although her plot was raw and fresh, her neighbors were all settled in and looked to be nice enough sorts. There’s Anne Brooks down and to the left, Staff Sergeant Carlos Lambiosa, United States Army, and Lt. Col Richard E. Brown, United States Marine Corps off to the right. It’s a real po porrui at the Quantico National Cemetary, all of those head stones lined up like a good brigade at parade rest. It’s a cross section of America, is that cemetery, as is the world of military families.

Three days after we buried her, Dad and I went to her grave, more to say, “Hello” than “Goodbye.” Mary Magdalene on the other hand, went, three days later, to Jesus’ tomb to say goodbye. She went, maybe to anoint him, to touch his cold hard dead body and most certainly she went to cry, to cry in close proximity of what she had known, and begin to let go of all she would not do.

When she arrives, as it is still dark, the stone, the incredibly large stone has been rolled. She can see that this too is not as it should be.
Then when she could not find his body, her question becomes, “What the hell—where did they take him?”

This pain of loss and absence is not one she can stand alone. She runs to Peter and John. John who had been at the cross, and Peter who had been long gone.

And they went with haste, Peter and John in a footrace, Mary behind. They arrive, John and Peter—make their way into the tomb—allow their eyes to adjust to the light and to the emptiness. The linen wrappings, dropped in heaps on the floor.

And first John and then Peter, they know something has gone on, but they leave. Because sometimes the intimacy of something new being born, is just to much. So they the rock and the beloved one, go home.

But Mary stays outside the tomb and weeps and mourns. For now it seems there is nothing. How long she stood there as the sun came over the horizon, who knows, those moments of despair go on and on and on.

Then she bends down, looks another time, in the tomb, at the end of her beginning. This time she sees two messengers of God, angels is the Greek word sitting where the Lord had been. They ask: “Woman, why are you weeping?” She replies, “They have taken my Lord and I do not know where they have laid him.” Then turning away, because her tolerance of questions, has dissolved.
She sees a man, whom she presumes to be the gardener, the one who cares for the tombs, spending his life a living man among the dead, he too asks her, “Woman why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?”

Enough enough this has to end. I’ve had it with your questions. Where have you taken him, tell me, and I will take him away. If only to have this done and have what’s left of him safe. Then then he who is the living one, among the dead, he says, “Mary.” Her name. Her name said. Her name held. Her name sprinkled on the blisters of her grief. Her name, “Mary.” She knows. She knows, she feels, she sees, the one who ages ago, invited her to go beyond what she had ever known. “Mary.” It begins now. The end is over. The tomb is empty.

As my dad sat in the hospital room, with my mom’s cooling hand in his, a catholic priest came by. My father asked him as he was leaving the room. “One last thing Father, please tell me if there is a heaven, because I have to know that I will someday see her again.”

I will tell him, what that catholic priest did not:

That doubt is fine, Emptiness is understandable, and grief is wrenching, But Death is not the answer, Pain does not remain And life, with our last breath, life is not over. And yes Ray, you will see her again. For the existence of something more lies not in our minds’ subjective ability to believe, but rather in the objective reality that on that day, the tomb was empty, his body was gone, the Gardener was Jesus, and he called Mary by her name. So it was for her, so it will be for us, “Mary.” “Mary.”

Resurrection means, there is always something more.  So even at the grave we make our song, “Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.” Christ is Risen, The Lord is Risen indeed. Alleluia.

  1. This Week
  2. Services Times
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  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.