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.

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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.