Spreading the Good News of Joy

Dear Friends

Last Saturday, I took my own advice, given in last week’s Dear Friends letter, to take some time away from the busyness treadmill, and Tracey and I explored places on the Open House Chicago Tour. We spent time downtown and in Humboldt Park, returning to All Saints in the afternoon. We knew we were home when we heard our church bell ringing, but I was shocked when we got out of the car to see just how many people were thronging into our sanctuary—many more than were at the other tour sites we visited.

When we walked into the church, people were everywhere, examining the details of the sanctuary, talking to our volunteer docents, and lined up to ring the bell. Many of these folks are our neighbors who have admired our church from the outside for years and were thrilled to come inside. Others were excited to be allowed a “behind the scenes” look in a church—from walking up to the high altar, to poking around the sacristy. The energy and joy was palpable, and I swear I could still feel those good vibes on Sunday morning as we sang together (you all sounded great chanting the psalm!), the choir offered a fabulous anthem, children caromed about the space, and we all filled out Madlibs as we kicked off this year’s Pledge Campaign. 

A few weeks ago, at the consecration of Bishop Paula Clark, the preacher, Bishop Budde said that when Paula was on her staff in the Episcopal Diocese of Washington they would often touch base after Sunday visitations and reflect on “the joy quotient” at the churches they had visited. They learned that joy in worship (or its lack) revealed much about was possible (or not) in a parish, more important than church size or budget or types of programs. One of the aspects of life at All Saints that I noticed nearly 20 years ago is how joyful this place is; I said on my first Sunday here that All Saints gets that we Chrisians have got GOOD NEWS—the literal meaning of “Gospel”—and we ought to act like it!

Well, our joy quotient was through the roof this weekend, Beloved. With that joy and with God’s help, well, we can do anything!

Faithfully, Suzanne+