St. John’s Episcopal Church is one of the most famous churches in America. Across the street from the White House, St. John’s held its first service on October 27, 1816 when James Madison was President. Every President since Madison has attended at least a few services there. Thus it is known as “The Church of the Presidents.” St. John’s is where President Trump on June 1, 2020 amid the George Floyd protests walked over with White House officials for the photo op as he held up the Bible.
Twenty years beforehand on December 3, 2000 a homeless and destitute man by the name of William Wallace Brown, Jr. was buried in the prominent burial garden of St. John’s Episcopal. Brown had lived on the streets for 15 years, insisting that a lawyer had swindled him out of his house. How was it that a street bum was laid to rest in such a prestigious place?
One Sunday morning when Brown spotted George H.W. Bush entering the church, the homeless man asked the President to pray for him. Bush looked at him for a moment and said, “No, come inside with us and pray for yourself.” George Bush extended his arm and Brown went into St. John’s with the President and his family.
William Brown became a permanent part of the 8:00 AM service. Every week he would place a crumpled dollar bill with George Washington’s picture on it in the silver collection plate. Some years later he died at the age of 68.
During the funeral for William Brown, one of the parishioners, Dolph Hatfield, said that in the eyes of God “the homeless and the most important of men and women are one and the same.”
Hatfield had introduced himself to Brown after another parishioner snubbed him. He became Brown’s best friend, inviting him for a meal or taking him grocery shopping after church.
Thankfully, our 41st President, George H.W. Bush had invited William Brown to come in and celebrate with him and the Bush family at the Lord’s Table.
We may live in the White House or we may live on the street outside the White House. But God cares about the homeless person as much, if not more, than the President.
Today my faith tells me that neither George H.W. Bush or William Brown are without a home. They are both enjoying the best home of all – the warm and tender arms of the loving God who created them both!!
What message is this story sending to your mind and heart today? What light does it shed on the political turmoil we have been going through the last few years?
EVEN WHEN WE DON’T SENSE GOD’S PRESENCE, GOD’S LOVING CARE IS ALL AROUND US!