by Susan Russell
Ed Browning was the 24th Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. In 1985 — in the midst of the worst of the AIDS crisis and on the cusp of what came to be known as “The Inclusion Wars” — he uttered the prophetic words “In this church there will be no outcasts.” And his words became both a rallying cry and a touchstone for those calling the Episcopal Church to live into its high calling as the Body of Christ in the world.
Ed Browning retired in 1997, but before he did he wrote a book of meditations entitled “A Year of Days with the Book of Common Prayer.” As we journey through these last days of Lent with Holy Week on the horizon and the drumbeat of the political polarization of the election cycle in our hears, these words of his preach as clearly today as they did nearly 20 years ago when he wrote them:
“The Lord helps those who help themselves” is NOT in the Bible, as so many people think it is. It is something we made up to excuse our callous treatment of the poor and to insulate ourselves against having to depend on God and one another. In Scripture, the Lord helps those who need help, and instructs us pretty clearly that we should do the same for the widow and orphan, the stranger, the prisoner, the hungry.
Or, as Ed Bacon put it in the pulpit on Sunday: “As followers of Jesus we are called in this election cycle to claim his new narrative of compassion to overcome the old, toxic narratives of bigotry, privilege and exceptionalism.”
During the Forty Days of Lent, we will offer daily meditations from All Saints Church. Today’s is written by Susan Russell, Senior Associate for Communication.