Project Canterbury

Locust Street Letters

By Frank Lawrence Vernon

Philadelphia: St. Mark's Church, Locust Street.




It is the last Sunday in the Christian year. It is a time for looking back over the old year that is almost gone and for looking forward to the new year that is almost here.

The Christian year provides an ordered sequence of Christian teaching, Christian practise and Christian devotion. The Book of Common Prayer is the manual of corporate worship. It is our guide. If it is followed simply and carefully and faithfully, it will provide a system of instruction which will include everything that a Christian should know. The will to follow is all that is needed.

So the Collect for today teaches us to pray that our wills may be stirred up, that we may plenteously bring forth the fruits of good works, and that we may be plenteously rewarded.

There is no doubt about the plenteousness of the reward. The life in the Christian year is its own reward.

The arrangement of the seasons is a perpetual Sursum Corda. Each season impels us to lift up our hearts unto the Lord.

The Advent message of repentance in preparation for the Festival of the Nativity of Our Lord ushers in the year. The Advent Collects, Epistles and Gospels, the Lessons, the Hymns, the colors, make impressions and leave memories that are deep and lasting. The spirit of Advent makes repentance a very simple, and searching and gentle spiritual exercise. It gives us four weeks to make our peace, with God in the Advent absolution.

Then comes the holy night and the happy morning, the Bethlehem at the Altar and the Christmas Communion.

The Epiphany devotions follow on. The Wise Men, following the Star, come bringing gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh. The Crib is such a quiet, fragrant, lovely place to pray and to become as little children once again.

The Sundays of preparation for Lent press us on.

Ash Wednesday, Lent and Passiontide lead us to Calvary, and on Good Friday the whole family of God kneels at the Cross.

Easter finds us in the Presence of the Risen Lord, shriven and preserved in body and soul unto everlasting life.

Ascension leaves us looking steadfastly toward Heaven as Our Lord is received up to sit on the right hand of God.

Whitsunday assembles us all with one accord in one place and we are filled with the Holy Ghost.

Trinity opens the Gates of Heaven and bids us adore the Triune God.

And at stations along the way of this fascinating year, we find Saints and Angels, and we stop and have a word with one after another of the Company of Heaven.

Each day brings Mass, Matins, Evensong, Angelus, Intercession, Meditation, and times of solitude, silence and rest in the Divine Presence.

Locust Street is a noisy place. All about us huge buildings tower high. Yet, pass through the red doors of Saint Mark's, and you shall find the Kingdom of Heaven at hand.

Affectionately in Our Lord,

Project Canterbury