Locust Street Letters
By Frank Lawrence Vernon
Philadelphia: St. Mark's Church, Locust Street.
ST. MARK'S, PHILADELPHIA.
THE SECOND SUNDAY AFTER EASTER, 1929.
MY DEAR PEOPLE:
All the spiritual exercises of Eastertide serve to saturate our minds with thoughts of the resurrection. We are given weeks in which to do this. “For as in Adam all die: even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” The resurrection life is Our Lord’s gift to us. It is something that we share with Him. It is something that we have now by virtue of our union with Him. It is vitally concerned with the present as well as with the future. The present use that we are making of it is really the thing that matters most. The Collect for today reminds us of this. We pray for grace “always most thankfully to receive that His most inestimable benefit, and also daily endeavour ourselves to follow the blessed steps of His most holy life.” Eastertide is leading us on to Ascensiontide. His life is leading us on to Heaven. And we are daily to endeavour ourselves to follow.
Most Christians feel that it is a duty to keep Lent devoutly. That is as it should be. But it is no less a duty to keep Eastertide, if we really mean to follow on. We cannot possibly stop with Passiontide devotions. We must be just as keen about Eastertide devotions. We cannot have a balanced religion without that. The point of Passiontide devotions is dying to sin. The point of Eastertide devotions is being alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. We are to reckon ourselves to be dead indeed unto sin: but alive unto God. We must adjust our minds and wills and hearts and our whole being to this. We must absorb the thought and become absorbed in it. We must adjust our lives to it. We must live as though we reckoned ourselves to be living in precisely this state.
Think what it means to be dead to sin. Death is insensibility to environment. We may not be able to change the environment. Sometimes we wish we could. Generally we cannot. Well, if the environment is not of our own choosing, if it is of necessity forced upon us, then it is not our fault. But we need waste no time worrying about it. Our Lord has taught us how to manage an unfavorable environment. We are to die to it even while we are in the midst of it. We may not and probably cannot lessen or avoid the pressure, but by continually registering negative reactions we daily die to environment. Suggestions fail to kindle. Impulses fail to move. Desires cease to attract. We become indifferent, uninterested, unresponsive, dead. It is not as difficult as it seems nor does it take as long a time as might be supposed.
By the reverse process one becomes alive to God. Life is sensibility to environment. Growth in life means growth in keenness of perception. This growth is developed by studiously sensing what is immediately at hand and then pressing on to explore what lies immediately beyond. The result is an ever widening horizon and an ever deepening perception of truth and beauty. Veils grow luminous and reveal what once they seemed to hide.
This also is much easier than it sounds. We learn to pray by praying. We learn the meaning of the Sacraments by using them. We learn to obey the motions of God by obeying them. We become sensitive to God in every fibre. Then we are alive to him. Now and forever.
Affectionately in Our Lord,