Locust Street Letters
By Frank Lawrence Vernon
Philadelphia: St. Mark's Church, Locust Street.
ST. MARK'S, PHILADELPHIA.
THE FIRST SUNDAY AFTER EASTER, 1930.
MY DEAR PEOPLE:
The Forty Days of Joy upon which we are now entered are days of importance. The Forty Days of Penitence were important. But these would be without their Christian meaning if they were not followed by the Forty Days of Joy. Redemption is followed by Resurrection. The old life passes in order that the new life may begin. The former things pass away in order that all things may be made new. Being freed from the old life we are free to walk in newness of life. To walk is to progress. To walk in newness of life is to make progress in new things. This is the lesson of the Forty Days of Joy.
The obvious subjects for meditation in these days after Easter are the appearances of Our Lord. We follow them in the Easter Gospels. We should read the records of the appearances over and over again, saying the Lord's Prayer before, and the Easter Collect, after reading.
Of all the appearances it seems to me that the one that comes nearest to us is the appearance to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. That road may be the street on which you live or the road that leads to your house, if you happen to live in the country. And the disciples were so human and so natural and so simple that they seem very approachable. One does not have to climb to reach them. They were just walking and communing together and reasoning. They were completely absorbed in their conversation. They were sad and wondering and not expecting anything. Certainly they were not expecting Our Lord. Because the chief priests and rulers had delivered Him to be condemned to death. He had been crucified too. Besides all this, that day was the third day since these things were done. And they had trusted! And nothing had happened!
Yet all the while as they walked and talked, Our Lord was walking and talking with them. Afterward they remembered that their hearts had burned within them while the unrecognized Person had talked with them by the way. But they did not sense that at the time. It was not until He had taken bread and blessed it and given it to them, that their eyes were opened and they knew Him. And then He vanished out of their sight. And after that they walked by faith. But their hearts were singing "The Lord is risen indeed." They could keep the remembrance too that He had been known to them in the breaking of the bread. That remembrance made all the difference in the world to them. After that they always walked with Him, wherever they went. They did not need to see Him with the eyes of the body. For they saw Him with the eyes of the soul.
All this happened a very, very long time ago. And all this is happening today on ever so many streets and roads and country lanes. This is the wonder of the Forty Days of Joy and all the days of common life which are not always days of joy.
But that makes no difference. The fact that nothing changes is that Our Lord walks with each disciple wherever their daily duties lead them. Their minds may be filled to overflowing with the affairs from which they may not escape. Whatever the affairs may be, Our Lord knows and cares and shares. Down underneath the sensed emotions is the joy that the world can neither give nor take away. For the Lord is risen! He is risen indeed.
Affectionately in Our Lord,