Locust Street Letters
By Frank Lawrence Vernon
Philadelphia: St. Mark's Church, Locust Street.
ST. MARK'S, PHILADELPHIA.
THE FIRST SUNDAY AFTER EASTER, 1931.
MY DEAR PEOPLE:
The Great Forty Days after Our Lord’s Resurrection were days of mingled wonder and joy; of fear and assurance, of hesitancy and recognition. One emotion followed another. It all made a strange mingling. And yet all the while the disciples were very simple and normal and quiet. Each was true to type. The characteristics of each were so evident when the news was received and the Lord was seen. The days seem to have been like certain rare days that we all have known in the spring time. The kind of day that began for us very early, and kept, through all its hours until after dusk, a strange unearthly beauty. Yet a day packed with unforgettable emotion. A day in which the thing that was happening seemed to be the most important thing that ever happened. A day that was vivid and gripping and endless. We all have some days like that stored up in our memories.
The first Easter was like that for the disciples. And the thing that happened was the most important thing that ever had happened or ever will happen again. It was an astounding day. Yet it was such a simple, quiet day. Everything was fair and fragrant. And once the disciples had seen Our Lord, the unexpected thing seemed to settle down into the expected thing. The thing that happened seemed to be the only thing that could have happened. It was suddenly all taken for granted. The surprise and the fear and the hesitancy gave way to recognition and peace and happiness. At first it was overwhelming. Then it was supporting. Life started all over again. And this time they sensed a foundation that was firm. Apprehensiveness had dropped away. Everything that had been worthwhile in the old life remained. Everything that had been regrettable had dropped away. An endless vista of newness opened out. They themselves felt new. They not only felt, but they actually were, detached from their old unhappy past. They had become transmuted into the substance of which Apostles and Martyrs are made. They took that for granted too, without stopping to think about it. They never looked back again. They looked straight ahead. And all that they could see was the new life, now so much and so really their own, that they could not imagine any other. This new life was their very own. They were keen to get on with it. And they went on and on and on. They could do this because they had Our Lord. They knew the mystery of forgiveness. They knew the power of an endless life. They found out at last that former things can pass away, and that all things can be made new.
What happened to them happens to us. This is not a matter of shadowy hope. It is a matter of fixed belief. We too have our Lord. We are solemnly vowed to believe all the articles of the Christian Faith. The dazzling climax of that Faith for us is the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.
The sins we repent of will drop away. The evils we repudiate will be banished. The virtues we struggle for will remain. We shall lose the worst and keep the best.
The bodies we discipline and train will slough off the impediments and rise to freedom.
The life that is transitory will give way to the life that is everlasting. It is Easter now. It will be Easter forever.
Affectionately in Our Lord,