Project Canterbury

Locust Street Letters

By Frank Lawrence Vernon

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




To endure adversity courageously. To endure ingratitude graciously. To endure treachery unresentfully. To endure denial patiently. To endure injustice uncomplainingly. To endure insult silently. To endure pain steadily. To look death in the face unfalteringly. To die with dignity. This is to live victoriously.

This week is a week of tragedies. One after another. And the climax which rent the rocks and rocked the earth. Yet the day on which that happened is called Good, and the week which led up to it is called Holy. Out of that sinister sequence of diabolical malice and human madness, out of that chapter of horrors, emerged something which marked the week and the day, for all time as holy and good. Here is the mystery of holiness and goodness. If ever in any time a week seemed farther from holiness, that week was the week that has been known ever since as Holy Week. If there ever was a day more remote than all other days from goodness, that day is the day that has been known ever since as Good Friday. So it seemed to the terrified, dismayed, demoralized disciples. The world at its worst had won an easy victory.

Now the Central Figure in this tragedy, who rode meekly into Jerusalem on that memorable day, made that entry into the Holy City a triumphal procession, symbolized down through the ages by the palm, the token of victory. Centuries after a Christian General was called to make his entry into Jerusalem. In honor of the Lord who first rode in, he dismounted from his horse and walked. So General Allenby paid humble tribute to his Saviour King. All over the world today Christians are carrying palms in the train of the Son of God, who went forth to war and won His battle.

But the palm is more than the emblem of a day. It has become the emblem of a life. In actual life Christians are actually carrying into the conflicts of life the unquenchable spirit of sure and certain victory. All about us, every day, there is a steady procession of victors going up to Jerusalem. They are going bravely and with hosannas to meet the grave issues of life and death. They are literally joined up with the age-long procession. And each carries a palm as a pledge of victory. Each week and everywhere you may see this procession. Each week has its full measure of tragedy turned into triumph, of sorrow turned into joy. Each week is filled with adventure and discovery, with struggle and reward. These are the events of real importance. These are the events which make all weeks holy weeks. We must never lose sight of them. There are so many sad things on the surface that we forget or do not see the triumphs that follow them. The real things of life and the things that last are the spiritual and moral victories. There are so many; so very many of these. Here and there and now and again we see them at first hand. And when we do, the very air seems electrified. The world seems charged with courage and hope and goodness and holiness. The saddest days become good days, and the darkest weeks become holy weeks.

The most remarkable thing about that first Palm Sunday procession is that it has never ended. We are part of it. And so is every one who clasps a palm and goes over the Hill.

Affectionately in Our Lord,

Project Canterbury