Locust Street Letters
By Frank Lawrence Vernon
Philadelphia: St. Mark's Church, Locust Street.
ST. MARK'S, PHILADELPHIA.
THE SECOND SUNDAY IN ADVENT, 1934.
MY DEAR PEOPLE:
"Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope."
Our thoughts are turned today to devotional reading of the Bible, not merely casual reading, but purposeful reading; not merely occasional reading, but habitual reading. The purpose of Bible reading is that we may learn God's own word to man. "God who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds: Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his- power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the majesty on high."
Here we have in three verses the record of our creation, redemption, revelation, means of grace and hope of glory. If we read, mark, learn and inwardly digest it all, we may learn the patience of God, and taste for ourselves the consolation of God and find the Comfort of the Scriptures. If we apply what we have learned to our experience of the changes and chances of life, we shall learn why we can afford to be patient, when the world all about us is impatient. We shall learn why hope in God is the only reasonable attitude toward life, our own and the lives of those we love, and for whom we pray. Here we shall see the patience of the saints, and the faith. It was because the saints had faith that they knew they could afford to be patient. They learned that a thousand years in God's sight are as yesterday, and that which is past as a watch in the night. They saw eternity in the passing moment. Their patience was rooted in faith, and its flower was hope. They believed in God, they loved God, they hoped in God, they patiently waited for God, because they knew that God would come in his appointed time.
There is great need of the revival of what once, and not so long ago, was a daily practise—devotional Bible reading. What do we mean by that? Reading it with religious intention. A mere literary motive will never get one into the meaning of the Bible. The Bible is incomparable literature. But it is infinitely more than that. It is the word of God revealing God to man, and leading man on and up to the knowledge and love of God. It traces the stages of man's spiritual evolution. It reveals the plan of God for man's elevation into, and his progress in the supernatural life. It points the way and it makes known the means by which man is to rise above his material development into the spiritual, moral and social heritage with which God has endowed him. It arouses man to the sense of sonship, by which he is moved to turn to God and to cry Abba, Father. It leads him to the knowledge of His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, whom he has sent, by whom man has access to the Father.
It reveals God's holiness, and man's sinfulness. It reveals God's compassion and the mystery of redemption. It reveals the open door of purgation through penitence, illumination through prayer, of communion through sacraments. It reveals the Providence of God, which directs all things to work together for good to those who love Him and trust Him with simplicity. It reveals the meaning of death and opens the eyes of the soul to the life that lies beyond death. It reveals the intimate oneness of the family of God, in the household of God, militant, expectant and triumphant.
The use of the Collect for today and the daily reading of a few verses of the Bible affords a simple working rule which will surely lead to the comfort and hope which, after all, is the secret longing, conscious or unconscious, of every human heart.
Affectionately in Our Lord,