Locust Street Letters
By Frank Lawrence Vernon
Philadelphia: St. Mark's Church, Locust Street.
ST. MARK'S, PHILADELPHIA.
THE FIRST SUNDAY AFTER EASTER, 1934.
MY DEAR PEOPLE:
The note of radiant tranquility runs through Eastertide. The former failures of the disciples fade out. The new life begins as though there had been no failures. There are no reminders, no reproaches, and no reproofs. And everyone takes this for granted. Everyone goes on as though nothing had happened. The old friendship is resumed on the old terms. The Cross has proved to be a complete triumph. No one is in the least anxious about the past or uncertain about the present. Everything is so simple and quiet and real. The weaknesses and the terrors have faded out. The terrible mob of Good Friday has been left on a shore that has gone down beneath the horizon, to be seen or heard again no more forever. All that has passed away.
It was because the disciples were penitent that they were able to accept the benefit of the Cross; that they were able to enter into the joy of the Resurrection. It was because they accepted the joy of the Resurrection that they were able to become saints. Before they saw the Risen Lord they reasoned among themselves and were sad. When once they had seen Him they were glad. That gladness was their witness to their faith. From that day on joy has been a true mark of true religion. It is quite different from any joy the world has to give. It is quite unaffected by the circumstances which take away the joy of the world. It goes on after everything in the world has gone out. It is to be found only in the presence of God. It is only the simple truth to say that it can be found no where else. This is not a matter of pious opinion. It is a matter of fact. Look where you will, and as widely as you will, and you must look widely, and in the end you will find that true joy is the discovery and the possession of those who have discovered and possessed Our Lord.
The first step toward joy is faith. Faith is the beacon light which guides the soul over the path of penitence. Joy is the sure reward of faith. The true penitent trusts boldly and believes firmly the promises of God. He writes the record of his sins and delivers that record to be nailed, like a bit of parchment, to the Cross: There it hangs. Upon it the Precious Blood drops and saturates it; renders it illegible; blots out the handwriting and leaves the parchment a shrunken particle of pulp. The sun dries it. The wind scatters it. And it is gone. Gone beyond recovery. Gone beyond recall. This is the faith which leaves the old life before the Cross and presses on to the new life which is beyond the Cross. And having found it, never looks back. Too much of absorbing interest and importance is at hand and lies ahead. There is no interest in, or time for, the world that has been left behind. The new world is all that matters. This was what the disciples did on that first Easter. It is what we must do on this Easter.
Lent was the time to walk in penitence over the old life. Easter is the time to walk in newness of life. We must be as diligent in the Easter faith as we were in the Lent repentance. We must set ourselves to the business of learning to walk in newness of life. We must walk without looking back. We must leave our former fears on the far side of the Cross. There is no longer cause or place for uncertainty or anxiety. Sad reasonings are over and done with. Whatever there may be of temporal burdens, life for us possesses a deep undertone of joy. For we are chiefly bound to praise God for the glorious Resurrection of His Son. This is very meet, right and our bounden duty, at all times, in all places.
Affectionately in Our Lord,