Locust Street Letters
By Frank Lawrence Vernon
Philadelphia: St. Mark's Church, Locust Street.
ST. MARK'S, PHILADELPHIA.
THE SECOND SUNDAY AFTER EASTER, 1935.
MY DEAR PEOPLE:
The Collect for today gives us two points for Eastertide meditation. The first is thankful reception of the inestimable benefit of the sacrifice for sin offered by Our Lord upon the Cross. The second is daily endeavor to follow the blessed steps of His most holy life.
The benefit of Our Lord's sacrifice for sin is that He has made it possible for us to die to sin. The daily endeavor to follow the blessed steps of His most holy life is made possible for us by Our Lord's resurrection, which has restored to us everlasting life in Him. He, by His rising, has made it possible for us to rise to, and walk in, newness of life. Both these. blessings marked the lives of the disciples after the Crucifixion and the Resurrection.
Mary Magdalene thankfully received the inestimable benefit of the Sacrifice of the Cross. She never for one moment doubted her forgiveness. Simon Peter thankfully received the inestimable benefit of the Sacrifice of the Cross. He never for one moment doubted his forgiveness. So it was with all the disciples. Each and every one of them thankfully received the inestimable benefit of the Sacrifice of the Cross. They believed that their Lord was the Lamb of God who by His death had taken away their sins and the sins of the whole world. They believed that their Lord, by His rising to life again, had restored to them everlasting life.
No one knew better than they the meaning of penitence. No one has preached better than they the gospel of penitence. Their gospel of penitence is a gospel o f a new life, because it is luminous with faith, vibrant with hope, and transformed with Charity. In the newness which could not be denied, and could only be explained by the fact that they had been with Jesus, they followed the steps of their Master.
They never forgot that they had been frail disciples. They never forgot that they could do all things through Christ who strengthened them. They never yielded to morbid retrospection. They brought forth the fruits that are worthy of repentance and most pleasing to God; humility, trust and joy in their Lord. This is what we notice as we read the account of their lives during the days after the Resurrection and through the day of the Ascension, when, although their Lord was received out of their sight, they returned nevertheless to Jerusalem with great joy: and were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God.
So they have taught us, by their examples, how to thankfully receive the inestimable benefit of the Sacrifice, and how to follow the blessed steps of His most holy life. It may seem to us that life must have been easier for them than ours is for us. They were blessed, for they had seen and believed. Yet we have Our Lord's own words, that a blessing is reserved for those who have not seen and yet have believed. From the day that promise was given the blessing has been received. Christians who have received it have been content to live in the times appointed for them, and have been able in their several generations to redeem their times, even when the days were most evil.
The central act of Christian worship is Eucharistic Sacrifice. There have been natural religions beyond count. There have been sacrifices better not recalled or described. But it has been reserved for Christians to offer the one sacrifice that is the sacrifice of thanksgiving. The Christian Sacrifice alone begins with thanksgiving. "All Glory be to thee, Almighty God, our heavenly Father, for that thou, of thy tender mercy, didst give thine only Son Jesus Christ, to suffer death upon the Cross for our redemption."
Christians set this sacrifice between their sins and their reward. Christians receive the most precious Body and Blood of their Saviour. Christians are made one body with Christ. Therefore in humility, trust, and joy, they walk, after each Communion, in newness of life.
Affectionately in Our Lord,