Locust Street Letters
By Frank Lawrence Vernon
Philadelphia: St. Mark's Church, Locust Street.
ST. MARK'S, PHILADELPHIA.
MY DEAR PEOPLE:
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us."
What does this mean? Who is the Word? The Word is "Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God; Begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of very God: Begotten, not made; Being of one substance with the Father, By whom all things were made."
How was the Word made flesh? What does this mean? "Who for us men, and for our salvation came down from heaven, And was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, And was made man."
Why is Christmas Day observed by Christians as a joyful festival of solemn obligation: Because it is the day of the Nativity of Our Lord. Why do Christians consider it their bounden duty that they should give thanks on Christmas Day? "Because thou didst give Jesus Christ, thine only Son, to be born as at this time for us; who by the operation of the Holy Ghost, was made very man, of the substance of the Virgin Mary His Mother; and that without spot of sin, to make us clean from all sin."
What prayer of praise do Christians offer to Our Lord Jesus Christ? “O, Lord, the only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ; O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father, that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us. Thou that takest away the sins of the world, receive our prayer. Thou that sittest at the right hand-of God the Father, have mercy upon us. For thou only art holy; thou only art the Lord; thou only, O Christ, with the Holy Ghost, art most high in the glory of God the Father."
What special prayer of supplication do Christians address to God on Christmas Day? "Almighty God, who hast given us thy only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and as at this time to be born of a pure virgin, Grant that we being regenerate, and made thy children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by thy Holy Spirit, through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same spirit ever, one God, world without end. Amen."
What spiritual preparation for Christmas does the Church require of Christians? "So to search and examine your consciences, and that not lightly, and after the manner of dissemblers with God; but so that ye may come holy and clean to such a heavenly Feast, in the marriage-garment required by God in holy Scripture, and be received as worthy partakers of that holy Table. The way and means thereto is: First, to examine your lives and conversations by the rule of God's Commandments; and whereinsoever ye shall perceive yourselves to have offended, whether by will, word or deed, there to bewail your own sinfulness, and to confess yourselves to Almighty God, with full purpose of amendment of life. And because it is requisite that no man should come to the holy Communion, but with a full trust in God's mercy, and with a quiet conscience; therefore, if there be any of you, who by this means cannot quiet his own conscience herein, but requireth further comfort and counsel, let him come to me, or to some other Minister of God's Word, and open his grief; that he may receive such godly counsel and advice, as may tend to the quieting of his conscience, and the removing of all scruple and doubtfulness."
What do Christians receive when they go to the Altar? "They receive the most precious Body and Blood of Jesus Christ," by which "we are filled with grace and heavenly benediction, and made one body with Him, that He may dwell in us, and we in Him."
What prayer of thanksgiving for Holy Communion do Christians offer to God? "Almighty and everlasting God, we most heartily thank thee, for that thou dost vouchsafe to feed us, who have duly received these holy mysteries, with the spiritual food of the most precious Body and Blood of our Saviour Jesus Christ; and dost assure us thereby of thy favor and goodness towards us; and that we are very members incorporate in the mystical body of thy Son, which is the blessed company of all faithful people; and are also heirs through hope of thy everlasting kingdom, by the merits of His most precious death and passion."
Christmastide is the season of the Christ-Mass. Our Lord will make the season a happy one for you.
Affectionately in Our Lord,