Locust Street Letters
By Frank Lawrence Vernon
Philadelphia: St. Mark's Church, Locust Street.
ST. MARK'S, PHILADELPHIA.
EASTER DAY, 1937.
MY DEAR PEOPLE:
He is risen! Christ is risen from the dead and become the first fruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. This is the message which fills earth and sky today.
Since very early in the morning long processions of Christians have hastened to meet Our Risen Lord at the Altar in the Blessed Sacrament of His Body and Blood, to worship Him and to receive Him.
As we read the Eastertide Gospels and meditate upon the appearances of Our Lord to the disciples, we must constantly remember the admonition of Saint Paul, "Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord." We must hold fast the remembrance. that we ourselves on this Easter Day of nineteen hundred and thirty-seven are walking in newness of life in the power of His Resurrection, as did the disciples on the first Easter day.
Perhaps we can only faintly sense the joy of the first disciples, but we can fully realize our own. We are actually in Communion with Our Lord in the Sacrament of His Body and Blood. He lives in us. The power of His risen life is preserving our bodies and souls unto everlasting life.
Everlasting life is our present possession, not merely a hope for the future, but something that we have here and now. Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over Him. Because Christ dwelleth in us, it is no longer we who live, but Christ who liveth in us. Therefore death hath no more dominion over us. Our Lord has said "whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day." "If any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." With all Christians, in all places, in all ages, we make our affirmation of sure and certain faith, "I believe in the resurrection of the body; And the life everlasting."
Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us. He is the very Paschal Lamb, which was offered for us, and hath taken away the sin of the world. He dwells in us, that He may take away our sin. Therefore in Him we are to reckon ourselves to be dead indeed unto sin. The old leaven of malice and wickedness is being purged out. By continually mortifying our corrupt affections we are daily buried with Him. By daily bringing to good effect the good desires which He puts into our minds we daily pass to our joyful resurrection. As we die daily to sin, we live daily unto God. The former things pass away. All things become new.
Now all this is accomplished by living in Christ. It is in Christ that all are made alive. Life in Christ is the perfection of Christian devotion. Compared with this every other kind of devotion is secondary, preparatory, only leading up to perfect discipleship. The Sacraments are means of grace for stablishing, strengthening, settling us in the life which is hid with Christ in God. Prayer is conversation with God, by which our minds are informed, our wills elevated, our hearts enkindled. The beauty of the ceremonies of the Liturgy is an outward and visible sign of the beauty of holiness. Without holiness we cannot see the Lord.
This may seem to be beyond our capacity. It is beyond our natural capacity. But the whole point of the Easter message is that in Christ we are made new creatures. We have only to accept the Easter gift, and everything becomes simple. The impressive lesson that we learn from the first disciples on the first Easter is the lesson of simplicity. They were glad when they saw the Lord. They began without hesitation or misgiving the new life with Him. They never looked back. If we do as they did, and we must, this Easter and every Easter will be a day of wonder and delight.
Affectionately in Our Lord,