Locust Street Letters
By Frank Lawrence Vernon
Philadelphia: St. Mark's Church, Locust Street.
ST. MARK'S, PHILADELPHIA.
CHRISTMAS DAY, 1938.
MY DEAR PEOPLE:
Today we celebrate the Festival of the Nativity of Our Lord. The Gospel for the day sets forth the two facts to be commemorated. "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."
The Preface gives us guidance for the rendering of the devotion demanded by the day. "It is very meet, right, and our bounden duty, that we should at all times, and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O Lord, Holy Father, Almighty, Everlasting God, 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."
The Collect for the day provides a prayer, "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."
Our devotional duty is to affirm our faith in Our Lord as God; to render the "worship due to His Deity, and to give homage to His sacred Humanity united in one Person, Jesus Christ, truly God, perfectly Man, in whom are two distinct natures, Divine and human. "For us men and for our salvation He came down from Heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man."
Christmas faith brings rich reward. "As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God.”
Christmas devotion consummated in the Christmas Communion makes the heart of the Christian a dwelling place for the Lord of Christmas.
Christmas Day is a day of high and holy solemnity to be guarded from secular distractions. Having made sure of this, all human joys will be fulfilled.
The angelic hosts announced to waiting shepherds the meaning of the mystery of the Holy Nativity. "Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a Manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men.
The Holy Child is the Saviour of the world. The Holy Child is the Son of God. He is the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by Him and the world knew Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the Sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.
As it was on the first Christmas Day, so it is today. He is in the world, and the world knows Him not. He comes to His own, and His own receive Him not. Yet He draws to Himself out of the world those who come attracted by the power of His incarnate life. To them He gives power to become the Sons of God.
Like the Shepherds they come with haste to their Bethlehem, their House of Bread, and find the babe lying in the Manger. In the holy mysteries of Communion they are fed with the spiritual food of His most precious Body and Blood, and are made members incorporate, one body with Him, that He may dwell in them and they in Him.
The Light of Bethlehem never fades. The wonder of the Manger never ceases. The Incarnate Lord is the same, yesterday, today and forever.
Affectionately in Our Lord,