Project Canterbury

Locust Street Letters

By Frank Lawrence Vernon

Philadelphia: St. Mark's Church, Locust Street.




We are following now the events in Our Lord's infancy. We have read the record of the shepherds who watched over the flocks destined for the sacrifices in the Temple. We have read the record of the appearance of the angel who came upon the shepherds while the glory of the Lord shone about them, and we have remembered the announcement, 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.

We have thought about the multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace good will toward men. We have followed the shepherds as they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. When we knelt at the Altar for Christmas Communion we were blessed beyond the blessing given to the shepherds. Not only were we able to worship the Holy Child, as they did; it was made possible for us, in the Eucharistic Mysteries, to actually receive the Holy Child to dwell in our souls. We too returned glorifying and praising God for all the things that we have heard and seen.

Yesterday when we commemorated the circumcising of the Child, we heard His name, Jesus, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

So far we have gone. We know what is to follow. At the appointed time we shall commemorate the Presentation in the Temple, and hear once again Simeon's Nunc Dimittis. We shall hear Anna, who gave thanks likewise unto the Lord. We shall commemorate the visit and homage of the Magi.

A cloud overshadowed the glory of Bethlehem as we listened to the sad record of the flight into Egypt and the murder of the Innocents. In today's Gospel we are told of the angel of the Lord appearing in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, Arise, and take the young Child and His Mother, and go into the land of Israel. We shall be told again of the fear and the intrepid courage and faith and obedience of Saint Joseph, who turned aside into the parts of Galilee: and how he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth.

And at the threshold of the house we shall contemplate the Holy Family, the Divine Child, the Virgin Mother, and the faithful guardian Joseph. In this holy house Our Lord lived. The intimate events there are veiled and only brief nar-rative is left to us. Of the childhood we are told that He grew and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon Him. We shall be told of His youth, that When He was twelve years old His parents went to Jerusalem, at the feast of the Passover, and He went with them. And of how the Child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem.

We shall be told how that after three days of anxious search made by His Mother and Saint Joseph, they found Him in the Temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions, and how all that heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers. And when they saw Him, they were amazed, and His mother said unto Him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? and He said, How is it that ye sought me? Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business? And He went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them.

This will be the foreground of our devotions until the Second Sunday after the Epiphany. The Gospels will provide subjects for meditation. The Collects will provide subjects for prayer. The Liturgy will provide the way of proper devotion. The Holy Communion will provide the means of uniting ourselves, our souls and bodies with the Holy Child Jesus.

Affectionately in Our Lord,

Project Canterbury