Locust Street Letters
By Frank Lawrence Vernon
Philadelphia: St. Mark's Church, Locust Street.
ST. MARK'S, PHILADELPHIA.
THE SECOND SUNDAY AFTER EASTER, 1938.
MY DEAR PEOPLE:
The Collect for the Second Sunday after Easter takes us to the heart of Eastertide devotion.
Each Season of the Christian Year lays special emphasis upon one truth of the Christian faith and upon one special intention of Christian devotion. The truth emphasized today is that God has given His only Son to be a sacrifice for sin, and also an ensample of godly life. The special devotional intention is a thankful reception of the inestimable benefit of Our Lord's sacrifice, and a daily endeavor to follow the blessed steps of His most holy life.
Eastertide is not a season for relaxation. It is the season for intensive practise of the faith and devotion which we have learned, beginning with the Manger; pausing for the present at the Station of the Resurrection, with the prospect of progress toward the Ascension, Pentecost and the Festival of the Most Holy Trinity. The Christian year offers a graded course in Christian Faith and Practise. There are no slack seasons in the course.
We have in mind today the words of the Catechism, "A lively faith in God's mercy through Christ, with a thankful remembrance of His death." We have in mind the Eucharistic petition that we may be "made one body with Him, that He may dwell in us, and we in Him."
We are naturally thinking of the disciples who followed the blessed steps of Our Lord through the forty days after the Resurrection. They saw Our Lord. They beheld His risen Body. They heard His words. Because they saw they believed. One of the things they heard Our Lord say was, "Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." This is the Easter beatitude which is ours. This is what we have in mind when we wish each other a blessed Easter.
The disciples, after all, only had forty days of visible companionship with Our Lord. He had told them that it was expedient for them that He go away; for if He went not away, the Comforter would not come unto them: but if He departed, He would send Him unto them. He told His disciples that when the Spirit of truth came, that He would guide them into all truth: for He would show them things to come. The disciples relied upon that promise so unreservedly, that when they watched Our Lord being parted from them, and carried up into Heaven, they were able to worship Him, with great joy, and to continue praising and blessing God.
After that those first disciples lived under precisely the same spiritual conditions as we. From the Ascension on they and all Christians have lived in union with the Risen Lord in faith through the power of the Holy Ghost. They and we have continued steadfastly in the Apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
In the Creeds we continue in the Apostles' doctrine. In the Orders of Ministry in Christ's Church we continue in the Apostles' fellowship. In the Holy Communion we have continued in Breaking of Bread. In the Liturgy of the Church we have continued in the Prayers. In the seasonal Communions we are made one with Our Lord in His Mysteries. We are made one with Him in Bethlehem, in Nazareth, in Jerusalem, in the Passion, in the Death, in the Resurrection, in the Ascension, in His heavenly High Priesthood.
The Church gives the gift of this Holy Communion to each one of us individually, and makes for us all together a blessed Communion and fellowship divine. We are not divided, all one Body we, for all are one in Him, for all are His. We all are filled with the Risen Life of Our Lord. We all carry Him enshrined in our souls. It is no longer we who live, but Christ who liveth in us. We are no less with Him and in Him than were those first disciples.
The one, great devotion of the Forty Days of Easter is really the one, great devotion of the whole year; devotion to Christ the life of the soul. This is the meaning of the Christian Life. It means that Our Lord lives in us, and with us, and through us, in the daily life which each of us lives, wherever we live.
Affectionately in Our Lord,