Locust Street Letters
By Frank Lawrence Vernon
Philadelphia: St. Mark's Church, Locust Street.
ST. MARK'S, PHILADELPHIA.
THE THIRD SUNDAY AFTER EASTER, 1938.
MY DEAR PEOPLE:
"A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father. Then said some of His disciples among themselves, what is this that He saith unto us, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me: And, Because I go to the Father?"
The disciples' question was soon to be answered. During the Great Forty Days they saw Him with bodily sight. After Pentecost they saw Him with spiritual sight. The spiritual sight was more perfect than the bodily sight. The new vision manifested then the many things which they could not bear before. The Holy Ghost would teach them all things, and bring all things to their remembrance, whatsoever He had said unto them.
The Holy Ghost would guide them into all truth. They would see the fulfilment of the promise, "I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you." The world would see Him no more; but they would see Him. He would love them, and would manifest Himself to them. He told them all this before it came to pass, that when it came to pass, they might believe.
It has all been told to us. We ourselves have seen it come to pass. We also believe. We also believe in Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever. We also know that He has not left us comfortless. We also know that He comes to us. We also know how He comes to us. We also have the strength-giving knowledge that He never leaves us, nor forsakes. We also know that He is with us always. Our joy in His risen life is our life in Him. Because we have seen the Lord we also are glad at Easter. We also are His disciples.
The teaching of the Church, the sacramental ministry of the Church, the worship of the Church, become very simple when once we understand that everything that we hear, receive, and practise is provided to make and keep us disciples. In the Collect we pray, "Grant unto all those who are admitted into the fellowship of Christ's Religion, that they may avoid those things that are contrary to their profession, and follow all such things as are agreeable to the same, through our Lord Jesus Christ."
A disciple is a learner, a follower, a pupil. "Learn of me," Our Lord said, "for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Yes, we have to learn how to be meek. First we have to learn what the word means. A commentator on the word wrote, "The words are a prophecy that meekness will prove a greater power in the world than pride.
This was a revolutionary doctrine. Judaism meant pride of race and privilege; Rabbinism pride of learning; Roman imperialism, pride of power; Greek culture either pride of intellect or pride of external magnificence. All agreed that the meek man was a poor creature, and the worldly man thinks so still."
As a matter of fact only a very strong man can be meek. A weak man can only make an unconvincing counterfeit. Strength is obtained at a great price. The price is unsparing self-discipline. That requires strength to begin with. It requires strength to continue under humiliating failures. The deepening of humility, plus self-control, plus sympathy, is what is meant by meekness.
Our Lord is the example. Our Lord is the only Person who can teach us. Meekness is only one of the lessons we have to learn. But it is one of the first. I only mention it because Our Lord did and because it is the business of the disciple to learn lessons, and because we must all make Eastertide a purposeful season by deepening our discipleship.
I think that we, who make Lent resolutions, should make Eastertide resolutions. The first disciples became resolute disciples in that first Eastertide. So must we. Whatever our resolution may be, it will be directed toward definite discipleship.
Affectionately in Our Lord,