Locust Street Letters
By Frank Lawrence Vernon
Philadelphia: St. Mark's Church, Locust Street.
ST. MARK'S, PHILADELPHIA.
MY DEAR PEOPLE:
"When the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the spirit gave them utterance."
So the promise of our Lord was fulfilled. "I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever." The descent of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost is an historical fact recorded in the Scripture. The Church bears witness to the fulfillment of the second part of Our Lord's promise that the Holy Ghost abides in the Church and in Christians.
In the Creed we affirm "I believe in the Holy Ghost, The Lord, and giver of Life, Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son; Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; Who spake by the Prophets."
In the Collect for the day we pray, "O God, who at this time didst teach the hearts of thy faithful people, by sending to them the light of thy Holy Spirit: Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort."
In the Preface, we give thanks "Through Jesus Christ our Lord; according to whose most true promise, the Holy Ghost came down as at this time from heaven, lighting upon the disciples, to teach them and to lead them into all truth; giving them boldness with fervent zeal constantly to preach the Gospel unto all nations; whereby we have been brought out of darkness and error into the clear knowledge of thee, and of thy Son Jesus Christ."
At Baptism the Church prays, "Give thy Holy Spirit to this child, That he may be born again, sanctify him with the Holy Ghost." At Confirmation the Church prays, "Strengthen them, we beseech thee, O Lord, with the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, and daily increase in them thy manifold gifts of grace: the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and ghostly strength, the spirit of knowledge and true godliness; and fill them, O Lord, with the spirit of thy holy fear, now and forever."
In the Ordaining of Priests the Bishop says at the laying on of Hands, "Receive the Holy Ghost for the Office and Work of a Priest in the Church of God, now committed unto thee by the Imposition of our hands." In the Consecration of Bishops, the Bishops say, at the laying on of Hands, "Receive the Holy Ghost for the Office and Work of a Bishop in the Church of God, now committed unto thee by the Imposition of our hands; In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen."
So Our Lord fulfils His promise that the Holy Ghost abides with us forever.
"Know ye not," says St. Paul, "that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."
Personal devotion to the Holy Ghost is the secret of the Christian's fidelity, serenity, stability and strength. Devotion is the consecration, dedication, giving up of oneself to unreserved obedience and service to God. Such devotion is defined and pledged in the Christian vow made at Baptism. "Wilt thou then obediently keep God's holy will and commandments, and walk in the same all the days of thy life?" To this question, the Christian answers, or his Godfathers and Godmothers answer for him, "I will by God's help."
In Holy Communion the Christian offers and presents to God, himself, his soul and body, to be a reasonable and living sacrifice. In prayer the Christian humbly beseeches the Heavenly Father that he may be assisted with grace to continue in that holy fellowship, and do all such good works as God has prepared for him to walk in. The Collect for Whitsunday may profitably be made a daily prayer.
Affectionately in Our Lord,