Locust Street Letters
By Frank Lawrence Vernon
Philadelphia: St. Mark's Church, Locust Street.
ST. MARK'S, PHILADELPHIA.
THE FIRST SUNDAY AFTER CHRISTMAS, 1940.
MY DEAR PEOPLE:
On Christmas Day, and for seven days after, the Liturgy repeats the Proper Preface—"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." For this supreme gift we give thanks, and with Angels and Archangels, and with all the company of heaven we laud and magnify God's glorious Name.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with C and the Word was God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us; and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." This is the declaration of the Holy Gospel.
"I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God; Begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God; Begotten, not made; Being of one substance with the Father; By Whom all things were made: Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, And was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man." This is the declaration of Faith solemnly affirmed by all Christians, always, and everywhere.
"Almighty God, Who hast given us Thy only-begotten Son to take our nature upon Him, and as at this time to be born of a pure Virgin; 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." This is the prayer of Christians throughout the world.
"Wherefore, O Lord and heavenly Father, according to the institution of Thy dearly beloved Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ, we, Thy humble servants, do celebrate and make here before Thy Divine Majesty, with these Thy holy gifts, which we now offer unto thee, the memorial Thy Son hath commanded us to make; having in remembrance His blessed passion and precious death, His mighty Resurrection and glorious Ascension; rendering unto Thee most hearty thanks for the innumerable benefits procured unto us by the same." These are the solemn words with which the Church offers her holy oblation, the offering instituted by her Divine Lord, and commanded by Him to be continued until His Coming again.
The whole Church throughout the world speaks with one voice. She prays that all men everywhere may seek after God and find Him. She prays that all nations may be brought into God's fold. She prays that His Kingdom may come, and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Christians are living witnesses to the fact that cannot be denied, that the Church, whose utterances we repeat, has prevailed over the enemies of God in every land and in every age. It is a fact that the gates of hell have never once prevailed against the eternal Kingdom of which Christ is the eternal King.
Time and time again, after the wreckage of the world has been removed and the world itself has been redeemed, recovered and restored, one indestructible institution has survived to hold before the eyes of man the gleaming symbol of the Holy Cross, which has never ceased to be the sign of triumph.
The world slept while the Holy Child lay enthroned in the Manger. It may be that the world sleeps while Christians pray at the Manger today. But the awakening will come, as it always has. The Holy Child has overcome the world. He will come again to be its judge.
Affectionately in Our Lord,