Locust Street Letters
By Frank Lawrence Vernon
Philadelphia: St. Mark's Church, Locust Street.
ST. MARK'S, PHILADELPHIA.
THE SECOND SUNDAY AFTER CHRISTMAS DAY, 1941.
MY DEAR PEOPLE:
"The angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus; for he shall save his people from their sins."
Here we have the manifestation of the love of the Holy Trinity for sinners. God the Father so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, to the end that all that believe in Him, should not perish but have everlasting life. He was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man. His name was called Jesus; for he shall save his people from their sins.
Here is the Gospel as it really is. It is simply stated. There need be no uncertainty as to the meaning of the words. Yet there has been so much misunderstanding. There has been a haunting dread of a Divine Father so relentlessly unappeasable that only the death of His only-begotten Son could turn away His wrath against sinners and wrest from His unwilling lips the words of pardon. And in the background is the forgetfulness of the gentle voice of the Holy Ghost.
How all this accumulation of error ever darkened the mind of man can only be accounted for by the subtleties of the adversary of souls working in confused and fear-stricken minds in order that they might be goaded to despair. Such a dark cloud of misbelief can only be dispelled by the clear light of the glorious gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, whose Nativity brought grace and truth in all fulness to a waiting world.
The Christian Year keeps the faith before us by keeping the facts before us. Each season gives the emphasis upon a certain fact necessary for the right balance of the faith as a whole. In Scripture, Liturgy, Sacramental and prayer life, this is made possible.
The first fact to be kept in mind at this particular season is the fact of the love of the Holy Trinity manifested in the Incarnation of God the Son. It is we who need to be reconciled and changed, not God. God is love, unchangeable, changeless, infinite love.
The second fact is that Our Incarnate Lord came to save us from our sins. Not to save us from every discipline of suffering, but to enable us to make right use of purifying discipline to the end that the diseases of our souls may be cured, that our maladjustments may be corrected, and that the bands of bondage may be broken.
The way that leads to all this is the way over which Our Lord has gone before. He is the way. His direction is plain. His yoke is easy. His burden is light. His grace is sufficient. His reward is sure. There is no sin that cannot be forgiven. There is no sinner who cannot become a saint. These are the glad tidings of great joy which shall be to all people.
Our way is made very clear and simple. We know that unto us was born in the City of David, a Saviour which is Christ the Lord. We know the meaning of the glad tidings. We have the means of attaining to the great joy. We know the tender mercies of God in providing us with the grace that is sufficient. We know where to find and how to find the Presence in which is the fulness of joy.
We also know that joy loses its fulness if it is not shared. Freely we have received, freely we must give. This is the Spirit of Missions and it prepares us for Epiphany.
Affectionately in Our Lord,