Locust Street Letters
By Frank Lawrence Vernon
Philadelphia: St. Mark's Church, Locust Street.
ST. MARK'S, PHILADELPHIA.
EASTER DAY, 1941
MY DEAR PEOPLE:
Today we celebrate the Festival of the glorious Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Easter Gospels record the facts. The tomb was empty. His grave clothes were found in the empty tomb. He appeared to His disciples. His body was recognized as the same body, having flesh and bones, in which He died on the Cross. He remained on earth for forty days. He appeared to Saint Mary Magdalene, to Saint Peter, to two disciples on the road to Emmaus.
He appeared to the disciples gathered together at Jerusalem. He said to them, "Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have." He satisfied the test of Saint Thomas. "Except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into His side, I will not believe."
And after eight days again His disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst and said, "Peace be unto you." Then saith He to Thomas, "Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing." And Thomas answered and said unto Him, "My Lord and my God."
He appeared to five hundred at once in Galilee. These are the facts. These are the witnesses.
The Church is the present day witness. In the Creeds the Church testifies. "The third day he rose again from the dead." "The third day he rose again according to the Scriptures." "Chiefly are we bound to praise thee for the glorious Resurrection of thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord: for He is the very Paschal Lamb, which was offered for us, and hath taken away the sin of the world; Who by His death hath destroyed death, and by His rising to life again hath restored to us everlasting life.
At the Altars of the Church Christians come to receive the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, in obedience to His command. "Do this in remembrance of me." Christians come for the Sacramental Gifts with faith in their Lord's promise. "Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, bath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day."
The Church speaks to each Communicant. "The Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was given for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life. The Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was shed for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life."
The Church presents our thanks, on our behalf, for the gifts. "We most heartily thank thee, for that thou dost vouchsafe to feed us who have duly received these holy mysteries, with the spiritual food of the most precious Body and Blood of thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ; and dost assure us thereby of thy favour and goodness toward us; and that we are very members incorporate in the mystical body of thy Son, which is the blessed company of all faithful people: and also are heirs through hope of thy everlasting Kingdom, by the merits of His most precious death and passion."
Saint John wrote, "This is the record, that God bath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God."
We have eternal life now. This life is in the Son. The joy of the Resurrection is that we are risen with Christ.
Affectionately in Our Lord,