Locust Street Letters
By Frank Lawrence Vernon
Philadelphia: St. Mark's Church, Locust Street.
ST. MARK'S, PHILADELPHIA.
THE FIRST SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY, 1941.
MY DEAR PEOPLE:
"When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea, in the days of Herod the King, behold there came Wise Men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, Where is He that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen His star in the east and are come to worship Him. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His Mother, and fell down, and worshipped Him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto Him gifts; gold and frankincense, and myrrh."
The record of the pilgrimage of the Wise Men; their preparation; their steadfast fidelity in following the light given to them, the finding of the Child Who is the true light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world, their act of worship, their presentation of their treasures; these are the subjects for meditation during the Epiphany Season.
The Epiphany lesson is a lesson for every man that cometh into the world. There is only one way to find the light. That way is within the power of every man to follow. To each is given the guiding star. The pilgrimage may be a long one. The discouragements may be many. The perils may be great. The treasure given to each pilgrim as a reward for fidelity will be. worth offering. The joy of offering the gift will compensate for all pains in attaining it.
The point which I have suggested for meditation is the preparation of the Wise Men. They made diligent use of the vocation wherewith they had been called. They were faithful to the light given to them day by day. Their vocation was for study and reflection. They dedicated their lives to one object. They were single-hearted.
When the star appeared in the east they saw it, because they had become trained observers. They were able to interpret the significance of the star. Their interior integrity had made them sensitive to the light. There was only one clearly indicated way for them.
They lost sight of their star. But they persevered in the darkness. They encountered a crafty and a hostile Herod. But their spiritual wisdom was superior to worldly wisdom. When they had passed through the dark places, lo, the star which they saw in the east went before them.
They saw. They rejoiced. They worshipped. They presented their gifts. Their pilgrimage ended with the finding of the Child.
The Shepherds, we remember, arrived at the Manger by a shorter and an easier way. They were faithful to their vocation as the Wise Men had been to theirs. An angelic revelation was given to them. From childhood they had lived in a religious environment which prepared them for celestial manifestations of the glory of the Lord and for angelic appearances.
They were sore afraid, but they understood, and when the angels were gone away, they were prompt in their obedience to the heavenly vision. "Let us go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a Manger." They too, like the Wise Men, yet by a different preparation, were ready.
The lesson to be impressed upon us is that we in our varieties of vocations are each given the guiding light daily to lead us to Our Lord. We have only to be prepared. The Collect for the First Sunday after the Epiphany explains the preparation for which we are to pray. "Grant that they (we) may both perceive and know what things they (we) ought to do, and also may have grace faithfully to follow the same."
The duty for the moment will be our guiding star.
Affectionately in Our Lord,