Locust Street Letters
By Frank Lawrence Vernon
Philadelphia: St. Mark's Church, Locust Street.
ST. MARK'S, PHILADELPHIA.
PENTECOST, COMMONLY CALLED WHITSUNDAY, 1941.
MY DEAR PEOPLE:
Today we give thanks for the coming down of the Holy Ghost from Heaven. "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 filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance."
In the Collect the Church prays that "by the same spirit we may have a right judgment in all things, and evermore rejoice in His holy comfort," (that is strengthening).
In the Proper Preface the Church offers thanks unto "the Holy Father, Almighty, Everlasting God, 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 light and true
knowledge of thee, and of thy Son Jesus Christ."
In the Nicene 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."
When we were baptized the Church prayed, "Give thy Holy Spirit to this child (or to this thy servant) that he may be born again." After we were baptized the Church gave thanks. "We yield thee hearty thanks that it hath pleased thee to regenerate this Child (this thy servant) with the Holy Spirit."
When we were Confirmed the Church prayed, "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 ever."
When the Bishop who administered to us the Sacrament of Confirmation was consecrated the Presiding Bishop and Bishops present laid their hands upon the head of the Elected Bishop, kneeling before them, the Presiding Bishop saying, "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."
There you have your living link with the first Pentecost. You have been incorporated into one Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. You have received the Laying on of Apostolic Hands. Your bodies have been made temples of the Holy Ghost.
There are prayers for us to say today, as we offer our devotions to the Holy Ghost. First the Collect for Whitsunday. Then the prayer of thanksgiving in the Ministration of Holy Baptism, beginning, "Almighty and everlasting God, Heavenly Father, we give thee humble thanks." Then the prayer in the Order of Confirmation, beginning, "Almighty and ever-living God, Who hast vouchsafed to regenerate these thy servants by Water and the Holy Ghost."
And then, I think, that as we say these prayers, many, many memories will be revived. Those who carried us to the Church. The priest who baptized us. The Church itself. Perhaps we have not seen it for years. But we do not forget it. We can see parts of it now, that for some reason have stood out in the picture and never faded. The Church in which we were Confirmed. It is the same with that. We can see the Bishop. And the picture of the Church. We may be living far away from it now. Shall we ever go back to see it again? Perhaps.
But after all we have it all wherever we are. It remains with us forever.
Affectionately in Our Lord,