Locust Street Letters
By Frank Lawrence Vernon
Philadelphia: St. Mark's Church, Locust Street.
ST. MARK'S, PHILADELPHIA.
THE FIRST SUNDAY IN ADVENT, 1942.
MY DEAR PEOPLE:
We enter today upon the Christian New Year. The word Advent directs our devotion to the coming of Our Lord. Four weeks of preparation are given to us that we may be ready to receive Him when He comes to us on the Festival on which we commemorate His Nativity.
The Collect for the First Sunday in Advent sounds the keynote. It is a call to definite action. A call to repentance which concentrates upon casting away the works of darkness. and putting on the armour of light. It is a call to newness of life.
Repentance whereby we forsake sin, and faith whereby we steadfastly believe the promises of God are the incentives for Advent devotion. There is a sustained note of joyful expectation. We wait for the coming of Our Lord in each Christmas Communion, remembering that He Who first came to visit us in great humility will also, at the last day, come again in His glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead. We pray that we may rise to the life immortal.
We go to Bethlehem to begin the pilgrimage which will lead us to Heaven. We meet him in the Manger to follow the blessed steps of His most holy life. Each step will carry us on to share in the mysteries of His life and we with each step will make His mysteries our mysteries.
He lived these mysteries for us in order that He may live them in us. From Bethlehem on He not only shows us the way. He is the way. It is for us to follow Him. We are to identify ourselves with Him. In every circumstance of our lives we may identify ourselves with Him. We share in His life in Bethlehem, in Nazareth, in the wilderness, in His public life, in Gethsemane, on Calvary, in His Resurrection.
We are to become one with Him. He is to suffer in us and to conquer in us. For this He came into our world that we might enter into His world, that where He is, there we might be also with Him in glory.
What He did for us is ever being offered in Heaven for us, by Our Lord, Who is our High Priest, our Advocate, our Mediator, the Head of His Mystical Body, the Church. We are the members who share in the life of His Body. He in us. We in Him. He is the Vine. We are the branches. "He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing."
The Church establishes us in this organic union with Our Lord in the Sacrament of Baptism, wherein we are made members of Christ, children of God, and inheritors of the Kingdom of Heaven.
In Holy Communion the Church administers to us "the most comfortable Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ, to be received by us in remembrance of His meritorious Cross and Passion; whereby alone we obtain remission of our sins, and are made partakers of the Kingdom of Heaven."
In the order of the Christian Year the Holy Scriptures present to us the word of God setting forth the revelation of Divine truth as revealed in Our Lord Jesus Christ. In the Creed we continually make affirmation of our belief in all the Articles of the Christian Faith. In the Liturgy we are taught to direct our prayers to the obtaining of the spiritual benefits to be derived from each mystery as it is commemorated.
The Christian Year is a year of Our Lord. It is filled with the things that concern Him. It is for us to see to it that these things are our first concern.
Affectionately in Our Lord,