Locust Street Letters
By Frank Lawrence Vernon
Philadelphia: St. Mark's Church, Locust Street.
ST. MARK'S, PHILADELPHIA.
THE FIRST SUNDAY AFTER CHRISTMAS, 1942.
M DEAR PEOPLE:
The Church is commemorating the Nativity of Our Lord. We are bidden to lift up our hearts and to give thanks unto our Lord God, with Angels and Archangels, and with all the Company of Heaven. With them we magnify God's Glorious Name.
It is meet and right so to do "Because Thou didst give Jesus Christ, Thine only Son, to be born as at this time for us; Who by the operation of the Holy Ghost, was made very man of the substance of the Virgin Mary His Mother; and that without spot of sin, to make us clean from all sin."
Our Lord Jesus Christ is the only-begotten Son of God; Begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, Begotten not made; Being of one substance with the Father; by Whom all things were made; Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; And the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead; whose Kingdom shall have no end.
As we kneel to offer our worship to the Holy Child we must remember what the Church, in her sacred Scriptures, in her Creeds and in her Liturgy teaches us concerning Him. As the seasons of the Christian Year follow the steps of Our Saviour's holy life, we are permitted to be present at the commemorations and to share in the experience and the benefits of each mystery. It is Our Lord's will to live in us our share in what He has lived for us.
In the Collect for the Annunciation we pray "that as we have known the Incarnation of thy Son Jesus Christ by the message of an angel, so by His cross and passion, we may be brought unto the glory of His resurrection."
We begin at Bethlehem with the mystery of the holy Incarnation and the Holy Nativity and we follow as sharers, not as detached spectators, on through the Cross and Passion until we are brought unto the glory of the Resurrection.
The way is a triumphant one. It is the way of life as Our Lord has prepared it for us to walk in. It does not promise escape from the common temptations and troubles of life. It does something far better than that. It affords us companionship with our Lord. We learn what life really means by living with Him. We receive power to live beyond, far beyond, mere natural human strength.
We receive consolations which the world can neither give nor take away. Just at the moments when we need it most we receive refreshments of interior peace which we cannot explain, because they pass our understanding. But one thing we do understand. The power and the consolations and the peace all come from God. We have learned that the one thing needful is to keep unbroken union with Him. This also is made easy for us.
The Sacramental life is so simply ordered that children may know it and live in it. It is so tenderly administered that penitents confidently find pardon and peace. It provides a prayer life so inviting that the attraction is compelling for those who travail and are heavy laden. It provides Altars for the sacrifice once offered for the sins of the whole world.
Ask those who minister in these mysteries how they explain the fact that this ancient religion has survived the persecutions which have befallen it over and over again. They will answer. "Go to the Young Child in the Manger. Seek Him and you shall find Him."
Affectionately in Our Lord,