Locust Street Letters
By Frank Lawrence Vernon
Philadelphia: St. Mark's Church, Locust Street.
ST. MARK'S, PHILADELPHIA.
THE SUNDAY AFTER ASCENSION DAY, 1943.
MY DEAR PEOPLE:
We commemorate today, through the Octave, that is, on Ascension Day and seven days after, the Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ into Heaven; Who after His most glorious Resurrection, manifestly appeared to all His apostles, and in their sight ascended up into Heaven, to prepare a place for us; that where He is, thither we might also ascend, and reign with Him in glory." This is the witness of the Liturgy.
"The third day He rose again according to the Scriptures: and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father." This is the witness of the Creed.
"Grant, we beseech thee, Almighty God, that like as we do believe Thy only begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ to have ascended into the heavens; so we may also in heart and mind thither ascend, and with Him continually dwell, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost; one God world without end." This is the witness of the Collect appointed for the Festival.
"I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world, again I leave the world and go to my Father." This is the Word of God.
"And He led them out as far as to Bethany, and He lifted up His hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass while He blessed them, He was parted from them, and carried up into heaven." This is the witness of Holy Scripture.
It is an article of faith, contained in the Creeds, that Our Lord's Ascension was a physical movement into the sky. Our Lord showed Himself after His passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God. "And when He had spoken these things, while they beheld, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into Heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into Heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into Heaven."
Our Lord in His glorified body ascended into heaven to appear for us, and to offer Himself for us as our heavenly High Priest to plead the merits of His one oblation of Himself once offered upon the Cross for the sins of the whole world. "We have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and He is the Propitiation for our sins."
Our Lord is ever our Intercessor. "He ever liveth to make intercession for us." He is our Mediator. We address our prayers "through Jesus Christ our Lord." He has ascended into Heaven to prepare a place for us, that where He is, there we may be also. He is our Advocate. Blessed be His holy Name. Who could be a more kind Advocate?
We have no temptations that He does not understand. We have no grief that He has not borne. We have no spiritual or moral maladjustments that He cannot correct. There has been no circumstance in our lives from infancy on that I has escaped His observation.
He knows each of us as no one else knows us. He knows us better than we know ourselves. He is not only the most understanding Advocate we could find in all the world. He is the only Advocate Who knows the last secret and speaks the last word.
Affectionately in Our Lord,