Locust Street Letters
By Frank Lawrence Vernon
Philadelphia: St. Mark's Church, Locust Street.
ST. MARK'S, PHILADELPHIA.
EASTER DAY, 1943.
MY DEAR PEOPLE:
"The third day He rose again according to the Scriptures." This is the announcement of the fact proclaimed by the Church and confirmed by the Scriptures.
"I believe in the Resurrection of the Body: And the Life everlasting." This is the profession of the Faith, of which each Christian is a living witness.
"Chiefly are we bound to praise Thee for the glorious Resurrection of Thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord: for He is the very Paschal Lamb, which was offered for us, and hath taken away the sin of the world; Who by His death hath destroyed death, and by His rising to life again hath restored to us everlasting life."
This is the special intention of the act of thanksgiving which is rendered at the Altars of the Church when the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving is offered as the Lord commanded to be continued. "The Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was given for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life. The Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was shed for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life."
This is the gift of Our Lord according to His promise. "I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread he shall live forever: whoso eateth My Flesh, and drinketh My Blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day."
The Gospels for Easter are wonderfully simple records of the events of that first day when Our Lord rose. "The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene, early when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre. Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, they have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre and we know not where they have laid Him."
The simplicity of the record of the appearances of Our Lord bring the events very near. It is all so true to life. Everything happened as we might have expected. We can imagine it happened to us. This is just the point. It has happened to us. The Resurrection is a timeless act. Just as the Incarnation, and the sacrificial act of the Crucifixion is a timeless act. This is only to say that they are eternal.
Our Lord is living and interceding for us in heaven. He is the same Lord yesterday, today and forever. He is present with us on our Altars in the Sacramental way that He has instituted and commanded to be continued.
By the merits of His death, and through faith in His Blood, He grants remission of our sins, and all other benefits of His passion. He fills us with His grace and heavenly benediction, and makes us one body with Him, that He may dwell in us and we in Him. If we remember all this which is really happening to us on our Easterday, haven't we a wonderful Easter of our own here in this place and in this Year of Our Lord? Haven't we something to remember about our Easter? We are witnesses.
The Resurrection meant to the first disciples something more than a pledge of rising from the grave. It meant that. It means that now. But it means ever so much more. It means that we are to reckon ourselves to be dead unto sin. That means escape from a prison house. But it means even more than that. We are to reckon ourselves to be alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
It means not only that we are risen but that we are risen with Our Lord. It means that we are walking with Him, in the power of His Resurrection. It means that the former things, our old sins, have passed away. It means that all things are being made new.
This is the point to remember and never, never to forget. The Easter Resurrection is not the resumption of an old life. It is the gift of a new life. It is more than rising from the dead. It is rising unto life everlasting.
Affectionately in Our Lord,