Locust Street Letters
By Frank Lawrence Vernon
Philadelphia: St. Mark's Church, Locust Street.
ST. MARK'S, PHILADELPHIA.
THE SECOND SUNDAY AFTER EASTER, 1943.
MY DEAR PEOPLE:
The Collect for today is a prayer that we may thankfully receive the inestimable benefit of Our Lord's oblation of Himself to suffer death upon the Cross for our redemption, and also to be to us an ensample of godly life. We pray for grace also to receive the benefit with faith by thanksgiving and also to daily follow the example of His most holy life.
These are the two notable duties for Christians at Eastertide. They were the marks of identification. In the beginning by their joy and zeal they unconsciously compelled men to take note of them that they had been with Jesus. The same marks of contact with Our Lord are expected of us. Hence the Collect for today.
Like the first disciples we must lose no time in readjusting ourselves to the new life which was revealed to them, and to us, after Our Lord's Resurrection. We must reckon ourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
It requires faith and fortitude to do this. It is vastly easier to shed tears of repentance than to make an act of humble hope and to say, "Lord, remember me." That requires a certain simplicity which never fails to win Our Lord's approbation. "Thy faith hath saved thee."
Yes, we offer to God our tribute of penitence every Lent. We must remember to render our tribute of thanksgiving every Eastertide. We must keep a good forty days to make a true balance. We receive our Eastertide Communions that we may feed upon Our Lord in our hearts by faith, with thanksgiving!
When we have thankfully received the inestimable benefit of the sacrifice, we have a new life awaiting us. When we have begun to reckon ourselves to be dead unto sin, we begin to reckon ourselves to be alive unto God. We are no longer content to stand still. We have had some knowledge of the steps of His most holy life. The Christian Year has taught us.
We know about Bethlehem. We have lived in Nazareth. We have visited the Desert. We have learned something of His daily life. We have read His Gospels. We have followed His Passion, from afar it is true. But we have followed. We watched at Calvary. So far we have followed. But we have only finished the preparatory stage. After the Resurrection, What?
This is where life begins. It begins where it left off. There is no loss of time. The old difficulties remain. But there is a new way of meeting them. As each trial presents itself we have Our Lord's example to guide us through. He is not merely a guide to a way of life. He is that. But He is more. He is the way. We only lose our way when we lose Our Lord. It is not His will that one of us should be lost.
So the Gospel for today is the Gospel of the Good Shepherd. "The Good Shepherd giveth His life for the sheep." Our Good Shepherd has done this. The Good Shepherd knows His sheep. And His sheep know Him. When He calls, His sheep know His voice. He calls each by name. If one of them is lost, the Good Shepherd goes out and searches until He finds it and brings it home to the fold. This is the life story of most of us, more or less, in one way or another.
Our lives are records of the acts of the love of God. The love of God never fails.
The first Christians were made new. They were given a new life. It was a life hid with Christ in God. They were given a new inspiration. It meant for them eternal redemption. It meant an ensample worth living and dying for. It can and must and does mean the same for us.
Affectionately in Our Lord,