Locust Street Letters
By Frank Lawrence Vernon
Philadelphia: St. Mark's Church, Locust Street.
ST. MARK'S, PHILADELPHIA.
THE FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER EASTER, 1943.
MY DEAR PEOPLE:
"Jesus said unto His disciples, Now I go my way to Him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest Thou? But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you." "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit, when He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth."
The Gospel for today gives us Our Lord's instruction concerning the work of the Holy Spirit in the souls of Christians. The promise of Our Lord is to assure His disciples that when the time comes for the withdrawal of His bodily presence, the Holy Ghost will be sent to lead the disciples into all truth.
There were many things which could not be told them; many things which they could not bear to be told, until the Holy Ghost had prepared them. In the meantime they were to be led step by step, day by day. Each day would lead them nearer to the coming of the Comforter, Who would lead them into the knowledge of the meaning of Our Lord's going away. One by one they would be led on to the great day of Pentecost.
Then the work of the Holy Spirit in the Church would be made known to them. Their functions would be appointed for them. The power from Heaven would be given them. But in the meanwhile they must patiently wait. In the meanwhile the Holy Spirit would show them things to come in such an interior manner as to gradually and gently prepare them for the full revelation.
So have Christians in all ages been led by the Holy Spirit into all truth. These days between Easter and Whitsunday are days of joyful commemoration of the Resurrection. They are also days of waiting for the coming of the Holy Ghost.
The Epistle for today reminds us that "every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of Lights, with Whom is no variableness neither shadow of turning. Of His own will begat He us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruit of His creatures."
God has ordained that we should receive the engrafted word which is able to save our souls. God does not force His word upon us. He does not compel our acceptance. He provides the means of grace which will enable us to receive the engrafted word and use it for the salvation of our souls.
The Collect for today is a prayer that we may submit our wills and affections to the control of Almighty God Who alone can order, direct, sanctify and govern them, that by His mighty protection we may be free to love the things which He commands, and desire that which He promises: "that so, among the manifold and sundry changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed, where true joys are to be found."
We must always remember that we need careful preparation to receive the benefits of the gifts of the Holy Ghost. We need faithful use of the Sacraments, constant prayer, daily watching, steadfast resistance to every temptation, and true penitence for every sin. We must constantly remind ourselves that at Confirmation we received the gifts of wisdom, knowledge, counsel, understanding, ghostly strength, true godliness and holy fear. We must stir up these gifts that are in us, as we begin to prepare for our Whitsunday Communion.
We might say the hymn "Come Holy Ghost Our Souls Inspire" as a prayer of preparation daily. On Whitsunday we might turn to the Office for Confirmation in the Prayer Book and on our knees read the promises we made. Then we may commend ourselves to the Holy Ghost to lead us into all truth.
Affectionately in Our Lord,