Locust Street Letters
By Frank Lawrence Vernon
Philadelphia: St. Mark's Church, Locust Street.
ST. MARK'S, PHILADELPHIA.
THE FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY, 1943.
MY DEAR PEOPLE:
"When the days of Her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought Him to Jerusalem, to present Him to the Lord."
The presentation of Our Lord in the Temple was the first offering of Our Lord in substance of our flesh. The second offering of Our Lord was consummated on the Cross at Calvary. The third offering of Our Lord is His continual intercession for us before the throne of God in heaven. The fourth offering of Our Lord is the offering of Himself as the Victim and Priest, in the Eucharist, at the Altars of the Church, that "only offering perfect in God's eyes, the one true, pure, immor, tal sacrifice."
In the Collect for the Festival of the Presentation of our Lord in the Temple, commonly called, The Purification of Saint Mary the Virgin, we are taught to pray that we may be presented unto God with pure and clean hearts by the same Jesus Christ our Lord. In this offering we have already begun to share actively.
In the liturgy "we offer and present ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice unto thee, humbly beseeching thee, that we, and all others who shall be partakers of this Holy Communion, may worthily receive the most precious Body and Blood of thy Son Jesus Christ, be filled with thy grace and heavenly benediction, and made one body with Him, that He may dwell in us, and we in Him." We have our share in Our Lord's offering, since we are made one body with Him, that He may dwell in us and we in Him.
He presents us with Himself as members of His Body. We do not presume to come to His Table, trusting in our own righteousness, but in His manifold and great mercies. We are sensitively aware of this. Yet we are no less sensitively aware, that though we have sinned, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He is the Propitiation for our sins.
' So we turn our eyes toward heaven and our thoughts and aspirations to our Advocate with the Father, Who ever lives to make intercession for us. We commit ourselves with boldness to Him Who is able to save them to the uttermost who come to God by Him; seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for us. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. So we "come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."
Then we begin to make a definite approach to the offering of Our Lord upon the Cross. The sense of the necessity for an adequate propitiation begins to press upon us. A penitence which has outgrown self-regard develops into the love that casts out fear. We begin to understand now. The last person we had expected to see, in the last place in which we would have expected to find Him, is crucified for us.
Out on a lonely hill He is offering Himself to suffer death upon the Cross for our redemption. By His one oblation of Himself once offered He has made a full, perfect and sufficient sacrifice, oblation and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world.
The sinless one has redeemed the sinful. The debt is paid by the only-begotten Son Who was presented in the Temple in substance of our flesh, that we may be presented with pure and clean hearts by the same Jesus Christ our Lord.
Affectionately in Our Lord,