Locust Street Letters
By Frank Lawrence Vernon
Philadelphia: St. Mark's Church, Locust Street.
ST. MARK'S, PHILADELPHIA.
THE SIXTH SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY, 1943.
MY DEAR PEOPLE:
The Collect, Epistle and Gospel for today set forth the triumph of the redemption which is above all the other blessings of this life. "We bless thee for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life; but above all for thine inestimable love in the redemption of the world by Our Lord Jesus Christ; for the means of grace and for the hope of glory."
The final note of the Epiphany is one of thanksgiving. Also it is one of preparation for our renewed participation in the mysteries of the Passion. It declares the triumph of the Passion. It explains Bethlehem.
In the Collect we pray, "O God, Whose blessed Son was manifested that He might destroy the works of the devil, and make us sons of God, and heirs of eternal life; Grant us, we beseech thee, that, having this hope, we may purify ourselves, even: as He is pure; that, when He shall appear again with power and great glory, we may be made like unto Him in His eternal and glorious Kingdom."
The Epistle calls us to "Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God." "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him." "Ye know that He was manifested to take away our sins." "For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil."
The Gospel foretells the second Coming of Our Lord. "Then shall they see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, and from one end of heaven to the other."
The lesson that we may learn today is this. Our Lord was manifested that He might destroy the works of the devil. And He did destroy them. Once and for all He won the victory for good over evil. The sun may be darkened, and the moon may not give out her light, the stars may fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven may be shaken, but the Son of Man has conquered. There can never be any doubt about that.
In a few weeks we shall be commemorating the Passion of our Saviour. In our devotions we must remember that we are commemorating His victory over sin and death. If we would share His victory we must share His passion. For His victory is won through His passion.
On the Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary we pray, "We beseech thee, O Lord, pour thy grace into our hearts; that as we have known the incarnation of thy Son Jesus Christ by the message of an angel, so by His Cross and passion we may be brought unto the glory of His Resurrection."
The second lesson we learn is that for each of us there is a battle field on which each must carry on the struggle for self-conquest. It is a difficult and dangerous contest in which "we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."
Difficult and dangerous as this adventure may be and will be, it shines with a hope that nothing dims. It is the hope of the sons of God and heirs of eternal life. It is the hope which stimulates the soul to look for and to wait for Him Who shall appear in power and great glory. It is the hope that when He shall appear, we may be made like unto Him.
Affectionately in Our Lord,