Locust Street Letters
By Frank Lawrence Vernon
Philadelphia: St. Mark's Church, Locust Street.
ST. MARK'S, PHILADELPHIA.
PALM SUNDAY, 1943.
MY DEAR PEOPLE:
The Collect for today is a prayer that all mankind may follow the example of Our Lord's great humility and patience.
The Epistle exhorts us, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross."
The Gospel for the day commences the record of the Passion. "When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put Him to death."
Each day of Holy Week will set before us an event in the sacred Passion for special devotion. We shall be looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the Cross, despising the shame: and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Today we are commemorating the entry of Our Lord into Jerusalem. "On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet Him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord."
In Church this morning we have witnessed the blessing of palm branches: we have witnessed the procession from the sanctuary; and around the Church. The procession has at first sight and sound the marks of joy. Yet there is a difference from the other processions of the year. The Crucifixes and the ornaments of the Altar are veiled. The route is the penitential one. The music is in a minor key. Yet it is solemnly militant. It is a procession going forward to meet death. It is going eagerly, with an eagerness of an army confident of victory. It follows the royal banner of an adored King.
It is a procession which inspires the thrill of an anticipated and already assured victory. It is a procession which is armed with the mind to endure the Cross. It is a procession which sees the joy that is set before. The secret of that joy lies in the sure and certain hope that they will be partakers of the Resurrection of the Captain of their salvation. " The ceremony of the procession is a short one. The return to the Altar completes it.
"Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus." The minds of the congregation are centered upon the Sacrament ordained for the continual remembrance of the sacrifice of the death of Christ, and of the benefits received thereby. "All glory be to Thee, Almighty God, our heavenly Father, for that Thou, of Thy tender mercy, didst give Thine only Son Jesus Christ to suffer death upon the Cross for our redemption."
Here we arrive at the Central Reality of Christendom, the sacrifice of the !death of Christ, consummated upon the Cross, perpetuated at the Altar, continually offered in heaven. Here the Christian looks unto Jesus, the author and finisher of his faith: Who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the Cross, despising the shame.
And what is that joy? The joy of the salvation of us men. The joy of the forgiveness of our sins. The joy of our transformation. The joy of making us new creations in Himself. The joy of presenting us to the Father, ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven. To Him this joy is worth all that it cost from Bethlehem to Calvary.
Affectionately in Our Lord,