Peace on Earth and Peace in Heaven

Text: Luke 19:38
Date: Passion/Palm Sunday + 3/24/13

Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!

Dearly beloved, we’ve been here before, since the beginning of the liturgical year, the beginning of telling the story of God’s salvation. We began with these words, and have heard them every Sunday since, both at the beginning of the sermon and at the Sanctus of the Holy Communion, as a reminder that salvation does not originate in us, is not attained by our coming to God, but is always and must be the result of God’s coming to us, God’s seeking us out, God’s calling, gathering and enlightening all hearts that do not reject His coming.

The Good News is that God has come to save us from sin and death, to save His whole world. He came as the son of Mary of Nazareth, yet fully also the Son of God. At Christmas, St. Luke tells us this, His coming was announced by angels singing, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace” (Luke 2:14). Today, at the ending of His earthly journey St. Luke tells us of the mirror image of His first coming as His disciples shout, “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” Peace on earth, peace in heaven.

How odd, then, with this promise of peace that we should be standing here now, having witnessed St. Luke’s account of the horrible, innocent suffering and bloody death of our Lord. How strange must be this peace as we stand now in silent wonder at His grave.

That’s where we are left to hang today, at the cross and the tomb, at the beginning of the Great and Holy Week. That’s where we are left to wonder of what sort of peace the angels and the disciples sang.

He has finally reached His goal, His oft-stated “hour” has come, He has entered Jerusalem and is drawing nearer to His house and His Father’s house, the temple. The nearer He gets the more His holiness shines. Today, tomorrow and Tuesday He teaches in the temple. Then after a strange silence on Wednesday, we gather with Him again in the Upper Room. He commands us to wash one another’s feet, to love one another, and then to do this memorial meal of His body and blood, proclaiming His death until He comes again. On Friday we find out He wasn’t kidding. He “was crucified, died and was buried.”

Today, the first day of the week, we begin the Great and Holy Week. Yet today is still also the eighth day, and so the drama of His passion is not as much mourned, bewailed and lamented as it is celebrated because by His resurrection from the dead we have discovered God’s peace—peace through the Savior’s strength; peace on earth, by faith in the heart, and peace in heaven, reconciled to God through the forgiveness of our sins. Today and every day we echo praises fit for The King: Blessed is He. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”