Monday, January 5, 2009

I See the Heavens Opened

We sang “A Great and Mighty Wonder” in the Divine Service yesterday. The final verse reads, in part:

All Idols then shall perish
And Satan’s lying cease,
And Christ shall raise His scepter,
Decreeing endless peace.

As I sang “And Christ shall raise His scepter, Decreeing endless peace,” I thought to myself, “Now that would be a sight to see.” Then I thought, “Wait a minute – I’ll be there to see it!” The endless peace of Christ’s final proclamation unites us and transports us directly back to the angelic proclamation made to the shepherds at Christ’s birth:

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!"

In that moment, heaven and earth, past, present, and future are united in a song that truly has no end. The “not yet” of the eschaton becomes the “yet now.” In the same way, in the Divine Service heaven and earth are united, as the Word incarnate comes from heaven above to us in Word and Sacrament. The future promises of heavenly joy are a present reality as we sing “Holy, holy, holy Lord of Sabaoth; heav’n and earth are full of Thy glory. Hosanna, hosanna, hosanna in the highest.” As the shepherds returned to the fields glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, we join with them and all the company of heaven, glorifying God for all we have heard, seen, and received in the Divine Service. Our praises combine with those of all the saints in an eschatological stanza of the final angelic song that occurs when Christ raises His scepter, decreeing endless peace.

For as in the beginning,
Is now, shall ever be,
God’s triune name resounding
Through all eternity.

God’s blessings to you and your family on this 12th and final day of Christmas.

photo credit: lant 70

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