“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”
“Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”
For the next set of devotions, we’ll be exploring the Service of the Sacrament (as it is called in the Lutheran Service Book).
The “Sacrament” is the Lord’s Supper. In the Lord’s Supper Christ comes to us in His body and blood which is “hidden” under the bread and the wine.
The previous devotions in this series are:
Part 1 – Hymnody
Part 2 – Invocation
Part 3 – Baptism
Part 4 – Confession of Sins
Part 5 – Absolution
Part 6 – Introit / Psalmody
Part 7 – Kyrie
Part 8 – Hymn of Praise
Part 9 – Scripture Readings
Part 10 – Sermon
Part 11 – Confession of Faith
Part 12 – Offering
Part 13 – Offertory
Part 14 – Prayer
Part 15 – “Our Father”
Part 16 – “Hallowed Be Thy Name”
Part 17 – “Thy Kingdom Come”
Part 18 – “Daily Bread”
Part 19 – “Keep Us From Evil”
Part 20 – “Amen and Amen!”
Part 21 – Preface and Proper Preface
I believe that there is a heaven.
I realize that may not be such a surprising statement for me to make. As a pastor, of course I just have to believe that heaven exists.
But what does heaven look like? That’s the $64,000.00 question.
In the last couple years there’s been some books and movies by Christians about heaven.
“90 Minutes in Heaven.”
“Heaven is for Real.”
Then there’s Hollywood’s take on heaven in movies like “Heaven Can Wait” and “What Dreams May Come.”
Hollywood’s take is … well … what you might expect from Hollywood.
But what about those who profess to be Christians? “90 Minutes in Heaven” and “Heaven is for Real” are based on the experiences of Christians who were clinically dead, said they visited heaven, and then came back to life.
I have to admit that I’m skeptical. This is for two reasons.
For one, this has never happened to me and I tend to be skeptical of things that I have no direct, personal experience of. But I will also admit that I don’t believe things to be false or made-up just because I have no experience of them.
But the second reason I’m skeptical is because we do have a pretty descriptive account of heaven – in the Bible.
In Isaiah 6 the prophet Isaiah records his own encounter of heaven.
He sees God sitting on His throne in the Temple. We know from Ezekiel’s prophecy that the earthly Temple that Solomon first built was based on the “true” Temple of heaven.
When Isaiah sees heaven he is able to tell us a little about what he sees – mostly furnishings of the Temple and angels.
But it is what Isaiah hears that really catches our attention.
“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts….”
This becomes our song right before we receive the Lord Jesus in, with, and under the bread and wine in the Sacrament of the Altar.
When we sing this, we are making a confession of who the Lord is. The “LORD of hosts” – or in the older language, the “Lord God of Sabaoth” – which means that God is the Commander in Chief of the armies of heaven. He is “holy.” That is, completely set apart from all other things and is perfect in every way.
This is also who Jesus is! He is the one who completely defeated sin, death, and the devil for us!
That is why, in the Sanctus, we shift from Isaiah’s vision of heaven to the cry of the people on Palm Sunday: “Hosanna in the highest!”
“Hosanna” means “save us, we pray!”
Which is also exactly what Jesus does when He died on the cross. He took all our sins away, saving us from death and the devil and giving us His righteousness so that we can stand before the Lord of Hosts and sing, with the angels, “Holy, holy, holy!”
As is sung in the Proper Preface, so we sing again as if heaven has come down to earth. And it has. In the Sacrament of the Altar we have “heaven on earth.” We are given a glimpse of what heaven will be like for real.
And we won’t be spending just 90 minutes there. We will be there for eternity!