Our God is a God of peace. We sing it each week: Glory be to God on high, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men. That angelic Christmas hymn is one of the many reminders in each Divine Service that Jesus has come to bring us peace, to restore communion between God and man. All of those works which He does to restore that peace are His natural works. This is what we prayed about in today’s Collect, confessing that God’s almighty power is shown, first and foremost, in His mercy and pity.
Everyone is looking for peace. In the end, that’s what each of us wants. Think about the commercials you watch on TV. Their end goal is to get you to buy their product, their service, their pill because, whether they say it or not, their claim is that it will give you peace. Buying Old Navy’s clothes will help your child who is new to their school fit in. Alex Trebek tells you that purchasing more life insurance through Colonial Pen for only cents a day will give you and your loved ones more financial peace. The dizzying parade of prescriptions will ease your restless legs, lower your cholesterol, eliminate your double chin, lift your sagging eyelids, enhance your memory, mood, and stamina, and give you the happy, peaceful life you’ve always wanted while you watch the sunset on the beach as your grandkids play in the background. But all of these things give you the kind of peace that only the world can give, and if it’s a peace the world can give, the world can take it away. Those Old Navy jeans won’t help your child find peace at their new school when all of the kids are obsessing about jeans from the next store over. Life insurance won’t give you any peace if you can’t afford the premiums. Pills won’t give you peace when your medicine cabinet is full of the next round of drugs up for class action lawsuits. Like Jerusalem, we are so often chasing after what we think will give us peace, when what—or really, Who—will give us peace is right in front of us. The will of God is to give us peace that passes our understanding, and that peace is given in Jesus Christ Our Lord.
Why does the Pastor preach? Scripture explains that the role of preaching the Word of God is how saving faith is created: “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’ … So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ” (Romans 10:14-17). The Augsburg Confession, seeing this connection between the Preaching Office and saving faith, summarizes Scripture on the Office of the Holy Ministry in this way: “To obtain [saving, justifying] faith, God instituted the Office of Preaching, giving the Gospel and the Sacraments. Through these, as through means, He gives the Holy Spirit who produces faith, where and when He wills, in those who hear the Gospel. It teaches that we have a gracious God, not through our merit but through Christ’s merit, when we so believe” (AC V 1-3). The whole reason the Pastor preaches is so saving faith can be created, so we know that “we have a gracious God” who loves us and has saved us from our sin by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.