Originally scheduled for June 25
In the midst of the Civil War Abraham Lincoln
gave a reception at the White House. One of the invited guests was
Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author of
Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Greeting her, Lincoln said, “Oh
ho! So you’re the little lady who started all this fuss.” He
was referring to the impact her novel had on the American people. It
could almost be said, then, that
Uncle Tom’s Cabin caused the Civil War. But I would have you
know that there are three possible meanings to the phrase, “the
novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”
Most authors will tell you that they
have a pretty clear idea of the organization, content and outline of
the book they’re going to write well before they put anything on
paper. So this phrase could refer to the novel as it was in Harriet
Beecher Stowe’s head.
Of course, you could also refer to a
physical copy of the novel. I might say, “I have a first edition of
Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”
Lincoln, of course, used it in the
sense that was different — he meant the impact it had on the
May I point out to you that this Trinity is
very close to the Trinity we meet in Scripture. The novelist has a
“Father” idea; the printer turns it into an incarnation, a physical
novel; and of course the public that reads it turns it into an idea
to be spread. It’s a nice picture of the divine Trinity.
Most important in this example is the fact that
while there are three different meanings, ultimately there is only
one novel with three manifestations. That oneness is essential to
our understanding of God. Why is the oneness of God so important to
communion, then? See how the unity of the Trinity is exemplified in
the events commemorated by communion.
God the Father, throughout the Old
Testament, made promises to the people of Israel through his
prophets that one day the Messiah would come, and that he would deal
with the sins of the people. That happened on the day of the
Jesus, the exact representation of
the Father, physically demonstrated God’s love for us in that act of
“no greater love” — his sacrifice on the cross.
The Holy Spirit carries this forward
by transforming us into a new creation; we are to be the imitators
We are in deep waters; but our Lord does not
demand brilliant theology but asks us as we partake to remember the
sacrifice which made it happen. That sacrifice is the great pivot of
history. Looking at how God dealt with the human race before and
after will show you this.
God’s love before the cross was
expressed to one nation, one race in a hierarchical way — a
priesthood. There was a high priest; regular priests and ordinary
laymen. Now we are a kingdom of priests, a royal priesthood. We are
Before this time animal sacrifices
represented what was coming. After the Cross no more sacrifices were
Before the cross the Holy Spirit came
only upon particular people at particular places and particular
times. After the cross the Holy Spirit indwells every Christian.
So as you partake this morning, remember.
Remember that God intended this from the beginning; remember that
Christ made atonement once and for all; remember that the Holy
Spirit is within you. God’s love — and there is no greater — has
been shown to you; communion is given that you might remember it.