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Communion Meditations (2017)

Trinity

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 American public.

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 crucifixion.

·         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 of Christ.

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 one.

·         Before this time animal sacrifices represented what was coming. After the Cross no more sacrifices were needed.

·         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.

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