Monday, April 12, 2010

Power in the Blood

The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. Jeremiah 31:31

Jesus took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
I Corinthians 11:25

As long as it stays contained where it’s supposed to be, as long as it flows elegantly but powerfully through its intended piping, as long as it’s not trickling in magenta ribbons or pooling in crimson puddles, I don’t get squeamish about blood.

As long as I turn my head and stare at the calendar art on the wall, as long as I strike up an inane conversation with the phlebotomist, as long as I concentrate on the orange juice and cookie I’m going to get after making a donation, I don’t get squeamish about blood.

But put that blood in a clear plastic bag and hang it from an IV pole within my field of vision and smelling salts will soon be necessary. I have been known to faint dead away and fall hard. With such a track record, you’ll forgive me if blood is not one of my favorite themes.

And yet, recently, when the quality and components of my own blood became a concern to my health care providers, blood became a topic I obsessed over. Don’t be alarmed—I’m fine now. But for a time, my unfortunate body was so lacking in iron that my bone marrow blood factory could produce virtually no hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is like a fleet of delivery trucks transporting oxygen throughout the body. So, as I understand it, no iron meant no hemoglobin, which meant no oxygen, which meant no energy, no power, no oomph. No life force.

The good news is that, with a dietary regimen of spinach, liverwurst and iron-fortified Cream of Wheat accompanied by fistfuls of vitamins, iron was able to be replenished. For that, I’m most grateful.

This whole bloody chapter of my life, though, has caused me to think about the blood of Christ’s covenant in expanded ways. Of course the cup that Jesus shared at his holy supper reminds us of his sacrifice. It calls us to remember his willingness to give up his own life to cover us in true love. It fills us with his presence when we come to the Communion Table. It means a hundred nuanced but important things to any hundred different people. Here’s one more.

The fact that oxygen travels through our bloodstreams calls to mind that the very Breath of God is reproduced in each red blood cell. The Breath of God flowed continuously through Jesus’ blood, and the Breath of God pumps energy, power and oomph right through our veins. The Breath of God puts the life force directly into our arteries. When we remember Jesus’ blood, the blood of the New Covenant, we can think not only on the implications of what it means when blood is spilled, but on the vitality that surges through us when we are restored.

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