This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for blood. It’s one of the most powerful metaphors in any language, and it is the substance by which we measure our humanity.

Blood can mean death, of course. With loss of blood goes our life. Blood is the mark of violence, whether it is brought to bear through force or poisoned through more subtle forms of malice.

But blood also means life. The Scriptures tell us that “the life of every creature is its blood: its blood is its life” (Lev. 17:14, ESV). The death that comes with blood loss is chased away by new blood. Blood unites all the undulating parts and sinews of our bodies, making our disparate members whole.

Blood means family —- those who live in different bodies but share with us the same blood. The association brought by blood can and will bring joy, pain, loyalty, betrayal, happiness, suffering, and love. Blood bonds us in ways which on this earth we will never fully comprehend, and can never fully escape even if we tried.

Ultimately, blood means grace. Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins. Without death, there is no life. Christ displayed the full picture of the meaning of blood. The violence that shed his blood resulted in his death, but it is by his blood that we find life. It is by Christ’s blood that I can call others “brother” and “sister,” while our genetics have little in common.

So this year, as we gather together in the presence of blood that is familial, foreign, violent, and life-giving, let us thank him who covered us with his own.

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