The pastor spoke yesterday of blood. There are churches where they do this all the time — they sing about a fountain filled with blood, talk about being washed in the blood, and harp on blood during communion — but we are Presbyterians, so it doesn’t come up that much.
In fact, though I have sung about power in the blood and nothing but the blood of Jesus, it always creeps me out. Communion creeps me out. All religious reference to blood strikes me as a throwback to atavistic rituals that have nothing to do with my experience of God.
The pastor acknowledged that a lot of us feel that way. Then he challenged that. Our bodies contain blood for the very purpose of carrying life-giving oxygen and nutrients to our cells and carrying away metabolic wastes to the kidney and liver for purification. It cleans us.
In a less squeamish era than our own, the image of blood as a cleansing power would simply be factual.
Having someone else’s blood cleanse us is still a weird concept, and of course it is inextricably linked with the torture and death of Jesus, but I still found the sermon eye-opening.
I had another curious experience in church. The teachers from the church school, which belongs to the church but is not staffed with members of the church, came in yesterday for their annual blessing. They were all wearing corsages, which is what drew my eye to them. One of them seemed so gracious, smart, and charming that I wanted to make friends with her. She wore the corsage quite naturally, where about half of the teachers hadn’t yet figured how to put it on. Her face showed kindness and interest.
So, yes, it being the 20th century, I went and Googled her because who knows, maybe she is as nice as she seems and we could actually be friends. It turns out that she, like me, is married to an Asian man and has two daughters and two sons. We live in the same town, were born in the same distant state, share a few Facebook friends, and could conceivably meet.
But I also thought about how excellent it would be to inspire instant respect and admiration in others. #1 daughter told me recently that she likes to look as though she cares enough about herself to take care of herself. I feel pretty good if I don’t actually look like a bag lady when I leave my house.