Today I watched blood slowly drip into a vivid red line leading to a bandaged plastic tube that had been inserted intravenously into my 11-year-old son’s arm.
I’ll be honest: I’m not a good one when it comes to needles, and the most disconcerting thing for me to deal with when it comes to IV treatment for my son has been blood transfusions. It was a rare occurrence when he was being treated for cancer (Rhabdomyosarcoma) in 2012. Even though I knew in my mind that the chemotherapy being administered was basically poison, it was the blood transfusions that hit me the hardest. I remember weeping back then, as I did recently, when they first gave him blood to support his own struggling system. Something about the vivid color and the knowledge that some one gave that precious substance to help my child in dire need touched me profoundly.
As a privileged white male, it also became most clear to me at that moment that with the free gift of life blood, there is no Jew nor Gentile, no slave nor free, no male and female—no color, no creed, no class, no division that changes this unifying feature of our humanity.
The blood remains as red
– The Choir, “Clouds” (1987)
The bones that serve as the framework of every human form have at their core the source of that unity—the marrow that regenerates this common lifeblood.
Amid varied and beautiful human diversity, an essential sameness exists at the core.
The constitutive elements of blood have become too familiar in the past month as my son fights a new battle with aplastic anemia. We’re back to regularly fretting over platelets, hemoglobin, neutrophils, and so many blood tests. All of these building blocks of blood emanate from the core of his framework of bones—his marrow.
This blood is life. Its value is costly.
Lost in thought amid the hours of treatment this week and this contemplation about blood, I encounter the horrible news of the Charleston, SC, Emanuel AME Church shooting.
While I struggle to comprehend the full extent of this attack, I’m more aware than ever of the precarious nature of human life and the unity that this bloodshed represents.
And men will recognize that out of one blood God made all men to dwell upon the face of the earth.
– Martin Luther King Jr., “Where Do We Go From Here?” Address to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (1967)
This killer’s hatred and his evil act of terror, as much as he wants it to, cannot blot out the red blood and the marrow at his core that he shares with those he seeks to destroy. Yet as this enemy selfishly takes blood, so many others selflessly give their blood, literally or figuratively, and bear witness to the love of Christ.
This is how Osheta Moore’s message to Kingdom people, in the aftermath of this shooting, spoke directly to me.
We’re called to be the ones to cry out, “Immeasurable worth!” when image-bearers are devalued. We’re the voices of justice. We’re the ones who draw in the sand and level the playing field. As peacemakers, we’re tasked with identifying with our Prince of Peace who overcame our blood-thirsty enemy by shedding his own blood—selflessness and love flows from the cross and lies out our chosen path—humility.
– Osheta Moore, “What I Need You to Say in Response to the Shooting in Charleston”
The blood of Christ—incalculably valuable, immeasurably costly—flowed freely to meet my desperate need. I know this to be true in the marrow of my bones.
The blood remains as rich
That poor sinners drink like wine
– The Choir, “Clouds” (1987)
I don’t know the nine people who were mercilessly gunned downed as they prayed, studied and fellowshipped Wednesday night at church but I see Christ’s love flowing as they served God, each other and their community.
I know they have unsurpassable worth.
I don’t know the people that gave the blood that is now flowing in my son’s veins, renewing his life and helping him recover.
I know we are grateful and humbled to receive such a gift.
I am beginning to understand that this “one blood” encounter through my son’s illness can be used by God to teach me. Today, it is teaching me to listen more closely and identify more deeply with the sorrowful in Charleston and the black community.
At our university documentary film festival this past April, the best in show winning film centered upon the last prayer of Christ that included the words, “I pray that those who believe in me, that they may be one.” Christ’s last prayer directly connects to His most costly gift.