On Monday, we take communion around our worn dining table after missing it on Sunday, share the hand blown goblet from Mexico filled with grape juice poured from small boxes. “This is His blood shed for you,” my husband says, and the five of us remember the drink that makes us one and the death that is our life.
I stand at the window and look across the street to the maple tree, leaves dripping burgundy scarlet, and it is an exquisite dying — these branches that will soon be stark silhouette against winter sky. This shedding to prepare for the green grace of spring.
Later, we drive past the large building next to the hospital with the sign that reads “Red Cross,” and my five-year-old asks what they do. I explain that (among other help and rescue) the Red Cross receives blood from people who want to donate theirs so it can be put inside the bodies of those who are sick.
“And the healthy blood makes them well,” I tell her.
In the stiff wooden pews under the stained glass, we sing, There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Immanuel’s veins; and sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains. My 11-year-old daughter outright cringes at the gruesome thought of a blood fountain spurting from within Jesus’ body, even as we sing the truth of the only flow which makes us clean.
For 31 days in October, I write as honestly as I can about living fully in my ordinary, everyday life. In the process of daily writing, I experience holy intimacy with the God we are invited to know. On days I feel lost and struggle to put down words, I especially taste the miracle of daily grace as He speaks in love that wraps and provides.
But then I publish words formed in this intimate place, and my doubt and worry rush like a flood. I’m suddenly sure I’ve not done enough, nor said anything memorable. I stand naked and insecure in the harsh light of this daily one-way vulnerability, hoping to be “liked” and approved.
In a phone conversation, my sister tells me I need a tangible representation of the covering that is mine, a real life reminder that I am not truly naked, but continually clothed by Jesus.
So it’s the red scarf which calls to me. I realize it is a representation of the power of the blood.
I drape myself in the ribbed red knit as I write, and it recalls my true clothing made by the One who is my salvation. When I release the day’s words from fingertips and press “publish,” I lay the scarf across the keyboard and computer screen to remember the power of His continuing love covering.
For I am saved not only in relationship with Christ who has set me free from the power of death for all time, but also in my over and over again surrender of daily works through which I attempt to prove my value to myself and this world.
When Jesus, the perfect sacrifice, shed his holy human blood on the cross, He both fulfilled every previous ritual of performance and altar sacrifice and cleansed each of us from what Hebrews 9:14 describes as the futility of our dead works.
Even now, wrapped in this red scarf, I am saved from this trying and failing, striving and straining to do the work that is already done. For nothing I do can earn this scarlet grace covering, the wonder-working power of blood that fills, forgives, and frees us.