I’ve been wanting to do this ever since I moved into this Parisian neighborhood. The first time I tried, I was sent home to find out if I had a previous transfusion during my brain surgery two years back. I didn’t return with an answer for five months. Each time as I walked by the clinic’s doors I would say to myself, “I got to give soon!” Then two days ago I walked by the doors again and the sign beckoned, “Save a life, donate!” I said to my daughter, “Let’s do this together, Amanda!”
I’ve always felt indebted to others for my livelihood. It’s long story, but even when I was in my early teens, I felt that I owed God something for the miracle of my life. I wanted to pay my life forward. The words to a favourite song reminded me, “He paid a debt, he did not owe. I had a debt I could not pay.” Of course I sang the chorus with all the gusto I could muster, “And now I sing a brand new song, Amazing Grace, Christ Jesus paid the debt, that I could never pay!” I still can’t pay it all back!
When we sat down, the lady behind the desk instructed us in French, “You must answer all the questions honestly!” Since Amanda can’t understand most French words, I asked if I could fill out her questionnaire. “Under no circumstances,” she replied. “This has to be something she understands and she has to do this on her own.” Amanda went straight home while I spent the next twenty minutes checking boxes, the yes’s and no’s. Once completed the next fifteen minutes was with a doctor who grilled me on my answers.
“Have you ever lived in England during the years 1986-93? When did you get Brain surgery? Have you had any aspirins in the last three days? When did you go to Liberia? Have you slept with any other women in the last while?” That question was easy and I was glad to tell him that I hadn’t. He laughed, “You are a lucky man!” Yes. Then he asked me if I ever had a male partner! All these questions and more! At the end I asked him , “Why so thorough with all the questions?”
I was really motivated to give blood during this lent. It seems like a good idea after all God gave us His blood that first Easter. Easter, it is special to me. It’s the followers of Christ time to celebrate a new kind of Passover. When God saw the blood of a lamb on Israel’s door, the death angel would pass-over. In the days of Jesus around the clock animal sacrifices would take place in Jerusalem. Blood stains could be found everywhere around the temple. The place would smell of death. The loud bleating of sheep would fill the air. It was at a passover meal a couple of thousand years ago that Jesus took a cup, His last official meal. “This cup of wine is my blood”, He said, “it inaugurates a New Covenant that I am making with you.”
This is where so many people misunderstand the meaning of Christ’s brutal bloody sacrifice. We watched Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ and still missed the why. Easter has to do with all those years of Old Covenant bloody sacrifices at the temple. Jesus was announcing the time for that had come to end. No more need to splatter blood over a mercy seat hidden in the ‘holiest of holy’ places behind the thick curtain. The prince of heaven, wanted to donate his blood. Save a life! Save a world!
The doctor responded to my question that if my blood was tainted it could actually do more harm than good, maybe kill the recipient. Donating blood to save a life is honourable, but it only works when the blood is free of anything that could be harmful. He looked at all my travel dates and the charts on his computer and concluded that my blood was worthy. A few minutes later the nurse put the needle into my vein and I watched the beautiful red flow. I asked, “Do you have enough blood these days?” She said, “We are not in the red.” Ironic.
“Red is the colour of the blood that flowed Down the face of Someone Who loved us so” (Petra)
This Easter when I take the communion cup with my French brothers and sisters, the words of spoken with gusto of John the Baptist as Jesus approached the Jordan’s bank will speak of my debt paid in full, “Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” I’m in the red. It’s the colour of the perfect blood donated that gives me new life.
He checked all the right boxes. He answered all the questions right. He lived gracefully perfect. His blood was was worthy. His life was the last sacrifice for sin. His life was the perfect sacrifice for my sin. No more blood needs to be shed. None!