On December 31, 1969, President Richard Nixon proclaimed that January 1970 would be Blood Donor Month, an observance that has continued ever since.
Our culture offers vampire books, vampire movies, vampire television shows, vampire fangs and capes. Though the word vampire is only a few hundred years old, the notion of beings who drink the blood of others in order to sustain themselves goes back thousands of years.
Obviously blood matters to health, even if folklore approaches the subject from a gruesome perspective.
But why do we let blood be a gruesome subject when it is so fundamental to health?
Every 12 seconds, someone in the US needs the hope that comes from another person’s blood. One donation, separated into plasma, platelets, and red blood cells, can help up to three people.
Because of various health issues, not everyone is eligible to donate blood safely. Still, close to 40 percent of the population could donate, but only about 10 percent do. I don’t say that to inflict guilt, but to point out opportunity. It’s easy to assume somebody else is donating blood without realizing the importance of joining the ranks if we are able. Some people are squeamish about needles or blood, much less both in combination. But for many others, the thought of donating just never occurs to them.
In a time of illness, blood is life-giving and hope-giving. It restores health.
I can’t help but think of the life and health that comes to us by the blood of Christ. Peter wrote, “You know you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ … Through him you have come to trust in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are set on God” (1 Peter 1:18–21).
God used something as visceral and physical as human blood to bind us to God and open a way of health in both body and spirit. When we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we find nourishment in the body and blood of Jesus. We remember that Jesus gave blood so that we could experience the health of God’s salvation.
Maybe we need to take blood back from the shadows of vampires or our individual fears and celebrate it as the gift from God that it is—and then give the gift of health to others as we are able. When we share health with others in this simple sacrifice, we can also remember the wholeness that comes to us because of Jesus. There is power in the blood.