And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. Revelation 12:11 (ESV)
The Blessing – Blood and Stories Series – Part 7
Etymologically (back in the very beginning) the word “blessed” meant “to make bleed.” Yep. Bet you didn’t see that coming!
In pagan cultures, and even in ancient Judaism, to bless God was to sprinkle blood on the altar as a sacrifice.
Don’t just think of it regarding someone/something dying. Think of what blood represents:
It carries life.
It has a lineage and a legacy.
It’s present at all the sacred times of life, especially the beginning and the end.
It's edge of life, rubber hits the road liquid.
Blood is a strange, miraculous, binding thing.
Now stay with me, this may sound macabre and like TMI, but women especially know what it is to bleed. We are well acquainted with blood and its work. In her poem “Period,” Dominique Christina wrote:
“women know how to let things go, how to let a dying thing leave the body, how to become new, how to regenerate, how to wax and wane, not unlike the moon and tides…”
(Google her poem, it's beautiful but if you are offended by strong language, I would just enjoy the lines above.)
Blood has power.
Our bodies are all the stronger for it, and yet, at the same time, all the more fragile.
God, right back in the very beginning, through his prophets, was often quoted saying that he would “bless his people.” Does that mean that he would make of them a sacrifice? Or a sacrifice on their behalf?
Or maybe it could also mean that he would pour himself out on the altar of the world to bless us.
Now “Blessing” isn’t some happy-clappy action or emotion. I’m very wary of using the word these days, because, for me, its meaning has become stronger. Deeper. I’m not blessed that I found a great carpark, or that my kids are healthy, or that I have a great job… does it mean that people who have things differently to me are not blessed? I think a lot of stuff that we say is a “blessing” are just things that happened. I did nothing to deserve being born in this beautiful country, and the fact that I have demands that I do something good with it.
Blessing is God’s pouring out of himself for us. The overflow of his life, his blood, his energy, flowing into our lives. And on the alter of the world – power, control, money, domination – Jesus shed his own blood to show us what it looked like to love like God does. How to conquer in his Kingdom.
“Jesus did not come to change the mind of God about humanity (it did not need changing)! Jesus came to change the mind of humanity about God. God in Jesus moved people beyond the counting, weighing, and punishing model, that the ego prefers, to the utterly new world that Jesus offered, where God's abundance has made any economy of merit, sacrifice, reparation, or atonement both unhelpful and unnecessary. Jesus undid “once and for all” (Hebrews 7:27; 9:12; 10:10) all notions of human and animal sacrifice and replaced them with his new economy of grace, which is the very heart of the gospel revolution.” – Richard Rohr, Daily Meditations.
Now, blood and story – the blessing and the sacred and the grace and our lives – when they mix, they form a powerful bond. When evil tries to overtake you and convince you to hold onto hatred and separateness and greed and violence and control, think of the blessing of God, the giving of his blood, and how that changed your story from being one of revenge and pain to forgiveness and grace. And is changing it still.
TS Eliot said that “The purpose of literature is to turn blood into ink.” And I would say that the telling of these stories is to turn ink back into blood. If that’s not what these incredible stories recorded in the Bible do than what are we even telling them for.
Written by Lizzy Milani