Blood covenant

Daily Reading for March 20 • Maundy Thursday

“Take, eat, this is my body,” Jesus said. Then he took the cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you; for this is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” Have we done it so often that we have forgotten how to be shocked by it? Of course it is not real blood in the cup. It is probably Taylor’s Tawny Port, but clearly, this is a blood covenant we are being asked to enter into, with staggering implications. . . .

The death cannot be overlooked, nor should it be, but it is the life that is being offered, the life that rushes out of that cup like a spring of living water. It is God’s promise from before time and forever, spelled out this time in flesh and blood. It is the new covenant and the last one—new because it is offered to us fresh each day and last because there is nothing more that God can say or do. This is as close as God can get: blood kin, indissoluble union, friend bound to friend for life, forever. When we lift the cup to our lips and drink, we accept the gift, renewing the covenant and reminding ourselves that we do not live for ourselves alone. We are possessors of a double life, having taken our friend’s life and nature into ourselves. Inside of us God rides in our bloodstreams straight to our hearts where the covenant is written: I shall be your God and you shall be my people.

From “Blood Covenant” in Gospel Medicine by Barbara Brown Taylor (Cowley Publications, 1995).

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