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Blood and darkness

Almost 50 years ago, I was a medical chemist working with blood to diagnose and treat diseases. So when I see something about science, especially stories about blood, they have my full attention.

Discover Magazine for January 2018 lists the 100 top scientific news stories of the past year and a couple include blood. Number 35 is a story about Harvard and Cornell Universities where researchers are creating hematopoietic stem cells able to mature into platelets and red and white blood cells. Harvard used adult skin cells and Cornell used endothelial cells that line the inside of blood vessels. These artificial blood stem cells can be used to treat sickle cell anemia, various forms of leukemia and other blood diseases.

Now, if you’ve wondered what number one was — it was the story of the solar eclipse. Mary Ella and I spent the week at Lake Rabun (near the centerline of the eclipse’s path) where we have a small cabin and just as the total eclipse began, a cloud covered the sun. But I noticed the sun shining on the water across the lake, so we jumped into the boat and crossed the lake just in time to see it from beginning to end. It was incredible! Everything around us turned an oily green and slowly grew dark as the moon covered the sun. The total eclipse was a black circle with a small band of fiery light around it, and then the sunlight came back.

You might also wonder why I’m talking about blood and solar eclipses, and so I’ll tell you. We’re, Woodland and Bold Springs UMC, reading through the Bible this year and on Monday we read the Passover story about blood and darkness.

“The blood on the doorposts will be a sign to mark the houses in which you live. When I see the blood, I will pass over you and will not harm you when I punish the Egyptians.” (Exodus 12:30)

Maybe you remember the story about the final plague in Egypt as God forced the Pharaoh to set his people free. One night at midnight, the angel of death passed through Egypt taking the first-born son from each household unless the family had smeared the blood of a lamb or young goat on the doorposts and on the beam above the door of the house. In that case, the angel of death would “pass-over” the house and not take the first born son.

The Passover celebration of that midnight miracle continued as Jesus’ Last Supper with his disciples and now continues in our Christian celebration of Holy Communion.

Pastor’s viewpoint is written by Charles ‘Buddy’ Whatley, a retired United Methodist pastor and a missionary to the Navajo Reservation in Arizona.