29 November, 2022

Sangre de Cristo

by | 3 October, 2022

(We first ran this Communion meditation in January 2014.)

By Ronald G. Davis

In the 16th century, Francisco Coronado and a group of Spanish soldiers explored the American Southwest, looking for golden cities! A priest accompanied them to carry God’s blessing and protection. When they reached the source of the Rio Grande River in what is now central Colorado, as the traditional story is told, that priest was mortally wounded by Native Americans defending their independence.

As he lay dying in the Spaniards’ escape southward, he saw a glorious sunset on newly snowcapped peaks. “Sangre de Cristo! Sangre de Cristo!” he exclaimed, with dying breath. To him, those roseate, glowing mountains, reflecting God’s dying light, looked like sangre de Cristo, the “blood of Christ.” How appropriate to see in one’s dying moments the only hope for one’s immortal soul: the shed blood of a risen Savior.

Here at the table of the Lord, we see the blood of Christ, blood from the ripped and ruptured skin of his fully human body. In that blood we have been washed and made clean. In that blood we have the hope of ones who have died to sin. Do you here see, as a dying priest of the Lord Jesus, the blood of Christ shed to cover your sins? Do you see yourself whiter than snow . . . as it were, snowcapped and clad in his white robe of righteousness?

Those southern Colorado peaks along the San Luis Valley still carry the name Sangre de Cristo, regardless of the veracity of the traditional story of their naming. This table still carries the name “the Lord’s table,” because in very truth it represents to us the reality of his body and his blood.

Do you see the brightness of its glowing, its blood-red cast over the black shadows of your soul? Here, we bow our heads, not in death, but in the living praise of our Savior.

Ronald G. Davis, former professor of Christian education at Cincinnati Bible Seminary, resides in North College Hill, Ohio. Davis says there are many online images of the sun casting a blood-red glow on the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, and he suggests projecting one of these images during the presentation of this meditation at your home church.

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