Donating your Flesh and Blood as part of Christian giving – just FAB!

Flesh and Blood - logoI currently have the privilege of undertaking a community placement with the chaplaincy team at my local hospital as part of my ordination training. One session of that placement was sitting in on a meeting about organ and tissue donation.

Until then I didn’t know

  • the families of all suitable patients who are in cardiac or brain death are approached and asked to consider if they would be willing to allow organ or tissue donation from their relative, or if their relative has already registered for donation are informed of that fact if they didn’t know already;
  • people up to the age of 80 may be suitable for organ donation (e.g. heart, lungs, liver, kidneys etc.);
  • people up to the age of 85 may be suitable for tissue donation (e.g. cornea, ligaments, bone, skin etc.).

Further research since the meeting suggests that all five major religions in the UK support organ donation despite stories I’ve heard to the contrary, and though I am aware that some sects within these religions would hold alternative views.

A few days after this meeting, I had my awareness raised of a new campaign launched 28th January 2013, to encourage Christians to register, donate or promote organ and tissue donation as part of their Christian giving. This is the first time NHS Blood and Transplant have worked with churches on such a national campaign. It actually seems quite obvious to me now I come to think about it that donating our flesh and blood be part of our Christian giving, since we believe in a Christ who died that we might live a closer relationship with God, the author of life (Acts 3). Perhaps we shouldn’t need our own website through which to do so, but surely any campaign that raises the profile of both the need and opportunity can be welcomed.

The campaign is called Flesh and Blood, and provides a whole variety of resources including an easy way to register for organ, tissue and blood donation; stories of those who have donated or received organs, tissue or blood; resources to help raise awareness (including a 90 second video that can be downloaded and played during notices at your church) and make churches available as a venue for blood donor clinics; and understanding for those who are unable to donate but who can become advocates to encourage other who can to do so.

So, have I ever donated blood? Nope, not to date. Until well after I was married I was under weight and therefore not allowed to give blood, and since then just haven’t really considered it – that needs changing! However, hearing the stories of both medical staff and transplant patients at first hand last week, and reading the information at Flesh and Blood has encouraged me to more proactive action, and I am now registered for organ and tissue donation should the worst happen.

If you’re not a Christian and still want to make an altruistic donation of your flesh and blood for the benefit of others, then it’s just as easy for you to register for organ, blood, bone marrow and platelet donation. We could all have used that website for sometime now, or you may have already!

For my teaching friends, there is also a link to NHS teaching resources for KS4 children on blood, body parts and donation: Give and Let Live (which says it all in my view!)

Brings a whole new meaning to the word FAB, doesn’t it?

Creative bits of Liturgy for Ash Wednesday 2013

Ash and Palm Cross
Ash and Palm Cross

The Ash Wednesday service for the EDGY group (Eversley, Derby Green and Yateley) had a focus on how Lent might prompt us not just to give up things, but give them away. The preacher focused in part on our newly launched satellite of the Hart Food Bank under the umbrella of the Trussell Trust. To this end, it had been decided that we would depart from the lectionary readings and use instead Isaiah 58:1-9 and Matthew 25:31-46.

My task as the service leader was therefore to tie this theme together with the wider theme of penitence, and a looking forward to the victory of the cross at Easter, symbolised in the use of ash made by burning old palm crosses.

In doing so I used or slightly adapted the bulk of the liturgy from Common Worship’s Liturgy for Ash Wednesday but with the Liturgy of Penitence based on the Beatitudes from Common Worship’s Christian Initiation texts for Reconciliation and Restoration: Recovering Baptism (p242).

Several of our local congregations are used to less formal liturgy, so some things I adapted to subtly include the appropriate focus without (I hope) making the overall service feel too heavy. Here therefore are some of my prayerful links, with thanks for additional inspiration to the Digital Nun at iBenedictines, Malcolm Guite’s Sonnet for Ash Wednesday, and Jeremy Clines’s redubbed collect which I used part of.

Opening Prayer:

Holy God, holy and strong, holy and immortal, have mercy upon us
as we accept your invitation to rest this night in your presence, just as we are.
We do so, knowing that through his death on the cross,
Jesus Christ has already won for us the victory of life over death
which offers forgiveness for sin,
and recognising that we fail to keep his way of life and truth.
Take down this night,
any barriers to our understanding and expression of your love,
that we might go from this place into an observance of Lent
that proclaims the Gospel of Jesus Christ our Lord,
to the glory of his name.

Collect: (adapted from two!)

Creator God
you love all that you have made.
Your gift of life is visible all around.
We ask that, by your Spirit,
you would comfort the afflicted,
and unsettle the comfortable.

Holy God,
our lives are laid open before you:
rescue us from the chaos of sin
and through the death of your Son
bring us healing and make us whole.

Living God,
inspire us to be the change
you want to see in the world,
and particularly in this community
which you have called us
to make your home.

We ask these things
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Reflective Prayer before closing responses:

We have gathered together
under the promise of Christ’s victory on the cross.
As we journey towards that promise,
let us shine the light of Christ
into our hearts through our Lenten disciplines
and outward into the community he makes our home,
that his light will break forth like the dawn,
and his healing will quickly appear.
Then will we see God’s righteousness go before us,
and witness the glory of the Lord.
(based loosely on Isaiah 58:8-9)

Of mice and an MA

Three Long-Tailed Tits on birdfeeder
Three Long-Tailed Tits on my bird feeder. 6th February 2013

Today I achieved two things that I’ve been trying to accomplish all winter.

The first, was that I managed to photograph the Long-Tailed Titmice that occasionally dash through our garden. I have always loved these birds, and longed to photograph them, but this is the first time I’ve succeeded so I feel really chuffed with myself.

The second thing I achieved today, was completing the first portfolio of my MA. The whole process has been tortuous, proved the fact that I read, retain and reflect on material really slowly, and struggle to make connections that when I’m talking to someone informally come so much more easily. The thing is my poor memory means I can’t remember what I’ve thought, read or said. Yet, except for my issues with apostrophes,  I have no problems actually writing it just takes a long time – especially when I’m trying to achieve a standard that I’ve never worked at before.

Anyway, my reflection on obedience, community and hospitality in Benedictine spirituality will get it’s own special trip to college tomorrow, to be handed in. Then I can start proper work on the next two: one about land in the Old Testament, and one that may well be about spirituality and hope connected to my current hospital placement.

The little mouse that visits our patio. 29th January 2013

Oh, and more mice? Well we’ve had a little visitor under the bird-feeder on the patio recently – often first thing in the morning, so photographing it can prove rather difficult. Anyway, I rather like him, even if he’s bit small and scared to cuddle, and I’d really rather not have him in the house!

The wildlife is keeping me sane – ish.