Summary: We often think of famous people when we think of ministers, or if not famous, we think of men and women who are called Reverend or Pastor and who have a microphone in their hand. However, Tabitha ministered to an entire community through concrete acts of
I've conducted 49 funerals since I've been here at SPCC.. They were not all members of our church, but the vast majority were- which means that we've gathered monthly to claim the Resurrection Truth for people we loved. A few of them, I suspect, were surprised by God's grace, but many of our saints counted on it. They had a trusting relationship with their Lord, and we could see it. They lived as resurrection people. They were what I call "intentional Christians," as compared to "practicing atheists," and they manifested a deep joy that only comes from Christ. They lived as followers of "the Way," and the bore the fruit of discipleship. There are some people who die, and when their neighbors see it in the obituaries (which is the only reason some people take the newspaper), they exclaim to those around them, "Look here, I didn't know that Mr. X went to church. I didn't know that he was religious because I never saw him do anything for anyone else.".Yet, to God's glory, there are others who surprise no one when their obits are written. "Look," the neighbors say, "I knew that Mrs. Y was a Christian. She marched to a different drummer and she was generous to a fault. She was always running here and there- always helping and giving to someone else. I don't know how she did it, but I wish I was more like that."
In short. there our talkers and there are doers. There are cynics, doubters, "want-to-be-ers," and disciples. What good is it, James noted, if a man claims to have faith, but has no deeds? Can such a faith save him? Religion that God our Father accepts, he also said, is this: to look after orphans and widows and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. Amen. We are saved by grace, through faith, but (at the risk of over-emphasizing "works,") our faith is manifested in ACTION. True disciples Do things for Christ. They find ways of serving Him, and so it was with Tabitha, who is the focus of our message today. There are other doers of course. Last Sunday several men and women helped us carry furniture out of our living room and dining room so that Sherry and I could have our hardwood floors redone. We had a great turnout, as I knew we would, but on Monday, Roger and John dropped over to secure one of the downspouts on our house. I had not asked them to fix the downspout, nor did they ask me for permission. Evidently they didn't think my technique of holding the downspout in place with a ladder was a good idea. So they stopped by to fix it. Likewise, when Vic H. learned that I would be sleeping in the basement for a couple of nights, he asked me if I had a cot. I told him not to worry about it, but on Sunday, he brought a cot over to our home, and more than that, he sat it up and said, "Your cot is downstairs. All you have to do is lay yourself down on it." Joyce M is yet another example if love in action. As most of you know, our friend Paul's mother died last week, and when she died, Paul called me. However, he also called Joyce because she has befriended him and comforted him in his need. In any event, as I left Paul's house, Joyce arrived.... with a sliced ham, bread, snacks, and all sorts of things for Paul and his family. I don't know what all of this food cost her, but I do know that she does things like this, time and time again. There are more examples here at SPPC, you know that, but today our focus in on Tabitha, aka Dorcas, whose name meant, "Gazelle" in both languages. Well, gazelles are graceful, but Tabitha was filled with grace in other ways too. Let's consider our passage again.
In Joppa, a beautiful city on the sea,, there was a disciple named Tabitha. She was always doing good and helping the poor. (Wow, what a legacy! She was always doing good and helping the poor. Remembering that doing good and helping the poor is exactly the kind of worship that God accepts, these words of Luke's are a great testimony, not to mention that Tabitha is referred to specifically as a "disciple." Well, Tabitha died, and when Peter arrived, "all of the widows stood around him, crying, showing him the robes and all the other clothing Tabitha had made for them."
Presbyterian Women, you can stand tall, even though Tabitha wasn't actually a Presbyterian, because she was in the business of making clothing and other things for people in need. This is exactly what you do when you gather and make our Prayer Shawls, which say 'I love you' in a concrete form. Or how about the blankets you make for the abused women at Winnie's Place? Women of our church, these are powerful and life-changing works and they please God no end! Sometimes, we fall into the trap of thinking that we can't do anything unless we do something really big. Sometimes, we come to the conclusion that we can't be a minister unless someone puts a microphone in our hand. Sometimes, we're tempted to believe that we can't really do much unless we are a Dr. or a Rev.. of some kind. But all of this is wrong-wrong and self-defeating- because God honors worship that finds its form in deeds that do good and help the poor.