Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity. In those days she became ill and died, and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him, urging him, “Please come to us without delay.” So Peter rose and went with them. And when he arrived, they took him to the upper room. All the widows stood beside him weeping and showing tunics and other garments that Dorcas made while she was with them. But Peter put them all outside, and knelt down and prayed; and turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. And he gave her his hand and raised her up. Then calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive. And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. And he stayed in Joppa for many days with one Simon, a tanner. Acts 9:36-43
I have been blessed to have a mother and father who dedicated themselves to good works and charity. They shared with others, fed others and took those who were burned out into their home. They were brave and loving in their faith. My mother, who has been a widow for 18 years, did not fail to continue the trend. She fed poor children every week for years and visited women prisoners, and held them close as they cried for their children. While she has been sick with shingles, the whole local community asks me about her and reminds me of her love and good deeds. The church secretary called her a true saint and a real fighter.
Peter was called to respond to the death of a beloved woman, who gave her life for others. The community was torn apart with grief. He came and prayed and Tabitha arose, back to her life of service. The miracle was hardly for her, but rather for the community, a visible sign of God's powerful presence among them. What they had witnessed in the gentle, loving life of Tabitha, became awesome and dramatic as God restored her to them. God has the desire to restore and renew us, but not for ourselves alone, but for the love and transformation of the entire community. God's love and power is not showered on individuals alone but poured with power for the larger community.
Today, as we travel the back roads of Western Pennsylvania, I ask God to help me remember that power comes for the good of all, for the continuation of good works and charity, for the enlarging of hearts and faith. May everything we do today be charitable and kind, and may we embrace the lonely, the ones who ache for their children and those who do not have a way forward or a way back home.