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Stitch by Stitch -- Acts 9:36-42 (Third Sunday in Easter)




As we’ve honored Earth Day this week, it’s been strange for me to hold all the beauty of springtime – and to remember – that this beautiful earth is also a world straining in climate emergency, andthis beautiful earth is also one wrapped in pandemic. It’s hard to hold all that, together. We live in this beautiful world we are trying to repair and mend, AND, we live in a world of hurt. I’m reminded of a poem by Somali Poet Warshan Shire:


later that night

I held an atlas in my lap

ran my fingers across the whole world

and whispered

where does it hurt?

it answered

everywhere

everywhere

everywhere.[1]

As we hold all this – all this hurting, all this pain in our world – we enter into this morning’s scripture – along with the Apostle Peter – and we find ourselves once more behind closed doors– behind closed doors in the midst of a community looking for life. We learn that a woman named Tabitha has just died. Here is what we know about this Tabitha: First, Scripture tells us that she is a disciple. Now, we know that Jesus had many followers who were women – women were leaders in the Jesus movement, and Luke tells us that women financed Jesus’ ministry. This is the one time in the New Testament that the feminine form of the word disciple is used.[2]Peter is a disciple; Tabitha is a disciple. And we also learn that Tabitha was “devoted to good works and acts of tender mercy” – not only that, we find out that Tabitha has been caring for and sustaining this community of widows in Joppa – she has been making clothes for them, providing them shelter and warmth.


Tabitha, the disciple, a woman of good works and tender mercy.


And so the community is crushed by her death. Clinging to a thin thread of hope, they hear that Peter is nearby, so they send to him: “Come, we have lost our Tabitha.” Peter comes, and the women take him behind closed doorsto an upper room, where they have prepared Tabitha’s body – washing her body, dressing her body – much as she has cared for and clothed theirs. And then they do this remarkable thing. They surround Peter, and they show him all the clothes that she has made for them – the tunics, the robes – “See these clothes she made for us. See these clothes she made for us.”


Peter is moved. And so he kneels down by Tabitha’s body, and he prays, and he says, “Tabitha, get up.”...... And she does. She breathes. She opens her eyes. Peter offers her his hand. Disciple to disciple. And she stands up. And he calls to the widows, and he shows Tabitha to them: Alive.