‘Follow me!’ … as agents of new life
Acts 9: 36-43 NRSVA
36 Now in Joppa there was a disciple whose name was Tabitha, which in Greek is Dorcas.She was devoted to good works and acts of charity. 37 At that time she became ill and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in a room upstairs. 38 Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, who heard that Peter was there, sent two men to him with the request, ‘Please come to us without delay.’ 39 So Peter got up and went with them; and when he arrived, they took him to the room upstairs. All the widows stood beside him, weeping and showing tunics and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was with them. 40 Peter put all of them outside, and then he knelt down and prayed. He turned to the body and said, ‘Tabitha, get up.’ Then she opened her eyes, and seeing Peter, she sat up. 41 He gave her his hand and helped her up. Then calling the saints and widows, he showed her to be alive. 42 This became known throughout Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. 43 Meanwhile he stayed in Joppa for some time with a certain Simon, a tanner.
Raised anyone from the dead of late? Me neither – which, in the context of our theme this week, makes today’s reading something of a challenge!
The story of Dorcas reminds us that as Easter people we find ourselves living in a Good Friday world. Peter had experienced the joy of Easter and the thrill of Pentecost, followed by the rapid growth of the infant church. Now he finds himself in a grief-stricken home, by the bedside of a dead disciple whose life, cut short, had been a great example of Christian love in creative action. The situation is awash with tears.
Like Peter, we are called to follow Christ into a world still disfigured by sin and death. The shocking events in Sri Lanka on Easter Day give a poignant and heartrending reminder of that. It is into this real world that the Easter message speaks of new life and hope and the ultimate ‘death of death’.
The family and friends of Dorcas who called for Peter probably hadn’t thought of what exactly they wanted him to do. They simply knew that he embodied and carried the message of Christ’s resurrection life. The first thing Peter did was pray. In our service to Jesus, prayer must not be our last but our first resort. This is why the current call of ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ is so important and exciting. See: thykingdomcome.global
‘Can these bones live?’ God once asked Ezekiel (see Ezekiel 37: 3). In following Jesus we too meet the challenge of that question in many situations. Like Ezekiel, for example, we long to see a revived church in our time. Maybe today God is calling you, as he did Ezekiel and Peter, to be his channel of Easter life in a Good Friday situation. The first thing to do is pray.
God of new life
Thank you that you still perform miracles of resurrection. Today, may we hear your voice and come alive. Help us to embody and convey Christ’s risen life in situations of darkness and death in our broken world. Amen.