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. At that time she became ill and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in a room upstairs. 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.’ 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. 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. He gave her his hand and helped her up. Then calling the saints and widows, he showed her to be alive. This became known throughout Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. Meanwhile he stayed in Joppa for some time with a certain Simon, a tanner.
When Peter first arrives, it's your average pastoral care call. A friend dies and they call the head pastor, Peter. He arrives in haste. I'm sure he was greeted with solemn faces, many tears. There were hugs and loving touches for all who were grieving. The house appears full of mourners - widows who had received the love and compassion of a woman named Dorcas.
Once Peter makes his way through the crowd, the widows begin telling stories. Isn't that what we do? We tell stories of our loved ones when they are gone. We remember together. And apparently remembering Dorcas meant remembering her craft. "The widows stood beside Peter, weeping and showing him tunics and other clothing that she made while she was with them." I imagine many were wearing those tunics and clothing.
It seems a wonderful tribute to Dorcas - a living fashion show. The work of her hands walking around while stories are told of her love and compassion. It was the fashion show of her life. They were showing her off by showing off her handiwork.
But then Peter "put them outside" and, alone, entered the room where Dorcas was. The last time he had done something like this, he wasn't alone. He was with their friend Jesus and a couple others friends. They entered the room of a daughter who had died. Jesus told her to get up and she did.
Peter imitated Jesus. He told her to get up. And she did.
And then calling the saints and widows - Peter showed them Tabitha. Not the work of her hands but the work of God's hand, the work of the Spirit to resurrect, to give life, to re-create, to lift up. Peter showed them God's handiwork.
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