I am reflecting today on the lesson from the Acts of the Apostles which we will hear this Sunday (9:36-43). The lesson tells the story of Peter raising the woman, Tabitha (also known as Dorcas), from the dead. At the time that Acts was written, it was common for people to have both a Hebrew name and a Latin or Greek name as with Saul who was also known as Paul. Both names, Tabitha and Dorcas, mean Gazelle. This lesson and the name Dorcas have particular meaning for me because of a spiritual director that I once had whose name was Dorcas. Sr. Dorcas is a gazelle-like Episcopal nun who was of great import and supported me at one of the more challenging times of my adult life.
In reading from Daily Feast: Meditations from Feasting on the Word, Year C*, the reflection on this lesson suggests that we live in a world where the nursery rhyme about Humpty Dumpty seems to greatly influence our life view and theology.
“Humpty Dumpty is broken, and the common assumption is that putting him back together again is an impossible task. That is just the way it is – but not according to Acts. Acts tells us the followers of Jesus were empowered to ‘turn the world upside down’ (17:6). So, raising someone from the dead is very possible by this community empowered by the Holy Spirit.”
Truth be told, much of our world and culture has a “Humpty Dumpty” mentality. As Christians, we continue to live as did the people of Acts: in the power of God’s Spirit in our midst and we remain empowered to ‘turn the world upside down.’
This Acts lesson seems particularly poignant this week. Like those who grieved the death of Dorcas in Acts, our nation grieves the tragedies which occurred in Boston and West. A lesson such as this can be very challenging to us. As people of faith, we believe that God is in control, that God will heal all, and that God will make all things well. And yet we are faced with the reality of this broken world in which things happen which are confusing and impossible to understand.
I cannot claim to fully understand the ways of God. I have come to believe with firm conviction that it is in the times of tragedy that God is most present. I try not to ask “Why did God let this happen?” as the Bible and Christian history illustrate clearly that we live in a broken world and “stuff” does indeed happen. Instead, I have learned to ask, “What has God done about the brokenness of the world?” In answer to that question, God has shown through the coming of Jesus Christ to be with us as a healer and life giver.
As people of faith, we believe that God is very much present in the world and that God continues to work miracles of healing. God does not always heal in the ways which we desire, but we have been given the ultimate answer through God’s last and greatest act of healing: Jesus Christ’s victory over death and the gift of eternal life.
We continue to pray for healing with eager expectation even as we acknowledge that we cannot know or understand all of the ways of God.
In times of challenge, fear, and doubt, this prayer from the Daily Feast: Meditations from Feasting on the Word, Year C can be helpful:
God, I bring before you _________ (insert name of someone you know who is ill) and ask that you would bring healing to this person, whether that healing is a renewed assurance of your love or a physical improvement. Your will be done. Amen.
May we continue in faith and know that Christ is with us, in us, and all about us.
Daily Feast: Meditations from Feasting on the Word, Year C is a devotion resource with daily reflections on the lessons for the upcoming Sunday. It can be ordered through Amazon, and if you access Amazon through the portal on the St. David’s website we get a rebate on your purchase.