by Joe Greemore
Scripture Reading: Acts 9:36-43
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.
“Now in Joppa there was a disciple whose name was Tabitha, which in Greek is Dorcas.” – Acts 9:36
The study of names (known as onomastics) will never cease to fascinate me. My name, Joseph, is of Hebrew origin and means something like, “The Lord will add.” My kids’ names have a range of meanings, from “Near to God” to “Adam was my ancestor.” Which is ironic when you consider the inspiration came from Grey’s Anatomy – well, ultimately, but that’s another story.
Peter, whose name meant “Rock/Firm/Unmovable” and whose faith was shown to be anything but firm in some critical moments early on, was “rock solid” when it came to miracles. Maybe it was because he had studied Jesus, the miracle worker, all those years in the Galilee and surrounding environs. Maybe it was because he had discovered new life and a new sense of purpose himself (John 21). Whatever the reason, when his friend needed him most (and we have no indication they had met before this life restorative event), Peter was absolutely reliable.
Tabitha, which sounds like the name of a girl Jesus had given new life during his ministry (Mark 5:41), was the name of a woman famous for helping others. Some called her Tabitha; others, depending on the language they spoke, called her Dorcas (the Greek name meaning the same thing: gazelle). Everyone must have called it a miracle when she came back to life. She who in life had been so swift to help others was now mysteriously brought back. How was this possible? Peter spoke with power and called her by name. By doing so, just as Christ had done for him, Peter shared the gift of new life, and a new day in Dorcas’ never-dull life dawned.
Questions for Conversation
In what ways did Dorcas lend a helping hand to others?
How did Peter lend Dorcas a helping hand?
This week, how can I lend someone in need a helping hand?
Buy a canvas or two for your family, or even a collection of canvases (one small canvas for each person or one medium/large one for all to share), three or four sponge brushes, and paint a picture of a sunrise or sunset. It may help to find an example picture online that you like, or maybe one of our own, to inspire your drawing. Make a color palette on a disposable plate; take special effort to capture the pinks, blues, whites, reds, oranges, purples, darks, and lights in your picture. Once complete, talk about what in you artwork reminds you of a sunrise or sunset (which do you think it is?), then discuss how in life (e.g. friendships, relationships, school, recreation) beauty can be found in both endings and new beginnings.
Prayer (from Celtic Blessings, Simpson)
who clothes the flowers
and feeds the birds of the sky,
who leads the lambs to pasture
and the deer to water
who multiplied loaves and fishes
and changed water into wine
and change us
until we reflect
the glory of our Creator
through all eternity.