“The World-Changing Power of a Woman Who Cares”
Rev’d. Tanya Stormo Rasmussen
Congregational Church of Hollis, U.C.C.
12 May, 2019
Music Sunday/Mother’s Day
Easter 4C
Psalm 23
Acts 9:36-43

Scripture Reading: Acts 9:36-43
36Now 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. 37At that time she became ill and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in a room upstairs. 38Since 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.” 39So 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. 40Peter 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. 41He gave her his hand and helped her up. Then calling the saints and widows, he showed her to be alive. 42This became known throughout Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. 43Meanwhile he stayed in Joppa for some time with a certain Simon, a tanner.

For today’s sermon, the congregation helped to deliver the Good News, by sharing stories of those in their own lives who had demonstrated the love of Christ as demonstrated in/through Tabitha-Dorcas.  The sermon time was dialogical and interactive, though there were a few points I did my best to weave into the sharing time.  So, while this outline includes a flow and certain points, they may not have been presented in this order or with the emphasis that may appear as it’s outlined here.

  1. Two lectionary texts this morning refer to the character of God: God as experienced by the Psalmist, who referred to the Lord as “my shepherd”.
    1. It’s one of the best-loved passages of scripture because of the comfort and nurturing presence it evokes. The shepherd-Lord in this poem could be likened to a kind and generous mother, who anticipates her child’s every desire and need, who fiercely protects and also equips with the tools for her child to survive and even flourish—with goodness and mercy following after, all the days of his/her life.
  2. The second talks about the way God’s character was revealed through Jesus’ disciple, Tabitha, also known as Dorcas.
    1. Two names: as dearly loved by the Greeks as she was by the Jews.
      1. Follower of Jesus: she drew the welcome circle wide.
    2. She sewed garments and made clothing for anyone who was in need.  Her sewing handiwork was the gift she shared with those around her, as an expression of God’s own handiwork through her.  “She was devoted to good works and acts of charity.”
  1. When Peter arrived to make his pastoral care call, the room was full of people whose lives had been changed because of a woman who cared for them when she didn’t necessarily need to. She presented some of the mothering/nurturing/caring features we celebrate today as we honor all mothers and mother-figures, who don’t necessarily need to have given birth or even have raised a child.  There are plenty of women across history who have been more powerful as mothering figures than women who have delivered and raised children.
  2. Personal sharing: a story of Sher, a woman who was a mother-figure to me; she helped me (and so many others!) to know the unconditional love and grace of Christ through her acts of goodness and generosity.
  3. Who is your Tabitha? Who has been Dorcas in your life?  Please share a brief story of a woman who made a lasting impact on your life through her works of goodness, kindness, and charity.
  4. Each one of us is called to be like Tabitha—leaving behind a trail of good deeds, and a commitment to charity and serving those who are less fortunate than ourselves, just as Jesus did. We’re told first that Tabitha was a disciple—that was a key part of her identity. And as a disciple, she allowed God’s love to flow through her gifts and her person, and to bless the world.  Just as these other women we’ve heard mentioned this morning.
  1. When Peter raised Tabitha, he called those who loved her to gather round and he 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 or raise up. Peter and Tabitha showed them God’s handiwork with their very lives.  How might you and I do the same?

© 2020 The Congregational Church of Hollis, UCC