I have been invited to preach the sermon at St. James’s Episcopal Church in West Hartford, CT on Sunday (8 am & 9:30 am) While we Quakers are better known for our skills conducting silent worship, I am pleased to report I have a message that is forming.
One of the texts for Sunday is Acts 9:36-43. It’s about the death and resurrection of Tabitha, aka Dorcas. It is a passage about women, widows in particular, and the loving care of bodies.
Displaying the Disciple’s Deeds
Dorcas, a disciple of the early church, famously did good words in Joppa and helped the poor. She gets sick and dies, and through it all her friends care for her through the illness and wash her body after her death, as was the custom. These women then dispatch two men to bring the Apostle Peter to the upper room where Dorcas’ body is laid out.
Peter arrives and these women show Peter some of the handiwork of the beloved deceased disciple. Think of this as the exact opposite of airing someone’s dirty laundry. This is a visual display of goodness.
“All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them.”
I love this detail–displaying the robes and other clothing Dorcas made. I imagine the women earlier that day washing Dorcas’ body–taking each hand, each finger, hands and fingers that did good and created useful things, perhaps even beautiful things.
It gets me thinking about legacy and what we leave behind. There are many issues in the world worthy of our attention and good work. Three that stand out for me are racial justice, LGBTQ equality, and climate action.
What are we leaving behind?
This gets me thinking of loved one who have made an impact in my own life, the legacy they have given me of love, freedom, affirmation, and physical, practical support. These days I feel a lot of gratitude as I think about the multiplying factor of receiving and giving all these essential things.
This gets me singing an old song by the Swedish pop singer, Doris. With her hit Did you give the world some love today, Baby? Doris makes a warm, slightly grizzled, throaty appeal:
Oh your heart is always full of love babe
And you gave me lots of love today babe
Will you also keep the world in mind
Tell me what you did for all mankind
To give the world some love today babe