Easter 4 - Year C
What is to be focused on here?
— Is it the resurrection of Tabitha? A reprise of a young girl being raised with words of “Talitha cum”?
— Is it the resurrection of Peter, still in his pre-expansive vision state, actually staying with an unclean tanner?
In this story, Simon the Tanner is practically a throw-away line. Living with someone who is perpetually designated as unclean for dealing with dead animals may have emboldened Peter to at least speak to a dead body, if not yet touch it.
Imagine a midrash on St. Simon the Tanner who so influenced St. Peter the Rocky. No, not St. Simon the Tanner of Coptic fame from the 10th century, but the not yet St. Simon the Tanner of Joppa in the 1st century.
One commentator posits that Simon was host to the “first multi-ethnic conference in the history of the gospel.” That may be a bit much, but it points at an innate sense of hospitality. At any rate, would you or would you not vote to canonize little ol’ Simon, humble tanner and straight-man for Peter’s conversion/resurrection to inclusion?
Whichever way you vote, the role Tanner Simon played in Peter’s life and Jesus’ cause of being for everyone still needs playing in our world. Tag — you're it!
Good Works and Charity have died. All the outer trappings are still around, but the spirit is gone.
Peter and you and I are called to put all these artifacts and those holding on to them out of the room that we might be alone to pray in the presence or absence of that which is gone - Good Works and Charity in a particular person.
Just what happens between prayer in the presence of absence and a life-renewing call remains a mystery. But when that mystery is active and recognizable to us, we are Easter People. Simply calling out that we are such does not make it so.
It is important to pray but also to do so without the trappings.
Can Tabitha or The United Methodist Church live again and shown to the world? Yes.
One way is to put away the trappings accumulated from previous good works and charity - to put our energy toward the poor, disenfranchised, discriminated against that will bear good fruit in their lives.
Here we are between the conversion of Saul and the conversion of Peter. We have the paralyzed Aeneas and the dead Tabitha. How like life.
We are converted. There is little more rigid than a new convert as they develop the disciplines of the new body. That very conversion becomes the need for continual conversations. But before they can happen we get paralyzed, even unto death, sometimes.
First comes a healing and a resurrection. Then comes a needed next conversion. We've had the beginning conversion of a methodical way to connect people with GOD and a second round with great awakenings and a third conversion with a social gospel. Currently we are paralyzed and dead in regard to the basic of life known as sexuality.
Where is the healing and resurrection coming from next? Obviously we don't know. All that is evident here is that there is no political will on the horizon that will bring it. And so we keep on laying here and lying there about the varieties of faithful ways to live out the variety of sexual orientations. Keep alert for a new conversion to truth about this and other matters left over from a by-gone day.
Here is a wonderful definition of a disciple of Jesus: devoted to good works and acts of charity.
Disciples of Jesus could comfortably find themselves in Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Wickan, Pagan, Atheist, etc. environments and never bat an eyelash and be in the mainstream of each of them with these two simple expressions of their discipleship for the transformation of the world: good works and acts of charity.
We may need to start a new denomination named after Tabitha or Dorcas or simply Gazelle gracefully leaping ahead, the faster to be G*D, by means of these two qualities.
Any other Gazellians out there?
- - -
where are you lodging this eve
with someone who is unclean
in the eyes of some majority or other
as a good work
an act of charity
or to prove a point
Tabitha lives in Peter
ancestress and ancestor
are alive within us
we don't give up
on charitable good works
being our epitaph too
Peter, tell us how you raised Tabitha to again run and leap among us?
I've prayed for those I care about to be raised up that my loneliness for them be assuaged. How come my prayer didn't work and your's did?
Well, let's back up a bit, how did folks know to go and get Peter? Was it to join them in mourning and then Peter pulled this fast one of raising Dorcas? Was it to do exactly what he did just down the road, betting his raising up of Aeneas could be moved up a notch from a situation of paralysis to that of death? I suspect that Peter wasn't called to use the saintly gazelle's death and resurrection as a means to increase the number of believers at Joppa - though church growth techniques have been around for quite awhile and promising resuscitation would be a good one.
Lazarus, come forth; Tabitha, get up. These phrases see beyond the present circumstance. As you look at the congregation or country of which you are a part, what equally succinct phrase would you employ? Friendly UMC, stop bickering; Legislative leaders, help the poor; UU Fellowship, start dancing; ____________, ______________.
How would you use this formula with a friend, neighbor, enemy? What can you see available and coming that would lead you to be this bold today?