Sermons Author: The Rev. Shawn Evelyn
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May 08, 2022
You should care. I know I just started but I am getting ahead of myself, let me back up a bit. I want you to think about something you may have heard that featured an inspirational story or moment. Maybe it was a book you read or a movie you saw. Now, I want you to recall a time in your life when someone made a real difference for you. Maybe you don’t have to think back that far, maybe its happening now. What made that story or what makes that person so special? Chances are, that inspiration or that change in your life was made possible with care. In talking about care I am talking about both the noun and the verb; whether it was a particular interest shown or whether some action was provided for wellbeing, care was involved. Today we reflect on care in so many ways.
Before I continue, I want to wish all mothers or soon to be mothers a Happy Mother’s Day. If you have children or have been a mother to someone, regardless of how you identify, I want to acknowledge you and your efforts. I grew up Episcopalian, mostly in Black Episcopalian churches. In those contexts, and even in the larger, non-Episcopalian Black church, Mother’s Day is a holiday akin to Easter. On this day, mothers and grandmothers go out dressed to the nines, being accompanied by their children especially if they are not typically churched, it’s the one Sunday where they cannot say no. Because of this, I get a chance to see people I am not used to seeing on Sundays, and I also see some of the most stylish hats worn by these proud mothers. Their celebration of this day comes from that care mentioned earlier. Their particular interest and attention for their children in addition to their motivation to do what they need to do for their children and grandchildren that knows no bounds. On the other side, I am also aware that this day may be a source of pain or hurt for some. It may be based on their relationship, or lack thereof, with their mothers. Whatever the reason, I want to say that you are loved, and I celebrate you too on this day.
As we continue our Easter journey, we look at life after Christ. We look at the origins of the church and how we got to be where we are, sitting in your pews or watching from your device. Today we experience something unprecedented. We hear about new life; we hear about resurrection and it is not from anyone we expected. Tabitha, or Dorcas, has been raised from the dead. Surely this is a miracle. As Christ is not present, we see the disciples, excuse me, the apostles, continuing the work he was doing. Peter, on the heels of healing a man that was paralyzed, raises a woman from the dead. Despite this miracle or the authority Peter has, it is still not the most important thing about this story.
The most important thing about this story, is Dorcas. She is the only woman in the New Testament to be recognized as a disciple. It is the only place in scripture that translates the original Greek that identifies Dorcas with the feminine version of the word disciple. There are other women in scripture who served or were part of the movement; Mary and Martha of Bethany who provided hospitality to Jesus, Peter’s mother-in-law who after she was healed served the cause, Mary Magdalene who went to prepare Jesus’ body and found it was not there, maybe the Widow’s Mite, not a real person, just a character from a parable. Only Dorcas. Dorcas was named and identified as a disciple. She was believed to be a widow, someone on the fringes of society, someone who had nothing to their name, an outcast, the lowest of the low, she was known for her good works and charity. She made clothes and tunics for other widows. Not much else is written about her, but in this short pericope, we see she was important enough to be named and identified as most women in the Bible are not, and we see she cared in every sense of the word. Dorcas shows us women caring for women, something not often shown in our sacred texts. Clearly, she was loved, so much that the people in her community were moved. They requested Peter come and see her right away after she died, and they washed her body. In Holy Week, on Maundy Thursday, we see an example of service, but we also see that washing someone else is a deep form of love. The typical practice in preparing a body for death deals with preserving that body in spices, but we see here she was washed. And because of her deeds she will now join the great multitude we hear about in Revelations and will be robed in white, washed in the blood of the Lamb in the throne room of God. As a widow she may have suffered but she will now hunger no more and thirst no more as God will wipe away every tear from her eyes.
Today we reflect on the power of care. God cares so much for us God sent God’s son Jesus to us. Jesus in his salvation, in his care, does what is written in Psalm 23. Because he lives, we can face tomorrow, because he lives, we have protection in times of trial, because he lives, our souls are revived, because he lives, we have a place in paradise and we don’t have to be afraid of death, because he lives, we can dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Because he lives, new life is available to us. The Holy Spirit was in action and Dorcas was brought back to life, but what matters is that Dorcas in her care, brought new life to a people, to women, who were treated as though they did not exist.
So I ask again, think about story you may have heard that featured something inspirational. Maybe it was a book you read or a movie you saw. Now, I want you to recall a time in your life when someone made a real difference for you. Was it someone who cared? Was it a mother? So now I ask, are you willing to devote particular attention to a person, people, or cause? Are you willing to serve despite yourself? Maybe you should care. Maybe you should care. Amen.
May 01, 2022
April 10, 2022