I love this story. It drips with imagery and love. This story points us again to find life in the midst of death. This story shows us how love wins again.
There once was a woman in a small town. She devotes her life to caring. She dies and the community knows Peter is near. So they place her in an upper room. Bathed, dressed in her best cared for. They call Peter to come and he does. When he arrives they tell him the story of this woman's care for the community. Showing him things she had made. Peter sends them all away, prays, takes her hand and restored her to the community.
In an upper room. We are taken to the disciples hiding in an upper room for fear. Hiding where life can't happen, caught up in the fear of their own death. This is where Dorcas is layed out. In the upper room where death goes to keep us locked up for fear of it. It is not where life is but how often do we go to our own upper room? Afraid or wanting not to change, not daring to take a step out. Everything here is safe. Everything here is familiar. Yet, is there something more?
Calling on Peter it doesn't say for what. Maybe they thought enough of her they wanted to share this with someone who had lost his teacher. Someone who knew what it was like for the community to lose it all. Because they show him everything. "This cloth we made when my son was born. This one was made when I was cold and lost and Dorcas took me in. This one was made when my daughter married and we were taken care of again." They wept and told their stories of how much she meant.
Somewhere in all of this Peter knows what to do. Pray. Maybe he prayed for the community and their loss. Maybe he prayed because he knew what he was going to do and didn't want to fail this time like he did once before for a father and son. Maybe he prayed because he knew he couldn't do this on his own. This community needed Dorcas more than it needed him so he has faith.
"Tabitha, get up." Using the Aramaic of her name we are taken back to another upper room. The room of a young girl whose father, a religious leader, begs Jesus to come. He comes shuts out all but his most trusted disciples and the parents, takes her hand and says "Talitha cum" (little girl, get up) and she does. So does Tabitha.
Restored. Tabitha is restored to her community just as the little girl is restored to her family. Joy, a new beginning. Death has no place here. Fear is gone and replaced by resurrection's morn. It does ask us to find our own places of being stuck in the upper room. What keeps us there? Fear, uncertainty, a wish for safety. Only in venturing forth to get a friend or ally, to go fishing on a beach as we ended last week, to dare and be involved in facing death can we find new life. Restoration of a broken community, faith to help feed the lambs, mission to help others who surround us so their stories might ring with the importance which has been planted in their lives.
A shared gospel story. One we are not afraid to live into. Because where there is death, there is life. We are a people of this story. Can we live it?