Sunday, 1 April 2012

38. Tabitha - sewing and the kingdom of God.

Regarding desirable girls' names, I could never quite embrace Tabitha (having digested a lot of Beatrix Potter as a child, and Mrs Tabitha Twitchit being one of my favourites).

But the Tabitha of the early church in Acts 9 is a wonderful character - your archetypal one woman craft business whose personal discipleship involves 'always doing good and helping the poor.' 

She becomes ill and dies. Her body is  washed and laid out in an upper room in preparation for burial. Passing through the region, Peter is urged to come to Tabitha's house to see if something can be done.

Crowding into the room around the dead body are all the women mourners who show Peter the clothes Tabitha made when she was alive. What a great loss to the community. We bewail and mourn our sister Tabitha, God rest her soul, who has been cruelly snatched from our midst...Who will make our shawls and shrouds now...?

Luckily Peter's early training watching the Master raise a little girl from the dead comes in to its own. He turns the mourners out and kneels to pray, addressing the dead woman by name: 'Tabitha, get up' (Acts 9: 40). 

It's quite simple. If you have faith as small as a mustard seed...

Tabitha gets up and Peter presents her to the astonished crowd.

A bit like Peter's mother in law, we presume that she was raised to serve, and after a brief pause to perhaps brush herself down or have a small snack, no doubt she took up her needle and thread once more and continued to live out her calling as a needlewoman for Jesus.

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