9:40 Peter put all of them outside, and then he knelt down and prayed. He turned to the body and said, “Tabitha, get up.” Then she opened her eyes, and seeing Peter, she sat up.
John 10:27 & 28 My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand.
Today we find ourselves doing a dual observation of both Good Shepherd Sunday and Mother’s Day. I find this to be such a powerful symbolism or who else best emulates the role of a Good Shepherd but that of our mothers and the mothers of our children. Today is a day to bask in the memories, the hopes and dreams yet the very presence of mother’s. All of these are captured in the reading for today. The only challenge I have is that I wished that the story in the Acts of the Apostles was about a Petra not a Peter, but it is what it is.
Good Shepherd Sunday seeks to bring a sense of balance or for some an opportunity to center ourselves as we prepare to transition from Easter to Pentecost. Already signs of something spectacular is about to break open as we witness Peter’s miraculous powers being slowly awakened. The wonders of the resurrection are now blooming into transformative power. Mommy’s nurturing love is beginning to take a new shape. Babies are now beginning to take on new roles, boys are becoming men, girls are becoming powerhouses, frightened disciples are becoming miracle workers.
My friends when we look at traditional images of the Good Shepherd as captured in the art world the image can be quite deceptive for, they seem to reflect a quite peaceful imagery which fails to capture the energy and the challenges of being a Good Shepherd and by extension a good mother. To Keep sheep well fed, disciplined and protected is demanding, and is only possible through tremendous self – sacrifice. It is a labor of love! This love is what transcends all the rapid changes of life and even beyond the present life. We would always love our mothers; our mothers would always love us.
The reading therefore seek to capture greatness of God and his deep love for us. God is greater than the sum of all our fears. God is greater than the sum of all our needs and desires. “The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want’ is the psalmist way of capturing that thought. God is bigger than and greater all we can ever imagine or conceive. Yet he was able to be embodied in Jesus Christ in order for us to build a relationship with him. Jesus is more than a Good Shepherd who cares for his sheep but one who empowers us to do greater things than we can ever imagined and yet awaits us at the very end of our days. The same Jesus who gifted us to our mothers enfolds our mothers in his arms every single moment thus empowering them to perform their daily miracles. How my mother did it I don’t know! How Nats does it I don’t know. How the mothers of St. Elizabeth do it, I don’t know except it is by grace of God. In the end it is that same Good greets mothers with triumph.
My friends the scripture never tells us why Dorcas/Tabitha of all the other woman saints at that time was one who was chosen for resurrection by Peter. Except that God wanted to honor her for some task. She worked tirelessly in the service of the Lord and was chosen to be honored to become a symbol of God’s power. She like all other eventually died physically again but death had no power over her for she experienced resurrection power. (No grave can hold my body down)
This is such a powerful and valuable lesson to us for as we face a world that is becoming increasingly materialistic. It can become very easy to lose hope and to surrender. Surrender to the thought that unless it brings wealth or material gain then it lacks value. We are bombarded by messages of wealth by any means necessary. C.E.O’s of companies suppress integrity, morals and ethics in order to race to purchase larger homes, jets, and cars while riding on the backs of the sick and the poor.
Some may sell their own mothers for a buck. My friends do not lose hope they were very present in the time of Dorcas and possibly why God sent an empowered Peter to share a greater message. We are called to teach our children the Christian values of love, hope, forgiveness as well as the human values of character, including fairness, honesty, empathy, self-control, forgiveness and the consequences of ones actions.
Yesterday my children taught me a very valuable lesson of character. Thanks to their mother! Thanks to Dorcas and all other mothers who gather around the Heavenly Lamb who sits on the throne of Grace. They worked tirelessly to give us the faith that we have today. Last Thursday evening I prayed for all those who handed the faith of this church to us so that we can carry on the work of salvation. My friends this ministry is greater than you and I.
Jesus the Good Shepherd inspires us to love and care for others, even as we accept love and care from others. This is no time to sit on the side lines and expect change to occur. This is no time to wring our hands in anguish or surrender at the news that Dorcas had died. Our mothers faced even greater challenges and they gave us succor to strengthen us for the struggle. Death does not intimidate or fear us. The death of this entity called the black church can only lead to something new and exciting is what Good was declaring through Peter. Tell everyone “come, the church you once knew is dead! Come and see what the power of God is about to invoke. Come and see what God power can really do! Bring your dead, guilt ridden souls to Jesus and allow him to declare ” In the name of Jesus Tabitha, get up.”