Reflection for the fourth Sunday of Easter, Vocation Sunday 8 May 2022

Now in Joppa there was a disciple whose name was Tabitha, which in Greek is Dorcas. She was devoted to good works and acts of charity. At that time she became ill and died. When
they had washed her, they laid her in a room upstairs. Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, who heard that Peter was there, sent two men to him with the request, “Please
come to us without delay.” So Peter got up and went with them; and when he arrived, they took him to the room upstairs. All the widows stood beside him, weeping and showing tunics and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was with them. 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. He gave her his hand and helped her up. Then calling the saints and widows, he showed her to be alive. This became known throughout Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. Meanwhile he stayed in Joppa for some time with a certain Simon, a tanner.
Acts 9:36-43

575px-Raising_of_Tabitha

Alleluia! Christ is risen!

In the Church of England, this is Vocation Sunday. The word ‘vocation’ has a particular ring about it which may not always be helpful. If you have a vocation in the Church, it often means that you are either ordained, a Reader, a monk or a nun. If you follow a vocational profession, you are usually a doctor, nurse, care-worker or teacher. But the word ‘vocation’ has a far wider meaning than that. It comes from the Latin ‘vocare’ which means ‘to call’. Fundamentally, all Christians are called to be the people who God would have us be. Created in the image and likeness of God, it is our vocation to be the person God made us to be.

In this Easter season, we continue to read about the life of the early church from the Acts of the Apostles. Today we focus on a woman called Tabitha, also known as Dorcas, who lives in Jaffa, a Mediterranean port city to the north of Jerusalem. Tabitha is remembered throughout time for being devoted to good works and acts of charity. She is remembered too for being a fabulous seamstress. Tabitha is described as a ‘disciple’ – the only time the feminine form of the word is used in the entire New Testament. She is clearly an important person and after she dies two men are despatched to bring Peter to her bedside. Upon arrival, the local grief-stricken widows are keen to show Peter exactly how brilliant a seamstress she was. But there is more. For in sewing them clothes, Tabitha took care of those in need out of her own resources and was loved for her generosity. Peter raises her from the dead and, we are told, ‘many believed in the Lord.’

On this Vocation Sunday, the story of Tabitha reminds us that we don’t have to do dramatic things as disciples, followers, of Jesus Christ. Like Tabitha, with generous hearts, we offer our gifts and our talents, who and how we are, in the service of God and one another. That will be enough for then we can trust God to do the rest.

Alleluia! Christ is risen!

Rev Canon Nikki Arthy, Rector

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