Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Dorcas: A Woman of Great Works

     "Religion that is pure and undefiled is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world." -James 1:27

     Today I will be talking about a woman of the Bible who is far too often over-looked: Dorcas. Acts 9:36-43 talks about her short yet compelling story. In verse 36 it introduces her by saying, "Now there was in Joppa a woman named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas (or graceful or elegant). She was full of good works and acts of charity." Before I get into her story, I will give a brief summation of her story so those of you who have not heard her story can understand what exactly is going on here. As we have already seen, she was a woman of great works. Dorcas took care of widows and those in need, and one day she got sick and died. They then sent for Peter, who came and raised her from the dead.

     In this article I will be addressing Acts 9:39 which says, "So Peter rose and went with them. And when he arrived, they took him to the upper room. All the widows stood beside him weeping and showing tunics and other garments that Dorcas made while she was with them." What is the significance of this verse? Seems rather random, doesn't it? Let's examine it for a bit.

     First I'm going to point out the fact that the widows were weeping. Have you ever been to a funeral of someone who you had never met? Did you feel much sorrow for their death? Did you miss their presence so much that you melted down into a puddle of tears? Most likely not. There's nothing wrong with that, but do you think that these widows would have been crying had they not had a good relationship with Dorcas? I was at a camp this past week and every day we had a mission project. One day we volunteered at a center that gave clothes to families who couldn't afford them, another day we volunteered at a  womens' shelter to help organize their food pantry, clean some of the play rooms, etc. Well, one day we went and visited a nursing home and let me tell you, those ladies really enjoyed it. There was one I remember, who was so excited to have us there, she called the church building where we had the camp every day starting three days before the camp had even started to make sure that she had the right date and wouldn't be gone. Just because you get old, that doesn't mean that you don't look forward to seeing people any more. Dorcas knew that, and built a strong relationship with these widows.

     The next thing I will be looking at is the part that talks about them showing the tunics that Dorcas had made while she was with them. As you can see in 1 Timothy 5, widows are to be taken care of by their families, but unfortunately not all of them have families. I remember that one day around Christmas, after worship services I was walking down the hallway of my church building and I over-heard someone asking one of the widows if she was visiting any of her family for Christmas and she sadly replied, "Oh, I don't have a family." and it made me think for a second how much I take my friends and family for granted at times. Not everyone has a family who can help and take care of them in their time of need. Dorcas built a strong relationship with these widows and helped them in a time of need when they couldn't provide for themselves.

     Well, what does that have to do with us? Why should we care? Well, when you get married, you are the center of someone's world. You are the first person they see in the morning, and the last person they see when they go to bed at night. When you are married to someone, you are their entire world. You are the person that they love most in the world. Unfortunately, however, with life, one day you are important and loved and a priority to someone, and the next day you're nothing. Once that person is gone, your world crumbles down around you and suddenly, the calls stop coming, the visits stop, and every night you're sitting down at your empty table eating a dinner for one. Every day you get up, and you no longer are next to the love of your life, but the empty other half of your bed. We need to make sure and get to know these widows, and take care of them. And please, don't use the excuse that you don't know any widows. Chances are if you go to worship, you are around plenty of widows. Get to know them, form relationships with them, I can guarantee you they'll love it. Today I would like to encourage all of you to do that.