Tumbling in the Sand
“The works that I do in my Father’s name testify to me” – John 10: 25b
I’m really drawn to the story of Tabitha in Acts. There is something about a story, I suppose, that brings faith to life, that puts flesh on things we otherwise look at from a distance. And really, the formation of the early church is generally one of those things we keep at arm’s length—one of those interesting bits of history that has little to do with the average life of someone now.
But really, the history of the Church is the collection of stories of individuals in community trying to live a life of faith—trying to follow Jesus and to testify to who he is. This is our history, but it is also our present reality. This is what the church is: people gathered in communities trying to listen for Jesus’ voice and to follow in faith.
Tabitha is one such normal person who was trying to live out her faith. She didn’t do anything really miraculous or impressive. She did not travel with the apostles or preach or raise anyone from the dead. She did not walk on water or speak in tongues or understand the depths of God.
Yet, she was absolutely invaluable to her community. Loved. Cherished. Because she followed Jesus. She devoted herself to caring for others. She devoted herself to her community. And, in that, in that simple act of following, of loving (charity comes from the latin word for love), she found life—abundant life that overcame even death.
It seems like we could learn a lot from Tabitha, this weaver of cloth, this woman who gave to her community by weaving the loose strands of fibre together, by mending what was torn, by clothing the humilated, the naked, the poor. It seems that we could learn that this is where we find life: in the simple act of creating good things—in the simple, yet critical work of mending the fabric that binds us together—in the normal, everydayness of caring for others in community—in the radical act of testifying to the life of Jesus by simply loving others.