“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.” – Book of Acts 36-41
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I have cherished the above-referenced portion of Scripture for many years. Within context, it helps to paint a vivid picture of the early Church, and bears witness to the power of God as expressed through the work of the disciples. Just before Peter came to Joppa and raised Tabitha from her death bed (just after she had been ritually cleansed and prepared for burial), he had performed another miracle; healing a man who had been paralyzed for some, eight years.
To be sure, the excitement of the embryonic Church, as She began to emerge on the world scene, alter the course of history and influence countless cultures throughout the world was self-evident in size and scope. But as thousands were baptized, the saints engaged in missionary journeys, the Gospel was preached and the news of the Resurrection was spread in every known language, all of these dynamic realities came down to personal relationships. Nations were converted, but individuals were saved. The Church grew in numbers, only because each of those numbers, in reality, were people who heard the Word of God and responded to their newly-received gift of salvation.
And one of those people: mentioned in Scriptures, but lost in the masses is St. Tabitha (who actually celebrates her Feast on October 25th). She was a woman who was continually working to serve the needs of the poor. Her mission in life was to engage in acts of charity and perform good works unto the glory of God. Scripture tells us specifically that she made clothes for the poor. By her own hands, she labored for the sake of God’s kingdom as she crafted, knitted and sewed.
We know that she was much-loved. Upon her death, her partners in kindness, her sisters in ministry, summoned the Apostle Peter, in order that he might perform a mighty miracle of resurrection. I understand this to mean that her companions recognized that there was no one on earth that could possibly serve the needs of the poor as she did. They saw her ministry as unrepeatable, and simply could not bear to have her acts of kindness cease to exist. It would seem that the Lord would agree with their plan!
St. Tabitha represents the dedication, kindness, empathy, generosity and love that can only come from the Lord. And through her person, and her God-crowned and precious soul, we have an example to lift up, and a life to emulate. There is no doubt in my heart, that the ladies of our St. Anna’s Women’s Ministry Team have channeled the actions of this great saint, and continue her legacy of service, sacrifice and most especially love.
When there is a need, we call upon the Women’s Ministry. When there is suffering or despair, we call upon the Women’s Ministry. When the tender hand of God is required to provide comfort, offer dignity, ease a pain or round and edge; we have, by God’s grace our Women’s Ministry, ready and available.
There function in the parish is not to bake or to serve. Theirs is a ministry; a ministry in the truest and fullness of any understanding of the word. They are generous with their time, their energies, their emotions and their resources.
But, as is always the case in any organizations which strives to serve the greater good, resources are never in abundance and always highly sought-after. This is where we all come into the picture. While St. Tabitha made the tunics, she needed others to assist her in funding her projects, perhaps organizing their distribution and weighing the needs. She couldn’t do it all alone. She, and all the women and widows gathered around her, needed support.
So it is with our own Women’s Ministry.
Saturday evening, October 15th, you will have the opportunity to help them in their mission. Their Stifatho (you’ve seen it spelled differently, this is my preference) Cook Off will be held in the foyer of St. Thomas More’s Meyer Hall. A few men, myself included, will square off in the spirit of healthy competition to battle over the adoration of your taste buds. My recipe is not an ancient, family treasure, but rather the combination of what two, favorite cookbooks have to share. Please join us…
THIS IS THEIR PRIMARY FUND RAISING EVENT OF THE YEAR.
You may not like Stifatho, that’s OK, come anyway for the pilaf and the company.
You may not like onions, that’s OK, pick around them, and join the aforementioned individuals around the pilaf table.
You may not have ever even heard of this dish (a savory meat ragout served with/over rice), but be adventurous! Pretend it’s a County Fair Chili Cook Off and join the festivities. Did I mention?…
THIS IS THEIR PRIMARY FUND RAISING EVENT OF THE YEAR.
There is still plenty of space available and there will be plenty of food, wine and laughter. St. Tabitha needed supporters and sponsors. Our women are no different. Read the flyer in the Bulletin, please participate and pretty please, be generous. I believe that we are blessed with at least one “St. Tabitha’s” in our midst. Let’s not let our ladies go at it alone. I remain,
With Much Love in Christ,
Orthodox Married Life (OML) Begins Friday, October 14, 2016 at 7:00 pm. Married and Engaged Couples, Please Join Us!