Get up

mission-hills-christian-church-los-angeles-jesus-acts-tabitha

Last week Sarah, Sal, Bob, and Yabo read a story from Acts in The Voice translation of the Bible. As you may have noticed, one of the great aspects of this translation is that the dialogue reads or hears like a play or script. This is particularly helpful and important because our faith is a movement of storytellers. For instance, after the death of Jesus there are no written records for 30 years. Rather, the first century women and men of “The Way” are living the kind of life that Jesus revealed to them while telling the stories of Jesus. “The Way” becomes a public movement of those storytellers, some of whom we hear about in Acts.

This week, the lectionary tells us a story in Acts of the disciple, Tabitha. She lived in a town named Joppa and she dedicated her life to helping the poor. One day, Tabitha became ill and passed away and news of her death reached Peter in a neighboring city. Peter traveled with a few other disciples to visit Tabitha and the community of people grieving in Joppa. When they arrived, Peter asked to be alone to pray over Tabitha. There, kneeling beside her, he said, “Get up!” He then took her hand and helped her to her feet.

This story shares similarities with a story about Jesus in Mark’s gospel in which Jesus raises a little girl with the words, “Talitha kum” or “Little girl, arise.” It is the voice of Jesus that raised the little girl. It is the voice of Jesus that taught the disciples the way. It is the voice of Jesus that transformed the lives of hundreds of women and men after his death by Roman execution.  In John's gospel, he said, "My sheep hear my voice and follow me." In Luke’s sequel, Acts, we hear that Jesus’ voice is still transforming people’s lives, healing, and raising the dead. The beat goes on. The kingdom of God that Jesus spoke so often of is being enacted through the lives these women and men in Acts. Today, may we be alert to the voice of Jesus in order to hear him calling us to be wounded healers along the way, bringing the kingdom of God in the world.