Saturday, April 27, 2013

Get Up

Acts 9:36-43
21 April 2013
Traditions worship, message by Laura Hulsey
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I don’t know about you, but the weeks after turning our clocks ahead can be grueling, especially when it comes to getting up in the morning. For my son and me the past month has been a struggle to get out of bed. Now I do not usually set an alarm, but Wesley does.  He likes to get up at 4:45. Well let me rephrase that, he wants to get up that early so he can shower, eat and play games on the computer or the Xbox before heading to school. I’m not sure that anyone likes to get up that early in the morning.

          For the past several weeks on the days that Wes has set his alarm, he has not gotten up. In fact not only has he not gotten up, but he has not heard the alarm. Well you can well imagine who has heard the alarm. I have. Now, I don’t need usually get up until 5:15. So his alarm goes off and I wait. No response and the alarm keeps ringing. And I wait. Again, no response. So in a feeble, tired voice I call out, Wes. Wes. Wes. Still, no response. Wes are you going to get up? Wes. Yes, I keep trying, because I really don’t want to get out from under the covers and I really don’t want to have to get up any earlier than I have to. Sometimes he wakes up and sometimes he doesn’t. Getting up, it’s not always easy.

          Last week JP talked about Paul, Peter and several other people and their obedience to God. They each heard the call and then they responded in faith and love. The book of Act’s is filled with stories of obedience. This week we continue with a story that not only shows the obedience of Peter, but an act of faith as well.

          Even after Jesus’ death and resurrection amazing miracles were happening. The disciples were preaching the good news and as they traveled about from town to town they were baptizing and healing those that came to them. In the scripture that was read this morning we heard the story of Tabitha.

The Bible tells us that she was a disciple. She was always doing good and helping the poor. That she was an excellent seamstress. That her friends may have been widows and that they loved her enough to share their praise of the life she had lived. It’s feasible that she actually made clothing for these widows as part of her service to others, possibly because she was a widow herself and/or had the means to give generously.

          Yes, Tabitha or otherwise known as Dorcas, was loved by many.  As we know, the story of this disciple takes a tragic turn. Tabitha becomes ill and in a very short period of time she dies. Now those for whom she has spent her life helping have the opportunity to serve this giving, caring woman in her illness and death. They lovingly prepare her body and they place it in the upper room of her home. This room could have been used for guests or quite possibly it may have been the place where Tabitha spent time sewing. There her body is laid out and even as we do so today, tears where shed, stories told and memories shared of a life that had blessed many. We know that as all of these things are happening someone realizes that Peter is in a town nearby. Maybe because Tabitha was a disciple they sent for Peter so he could be a part of this last celebration of her life. If their purpose was to bring her back to life, why didn’t the disciples that were already there try themselves, why did they need to send for Peter? 

          Peter comes right away. He is greeted by mourners and their admissions over this precious life. We have no idea why Peter is lead to do what he does. The Bible says nothing about those in the room requesting her to be brought back to life. In the story of Lazarus, Mary and Martha send for Jesus because their brother is sick. In another resurrection story Jarius goes to Jesus because his daughter is also sick. It appears in this story of Tabitha that Peter was sent for after her death.

          When Peter arrives he sends everyone away. The room is now empty and silent. Peter gets down on his knees and prays. Did he ask for her to come to life? Did he hear God’s voice tell him to call out to Tabitha to get up? Did Peter pray for God to continue his work through this disciple and her life was restored? Those questions are hard to find answers for. What we do know is Peter turned toward her lifeless body after his prayer and called out her name, Tabitha, get up! She immediately opened her eyes and sat up and then Peter took her hand and helped her to her feet.

          When Tabitha saw Peter by her side what was her first thought? Boy, I must have been really sick if Peter is here. Why is Peter here? How long have I been sleeping? Did she know that her life had just been restored?

          On the other hand Peter immediately calls for the believers and the widows to present a living Tabitha to them. What was he thinking at the time? Was he as shocked as those who returned to the room? Did he understand why this had happened? Was it an answer to his prayer?         

          As the word spread about Tabitha’s resurrection many people then became believers. Peter stayed in town for awhile. His obedience and faith brought many to Jesus.

          Jesus’ own resurrection is surrounded by these resurrection stories, both before and after. Why? We know that Jesus wanted Jairus to trust him and have faith that his daughter would be fine. We know that Jesus uses Lazarus’ resurrection story to prepare the disciples for the future events in His own life.

After Jesus’ resurrection the story of Tabitha shows the believers that while being a believer we can be empowered to even call someone back to life. Or is there more to the story?

          Call someone back to life? Sometimes our lives experience death, but not a death from which we will never wake up. Often the trials of everyday life can bring about the death of our spirit, the death of our joy, the death of our need to be around others, the death of our courage. Whether it is illness, broken relationships, job loss, loss of a loved one, trying to make ends meet, living in fear, or caught in the grips of sin, all of these can cause us to enter a dark and lonely place. Our lives become closed off. The will to live and move on is non existent. What if those resurrection stories could be our own stories? What if those miracles were not about a physical body being resurrected, but what if those stories were to give us hope and new beginnings, after a life of desperation and despair? 

          Picture for a minute the inside of a cave. The silence is deafening. The darkness is so deep you cannot even see your hand in front of your face.  The air is damp and cold. There is an odor that may never leave your nostrils. Suddenly this cave is filled with glorious light; there is singing unlike any you have ever heard. The air is filled with the sweetness of spring. The cold is replaced with warmth that spreads deep into your bones. Then there is a voice that calls out “My son, get up!” Jesus opens His eyes at the sound of his father’s voice and sits up. God reaches out His hand and helps Jesus to His feet. And Jesus leaves the tomb.

          God in his love wants our lives to be resurrected as well. It matters not what is going on in our lives he can bring us a new life, a restored life, a resurrected life. The definition of resurrection is “the act of returning to life.” God did this for us through the resurrection of His very own son. Jesus is still alive so that we can share in the peace, joy and love that only He can bring. In Hebrews the scripture tells us that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Jesus can give us a new life even in the darkest times, even in the times in our lives when although we are still breathing, we are not living. There is no pain and suffering that He cannot ease. You can become a resurrected person. Jesus can restore your life to one filled with joy. Although the rest of the journey may not be an easy one, with Jesus the burden will be lighter and the darkness will become light.

          Surround yourself with those who care for and love you. Have your friends and those who believe pray for you. Listen for Jesus’ voice to say… My child, get up! And take His hand.

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