Connections 05.08.2022: Show and Tell

Acts 9:32-43

Between Saul’s conversion in the first part of Acts 9 and Peter’s inclusive dream in Acts 10, two healings take place. Peter was going “here and there” among believers and made visits to the “saints” in Lydda and then in Joppa. According to the storyteller of Acts, there were already Christ-followers in these two towns west of Jerusalem, and Peter’s remarkable pit stops there prompted even more local people to come to belief.

First, Peter heals a man named Aeneas who has been paralyzed for eight years. No doubt the man and his story were well-known in Lydda; when Aeneas got up to make his bed, “all the residents” saw him and “turned to the Lord.”

Then a woman died in nearby Joppa. The storyteller describes her as a disciple—the only time in the New Testament the word “disciple” is used for a woman. Tabitha, or Dorcas, was “devoted to good works and charity,” apparently not just for the sake of being a nice lady but as an act of discipleship as a Christ-follower. The storyteller doesn’t just tell but shows the reader Tabitha’s discipleship: all the weeping widows show up at Tabitha’s deathbed wearing clothes she had made. Tabitha’s discipleship made a difference in her community, and the women there felt her loss deeply. By returning her to life, Peter also returns her to these good works, and to the community where her work mattered.

Healings always take place in community. Discipleship and good works matter to communities. Life happens in community.

The community isn’t always the main headline, of course. We think only one person experiences the miracle: “Man, 8 Years Paralyzed, Walks!” “Well-Known Seamstress Dies, Lives Again!” But maybe the real story is the difference a healing makes to those who witness it, and the difference a life makes to all who have received—and have yet to receive—the good works the living person shares.

We show and tell every day. We show up, and we tell God’s story. We experience healings and we encounter new life—not always in ways that are headline-worthy, perhaps, but always as opportunities for witnessing God’s wonders, practicing discipleship, and bringing those around us into the miracle of faith.

Discussion

  • Look for examples of “showing” and “telling” in these two miracle stories. What do you find more compelling: being told something, or witnessing it yourself? Are you more likely to tell others about your faith experiences and challenges, or to let them see your growth and your struggles?
  • How do individual people’s health problems and healings affect communities? How does your church care for those who are dealing with medical concerns or disability? How do you celebrate healing? When has one of these circumstances prompted expressions of new faithfulness?
  • When someone dies, how do you remember and honor their “good works” and discipleship? How do you honor the ways their works contributed to the community?
  • Tabitha was called a “disciple,” and at least one of her “good works” was making clothing for her community. We may not think of sewing as an act of discipleship. What are some other expressions of discipleship that we might not typically consider acts of faith? How do these “good works” impact communities today?

Nikki Finkelstein-Blair is the lead editor of Connections. She is a graduate of Samford University and Central Baptist Theological Seminary, and as a military spouse has had nine (at last count) different hometowns in the past 20 years. She and her husband Scott and sons Sam and Levi live in the Washington D.C. area. In recent years, Nikki has written Smyth & Helwys curricula as well as devotionals for d365.org and Baptist Women in Ministry. She weaves clergy stoles, knits almost anything, and dreams of making her dreadful novel drafts into readable books. She blogs about faith and making things at amovingyarn.com.

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