I know women who make things, either as a hobby, to serve others, or as a high art. I know women who concentrate on good works. Most of them are quiet. Their activities are not lauded to the sky, for in this fallen times it is those who destroy who are praised, not those who build up.
The widows would have been in rags if it was not for Dorcas. Most widows were in dire poverty: even the corn dole (Romans citizens only) went to the men. A woman needed a father or a husband to survive, and feeding a household was a twelve hour a day job. Dorcas had sufficient wealth to acquire yarn or cloth and make garments and to devote herself to charity.
This has always been one of the ways that women serve the community and the church. In New Zealand, for many gatherings, the last line of the notice is Ladies, a plate. This is not to say you bring a pretty piece of crockery, or that the woman must cook. But you make some food and bring it on the plate. This service is quiet. It is practical, it is needed. It often goes unpraised, for the times are evil, and it is far, far easier to just signal your virtue.
What happened here, however, is greater. Peter had healed cripples. But now he raised a person from the dead: something only done by Elijah and Christ, the messiah.
A disciple, properly trained, can do what his master did. Peter showed that, and showed that this new covenant was greater than the Mosaic covenant that had preceded it.
32Now as Peter went here and there among all the believers, he came down also to the saints living in Lydda. 33There he found a man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden for eight years, for he was paralyzed. 34Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; get up and make your bed!” And immediately he got up. 35And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.
36Now 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. 37At that time she became ill and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in a room upstairs. 38Since 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.” 39So 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. 40Peter 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. 41He gave her his hand and helped her up. Then calling the saints and widows, he showed her to be alive. 42This became known throughout Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. 43Meanwhile he stayed in Joppa for some time with a certain Simon, a tanner.
The first miracle of the passage, however, was of a cripple. He was not able to walk. He was able to work, to move, to provide. Such has been the duty of men since the fall. Men need to work, and generally housework is not enough — though earlier this year I went to the funeral of a colleague, who during a very long illness had to give up clinical work, then academic work, then as his health failed he cared for their daughters while his wife worked, including sewing their clothes  — in those times to be crippled was to be poor, and manual work, physical work, would feed a family.
To cure a cripple was to help his family.
In this time, we have to ask if our policies cripple people. The number of people who are on long term benefits, who are dependent of medications, who have made themselves unemployable and unfit is significant. This will not last. One of the things the church needs to do now is train men to be godly warriors, even more than we train women to be wives and Ladies.
For Christ still heals. But then, we have a duty, and it is not to ourselves. It is do serve others.
And leave the virtue signalling to the degenerate.
- Many people now use the term potluck because the idea that there are such people as Ladies is deemed offensive. Dorcas was a Lady. I was raised by such, I married such, and I know.
- Lydia had been washed and laid out by women familiar with death. Disciples were sent to Peter who returned. She had been dead for at least 24 hours. This was not a faint.
- He had built a vintage car from parts. When he took up sewing, the first thing he did was disassemble and rebuild the sewing machine. His daughters wore clothes he had tailored for them at his funeral.