A woman who was a follower lived in the city of Joppa. Her name was Tabitha, or Dorcas. She did many good things and many acts of kindness. One day she became sick and died. – Acts 9:36-37
Many over-functioning or high-functioning folk end up spiritually exhausted, weary with well-doing. If you need a good listen, go to the website of First Presbyterian Church in Chicago and listen to the August 13, 2023 sermon by Pastor David Black on Tabitha. It is part of his stunning series on the “Stained Glass Windows with Bullet Holes” that adorn the home of his South Side Parish.
In the sermon, which is more than 300 words, he beautifully argues about the sinner in the saint of the over-functioner. Yes, usually she makes life easier for other people. Yes, if you want something done ask a busy person to do it. They will accept, on the grounds that they are already vice-president in charge of everything no one else will do. Still, don’t they need to make a little room for other people to have a vice-presidency?
The next time we have a churchy conversation about volunteerism, let’s underdo ourselves. Let’s figure out what jobs might be omitted if there is no one who wants to do them. Or find out how to pay the treasurer instead of volunteering someone who is not at the meeting? Or meditate on the notion that less is often more. What tasks are last century, back when some women didn’t have enough to do? Doesn’t Google remember everybody’s birthdays? Do congregations really have to get the Advent candles in the right order?
Let’s put joy back in church work and take the fussing out of it.
Tabitha, and God and Jesus and Holy Spirit, help us do a few good things and a few acts of kindness and just die and not be exhausted when we do. Amen.