Commemoration of Dorcas (Tabitha), Lydia, and Phoebe, Faithful Women
The Lord be with you
The Commemoration of Dorcas (Tabitha), Lydia, and Phoebe, Faithful Women was, actually, yesterday (October 25). However, I was out of town at a conference and so did not have a chance to post anything abut the day or the women. These women, though, should not be overlooked so I’m making up for it today.
Dorcas, Lydia, and Phoebe were exemplary Christians who demonstrated their faith by their material support of the Church. Dorcas, or Tabitha (the name means “gazelle” and was a favorite name among both Greeks and Jews), was well-known and much loved for her acts of charity in the city of Joppa, especially for making clothes for the poor. When Dorcas died suddenly, the members of her congregation sent to the neighboring city of Lydda for the apostle Peter, who came and raised her from the dead (Acts 9:36-41). This was the first time an Apostle did such a miracle and it was a powerful witness to the Gentiles.
Lydia was a woman of Thyatira, who worked at Philippi selling a famous purple dye that was much in demand in the ancient world. (Thyatira was a Lydian city and so the name Lydia might originally have been an adjective.) Such a business required a great deal of capital, so she was probably well-to-do. She was also a “worshiper of God” at the local synagogue (Acts 16:14) and the first person converted to Christianity in Europe. When the apostle Paul encountered her in prayer among other proselyte women, his preaching of the Word brought Lydia to faith in Christ. She and her friends thus became the nucleus of the Christian community in Philippi (Acts 16:13-15, 40). After her baptism she invited Paul and his companions to stay in her house, which relieved Paul of the necessity of earning his support, as was his custom elsewhere.
Phoebe (her name means “bright” or “radiant”) was another faithful woman associated with the apostle Paul. She was a deaconess from Cenchreae (the port of Corinth) whom Paul sent to the Church in Rome with his Epistle to the Romans. The word “deaconess” might perhaps be better translated “patron” or “helper,” for Paul doesn’t mean that he is a deacon when he applies a similar word to himself (2 Corinthians 11:23; Colossians 1:23, 25). In Romans, Paul writes of Phoebe’s support for the work of the Early Church (Romans 16:1-2) and this, along with Paul calling her a deaconess, became the inspiration for the more regular order of deaconesses that was to emerge in the Church in the third and fourth centuries.
The date for remembering these ladies of faith was taken from the liturgical calendar used in Orthodox denominations, as they remember the Blessed Tabitha on October 25. We have simply expanded the commemoration to include more of the important women in the Early Church.
Collect for the Commemoration of Dorcas (Tabitha), Lydia, and Phoebe, Faithful Women: Almighty God, You stirred to compassion the hearts of Your dear servants Dorcas, Lydia, and Phoebe to uphold and sustain Your Church by their devoted and charitable deeds. Give us the same will to love You, open our eyes to see You in the least ones, and strengthen our hands to serve You in others, for the sake of Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Other things you might pray for:
• For the poor
• For foreigners in a strange land
• For deaconesses
• For all who assist in the proclamation of the word of God
Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert