Crossing Boulevard

with Rev. Rachel


"Ben, make sure you play Take My Hand Precious Lord in the meeting tonight."

These were Dr. King's last words. He spoke them from the second floor balcony of Memphis' Lorraine Motel, just outside of Room 306.

It was his favorite. Mahalia Jackson made a ritual of singing it at the rallies.

Before it was a funeral staple, Precious Lord Take My Hand was a plea for the living years. What happened? At what point did we stop singing it for strength to follow Jesus on this side of the Jordan?

It was called “the way” in Tabitha’s time. Peter takes her hand and restores her to the followership. She opens her eyes. She sees Peter. She sits up. She is presented alive to the believers and widows (vv.40-41). Robin Gallaher Branch says that the inspired author of Acts honors Tabitha by silencing her. Maybe. In any case, we hear only the outpouring of grief on the part of others in Joppa.

For those who went through middle school about the time that I did, there is an unfortunate ring to her Greek name. Maybe this association is a distracting one. You see, I never noticed how Luke gives her a double name and in so doing, communicates something significant (v.36).

Two names…two peoples whom she serves…Jewish and Hellenistic believers need her. Both the Aramaic and Greek mean gazelle. She was quick on her feet; at least, that is where my mind goes. Tabitha-Dorcas: Agile, nimble discipleship.

On Thursday morning, I listened as a colleague shared a difficult story that involved church folk being, well, the opposite of agile. This session of the Virginia Clergy Leadership Program focused on worship. Even so, I found myself thinking more broadly, about the past year or so of ministry here in Richmond.

I have seen agile discipleship, alright. I may have a whole herd of gazelles with which I’ve been called to travel. I knew there was a reason I’ve started calling this life a faith safari. Forget “journey”! We still have our hands, though. And Lord, if you’re listening, by all means take ‘em. Help us to sing for here and now.

UncategorizedRachel May