A Message from Pastor Kaji

May 2nd,2024 Categories: Weekly Letter
Dear Church:
At a funeral service recently, I referred to one of our deacons and explained that we don’t have deaconesses in our church, just deacons. I said this and forgot about it, until someone asked me about it later. How can women be deacons? (And, by extension, pastors?) At many venerated churches, there are deacons, and they are men. In order to be a deaconess, a woman must be married to a deacon. This is not the tradition here at the historic Park Avenue Christian Church. Many of us were taught to think of the “disciples” as the twelve. And then there were women who followed them. 
Our text this week from Acts 9 is significant for many reasons. One reason is that it is one of the only texts that offers a corrective to the erroneous notion that women weren’t considered real, sho nuff disciples. Tabitha/Dorcas is referred to as a μαθήτρια (pronounced math-ay’-tree-ah), which is the feminine form for disciple. Which should close the book on the question, though, alas, it has not. We know differently. 
As you read the text, you’ll see references to Joppa, which is near Lydda. This refers to the story Luke/Acts tells just before Tabitha/Dorcas’ story, where Peter is healing and performing miracles in Lydda. When Tabitha/Dorcas is on her deathbed, it’s a big enough deal that her friends rush to get Peter so that he can help. And when he addresses her lifeless body, he says to her: Tabitha, ἀνίστημι (pronounced an-is’-tay-mee). Seeing the transliteration, I immediately think of the word animate. As in: breathe new life into. As in: come to life. 
In your preparations for Sunday, I wonder when someone else, particularly a friend, has sown or breathed new life into you? I am confident that this has happened to each of us at some turn in our lives. And in that way, we are living out one of the most precious forms of exchange between the disciples. It is also one of the most precious forms of exchange between us and the people God has placed in our lives. I give thanks for each time we are God’s instruments of animation.  
This Sunday, God will be present, and I hope that you will be, too. 
I can’t wait to see you in church. Pax Christi,

Pastor Kaji


Acts 9:36–42 (Year B, p. 178):

36 Now in Joppa there was a disciple whose name was Tabitha—which translated into Greek is Dorcas; she was abundant in good works and benevolent giving. 37 And it happened at that time she became ill and died and they washed her and laid her in a room upstairs. 38 Now Lydda was near Joppa so the disciples who heard that Peter was there, sent two people to him urging, “Without delay, come to us.” 39 Then Peter got up and went with them; when he arrived, they took him to the room upstairs. And standing beside him were all the widows, weeping and displaying the tunics and other clothing that Dorcas made while she was with them. 40 Then Peter put all of them outside, and got on his knees and prayed, and he turned to the body and said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and seeing Peter, she sat up. 41 Then he gave her his hand and raised her up and calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive. 42 Now this became known throughout Joppa, and many believed in the Messiah.