Sleeping Through the Sermon

Acts 20:1-12
1After the uproar ceased, Paul sent for the disciples, and after encouraging them, he said farewell and departed for Macedonia.
2When he had gone through those regions and had given them much encouragement, he came to Greece.
3There he spent three months, and when a plot was made against him by the Jews as he was about to set sail for Syria, he decided to return through Macedonia.
4Sopater the Berean, son of Pyrrhus, accompanied him; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy; and the Asians, Tychicus and Trophimus.
5These went on ahead and were waiting for us at Troas,
6but we sailed away from Philippi after the days of Unleavened Bread, and in five days we came to them at Troas, where we stayed for seven days.
7On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight.
8There were many lamps in the upper room where we were gathered.
9And a young man named Eutychus, sitting at the window, sank into a deep sleep as Paul talked still longer. And being overcome by sleep, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead.
10But Paul went down and bent over him, and taking him in his arms, said, “Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him.”
11And when Paul had gone up and had broken bread and eaten, he conversed with them a long while, until daybreak, and so departed.
12And they took the youth away alive, and were not a little comforted.

It used to be our tradition at the church I attend to have a worship service at midnight on Christmas Eve. This reading always sparks a memory of one of those services. We always had the young people light the candles and that child would sit up in the front of the chancel throughout the service. On the particular year in memory the young man who had been given the job for this very special service grew tired during the sermon. Of course we could all see him very clearly and so his situation was evident to everyone. Finally, able to stand it no longer he stretched out his long frame and fell asleep. Whenever I read this passage I think of that evening and smile. Of course this young man didn't fall to his death so we were not in need of a miracle that night.

If we place ourselves into this scene we can empathize with Eutychuse, the young man who falls out of the window. The words of Paul have probably gone on for quite some time, the room is full of people and lamps, so it is overly warm. The event takes place on a third story and the boy is sitting in the window well trying to get a breath of air (and maybe it was the only place left to sit.) And as will happen late at night in a hot room during a lengthy sermon he falls asleep. Sadly, that results in his fall on to the street below and thus his death. Paul seems unconcerned and prays over Eutychus, bringing him back to life. Just a normal event in the life of an Apostle!

What always strikes me about the way this story is presented is that this resurrection is just a part of everyday life. Paul goes down to the boy on the street, prays over him, and he is brought back to life. Just your everyday event. Paul was so used to walking in the the Lord that when something like this happened it was not a cause for concern but a cause for prayer. That closeness with and reliance upon God is admirable. A problem occurs and this is what you do. Seek God's help. My biggest problem is the sin that steals me away from God. But He has already handled that one through Jesus death and resurrection so everything else is minor by comparison. I need only rely on His love and grace to handle everything else. That's how I see Paul. He is so reliant upon God for everything that when something really drastic happens he simply hands it over to God and watches Him work.   

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