Pastor Jim Jackson, Richmond Hill Presbyterian Church
Apparently Paul’s sermon didn’t consist of three quick points and a poem, which practice is no stranger in some pulpits even til this day.
Paul is in Troas. It’s the first day of the week, and he and other disciples are gathered for worship. Acts 20 informs us they were in an upper chamber where there were many lights, likely oil lamps giving off heat. The room must have been packed with folk, so a young man named Eutychus chose to sit in an open window. Verse nine informs us that Paul was long in preaching, besides it was after midnight. Those conditions combined leave us unsurprised that even a young man like Eutychus became sleepy. He soon fell asleep and unfortunately fell out that third story window.
Paul brought that sermon to a quick pause and rushed down to the young man lying on the ground, presumably dead. Reassuring his fellow worshipers, Paul informed them that Eutychus still had some life left in him. Apparently Eutychus was raised up and joined his fellow worshipers until the break of day.
This story recorded by Luke has provided me with both humor and comfort. We can only imagine how many other people, some of them full grown, devout adults, must have nodded off as well. But they weren’t the last to slumber during a church service.
From my vantage point in the pulpit, I’ve seen eyes closed and heads down many times.
After the service, I ribbed some of those Eutychus types about their dozing. And I’ve received some interesting responses. “Oh pastor, I was just praying for you.” “The lights were so bright, I just had to close my eyes.”
Then too I’m comforted, being somewhat like the universally esteemed Apostle Paul, for I’ve spoken too long sometimes, allowing enthusiasm to overcome reasonable expectations for my listeners. Fortunately my churches were air conditioned and no one had to sit in a window. And too, it just might be that those faithful, but sleepy, attendees, trusted that my sermon would be faithful to the gospel even if they checked out for a few moments.
Either way, I would be happy for more Eutychus types join us in church on Sundays.
These days, I understand that church attendance is on the decline, with only forty some percent of our citizens attending regularly. Leave that recliner and come doze with us. Just maybe, you’ll catch some Gospel truths between nods. Afterward, shake my hand at the door and tell me how good it was. The nap or my sermon?