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  • Writer's pictureDebbie Salter Goodwin

Dying for a Sermon!

Acts 20:7-12

Who hasn’t fallen asleep during a sermon? Sometimes it has more to do with late nights and stressful days than the quality of the message. Other times, the messenger is less than engaging or over-your-head tedious. The eyes flutter shut, the head sways until that quick nod that brings you awake like a splash of cold water only to repeat the process.

But no one ever dies from falling asleep during a sermon. At least not in any service I have attended.

But that’s what happened to Eutychus when Paul was preaching. Paul was in Troas after surviving a riot in Ephesus and a plot to kill him in Greece. To say that Paul was glad for a receptive audience was an understatement.

I’m sure Paul’s conversion story on the way to Damascus kept everyone awake. I can hear Paul rehearsing every detail with animated delivery. And the people wanted to hear more? What’s a preacher to do if the congregations wants him to keep preaching?

So he did. He preached until midnight!

I don’t know about you, but there are few sermons I want to hear at midnight! Eutychus must have had similar leanings. He was sitting in a window, probably hoping to catch a breeze from the night air to keep him awake. Scripture says that Paul “talked on and on.” It was just too much for this young man. No one saw him start nodding, eyes fluttering in an awkward attempt to stay awake.

Then, the unthinkable happened. He fell out of the third story window and landed too hard on the ground below.

Who was the first who rushed down the stairs to find him dead? Poor Eutychus. Worked too hard. Couldn’t stay awake. Shouldn’t have come. We always have plenty of could’ve-should-ve comments in moments of our impotence against the inevitable.

Paul made his way down the stairs also. When he realized what had happened, he “threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him.” Paul told the astonished and teary-eyed group, “Don’t be alarmed, He’s alive!”

And he was. Eutychus rubbed his eyes and stood up asking in a shaky voice, “What happened?”

Talk about a memorable church service! No one forgot that meeting. They went back upstairs, made sure everyone had something to eat to keep them awake, and Paul picked up his sermon and kept talking until daylight.

But you can be sure, Eutychus, whose name means “Fortunate,” found a new place to sit.

What are today’s lessons from this crazy story?

  • Don't sit on 3rd story open window ledges when the preacher gets long-winded.

  • Nothing will keep a preacher from finishing his sermon.

  • Don’t preach people to death unless you can resurrect them!

But I think there’s more than just a good laugh here.

  • God’s power should always the center of attraction.

  • If God can raise up Eutychus, what can He “raise us up” to do?

  • Keep gathering to worship in person and expect the unexpected from God!

  • God has done something for all of us and we need to talk about it.

And then there’s always this one:

What miracle have we missed because we didn’t show up?

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