On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight. There were many lamps in the upstairs room where we were meeting. Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead. Paul went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “He’s alive!” Then he went upstairs again and broke bread and ate. After talking until daylight, he left. The people took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted.
The fall of Eutychus… (a.ka. “Sleepy”)
Our last Bible character could be called Sleepy, but Scripture tells us his name is Eutychus (pronounced “Yoo-ti-kuss”). Of all the Bible characters we’ve met over last few weeks, he is one we might be able to understand the most. Especially if the pastor has droned on during a warm summer morning at early service when your parents tore you away from your comfy bed. Didn’t they realize you had a long night texting a friend through her troubled relationship or going for that next rank in a game of Rocket? Eutychus was a boy who was in church listening to the apostle Paul speak for a long time. He fell asleep. Not because he hated Jesus, nor was he annoyed by the Word of God. He fell asleep because he was human. He tried, but he still fell…asleep. Sadly and shockingly, he also fell…three stories to his death.
The lesson to the story is not to stay awake in church, especially if you are sitting in the balcony.
Look at this story from a different perspective. Why was Eutychus still there? Why did he stay so late at night that he fell out of a window? Because he loved God’s Word that much! He was tired. He probably wanted to be in bed. He was weak. But he still loved God’s word that much so that he stayed. And that’s the place where we need to start. Even if we’re tired. Even if we’d sometimes rather be somewhere else. Start there and show up for church. At least we’re there.
And then realize that we need a wake-up call. Because attendance is not the same as attention. Showing up in church is not the same as honoring God’s Word and taking it in for our souls and for our faith. We certainly need a wake-up call because God’s Word is more important for our faith than getting a few more hours of sleep in the morning. God’s Word is more important than mastering that next level of your game.
Jesus died and rose again so that you can wake up and do this again. He died for all of you who “mean well” but in reality “act bad.” He died for you who fall asleep in church or don’t even get up for it. He died for a world of sinners, of whom I am the worst. He died for all of us. And that means he died for you. And on the third day Jesus didn’t rise from sleep; he rose from the dead. He rose to wake us up from our slumber, to open our weary eyes, and to let us know that this is what we get up for. And not just on Sundays, but EVERY DAY of our lives! So, friends in Christ, “Wake up!”
There will still be the occasional boring sermon on a hot summer’s day after a long weekend. But may God wake you up to see his forgiveness, his love, his peace, and the power to wake up, praise him, follow him, and rouse others from their slumber of sin to the wide-awake joy of life in Christ now and forever! To him alone be the glory and praise!
Precious Lord, remind me of my baptism as I pray:
My loving Father, there you took me
To be henceforth your child and heir.
My faithful Savior, there you let me
The fruit of all your sorrows share.
O Holy Spirit, comfort me
When threatening clouds around I see. Amen.
(Christian Worship 294:2)