by Tad Lindley
Not counting funerals or weddings, what is the longest church service you have ever been to? We usually run about 90 minutes to 2 hours where I go to church. Then people stay around and visit afterwards, but I’m not counting that as part of the service time. If the preacher is hard to follow, or doesn’t move around much, even a half hour sermon can get wearisome. Chances are you may have gotten so bored under such circumstances that you actually fell asleep in church. But you’ve never been so bored that it actually killed you.
Eutychus in the window
A long time ago in a distant place, a guy actually did get bored to death in church. Church was going quite late. The sun had set, 9 o’clock came and went, 10 o’clock came and went, and the preacher kept talking and talking. The young man, named Eutychus, found himself a place in the sill of an open window where he could prop up his back. He was trying to follow the preaching, but as midnight approached his eyelids began to close and his head began to nod. If you’ve ever experienced that say, “Amen”. And then his head went down and it didn’t come up. He wasn’t deep asleep, but he was heading that direction. You know how it is when you are just falling asleep and you dream that you tripped and are falling? Well that’s what happened to Eutychus, except when he opened his eyes he really was falling. The ground was rushing up from 30 feet below to meet him.
Eutychus out the window
The Bible doesn’t tell us what happened exactly, but picture the service in your mind. All eyes are on the preacher, Paul. The people notice a strange look on Paul’s face as he looks at the open window, and then they hear a thud on the ground down below. Chaos ensues as the church people pour down the stairs and into the street. Someone places their fingers on Eutychus’ wrist and slowly looks up and shakes his head. They check for breath, there is none. They place the limp dead body of Eutychus on a stretcher and begin to carry him away.
Raised from the dead
Then Paul came out of the doorway into the street. Seeing the situation and understanding that Eutychus was dead, Paul wrapped his arms around the body and presumably prayed for him. Next thing the people knew, the previously dead Eutychus got up. Here it is in the King James English: And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight. And there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together. And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead. And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him. (Acts 20:7-10)
What would you do?
I purposely did not include the next two verses. I want you to think for a moment. Church went until midnight and only ended when a young man got bored to death from the long preaching. What do you think they did next? I’d think they might have called it a night and all gone home, especially Eutychus. But that’s not what they did. Then he [Paul] went back upstairs, broke the bread and ate. He continued talking with them till daylight, then left. So, greatly relieved, they brought the boy home alive. (Acts 20:11-12 CJB) They had a midnight snack and then went right back to having church until the sun came up!
If you ever feel like church is dragging on too long and you might be bored to death, remember Eutychus, and open your eyelids and enjoy the short service you are in!
Tad Lindley is a minister at the United Pentecostal Church in Bethel, Alaska.