Every time I read about Eutychus falling asleep during Paul’s long preaching and teaching session, I remember my deceased friend Mary.
Mary was a preacher who took her Christian faith very seriously. During her childhood and teenage years, she had no option but to attend Sunday worship, which she enjoyed for the most part. She, however, discovered from very early that some preachers had the tendency to ramble and stray from the subject. She loved reading; so she would usually take a textbook or other reading material that could fit into her open bible or hymnal. Whenever it felt as if the sermon could no longer hold her attention or interest, she delved into reading. That was her survival technique through teenage years of church going.
I am not suggesting that Paul was rambling; but see how long he talked at Troas. The body of believers had met on the first day of the week for the breaking of bread, but they did not get to that before midnight since they were holding a discussion, capturing all the teaching he could give before his departure the following day.
Poor Eutychus! The young man was sleepy, and not only did he fall asleep, he fell through the window, three floors below, and died.
Now I know some older folk in the communities that I’ve served who would insist that he had no right to be sleeping. Some expect toddlers to sit still during long sermons and many are quite surprised when I say that crying children don’t disturb me while I lead worship or preach, unless their bawling is excessive. If we don’t have child-friendly facilities then we must put u with the occasional cry.
I find Paul’s response instructive. In the excitement (I suppose) following Eutychus’ fall, Paul took him up, told the people that there was still life in him, and he was restored to life. Not much detail is given except this “Meanwhile they had taken the boy away alive and were not a little comforted” (Verse 12).
Paul continued to lead the gathering in the breaking of bread and then they continued speaking until dawn. Thank God, Eutychus was sleeping somewhere then.
Lord, help us preachers not to become so self-absorbed that we expect everyone to be listening to every bit of what we say, even when it cannot make sense to them. Amen.