Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 122; 149, Esther 9:1-32, Acts 20:1-16, Luke 4:38-44
Eutychus is famous for being the first Christian who was bored to death by a sermon. Seated on a window ledge, the young man was listening to a long message from Paul. Sometime after midnight, sleep overcame him and he fell three stories. Eutychus was “picked up dead” but Paul went downstairs, he put his arms around the youth, and said: “Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him.” Everyone including Eutychus returned upstairs and Paul continued to preach until dawn.
Determination and willpower are not always enough. Like Eutychus we struggle to be faithful, but the demands of life overwhelm us and we find ourselves falling off the ledge. Maybe we fall into sin. Maybe we fall into addiction. Maybe we simply fall away from the church. For all intents and purposes we may appear dead to the life and loved ones we knew. But the Pauls of the world – those people who understand Jesus is all about resurrection – see life is in us, waiting to be reclaimed.
Therein lies the beauty and importance of Christian community: we pick each other up. When someone stops attending church, they are often waiting to see if anyone notices. A card, call, or visit may be the thing that says: “I see life is in you” when they can’t see it themselves. A loving embrace, when all others have left them for dead, may be what lifts them to their feet and returns them to the community.
What might Paul have learned from this event? Maybe that pressing relentlessly forward with the business of church – in his case preaching; in our day, board meetings, fundraisers, choir practice – without regard for its flagging members can be dangerous. If Eutychus was fading, it’s likely others were not far behind. Offering rest or refreshment to those about to fall may be less an interruption of church business, and more the necessary action to keep everyone vital.
Each of us is a potential Paul to someone’s Eutychus. Let us pray for the wisdom to see life in someone when others have given up hope.
Comfort: A good church is there when people need it.
Challenge: Who haven’t you seen in a while? Call or visit them so they feel acknowledged.
Prayer: God of Life, teach me and Your church to see Your life in those who have fallen. Amen.
Discussion: When has a faith community lifted you up?
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