7 On the first day of the week, when we met to break bread, Paul was holding a discussion with them; since he intended to leave the next day, he continued speaking until midnight. 8 There were many lamps in the room upstairs where we were meeting. 9 A young man named Eutychus, who was sitting in the window, began to sink off into a deep sleep while Paul talked still longer. Overcome by sleep, he fell to the ground three floors below and was picked up dead. 10 But Paul went down, and bending over him took him in his arms, and said, “Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him.” 11 Then Paul went upstairs, and after he had broken bread and eaten, he continued to converse with them until dawn; then he left. 12Meanwhile they had taken the boy away alive and were not a little comforted. Acts 20:7-12
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I’m forever wondering how the early church decided which stories to include in the New Testament and which were better off not shared. I’m guessing they stuck this one in when Paul was away on business or sleeping in on a Saturday. You can almost hear the discussion between Luke (the primary author of Acts) and his friends. “Oh that Paul. Such a smart guy. Faithful guy. But good grief does he ever shut up?! Remember that time he preached so long that a guy actually fell asleep, fell to his death, and had to be miraculously resurrected? We’ve got to include that one as a reminder to Paul and every other future preacher that a sermon doesn’t have to be long to be good!”
There was a time not so long ago when pastors were viewed as larger-than-life, perfect, unapproachable demi-gods. I suppose the Church in its “wisdom” decided that the world needed examples to inspire greater faithfulness. All it did was reveal human hypocrisy and drive the poor pastors crazy with an unrealistic expectation of perfectionism. Fortunately, the church of the first century had a much healthier view of the clergy. When Paul literally bored a man to death, it wasn’t evidence that the Church was deficient; it was evidence of the greatness of God. Because if God could manage to work through a blowhard like Paul, then God could work through anyone. Even us! Thank you, God for making us perfectly imperfect.
Gracious God, help me to embrace and appreciate the person you created ME to be. Don’t let me make an idol of some mythical perfect version of me. You made me unique for a reason. Reveal that to me, and use me and my quirks to touch and bless others. Amen.
Rev. Scott E. Schul
The people of Grace share their favorite bible stories for the 2023 Lenten Devotional: I Love to Tell the Story. Each day's devotional will be automatically posted so come back daily after 7 am for a new reflection.