By Pastor Jeff Fox-Kline
"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. There were many lamps in the room upstairs where we were meeting. 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. 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.” Then Paul went upstairs, and after he had broken bread and eaten, he continued to converse with them until dawn; then he left. Meanwhile they had taken the boy away alive and were not a little comforted."
This story is fun. I mean, as fun as any story is that involves someone dying.
First of all, it says that “Paul was holding a discussion with them," and then goes on to describe Paul as speaking until midnight and beyond. I’m sure we’ve all had "discussions" with that kind of person before. So who can blame Eutychus for falling asleep?
He falls asleep, then he literally falls. Now this could serve as a cautionary tale about staying awake, and Charlie did a great job exploring that idea in his sermon on Sunday. But when I read this story, I see a second narrative unfold.
Look at what happens after Eutychus falls and dies. Paul walks down three flights of stairs, brings him back to life, goes back upstairs, has a midnight snack, then pulls an all-nighter with the people in Troas before he leaves.
This is a sort of "blink and you miss it" story. A boy dies, a boy comes back. When’s dinner?
But Paul’s approach to faith and life is not going to be derailed like that. Paul knows his time with these people is limited, and the Good News is so vital to be shared, that nothing is going to come in the way of him sharing it. When I preach (in the before times) there would occasionally be a moment in the sermon when someone forgot to turn off their cell phone. Usually, I would just breeze past it. Now, this situation was a little more extreme than a cell phone, but Paul quickly addressed it and moved right along.
Do we have that kind of passion? Are we able to get distracted?
When we are trying to live our lives in the light of the resurrection, our focus needs to be on righteousness, justice, peace. But inevitably someone falls out of a window (metaphorically), and we shift our focus. Do we let ourselves be derailed? Love of money, petty anger, exhaustion at doing what we’re called to. These are some of the things that will inevitably steal our attention. How do we recover?
What helps me refocus on living the good life?
You. You and people like you. The Church. My loved ones. Holding me accountable. Keeping me faithful.
I see the Good News in the community of God’s children that I am surrounded with, and when the distractions arise, I try my best to manage those interruptions and return my focus to our common mission of being God’s people.
And realizing this makes me “not a little comforted.”