10/21/18 – Sermons that put you to sleep

Posted on : Oct 18th, 2018 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

It’s every preacher’s worst nightmare – or at least it should be – a sermon that is so boring that it puts people to sleep.

I remember from my childhood, sermons that went on and on and on – for days and weeks, I do believe – and “pastoral prayers” that lasted just as long.  It was excruciatingly painful to endure.

Let’s be real.  It is rare to find a preacher that is truly inspiring every week.  We all have our down days.  But then there are serial abusers that drone on and on and on, week after week, without a new thought ever being shared.  I’ve sat through a few sermons at other churches where I’ve been amazed that the preacher could talk so long and say nothing. 

It does appear that our good friend the Apostle Paul had a knack for long sermons that were less than inspiring.  In the 20th chapter of Acts, we find the saintly apostle, Paul, had just set off a riot at Ephesus.  He then departed for Macedonia. He came to Greece and spent three months there, and then he discovered there was a plot against him, so he departed for Macedonia by another way.  When he arrived at Troas, Paul was really stoked and gathered the people for worship and the breaking of bread (Communion).  Paul was so excited, he preached from morning till midnight – or as the bible puts it, “Paul prolonged his speech until midnight.” 

His followers were meeting in the upper room of a house and a young man named Eutychus [You-teh-cus] was sitting on the window ledge. Eutychus [You-teh-cus] sank into a deep sleep as Paul talked still longer; and being overcome by sleep, he fell down from the third story and died. 

Now, one would think Paul would have taken a cue from this incident, that maybe he had gone on long enough.  No such luck.  Paul did stop preaching and went down and bent over Eutychus, embraced him and announced, “he is not dead, there is life in him.”  Then Paul went back upstairs, broke bread and continued preaching until dawn!

So, why is this story included in the Bible?  Rev. Kenneth Samuel, the Pastor of Victory for the World Church, Stone Mountain, Georgia and one of our “God Is Still Speaking” writers wrote something about this story that woke me to its meaning.  Rev. Samuel puts forth this idea:

“What, if anything, Eutychus heard the preacher say in service, we do not know.  We do know that when he hit the ground and was thought to be dead, he did receive the message of the Gospel.   

He got the message that people of faith are people who care.  Paul and the congregants rushed downstairs to attend to Eutychus, in his fallen condition.  Their compassion reached him and their prayers restored him.   

And even if Eutychus had completely missed the message in church, he got the message when he hit the ground: “Don’t be afraid.  He’s alive.  He’s not dead.”   

The messages of God are often not clear when we’re supposed to be listening.  But when we fall onto the hard places of reality . . .   we get the message. 

God, open our eyes and hearts to hear your message at all times.  Amen.

Blessings,

Dan

Acts 20:7-12

 7-9 We met on Sunday to worship and celebrate the breaking of bread (Communion). Paul began preaching. Our plan was to leave first thing in the morning, but Paul talked on, way past midnight. We were meeting in a well-lighted upper room. A young man named Eutychus was sitting in an open window. As Paul went on and on, Eutychus fell sound asleep and toppled out the third-story window. When they picked him up, he was dead.

10-12 Paul went down, stretched himself on him, and hugged him hard. “No more crying,” he said. “There’s life in him yet.” Then Paul got up, broke bread and celebrated Communion. He went on telling stories of the faith until dawn! On that note, they left—Paul going one way, the congregation another, leading the boy off alive, and full of life themselves.

The Message, edited by Dan

 

 

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