The passage in Acts 20:7-12 amused me in a peculiar sort of way, before I was a preacher. Not so much after. Many years ago, as a child and then into my earlier teen years, I would use this passage to support my weekly complaint that preachers were blind when it came to reading the clock or their audience. How tragic that Paul’s boring and long sermons would cause a young man to snooze and tumble out an open window to his death. I thought it was even more tragic that the Apostle would bring him back to life to endure more teaching until midnight! (check the story out here)
But now as a preacher myself, I understand the principle: of course one maximizes a teaching opportunity to expand so as to take up all that the space/time continuum makes available! It is simply good stewardship!
Seriously, here is what impresses me even more than the long sermon or the amazing miracle:
1.) The Christians did not need a magnificent, ornate cathedral for worship. A crowded, warm upstairs room would suffice. Many lamps made for a hot, oily oxygen depleted atmosphere and hypnotic flickering of burning lamps could easily put people to sleep. I have seen great church buildings in North America and Europe, with steeples and windows and organs and carvings that take your breath away. But I have also seen first hand open air, rough hewn, shanty town style worship centres that fill to overflowing with faithful, joyful and eager worshipers, attentive to the preaching of the word, receptive to the Holy Spirit breath of God. Any physical space can become holy. Any place can become church.
2.) Does this passage not tell us something about the hunger of these Christians? Their eagerness to learn is amazing! My cultural background betrays my desire for quick religious services. Do westerners have short attention spans? Is our hunger for physical food and Sunday recreation greater than our hunger for spiritual food? This is not an attempt to make all who live by their hero Eutychus feel guilty. I am just curious. I read in Acts 20 of people who gave up a whole night to hear a preacher/evangelist talk on and on – and they chose this! Perhaps that is the real miracle here.