Tuesday 19th May
In 2018 I had the privilege of visiting projects run by Compassion International in Ghana. At the first project visit we were greeted by dancing and drums beating, chilled bottled water was placed in our hands, and we were escorted to the honoured seats among the assembled worshippers. What a welcome, what great hospitality! The worship that followed lasted over three hours! It was so different to being in church in the UK that I didn’t notice the length. By the third day of almost identical worship services I found it difficult to concentrate for that length of time and was amazed by how still the children sat. As I lent against the open window in a hot upper room I could see how poor young Eutychus fell out!
Abraham Lincoln said, ‘If all the people who fell asleep in church on Sunday morning were laid out end to end, they would be a great deal more comfortable.’
Today we read a remarkable account when the great Apostle Paul preached for so long that he literally bored a young lad to death (and then raised him)! As well as identifying with poor Eutychus – I, like Paul, have seen people drift off as I’ve stood in the pulpit! Jonathan Edwards, the 18th Century revivalist, who played leading role in the appropriately named ‘Great Awakening’ encountered a similar problem, writing:
“I would particularly desire that you would not suffer those that sit by you, to sit sleeping at meeting; but wake one another, when anything of that appears. And let none of the godly give way so much to their corruption as to take it ill, when others admonish them, when others jog them to wake them, either out of their natural sleep in time of public worship, or their spiritual sleep, by friendly admonition. (Works, Vol. 19, 415)
The young lad’s name means ‘Lucky’. May we each be as fortunate to have others jog us when we lapse into spiritual lethargy. May we not fall like Eutychus, but be alert to encounter God in our gathered worship (even avoiding Zoom fatigue or other similar digital perils at this hour).
Reflection by Will Gibbons