So I have preached a long sermon or two in my day. I try to be respectful of time, but I also want to develop and explain my points appropriately; sometimes that takes more than 25-30 minutes we set aside. I once had someone joke with me that I had just preached the best two sermons they had ever heard on that particular topic! Well, we can laugh about that kind of thing because no one got injured, but what if someone were to get hurt from a sermon that went too long???
Fortunately no one has ever been injured because of my sermons (to my knowledge), but that is exactly what happened in scripture to a young man named Eutychus. Eutychus, meaning “happy” or “fortunate” was the young man of Troas who fell asleep during Paul’s long sermon. (Here’s what happens to people who fall asleep during sermons, kids!) He fell off his window seat, broke his neck, and was taken up as dead.
Wow! Seriously? I suppose I am not shy about preaching a few minutes into the “lunch hour,” but I hope no one ever falls to their death because of my sermon! I’m not sure what I would do, but I imagine it would be devastating to learn someone had died from my sermon. Paul, however, endowed with the a miraculous gift from the Holy Spirit, simply revived him (Acts 20:7-12).
I say it would be devastating for someone to die during my sermon, but looking at it another way, isn’t that what we are after? In fact, wouldn’t it be great if someone died every time? Of course, I don’t mean physical death like Eutychus, but rather the death, burial, and resurrection of baptism. What a blessing it would be to cause someone’s old self to die and a new birth/reviving every Sunday!
If you know of anyone who wants to study these things further, please put us in touch – the life you help die today in the waters of baptism might just be your next brother or sister in Christ!