Monday, April 3, 2017
Comfort in Worship
Acts 20:7 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. 8 There were many lamps in the room upstairs where we were meeting. 9 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. 10 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.” 11 Then Paul went upstairs, and after he had broken bread and eaten, he continued to converse with them until dawn; then he left. 12 Meanwhile they had taken the boy away alive and were not a little comforted.
This appears to be the first recorded meeting of worshippers on the first day of the week. This would have been a Sunday gathering and they came together to hear the word preached and to have a meal and celebrate communion. Paul was the speaker of the hour but he wasn’t going to just give a short message. Paul felt an urgency because this would be his last time to gather with this group of believers and he wanted to make the most of it.
You can imagine that the people were getting hungry but Paul kept on talking until midnight. The many lamps may have made the space warm and stuffy while giving off fumes. As a result a young man who was trying to listen was simply overcome. Some translations say that Paul talked “on and on.” Finally Eutychus (which means ‘Lucy One’) fell asleep and to his death. At that moment Paul rushed to his side and resurrection power was revealed. Eutychus was brought to life by Paul.
Paul probably realized that the people were hungry so they paused long enough to have communion and a meal, but Paul, not wanting waste any time kept talking with them until dawn. He used every moment to its fullest and those who knew the boy realized they had experienced a miracle. By the whole experience they were comforted.
This first recorded Sunday worship service seems a bit crazy but at the same time it has elements that ought to bring us pause. There was much that happened that night but at the end of it all the people were comforted. Paul was going to be leaving them and probably never coming back. So, his presence, or imminent departure, provides the framework for this gathering. The worship gathering resulted in the people being comforted.
The people gathered on the first day of the week. This was to commemorate Jesus’ resurrection. It was a move away from the Sabbath day gathering of the Jewish tradition and means that the focus had become on resurrection. Everything changed on this side of the cross, including the ways in which people would worship. This was about praising and worshipping the God of resurrection power and this is what made the miracle of Eutychus so vital. This miracle of resurrection power brought emphasis to their gathering on the day of resurrection. Yes, they could believe in the resurrected Jesus because they saw resurrection power at work and they “were not a little comforted.”
Finally, they broke bread together. Jesus had told them to do this often — as often as they gathered together. They were comforted by this practice in worship for it reminded them of the presence of Jesus. They practiced what Jesus had done and remembered, not only his sacrifice, but Jesus’ victory over sin and death.
Gathering together to worship brought great comfort to these new believers. They gathered on the day of the resurrection, experienced resurrection power and devoured both the physical and spiritual word of God. It was a transformative event that would set a pattern. We are invited to step into that place of comfort every week and live in the shadow of resurrection.
Lord, thank you for the reminder that we are privileged to celebrate resurrection and to be comforted. Amen.