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Saturday, August 10, 2013

Today’s Reading | Acts 20:1–16

After the uproar had ceased, Paul sent for the disciples; and after encouraging them and saying farewell, he left for Macedonia. When he had gone through those regions and had given the believers much encouragement, he came to Greece, where he stayed for three months. He was about to set sail for Syria when a plot was made against him by the Jews, and so he decided to return through Macedonia. He was accompanied by Sopater son of Pyrrhus from Beroea, by Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonica, by Gaius from Derbe, and by Timothy, as well as by Tychicus and Trophimus from Asia. They went ahead and were waiting for us in Troas; but we sailed from Philippi after the days of Unleavened Bread, and in five days we joined them in Troas, where we stayed for seven days.

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. There were many lamps in the room upstairs where we were meeting. 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. 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.’ Then Paul went upstairs, and after he had broken bread and eaten, he continued to converse with them until dawn; then he left. Meanwhile they had taken the boy away alive and were not a little comforted.

We went ahead to the ship and set sail for Assos, intending to take Paul on board there; for he had made this arrangement, intending to go by land himself. When he met us in Assos, we took him on board and went to Mitylene. We sailed from there, and on the following day we arrived opposite Chios. The next day we touched at Samos, and the day after that we came to Miletus. For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so that he might not have to spend time in Asia; he was eager to be in Jerusalem, if possible, on the day of Pentecost. (NRSV)


This passage is such a great cautionary tale for preachers: Paul talks for too long, and a young man falls asleep sitting on a windowsill, falls out the window, and almost dies. So I’ll try to keep this brief!

A group of Fourth Church members traveled with me to Greece this past May to walk in the footsteps of Paul. One of the hardest things about recreating Paul’s travels is to relate to how long it must have taken in those days: Paul didn’t move through the ancient Near East on a tour bus. 

There are a lot of things we do better in 2013 than they did in the ancient world, but slowing down isn’t one of them. So here’s a short list of things you might do today to slow down to a more Paul-like pace. Give one of them a try:

  • If something or someone sets you off today, take five long, slow breaths before you respond.
  • As you walk to or from work today, stop and notice something that the tourists are appreciating . . . and appreciate it. (Paul was a tourist everywhere he went in the Book of Acts).
  • Take out a blank piece of paper and spend ten minutes writing about something in your life that is important to you. (Set an alarm so you won’t keep looking at your watch.)
  • Finally, a word about the young man in Acts 20:9. Tonight, try to fall asleep while praying. Who knows if that’s what Eutychus was doing in the window, but ending the day with God in your thoughts can’t possibly be a bad thing.


God, thank you for the good things, help me with the difficult things, and keep me in your care. Amen.

Written by Adam H. Fronczek, Associate Pastor for Adult Education and Worship

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