Sleeping in church isn’t anything unusual. I’ve observed some of the best. My all-time favorite was a brother who would cross his legs . . . open up his bible upon his knee . . . place his chin in between the thumb and forefinger of one hand . . . steady that same arm with the other arm which crossed his belly and held the elbow . . . tilted his head down as to be reading the scriptures . . . and gone-zo! No embarrassing head dip . . . wasn’t distracting to the preacher . . . in fact, it may have encouraged the brother speaking to look out and see one who seemed so intensely bound to the text. Epic!
Not judging those who sleep in church. I know some extremely hard-working people who max out during the week and who’s greatest desire is to be with God’s people when God’s people gather. Sometimes the two collide and you end up with a snoozer (hopefully not a snorer). And, not unprecedented in the early church. Read of a sleeper this morning. But he crashed (in more ways than one) because the preacher was a bit long winded . . . and God’s people didn’t want it to stop. He fell asleep because they did an all-nighter.
If you’re not familiar with the story, check out Acts 20:7-12. Paul’s in Troas for seven days. On the first day of the week the believers gathered together to break bread. Looks like it was their custom to meet on Sunday to remember the Lord . . . sound familiar? I’m thinking it was an evening meeting . . . they gathered for a “love feast,” an evening meal culminating in the Lord’s table . . . and then Paul’s speaking . . . and he goes on and on . . . and nobody’s leaving. It says “he prolonged his speech until midnight.” And as the night goes on . . . and the midnight candles are burning . . . and the room gets stuffy . . . “a young man named Eutychus, sitting at the window, sank into a deep sleep as Paul talked still longer.”
The young guy didn’t know my friend’s technique . . . not very stable in the window . . . and he falls out of the third story window to his death. But, in God’s grace, and for God’s purposes, the apostle is given power to raise the young man back to life . . . and they return to the meeting . . . and continue to fellowship together . . . and fellowship and converse yet longer. The Holy Spirit has the author of Acts record that they met until daybreak. They pulled an all-nighter!
So what’s the main event in this story? That God showed Himself powerful in the midst of a gathering of believers by raising one from the dead? Probably. But what has me thinking is perhaps a bit more of the mundane. I’m noodling on the example of a gathering of God’s people who so wanted to be together . . . who so desired to remember the Lord around His table . . . who were so hungry to be taught by God’s gifted teacher . . . who were so jazzed by the fellowship they enjoyed . . . that they hung out all night together . . . even if some just couldn’t keep their eyes open.
When the fellowship is sweet, you just don’t want it to end. When the presence of God is evident, no one’s heading for the door early.
I can think back to all-nighters. Not church meetings per se, but time spent with brothers-in-Christ discussing, wrestling with, and savoring the ways of God and the dynamics of our pilgrim walk. As we chewed on the things of God together, our hunger increased . . . and nobody wanted to call it a night.
O’ that there might be something of that dynamic whenever God’s people come together. Not that we necessarily do all-nighters (I don’t usually make it past 9:30 p.m.) . . . but that we’re so into meeting with the saints under the cover of the presence of God that no one’s rushing for the door after meeting. That we’re not checking our watches as the preacher hits the 25 or 30 minute mark, but that we have a sense of being fed by the Spirit Himself and our response is that of “Please Sir, can I have some more?” That the fellowship is sweet . . . and we have a sweet tooth.
Aspirational? A big unrealistic? Perhaps. But better than falling asleep in a third story window. Amen?