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Paul and Eutychus

By the time we get to chapter 20 of Acts, Paul will undertake no new missions.  He is destined for Rome, after a visit to Macedonia and Greece, followed by one more trip to Jerusalem.  Chapter 20:3 reminds us that Paul’s Jewish enemies, so far unsuccessful, have not given up.  His plans must change.  Surrounded by seven companions, Paul sets out for the holy city.  He stops in Troas on the road to his destiny and accomplishes pastoral work there.

On Sunday he offered communion and preached to a community gathered on the third floor story of a house in the city.  But this was no occasion for a few brief remarks by a visiting celebrity.  No, Paul spoke on and on, even until midnight.  Lamps were required to bring lights, heat, smoke, and perhaps a little symbolism.

There was an unfortunate young man who was named Eutychus, which ironically means “Lucky.”  He was perched on the windowsill of the third floor because of the dense crowd, or in order to see and hear all the better, or perhaps to catch a bit of fresh air.  Because Paul continued to preach until midnight, Eutychus grew drowsy and fell asleep (Anyone who has ever dosed off during a long sermon will understand his plight!).  Well, windowsills are not good places for sleeping, so Eutychus fell down to the street to an untimely death.

Not even Paul could preach through that incident. Going down the stairs, he embraced the body and spoke some reassuring words. Then, as if this were all in a night’s work, Paul returned upstairs and resumed his sermon.  The service went on until dawn.  After worship, a meal, and conversation Paul left.  Only after this does the narrator think to tell us that Eutychus was alive after all.

This understatement is quite effective.  As had Jesus (Luke 7:11-17) and Peter (Acts 9:38-41), Paul has brought someone back from the dead.  The power of the Resurrection, fully unleashed at Pentecost, proclaims the defeat of death.  We, too, are fortunate that though we may have drifted off during a few sermons in our lifetime, we have also, like “Lucky” Eutychus, been raised to new life.  And that is good news for congregations and for us preacher types as well!

Posted by Ron Glover

Children's Lesson: God's House

While we are unable to meet for Sunday School, I will post an adaptation of the children's Sunday School lesson every Monday.  Think of the lesson as a guide to discuss a story from the Bible together.  Each lesson will include some introductory material, a Scripture reading, questions for review and discussion, an activity suggestion, a short prayer, and a memory verse.  I encourage you to take just 10-15 minutes every week to actively engage your children or grandchildren in this opportunity to grow together in your faith!

Introduction:

Share some background information before reading the story together.

This week’s story takes place just before Jesus is arrested and crucified. Jesus is together with his disciples celebrating Passover, a Jewish holiday that celebrates how God freed the Israelite slaves in Egypt. This would be the last meal Jesus would have with his disciples before he died, so we often call it the Last Supper.  After dinner, he spends a long time talking to his disciples.  He knows what is about to happen – that he will be arrested, crucified, but also that he will come back to life.  He also knows that Judas, his disciple and friend, will be the one to betray him. He knows that his disciples will be sad, scared, and confused.  He talks to them to try to bring them some comfort.

In his talk, which our story today is just part of, he is trying to help the disciples feel confident.  He wants them to remember that God promises to always be with us.  Even though Jesus won’t be physically with them on Earth for much longer, he wants them to know that He is with them and always will be. Jesus reminds the disciples that he loves them, sustains them, is always with them, cherishes them, and calls them to do great things.  The same is true for us!  Jesus loves us, sustains us, is always with us, cherishes us, and calls us to do great things!

Read:

Read some of Jesus’ last words to his disciples in our Scripture passage for this week. You can read the story from the Bible or the simplified version of the story from the Spark Story Bible below.

John 14:1-14

The Story:

Jesus taught his disciples many things. “Don’t be sad or worried,” he said. “Believe in God and in me. God’s house in heaven is so big that everyone can have a room. I’m going there to get your rooms ready. Later I’ll come back to take you to God’s house. You know the way to where I’m going.”

Thomas and Philip looked confused, though. “What way do you mean?” they asked.

Jesus said, “I’m the way to know God. Because you know me, you know God, too.  I’ve taught you about life with God and the good things God wants you to do. Pray. Ask me for anything, and I’ll help you to do it.”

Thomas and Philip smiled. “We can follow you and do what you ask us to do. You are our way to heaven. We can live in God’s house, too.”

Review Questions:

  • What are some of the things Jesus taught/told his disciples? Don’t be sad or worried. Believe in Jesus/God. He will always be with us.
  • How does Jesus say we can know God? If we know Jesus, then we know God.
  • What does Jesus say we should do if we need his help? Ask for help through prayer.

Discussion Questions:

  • What does Jesus mean when he says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”? As you talk about this answer, you might talk about the way you travel to go to a familiar place (school, church, or even just from one room to another in your house). When we follow Jesus, it means we believe all of the things He has told us and that we try to live the way he wants us to live. It’s like he gives us the path to walk down to be able to be with God forever (just like we have to walk or drive a certain path to get to the room or place we want to go).
  • Who can live in God’s house? What can you do to help others know Jesus and get to live in God’s house forever, too?
  • What is something you can ask God to help you do?

Activity:

Each person in the family should think of something you already have or something you can draw/make that reminds you of God’s love for you.  Walk around the house together and put your things in different rooms of the house.  Share with one another how that item or drawing helps you remember God’s love.  Keep each item in the different rooms as a reminder that God loves you and is always with you.

Watch this video, and try singing and dancing along. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ycr2JMK1MGM

Pray:

As part of your prayer this week, include the things that you talked about earlier that you would like God to help you with.

Dear God, thank you for always loving us and always being with us. Thank you for helping us do big things for you!  Help us follow you all of the time. Help us __________________.  Amen.

Memory Verse:

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” John 14:6a

 

Posted by Sam Oakley

Faith in Action: All Things to All People

All Things to All People  (Acts 17:16-34)

Aside from his conversion (Acts 9), Paul’s speech at the Areopagus is perhaps the most well-known event in his life. As it is described in the book of Acts, Paul is in the city of Athens and he becomes agitated by the number of temples and idols in the city. He can’t stand the idea of so many people worshipping false idols, so he decides to do something about it.

Paul goes to the synagogue in town and talks to them about Jesus. He goes to the marketplace to talk about Jesus. He stopped anyone who would talk with him and had a conversation about Jesus. While he was doing so he ran into some local philosophers. This wasn’t that unusual in Athens. Athens was the one of the centers of learning in the ancient world. It had been the home of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and Epicurus. There were philosophers all over the place.

These philosophers were intrigued by Paul because he was saying something they had never heard before. So, they took him to the Areopagus. The Areopagus was a small hill just to the north of the Acropolis. In earlier days the city elite met on this hill to discuss, debate, and decide the direction of the city-state. By Paul’s time it had become a place for sharing and debating ideas.

When they arrived at the Areopagus, Paul launched into a doosie of a sermon, the longest of Paul’s speeches recorded in scripture. He told them that he knew they were a very religious people because of all the idols they had, they even had an idol dedicated to an unknown God, just in case they had left one out. While the Athenians were religious, they were mistaken. God couldn’t be contained in a temple and no image or idol could be made of God because God is beyond our imagining. God, Paul said, demanded repentance. God demanded that people turn from their wrong-headed ideas and embrace the truth. Paul told them that the resurrection of Jesus was proof of what God was up to.

That’s when he lost them. Some of them began to sneer; they began to giggle. Surely Paul was just babbling now. The truth is often too difficult to hear. But a few of them wanted to hear more. By the end of the day some of them had begun to believe.

Truth be told, it wasn’t the most successful of Paul’s speeches. Not many were convinced that day. What makes this story so interesting is they way that Paul went about talking to people about Jesus. He met the Jewish people at the synagogue. He met others in the marketplace. He went to debate at the Areopagus.

Paul met people wherever they were. He engaged them in their real lives. He spoke the truth about Christ in ways that fit his setting and his audience. This is a real-life example of Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:22, “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.”

In what ways are we willing to become all things to all people?

Posted by David Oakley

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