Summary: Generations come and go and are very different from one another -- but some Christian values and characteristics remain the same.
When I was a Junior in High School, my last class of the day was Chemistry. By that time of the day, I was dragging. I needed a nap, or a candy bar or something to keep me awake. But I never had any of that – just chemistry. And chemistry could not keep me awake.
Now I know this has never, ever happened to any of the young people here, and I think it only happened to me once, but one day – I think it was a Friday – I fell asleep in Chemistry class.
It was Spring. It was one of those warm days when the sky is so blue. I walked into class, sat down, and rested my head on my hands.
And before long, I was asleep.
Suddenly, and without any warning to me, my chemistry teacher picked up a chemistry text book – which was pretty thick and heavy.
She slammed it on the desk and said, “WAKE UP!”
I was so stunned!
And so was the poor fellow behind me who not only woke up -- he shouted, “Who? Me?”
I’m sorry to say this was not the only time I had fallen asleep in class. It was a pattern of behavior that started when I was in elementary school.
My teacher would catch me sleeping or day dreaming and much to my dismay, she would put my name on the blackboard.
I hated that.
My name would stay up there all day long as a reminder that I had not done well in class.
My name was on the bulletin board as if to serve as a warning to all other students. “Don’t be like Maynard or your name will be put up there as well.”
Now pity poor Eutychus.
Here is a young man trying to stay awake in church.
And he’s listening to an old preacher. Paul – by this time Paul probably has a pot belly, probably has gray hair in his beard. And Paul doesn’t know when to stop.
I love the way the Book of Acts puts it: “Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on.”
Poor Eutychus. He’s a young man trying to listen to the old preacher. He probably came to church right after school or work. Maybe he was one of these guys with a tattoo on his arm, maybe he had a pierced tongue, maybe he had orange hair – or whatever younger people did back then. He is a different generation from Paul.
He’s not lazy – he’s tired. He gets sleepy. And the poor guy falls asleep and it is worse than getting your name written up on the blackboard – his name is written in the Bible.
And this is the only mention of Eutychus in all of Scripture! Imagine looking down on earth from heaven and knowing that the ONLY thing for which you are remembered is that you fell asleep in church.
By the way – let that be a warning to any of you who might be thinking of nodding off during today’s sermon…
It is interesting that Eutychus is not only remembered for this, his story mentions him by name.
Luke could have told this story and said, “One day Paul was preaching and going on and on, and someone fell asleep and fell right out of the window.”
But nooo. Luke calls him by name.
Scholars have suggested that the reason why Eutychus is mentioned by name is because he eventually became a leader in the church.
Luke is telling a story about the old generation – led by Paul whose ministry would soon come to an end – and here is a young person Eutychus. The torch is about to be passed.
I look out at young people today, they dress different, their music is loud, their hair is pink or orange, they have tattoos and pierced tongues, and I think – they are the next generation of leaders in the church.
And I think – the church is in good hands!
Every generation has its own culture. Sometimes, the older generation puts the younger generation to sleep – well, I’m sure that doesn’t happen here, but it happens sometimes!
And sometimes the older generation is left a bit confused and bewildered by the younger generation.
But the church goes on – and on and on. From one generation to another.
And while every generation is different, some things always remain the same.
In the preaching that Paul does following the incident with young Eutychus falling asleep and falling out of a 3rd story window, we see some examples of things in Paul’s life that are things every generation of the church needs – things that should never change.