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Sleep for God’s Beloved

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“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.’” –Acts 20:9-10

“For [the Lord] provides for his beloved during sleep.” –Psalm 127:2b

I do not normally preach from a manuscript, so I have plenty of opportunity to watch my congregation as I deliver the sermon. When I look out into the rows of people before me, I see faces stern with concentration, some laughing at a joke or whispering to a neighbor in explanation, most people caught up in contemplation of the words I am speaking, following my hands, watching my lips to understand and my eyes to get the sense of my expression. Always, too, I see at least one person who is nodding off. He may have his Bible open before him in an attempt to look as if he is “reading,” or she may jerk suddenly awake every now and then only to sink slowly back into a shallow slumber. I am not offended when I see people falling asleep during my sermon. In fact, I usually smile to myself, gratified that my parishioners are at rest. Read more