“Begin Again”: A Weekly Devotional for a New Year, Week 47

‘On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight. There were many lamps in the upstairs room where we were meeting. Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead. Paul went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “He’s alive!” Then he went upstairs again and broke bread and ate. After talking until daylight, he left. The people took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted.’

Acts 20:7-12

Our lives always point to what we value most. We don’t even have to name that value – it is usually obvious to anyone with eyes to see or ears to hear. What we desire most, becomes the focus of our living. That desire, that value becomes what we worship. You don’t have to believe in God, religion, or even have a spirituality for this to be true – your life will point to the one, or the thing you worship.

Usually that thing, or that person is the first thing or person on our minds when we wake up. Okay, maybe after we’ve had our coffee. We begin to think about all the things we have to do. We start to worry about whether we will make progress toward those small and large goals that might help us have a happy life. Even if we know with some certainty that, by doing those small and large things, day by day, we can reach our goals, they are still acts of worship – we believe they will add up to the life we really want.

How we start anything, usually reveals who we are and what we worship. Notice that that is what happens in our passage from Acts 20: They begin with the breaking of bread on the first day of the week. In other words, they celebrate the Lord’s Supper on Sunday. Sunday is the first day of the week. Sunday was created to be the day when we receive from God the shape that the rest of the week should take.

The disciples gather to worship, breaking bread and hearing a Word from the Lord, through Paul. That sounds simple enough, and not necessarily connected to the world around them – it’s not clear that their worship can really change anything or anyone for the better. And then Eutychus dies! The ‘real world’ leapt into the “church” (the people of God, gathered together to worship Him) – death knocked, entered, and did his work.

Then, through worship, the ‘real world’ is beaten back. Real worship is the struggle of life against death. In worship, God begins the change he makes in the world. The Lord – through Paul and those gathered with Paul in worship – resurrects Eutychus: “Death, where is your sting; Grave, where is your victory!” It may be hard to believe, but this is what the Bible teaches, again and again: “… my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” (Isaiah 56:7) The change that we long to see in the world, begins in God’s house, with God’s people, in the simplest act of worship: Prayer.

It is good and right that you, by yourself, and you, with your family and friends, should pray and pray persistently. But God does something unique and world-changing when we gather to pray, praise, and worship in his Name on the first day of the week. If you haven’t experienced this yet, come and see on the next “first day of the week”, with the nearest gathered people of God.

Prayer: Lord, I want to believe that through our prayers, you change the world. So, please, give me eyes to see and ears to hear the world-changing work you do through the prayers of your people. Lord, teach me – teach us – to pray, and to celebrate the life you give when your people worship. Amen.

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