Acts 20:7-12 gives us a sneak peek into the life of Paul in a place called Troas, where he stayed for a week. It was an eventful week (how could we expect anything less of Paul?!) which resulted in the miracle of a young man called Eutychus being raised from the dead after falling from a third storey window during a Sunday service. The context of this incident is the regular worship life of the early church, and it becomes clear as we read these verses that this consisted mainly of two elements: a celebration of the Lord’s Supper and teaching from God’s word (which obviously went on for a long time, since Eutychus, sitting on the window ledge, fell asleep and then literally fell from the window.)
John Stott makes the observation that, “What builds up the church more than anything else is the ministry of God’s word as it comes to us through Scripture and Sacrament (that is the right coupling), audibly and visibly, in declaration and drama.” (John Stott, ‘Acts’, P 321) Sacrament and Scripture were thus combined in the early church’s services, and the universal church “has followed suit ever since.” (ibid.) God speaks to His people through His Word, both as it is read and expounded from Scripture and as it is dramatised in the two gospel sacraments (baptism and the Lord’s Supper.) These sacraments are symbolic, demonstrating to us the newness of life Jesus has purchased for us and the ongoing life we experience as we feed on Him. It’s worth remembering the importance of these aspects of church life, even as we include other things such as sung worship and prayer in our services, for nothing quite focuses our attention on God as these two things.