member of a certain church, who previously had been attending
regularly, stopped going.
After a few weeks, the pastor decided to visit him. It was a
evening. The pastor found the man at home alone, sitting before a
blazing fire. Guessing the reason for his pastor's visit, the man
welcomed him, led him to a big chair near the fireplace and
pastor made himself comfortable but said nothing. In the grave
he contemplated the play of the flames around the burning logs.
After some minutes, the pastor took the fire tongs, carefully
a brightly burning ember and placed it to one side of the hearth
alone. Then he sat back in his chair, still silent. The host
all this in quiet fascination.
As the one lone ember's flame diminished, there was a momentary
and then its fire was no more. Soon it was cold and "dead as
Not a word had been spoken since the initial greeting.
Just before the pastor was ready to leave, he picked up the cold,
ember and placed it back in the middle of the fire. Immediately it
to glow once more with the light and warmth of the burning coals
As the pastor reached the door to leave, his host said,
"Thank you so
much for your visit and especially for the fiery sermon. I shall
in church next Sunday."