A member of the church, who previously had been attending services regularly, stopped going. After a few weeks, the preacher decided to visit him.
It was a chilly evening when the pastor found the man at home, alone, sitting before a blazing fire. Guessing the reason for the visit, the man welcomed him, led him to a comfortable chair near the fireplace and waited.
The preacher made himself at home, but said nothing. In the grave silence, he contemplated the dance of the flames around the burning logs. After some minutes, the preacher took the fire tongs, carefully picked up a brightly burning ember and placed it to one side of the hearth, all alone.
He then sat back in his chair, still silent. The host watched in quiet contemplation.
The single ember's flame flickered and slowly diminished. There was a momentary glow and then its fire was no more. Soon it was cold and dead.
A short while later, the preacher glanced at his watch and realized it was time to leave. He slowly stood up, picked up the cold, dead ember and placed it back in the middle of the fire where it immediately began to glow once more.
Not a word had been spoken since the initial greeting, but as the preacher reached the door to leave, his host simply said, "Thank you so much for your visit and especially the fiery sermon. I will see you in church next Sunday."