A member of a certain church, who had been attending services regularly for quite some time, stopped going all of a sudden. After a few weeks, the pastor decided to pay the man a visit. It was a very cold evening and when the pastor arrived at the man’s home he found him sitting alone before a blazing fire. Guessing the reason for his pastor’s visit, the man welcomed the pastor and led him to a comfortable chair near the fireplace. The man then sat down in his own chair and waited for the pastor to speak. Settling himself in the chair, the pastor said nothing. In silence, he contemplated the flames dancing around the burning logs. Several minutes passed. Then, the pastor took a pair of fire tongs and carefully picked up a brightly burning ember and placed it on one side of the hearth — all alone.
Again, the pastor settled silently in his chair. Without a word, the man watched. Before long, the one lone ember flickered and then with a final momentary glow, the flame went out. Soon the ember lay cold and dead on the hearth. Not a word had been spoken since the initial greeting.
Glancing at his watch, the pastor realized it was time to leave. Slowly he stood up, and taking hold of the fire tongs, picked up the cold, dead ember and placed it back in the middle of the fire. Immediately, it began to glow with the light and warmth of the burning coals around it.
At the door, the host clasped the pastor’s hand. With tears coursing down his cheeks, the host said, “Thank you, thank you so much for your visit and especially for the fiery sermon! I will be back in church next Sunday.”
We live in a world today where, too often, people try to say too much with too little substance or worth — or say too little with too many words. Often, the end result is that no one listens. There are times when the best sermon is the one left unspoken.