SO SKEPTICAL A SALVATION

I had hoped to illustrate the availability of God's gift of salvation. "Whoever wants this beautiful Christmas poinsettia may have it," I said to my Sunday morning congregation. "All you have to do is take it." They stared at me. I waited. And waited.

Finally a mother timidly raised her hand and said, "I'll take it."

"Great! It's yours." That's what I wanted. Quick and easy, and on with the application of my sermon. But to my astonishment, she nudged her son, "Go get it for me."

"No," I said. "Whoever wants this gift must come and get it personally. You can't send a substitute."

She shook her head, not willing to risk embarrassment. I waited again. It was a gorgeous flower, unusually large, wrapped in red cellophane with a gold satin ribbon. It was set in front of the pulpit to brighten our small sanctuary during the holiday season. Several people had commented on how beautiful the plant was. Now it was free for the taking.

Someone snickered, "What's the catch?"

"No catch," I replied. "It's ...

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