People sometimes have trouble accepting something for free. In Today's Bible Reading Simon tries to pay for his baptism, and Peter rebukes him.
Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money, saying, "Give me also this power so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit." But Peter said to him, "May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain God's gift with money! Acts 8:18-24
Peter knows that the living water runs freely, but Simon is sure that there must be money involved. If something has value, we try to put a price tag on it.
One baptism: $150.00; One forgiveness: $40.00; Salvation for eternal life: priceless.
It's really all free!! Baptism is the ultimate free gift, since it doesn't need special water, or even a special person, just any available water and the Word: Baptized in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Then, for less than a cup of coffee at Dunn Brothers, you have eternal salvation, and an extended family that's out of this world.
As I write this, Haitians are struggling to find water of any kind after a devastating earthquake. One gift that many people take for granted, plain, ordinary water, is harder to find than salvation in a ravaged country. This is when the extended family comes in to play. People around the world have stepped up to ask "How can we help?" others have just gone to give first aid, water, and food to the people of Haiti.
Sometimes what is free leads to giving what is valued. Not in return for salvation, but because of salvation. I know that I am loved, and saved, and fed. Therefore I give to those who struggle for food and water and life.
Yes, you can click on How can we help to be directed to the ELCA's disaster relief page. The family of God that gathers under the name Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has been working in Haiti, and will be there long after the news anchors go home.