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NO JACKET REQUIRED

I shook my head in disbelief. This couldn’t be the right place. After all, I couldn’t possibly be welcome here. I had been given an invitation several times, by several different people, and had finally decided to see what this place was all about. But, this just couldn’t be the right place. Quickly, I glanced down at the invitation that I clutched in my hand. I scanned past the words, "Come as you are. No jacket required." and found the location. Yes, I was at the right place.

I peered through the window again and saw a room of people whose faces seemed to glow with joy. All were neatly dressed, adorned in fine garments and appeared strangely clean as they dined at this exquisite restaurant.

Ashamed, I looked down at my own tattered and torn clothing, covered in stains. I was dirty, in fact, filthy. A foul smell seemed to consume me and I couldn’t shake the grime that clung to my body. As I turned around to leave, the words from the invitation seemed to leap out at me......"Come as you are. No jacket required." I decided to give it a shot. Mustering up every bit of courage I could find, I opened the door to this restaurant and walked up to a man standing behind a podium.

"Your name, sir?" he asked me with a smile. "Jimmy D. Brown," I mumbled without looking up. I thrust my hands deep into my pockets, hoping to conceal their stains. He didn’t seem to notice the filth that I was covered in and he continued, "Very good, sir. A table is reserved in your name. Would you like to be seated?" I couldn’t believe what I heard! A grin broke out on my face and I said, "Yes, of course!" He led me to a table and, sure enough, there was a placard with my name written on it in a deep, dark red.

As I browsed over a menu, I saw many delightful items listed. There were things "love," "peace," "joy," "blessings," "confidence," "assurance," "hope," "love," "faith," and "mercy." I realized that this was no ordinary restaurant! I flipped the menu back to the front in order to see where I was at... .."God’s Grace," was the name of this place!

The man returned and said, "I recommend the ’Special of the Day’. With it, you are entitled to heaping portions of everything on this menu." You’ve got to be kidding! I thought to myself. You mean, I can have ALL of this! "What is the ’Special of the Day’ I asked with excitement ringing in my voice. "Salvation," was his reply.

"I’ll take it," I practically cried out.

Then, as quickly as I made that statement, the joy left my body. A sick, painful ache jerked through my stomach and tears filled my eyes. Between my sobs I said... "Mister, look at me. I’m dirty and nasty. I’m unclean and unworthy of such things. I’d...

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