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Soiled Service
When a funeral sermon tanks
Coffin closes drawn out funeral service

As a young minister, I was asked by a funeral director to hold a graveside service for a homeless man, with no family or friends, who had died while traveling through the area. The funeral was to be held at a cemetery way back in the country, and this man would be the first to be laid to rest there.

As I was not familiar with the backwoods area, I became lost - and being a typical man, I did not stop for directions. I finally arrived an hour late.

I saw the crew, eating lunch, but the hearse was nowhere in sight. I apologized to the workers for my tardiness, and stepped to the side of the open grave, where I saw the vault lid already in place. I assured the workers I would not hold them long but this was the proper thing to do. The workers gathered around, still eating their lunch. I poured out my heart and soul. As I preached, the workers began to say, “Amen,” “Praise the Lord,” and “Glory.” I preached, and I preached, like I’d never preached before: from Genesis all the way to Revelations.

I closed the lengthy service with a prayer and walked to my car. I felt I had done my duty for the homeless man and that the crew would leave with a renewed sense of purpose and dedication, in spite of my tardiness.

As I was opening the door and taking off my coat, I overheard one of the workers saying to another, “I ain’t never seen anything like this before and I’ve been putting in septic tanks for twenty years.”


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21-Jan-2019