As a new minister, I was asked by a funeral director to hold a grave-side 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 did not stop for directions. I finally arrived an hour late. I saw the backhoe and the crew, who was 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 up for 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 that before and I’ve been putting in septic tanks for twenty years.”