The Gospel According to Cleopas
James C. Denison
People send me lots of stories, some of which I can actually tell in church. Here’s my favorite so far this year. A man says, “As a young minister, I was asked by a funeral director to hold a graveside service for a homeless man who had no family or friends. 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. Being a typical man, I did not stop for directions. I finally arrived an hour late. I saw the backhoe and the crew eating lunch, but the hearse was nowhere in sight. I apologized to the workers for my tardiness and stepped to the open grave, where the vault was already in place. I assured the workers that I would not hold them up for long, but that 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” and ‘Praise the Lord.’ I preached and I preached as I’d never preached before, from Genesis all the way to Revelation. I wasn’t going to let this homeless man go out without someone taking notice of his service. I closed the lengthy service with a prayer and walked to my car.