Vol. 3, No. 3
It was in the fall of 1991, just after a new funeral home had opened its doors outside the small town of Hundred, WV. I had the chance privilege of conducting the first service in this new funeral home for a faithful member of the congregation in Hundred. She was a widow who did not have any children. She had served the Lord faithfully all the years I had known her. It did not make any difference what needed to be done -- visitation, finances, cleaning the building, meals prepared -- she was always there to do her part. It is hard to lose this kind of member from a small congregation because they are so hard to replace. The year 1991 proved to be a difficult year for this congregation, for yet four more members just like her would leave this world and go into eternity. These things made her funeral sermon easier to preach than a lot of others I have done over the years. Everything had gone smoothly through the service at the funeral home and we prepared to make the journey to the graveside for the committal service of our departed sister.
It has become customary for me to ride in the funeral coach to the cemetery whenever possible. And, in the event I do have to drive, as the minister, I usually lead the procession to the cemetery. However, the events of that day had pressed me for time, and, therefore, I had made arrangements to drive myself because I would have to leave as quickly as possible when the graveside service concluded. Due to the nature of the road leading into the cemetery, I had to be the last car in the procession in order to be the first car to exit. The distance we had to cover was less than five miles. My wife and I got into the car and took our position at the rear of the procession and slowly proceeded toward the cemetery.
Less than a mile into our journey I began to smell smoke. The car began to fill with smoke rapidly. The indicator lights all came on at once. The car jerked and sputtered along. I quickly pulled the car to the side of the road just before it took its last heave forward. I jumped out of the car opened the hood to find the firewall fully engulfed in flames. The car was on fire! I got my wife out of the car and opened the trunk to retrieve my toolbox. When I looked up the funeral procession was completely out of sight and apparently no one even knew what was taking place.
Just then, a good friend and fellow preacher who had attended the funeral came around the bend in the road. He jumped out of his car and told me to take it to the cemetery and finish the service while he called the fire department. I hurriedly drove to the cemetery where everyone was wondering what in the world had happened to me. With no time to explain before hand, I finished the service and then offered the explanation as to what had happened.
Upon returning to the scene of the fire, I found out that my good friend was able to get two fire extinguishers from the home where he went to call the fire department and had put out the blaze long before the firemen were able to get to the scene.
Needless to say, my appointment to which I was rushing to meet had to be put on the back burner. The car had to be towed to safety and repairs had to be made over the next two weeks. Through it all, I am sure that someone appreciated the humorous side of events that took place on the day of her funeral.
[Editor's Note: Preachers are invited to submit amusing incidents that have occurred over the years during their ministries for possible inclusion in the pages of Gospel Gazette Online. Someday, these stories may also be converted to book format.]