It Was All True
William Willimon tells of his early ministry in rural Georgia. One Saturday he and his wife attended a funeral in a little country church from another denomination. (I think Willimon is a United Methodist). He had grown up in a big downtown church and had never attended a country church funeral like this one. The casket was open and the preacher was primed.
He pounded on the pulpit and glared over the casket. "It's too late for Joe. He might have wanted to get his life together. He might have wanted to spend more time with his family. He might have wanted to do that, but he's dead now. It is too late for him, but it is not too late for you. There is still time for you. You still can decide. You are still alive. It is not too late for you. Today is the day of decision."
Then the pumped-up pastor illustrated his point. He told of a funeral procession on its way to the cemetery, much like theirs would be in a few moments. While on their way, the procession was overrun by a Greyhound bus and several people died. Then he told them that they never knew when that might happen to them. Then that old preacher said, “You should decide today. Today is the day to get right with God. Too late for old Joe, but it's not too late for you.”
Willimon said that he was so angry with that preacher that, on the way home, he asked his wife, “Have you ever seen anything as manipulative and insensitive to that poor family? It was disgusting.”
His wife answered, "I've never heard anything like that. It was manipulative. It was disgusting. It was insensitive. Worst of all, it was also true."