Clearly we are set up to admire Grandma Dowdel for her cleverness. She is a trickster, after all, both in this novel and in previous ones. And here she does a classic bait-and-switch. The townfolk come to the funeral out of fascination and curiosity, but they stay in the congregation week after week because of the preaching.
I thought the sermon was pretty tame, reading much more like a secular funeral than a religious one. The preacher knows what Grandma Dowdel is up to and his sermon is very respectful given the circumstance. In order for me to be offended by it, I needed to read something like this: Jesus died for her sins and now she can leave those other bloodthirsty, hatchet-wielding savages in the Happy Hunting Ground and enter Heaven to be with her Lord and Savior. But that’s not the sermon he preaches. Here it is in all its insiduous, offensive glory.