I ate my wafer...

8/12/2004

I ate my Wafer
I've had a number of requests to explain what “I ate my wafer” means:
When I was a Sophomore at Hillsdale, I took Western Heritage, aka History 101 with Dr.Willson. He happens to give a pretty decent lecture, and tells wonderful personal stories. I like that in a Professor, and found myself enjoying the basic survey class quite a bit, espicially in comparision to Physics E&M. Anyway, one morning, he happened to mention that he was ordained in a branch of the Episcopal Church. Several days later, in an odd fit of motivation, I decided that I wouldn't mind listening to one of his sermons, and that I should try his church. So, the next Sunday, I went over to the Episcopal Church in downtown Hillsdale, and slipped into the back row. Unfortunately, I quickly discovered that I not only had the wrong church, I had picked a horrible Sunday to attend it: It was “beat more money out of the congregation” Sunday, an occasion such that they were not using a liturgy at all, instead, a large, and very shrill deaconess browbeat the congregation for some 40 minutes with what could be loosely termed a sermon. After the second time that the collection plates were passed, I decided to cut my losses and slip out the back.
After that experience, I forgot about the whole idea for several weeks, and attended Our Lady of the Innerspring, alternating with Bedside Baptist, but eventually my motivation returned. This time, I fished out the phone book, checked for Episcopal churches, and found the only other one in the area was located in Jonesville. So, I drove out to it on a Sunday morning, approximately 15 minutes before the published service time. On arrival, I parked on the street immediately in front of it, walked up to the large wooden door (equipped with a large brass pull handle), and tried to open it. Tried is the opportune word, as I yanked on it hard several times, then pushed on it a little, stepped back to double check the service time listed on the sign, pulled on the door again, then gave up. On my way back to my car, I heard a creaking noise behind me, only to turn and see the door open INWARDS. As it turned out, at least three members of the congregation, and the priest had been watching every move I had made after stepping out of the car (the window was located with a view of the church door). So, I stepped into the church to discover that it was a pretty small church, Dr. Willson was not the priest, and Mr. Callum was the only person that I recognized. (I don't know what Mr. Callum's title is, but he seems to manage the Chemistry labs at Hillsdale. At this time, I was about two months into my career of running Science 101 labs, and working around, but not actually talking to Mr. Callum due to an unfortunate incident involving a Bunsen Burner.) Anyway, Mr. Callum becomes very friendly that morning, and it is obvious that I must be the first college student to set foot in the place in a VERY long time, and I am the object of a great deal of inquiry and attention.
After being introduced to damn near the entire congregation, the service got under way, and things were going pretty smoothly until the communion section. At this point I have been lulled into a false sense of knowing what to do by the relatively standard liturgy, and probably wasn't paying as close of attention as I should have. (I had been informed that they very much wanted people such as myself to commune with them) I followed the rest of the congregation up to the front, randomly positioned in a group of children. Due to the children on either side, after I knelt down, I could not see any of the other adults, but was not horribly worried about things. Eventually, the priest moved down to my part of the rail, blessed the children next to me, then offered me the host, in the form of a wafer on a large plate. I took one, the priest moved on, and I ate the wafer. At this point insomuch as I put any thought into things, I assumed that the wine would be distributed in the little shot glasses, or possibly via a common cup. Anyway, the priest eventually arrived back with the wine...in a very small vessel, without the wiping cloth thing. (At this point I realize that I was supposed to keep the wafer and dip it). I have utterly no idea what to do at this point, and the priest can't figure out where my wafer is, or what the heck is going on either...and the church is dead silent. Finally after staring at the wine vessel for some very long moments, I realized that I was holding up the entire line, and the object of a lot of curious looks. So, I looked up at the priest, and rather loudly announced that “I ate my wafer.” Keep in mind that this is in a very physically small church, I've held up the priest for several long moments, and the entire congregation is dead silent. There is no doubt whatsoever that every person in the place heard me. (At this point, I'm embarrassed to the level of considering attempting to kill myself with the communion chalice). The priest pretty much locked up for a moment, then attempted to let me drink out of the cup, which didn't go well at all. After the service, I attempted to escape as quickly as possible, but the congregation, having not seen a college student for a very long time, if ever, kept herding me away from the door. (I suppose that it is possible that they thought I was too stupid to be allowed to drive). So, that's the story. I ate my Wafer.

7 Comments:

  • I'd forgotten the details of that story. Gotta say, Bob, after a year, your stories still draw an insane chuckle out of me like no one else's.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:26 AM  

  • Whoops--that last was me, Jared, the Gugg.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:26 AM  

  • that's an awesome story.

    And I always thought Dr. Willson was somehow Anglican and he is talking of joining the REC. I visited his church this past sunday and it was quite good. We had the option of dipping the wafer or simply eating it and drinking from the cup.

    I dipped.

    By Blogger D. Greene, at 10:46 AM  

  • hee hee ... I remember that story. Found your stuff ... can I just ship it? how should I send it?

    By Blogger TheAmber, at 12:01 PM  

  • Hey Bob,

    Are we on for a meeting tomorrow evening (Friday)? I am meeting some of my friends from this Romanian class I just finished in FW at 5:30...Give me a call: (260) 341-7072

    By Blogger S.F., at 8:12 PM  

  • That's awesome! Thank you for taking the time to relate that story...wow. That's a side-splitter.

    By Blogger TeaLizzy, at 8:25 PM  

  • Amber: can you send it to my school address:

    Bob Golding
    721 East
    Owen Graduate Center
    East Lansing, MI 48825

    By Blogger Bob, at 11:25 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home