Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Oops (01/14/10)
TITLE: The Sunday Jesus Blew Out
By D.A. Urnosky
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After class, I was the first to sign up for the opportunity to light the candles, collect offering plates and assist in setting up for communion. I already had a pretty good idea what an acolyte did, by watching each week from the pews.
When I arrived home from school on Tuesday, my mother told me I needed to be at church a half hour before confirmation class, so the minister could show those who signed up what exactly needed to be done and to hand out the schedule for the following quarter.
Most of the class was there. The minister showed us where the cassocks and surplices were kept, the extra wine and wafers, and how to pass out the offering plates and collect them. One by one we practiced lighting the wax taper on the candle lighter, the procession from the side entrance to the altar, the order in which the candles are to be lit and distinguished.
The minister explained to us that the entrance of the lit candle lighter into the nave was the representation of Jesus’ coming into the presence of the congregation and that relighting the taper before extinguishing the final candle and proceeding down the nave into the narthex represented that Jesus Christ is for all people everywhere.
Imagine my surprise when the minister handed out the quarterly schedule to find my name at the top of the list! I was going to be the acolyte the following Sunday! I ran most of the way home that evening from class and blasted into the house with enough excited energy that I spoke like an auctioneer when retelling the earlier events of the evening to my bewildered parents.
A couple deep breaths and a few interpretations later, my father promised to take me to church Saturday afternoon so I could practice as long and as often as I wanted. Having a Godfather who was the sexton of the church made it possible for this practice to take place.
On Saturday, I practice from start to finish. It was going to be a busy Sunday morning since it was also communion week. I diligently went through every step repeating the process many times. My dad would quiz me in between practice runs with questions like ‘What do you do if the minister needs more communion wine?’, ‘What do you do after you collect the offering plates?’ or ‘Where do you keep the communion cup drape during communion?’ until I felt I was comfortable with the entire process.
Sunday morning arrived and I was out of bed, dressed and ready to go before my mom could call my name. I wanted to get to the church before the organist arrived, so I would be dressed and waiting in the side room before the music began that prompted me to enter.
It was a beautiful Sunday morning. The sun was shining brightly in a cloudless blue sky. The church felt a little warmer than usual for this time of the morning, so a few of the windows were opened to let in fresh air.
I stood ready with my candle lighter in hand, lit and waiting for my cue from the organist to enter the church. My stomach was full of butterflies that drank too much coffee. As I waited, my patience was quickly evaporating.
Finally, the organ began a quiet welcoming symphony of music and I made my entrance. I smiled at my parents sitting across the church in a pew I could easily see from my entrance. I made my turn to proceed up the steps to the altar to begin showing the congregation that Jesus would be present during our service, when I felt a breeze on my back that ruffled the bottom of my hair. I looked up at the candle lighter to see a small dancing snake of smoke where the flame was supposed to be.
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