This happened in Scotland on August 30, 1978. My best friend had met a Scottish girl while working as a volunteer at a Presbyterian retreat center in Crieff (in the central highlands). He invited me to be best man. It was an honor and a great reason to travel overseas.
On the morning of the wedding, before any activities had started, the staff of the retreat center saw me standing around in the lobby, doing not-a-lot. They invited me to their Wednesday morning staff meeting, at which communion would be served. (Michael and his bride were absent.) I had no plans at the moment, and they were nice folks, so I went in with them in the name of international amity.
About ten folks were gathered in a small room. We sat in a circle. After a little talk about administrative matters, the center’s director, a minister, took out the bread and wine. I had seen worshipers lining up for communion, so being in a circle disoriented me.
He spoke, the blood of Christ, shed for you, and passed the chalice to the woman on his left, offering her the wine. She spoke the verse to the same for the man on her left and proffered the wine. The elements went around the circle counter-clockwise. Meanwhile, the minister took the bread, said the body of Christ, broken for you, took a piece off the loaf and gave to the same woman.
As the wine and the bread approached me, I increasingly felt the presence of what I can only describe as immense, silent, relentless energy. I have never stood next to a dynamo running at full power, but this is how I think it would have felt. It was not a vision, I didn’t see Jesus, but I cannot account for this event as anything but a visitation.
I entered this experience as one who intellectually acknowledged the existence of God but lacked any conception of Christ. I spoke the words of institution and partook of the elements, conforming to practice, but when I had done so and the power-feeling faded, I knew beyond any doubt that He had died on the cross for my sake.
And risen too.
Save for one brief moment, I have never distrusted my experience. Over the years I have doubted my brothers and sisters and the church many times, and refrained from formal worship for a long time, but this certainty has never left me and animates me to this day.