Tenebrae Service

Some churches celebrate Easter with a big, splashy, production. You go, you’re entertained, and somewhere in there is a message. It’s something that is presented, with some hint that you might be involved in some way or other.

And there are churches where perhaps you go, you leave, and don’t give the service much more thought. You go home to images of chicks and bunny rabbits.

And then there’s the Good Friday service we just attended. It was quiet, heartfelt, powerfully moving, and most of all, personal.

Tenebrae is the service of Shadows. The quiet sincerity and dedication of our minister to the message brought all the shadows which surrounded Jesus alive to us in an intensely personal way. After speaking of each shadow, the church got a little darker, and one candle on the altar was extinguished. Finally, the church was in complete darkness for the final reading.

I’m not putting the full text of the verses in here; right now it seems best if you take the time to look them up in your personal bible and allow them to speak to you:

The shadow of betrayal: Matthew 26: 20-25

The shadow of inner agony: Luke 22: 40-44

The shadow of loneliness: Matthew 26: 40-45

The shadow of desertion: Matthew 26: 47-50, 55-56

The shadow of accusation: Matthew 26: 59-67

The shadow of mockery: Mark 15: 12-20

The shadow of death: Luke 23: 33-46

Final reading:

In the beginning there was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.

The light has come into the world, but people love the shadows, rather than the light.

We left the church in darkness, and in silence. The quiet and the dark was so profound, few words were spoken, even in the parking lot. We will be attending Vigil tomorrow night. And meanwhile the quiet and dark were so oppressive, the sense of loss so great, that I literally cannot wait for Sunrise service on Easter morning.

If you missed this at your church, you are invited to come to ours.

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