The Service of Tenebrae has ancient origins, and as it is passed through the generations its form changes. Tenebrae comes from the Latin for shadows or darkness, and the Tenebrae service, in a small way, hopes to recreate the emotions of those who followed Jesus to the cross. Many find this service to be an import part of their spiritual pilgrimage, for one cannot fully experience the joy of Easter without first living, at least for a moment, at the foot of cross where Jesus suffered.
In some churches this service has a formal liturgy, and it can be offered on Wednesday of Holy Week, Maundy Thursday or Good Friday. Different liturgies will focus on the various aspects of Jesus’ Passion. For the past several years, here at Westminster, we remembered the seven last words of Christ. But this year our Tenebrae Service will remind us of cross and the events that led to it. We will be reading Scripture text that tells of the shadows of those final days in Jesus’ life that ends in total darkness. Specifically we will be looking at texts that tell of the shadow of betrayal, the shadow of denial, the shadow of aloneness, the shadow of accusation, the shadow of suffering, the shadow of crucifixion and the shadow of death.
On Thursday, April 21 we will celebrate our Maundy Thursday Communion service at 7:30 PM, and on Friday evening, April 22 we will approach the cross during the Service of Tenebrae. The Tenebrae service will also be at 7:30 PM.
Over the past eight years attendance has grown at our Tenebrae service, but the sanctuary is still pretty sparse on Good Friday. The testimony of many of those who attend tell us that attendance at the Tenebrae service heightens the experience of Easter and it is my hope, whether or not you attend the Tenebrae service that as Easter approaches we will all be struck with the horror of the cross, the glory of the resurrection and the wonder of God’s love.