Tenebrae Service

Friday night we went to a Tenebrae Service at the church where Jason grew up in Powder Springs, GA. I had never heard of a Tenebrae Service, but it sounded intriguing by the description:
The word ‘tenebrae’ is Latin for shadows. The purpose of the Tenebrae service is to recreate the emotional aspects of the passion story, so this is not supposed to be a happy service, because the occasion is not happy. The core of the Tenebrae service works like this: It starts out with the church in candlelight. There are as many candles as there are readings, plus a white Christ candle. The readers go up one at a time, read their assigned selections, and extinguish one of the candles, until only the Christ candle remains. There are also solemn hymns and spiritual songs of worship. Then someone reads the first part of Psalm 22, which Jesus quoted on the cross. Then the Christ candle is put out, leaving the congregation in near total darkness—and near total devastation. At this point, the service ends. There is no benediction and the people leave in silence. The purpose of the service is to recreate the betrayal, abandonment, and agony of the events, and it is left unfinished, because the story isn’t over until Easter Day.
I loved it! Mostly because the only services I have attended before centering around Easter have always been Happy, Rejoicing, Jesus is Alive focused. Which is great! But I must say, having focused on the devastation, betrayal, and depth of what Jesus really went through for us was very enlightening, and even provided more depth for the rejoicing that comes with Easter Sunday!
Another thing that struck me from the service, was at one point, I could hear several people weeping in the congregation. I mean really weeping! I couldn’t help question my own heart and wonder if I really understood the depth of what Jesus has done for me. Now granted, I am a pretty reserved person in public services, so it isn’t surprising that I would be reserved in my public reaction. But even if I look into my heart privately, do I really weep for Him and what He did for me?
Something to think about….


1 Comment

Filed under In my Brain

One response to “Tenebrae Service

  1. Judy Howell

    Jill, That is a wonderful explanation of the service we attended. I also feel that somehow we never talk enough about the suffering that took place on that Friday. Thank you for putting this into words.
    Love you,

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