Friday, April 6, 2007

Maundy Thursday Tenebrae Service

I was a reader at the Tenebrae Service yesterday evening.

Tenebrae is the Latin word for shadows and recreates the emotional aspects of the passion story. 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 (for us it was fourteen), plus a white Christ candle. The readers go up one at a time, read their assigned selections, and when each finishes reading, one of the candles is extinguished, until only the Christ candle remains. Pastor Sharon read the first part of Psalm 22 and then the Christ candle was put out, leaving the congregation in near total darkness—and near total devastation. At this point, the service ends. We all leave in darkness and 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.