Tonight I took Boo to the Good Friday Tenebrae Service. If you have never attended one of these, I highly recommend it! It is possibly my most favorite service of the entire year, right up there with Christmas and Easter. The goal of this service is to punctuate the seriousness of our sin and the importance of Christ's sacrifice, as well as communicating the emotional state of Good Friday. It is certainly not a joyous feel good service, but it is one of the most moving. It stirs me to the depths of my soul.
One of the main aspects of a Tenebrae Service is the quietness with which the service is conducted. And at the conclusion everyone is supposed to leave the sanctuary and the church in silence, without greeting one another. This was quite interesting because telling Boo not to talk is like telling him not to breathe! When he is awake he is almost constantly talking. He prattles incessantly. At church the best we can usually do is to get him to whisper, but even that is more of a stage whisper. Normally this is not an issue, as his sound is drowned out by all that is happening in church. But tonight, the stillness and the silence and the darkness in the sanctuary was an altogether different experience.
The alter and pulpit were clothed in plain black, and all the beautiful golden crosses and adornments were absent. The large wooden cross which stands at the front of the church during lent was draped in black and topped with a thorny crown. At the start of service there were lit six simple white candles and in the center one larger candle to represent Christ. Near the end of the service, Pastor began reading the Passion story from the book of John. The reading was split into seven sections, and after each section, the congregation sang a verse of the hymn O Sacred Head Now Wounded and then one candle was extinguished and part of the lights were turned off. After the last reading, all the lights were off and the center "Christ Candle" was removed from the sanctuary. Everyone sat in silence considering the story they had just heard. Then a loud noise reverberated through the sanctuary, symbolizing the sealing of the tomb. After a few moments, the Christ Candle was returned and just enough lights turned on to be able to see our way out. Everyone rose and left the church in silence. That silence was more piercing than the loudest sound I ever heard. I left the church with the most solemn and reverent feeling.
The post that I had planned to write for today seems somehow unimportant. My heart and mind are focused on the bitter sacrifice of my Savior. My sincere plan for you this Easter weekend is that you would have not only a knowledge of the events we celebrate, but by the Grace of God that you would have a saving faith. Jesus gave himself up for us, even when we were still in our sin, that we might have a relationship with God and be granted his Grace and Salvation. Only by faith in Jesus can we receive this free gift. Let us focus our hearts on the Love of the Lord this weekend. Because bunnies and eggs are fabulous fun (and we shall enjoy them) but empty tomb of Jesus that first Easter morning is the greatest joy that has ever been known to mankind.
Hallelujah, He is risen indeed!