By Major Cathie Harris
Anything that becomes overly familiar and repetitive can lose its significance. This can even happen with our celebration of Easter, the central event of the Christian faith. We need to find ways to slow down and contemplate, in deep and fresh ways, the significance of Jesus’ journey to the cross. One way to do this is by planning a Tenebrae service, which has been practised by the church since the Middle Ages.
Tenebrae is a Latin word that means “shadows.” The shadows are created by eight to 10 lighted candles that are extinguished one by one as Scripture is read. The service ends in complete darkness and silence. The experience enables participants to walk with Jesus, as it were, through the growing tensions with his opponents that lead to misunderstanding, betrayal, agony and eventually death.
Have you ever noticed that we have a tendency to rush ahead to the alleluias of Easter morning, taking a quick detour around the arrest, the beatings, the crown of thorns and the cross? Like much of our present society, we prefer to avoid death, grief and pain. Yet the more deeply we feel the pain, the greater the celebration on Easter morning when we realize: Christ is risen. He is risen indeed.
This service …
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