Penny's Story

A cute little drummer living her dream.


   The Crossing held our annual tenebrae service this evening as part of Holy Week. I look forward to the tenebrae service so much each year, even though it is perhaps the most somber service on our calendar. In the tenebrae service we focus on the suffering of Jesus during the time leading up to his crucifixion. I find the service to be helpful in focusing my spirit. I’m often full of joy, and I find the occaisonal focus on suffering to be centering.

   I read two of the readings as part of the service, and during the second, in which Peter denies Jesus three times, I found myself almost crying. I was very moved by the entire service.

   Here’s the introduction from this evening’s worship sheet:

   Tenebrae, the Latin word for “shadows” or “darkness,” is the popular name for the ancient monastic offices of Matins and Lauds appointed for each of the last three days of Holy Week. As churches reclaimed the older “Triduum liturgy” (the Sacred Three Days: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil), Tenebrae fell into disuse. 

   The Tenebrae service in its traditional form combines into one service the strongest elements of all three Tenebrae offices and offers an extended meditation on, and a prelude to, the events in our Lord’s life between the Last Supper and the Resurrection. 

   We have retained the somber and reflective mood, themes of suffering and betrayal, and the most profound image associated with the Tenebrae service: the gradual extinguishing of the seven candles until a lone candle remains. In its light, we are left to meditate on Christ’s death and the apparent victory of darkness and evil in our lives.

   You will notice that, even as the candles are snuffed, other images come into sight: images of the continued betrayal within the human family, images of famine and poverty, slavery and war, desolation in the midst of natural disaster. For Christ is alive in our midst, and if we had eyes to see, we would discover him suffering and begging us to stay, to watch and pray with him, not to abandon him once again.

   Let us stay, watch and pray now with Christ …


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