For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:11-12 NIV
Have you ever attended a Good Friday or Tenebrae service? This church service is on the Friday before Easter and by its name means “shadows” or “darkness.”
Upon entering this service a large splintered cross with jet black fabric draped on the crossbeams and a round thorny crown entwined on the upright is set front and center near the altar. The altar is stripped of all ornaments except for a black parament on the lectern. There are seven candles lit representing the seven last words of Jesus on the cross and one final candle representing Jesus himself.
As the service progresses, each of the seven words Jesus said is read with a few meditative words spoken in response. After each word one of the seven candles is extinguished and the lights are dimmed. The hymns that are sung are somber, introspective, and sorrowful but yet there are stanzas which ring with hope.
Finally, as he died on the cross, Jesus spoke these last words, “It is finished.” John 19:30 The candle is extinguished and there is darkness across the room except for one candle, the candle representing Jesus. This candle is taken out of the room and you hear this loud boom representing the stone locking the grave where Jesus is laid. At that moment the tears begin to fall. I cry. Jesus died for me. He died for my sins. He gave up his life for me. I cant’…I can’t believe he died for me and my sins.
But wait. Amongst the tears I can see the candle reappearing and it pierces the darkness. Jesus is the light and he is present. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12) I know and have experienced through this service the death and forgiveness of my sins and the horror of this act. But I can now look forward to Easter when I will celebrate with the church the victory over death and the life I have in Jesus. I have hope. I can rejoice. I am forgiven. Hallelujah!
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Action Item |
Attend a Good Friday or Tenebrae Service
Dear Jesus, Wow! You are the Savior of the world. Thank you for dying on that rugged splintered cross for me and for forgiving my sins. Thank you for arising on the third day to give me victory over death and life eternal. You are truly the loving and saving God. Amen.
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