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Every year, Christians worldwide observe Good Friday to remember and reflect on the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and the ultimate sacrifice he made for humanity. One of the most unique and profound ways to honor this day is by attending a Tenebrae service.

The word Tenebrae is derived from the Latin term for darkness or shadows. The Good Friday Tenebrae service is designed to gradually plunge the congregation into darkness, symbolizing the sorrow surrounding Jesus' death. In this post, we'll explore the meaning and significance of a Good Friday Tenebrae.

The History and Purpose of Tenebrae

Tenebrae services orginated in the early Christian church, where they were observed during Holy Week, specifically on the days leading up to Easter Sunday. The primary purpose is to create an atmosphere of solemnity, reflection, and contemplation, allowing worshippers to fully grasp the weight of Jesus' suffering and sacrifice on the cross.

The Structure of the Service

A Good Friday Tenebrae service at CLP has the following elements:

  1. Bible Readings: The Tenebrae service often begins with a series of scripture readings, which recount the events leading up to Jesus' crucifixion. These readings serve as a narrative backdrop for the service, helping worshippers to immerse themselves in the story and understand its significance.
  2. Candle Extinguishing: One of the most distinctive features of a Tenebrae service is the gradual extinguishing of candles. The service usually starts with the church fully illuminated by candles or other lights. As the readings progress, candles are extinguished, one by one, to represent the increasing darkness and sorrow that engulfed Jesus and his followers during his final hours.
  3. The Strepitus: Towards the end of the service, a loud "strepitus" may be made, often by slamming a book shut, striking a gong, or stomping on the floor. At CLP, this is accomplished by slamming a door. This sound symbolizes the earthquake that occurred when Jesus died. 
  4. The Solemn Departure: The service concludes in silence and darkness, with worshippers leaving the sanctuary without exchanging words or greetings. This solemn departure is intended to recreate the sense of loss experienced by Christ's disciples.

The Church at Litchfield Park's Good Friday Tenebrae Service is today at 6:30 pm. We invite you to embrace this opportunity to commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.