Good Friday / 04.10.20

A Service of Tenebrae follows a tradition of the early church dating back to the 8th century, possibly as early as the 5th century. It dramatizes the suffering, death, and burial of Jesus. The service moves from light to darkness. Candles are extinguished one by one as the congregation listens to the account of Christ’s suffering and death. The final candle, often known as the Christ candle, remains burning. This candle will be hidden to symbolize that the promise remains for the resurrection. We ponder the depth of Christ’s suffering through mounting darkness; through the return of the small but persistent flame of the Christ candle at the conclusion of the service, we anticipate the joy of ultimate victory.

The light has come into the world,
and the world loved darkness rather than light.

God sent the Son into the world,
not to condemn the world,
but that the world might be saved through him.

Let us pray:

Most gracious God,
look with mercy upon your children gathered here
for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was betrayed,
given into sinful hands,
and suffered death upon the cross.
Strengthen our faith and forgive our betrayals
as we enter the way of his passion;
through him who lives and reigns
with you and the Holy Spirit, forever and ever. Amen.

Prophecy of His Suffering

Isaiah 53:3-5

He was despised and rejected by mankind,
    a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
    he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

Surely he took up our pain
    and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
    stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.

First candle is extinguished

Suffering Christ, we thank you for your sacrifice of agony and death so undeserved, that we might have peace, that we might have life, that we might be healed. 

Lord we confess we have crucified you by our own sin.  Hear now our silent prayer of confession.

pray silently on your own

Hear our prayer, O Lord.  Hear our prayer, O Lord. Incline your ear to us, and grant us your peace. Amen.

Promise of the Lord’s Supper

Mark 14:12-26

On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go and make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”

So he sent two of his disciples, telling them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.”

The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.

When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me—one who is eating with me.”

They were saddened, and one by one they said to him, “Surely you don’t mean me?”

“It is one of the Twelve,” he replied, “one who dips bread into the bowl with me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.”

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.”

Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it.

“This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. “Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”

When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Second candle is extinguished

Lord’s Supper is served

The Shadow of Betrayal

Luke 22:1-6

Now the Festival of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus, for they were afraid of the people. Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. They were delighted and agreed to give him money. He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present.

Third candle is extinguished

The Shadow of Arrest

Mark 14:43-49

Just as he was speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, appeared. With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders.

Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.” Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Rabbi!” and kissed him. The men seized Jesus and arrested him. Then one of those standing near drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.

“Am I leading a rebellion,” said Jesus, “that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, and you did not arrest me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled.”

Fourth candle is extinguished

The Shadow of Accusation

Mark 15:1-15

Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, made their plans. So they bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate.

“Are you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate.

“You have said so,” Jesus replied.

The chief priests accused him of many things. So again Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.”

But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.

Now it was the custom at the festival to release a prisoner whom the people requested. A man called Barabbas was in prison with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the uprising. The crowd came up and asked Pilate to do for them what he usually did.

“Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate, knowing it was out of self-interest that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas instead.

“What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked them.

“Crucify him!” they shouted.

“Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.

But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”

Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.

Fifth candle is extinguished

The Shadow of Crucifixion

From “The Jesus Storybook Bible” by Sally Lloyd-Jones 

The Sun Stops Shining (From Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23, John 19)

“So you’re a King, are you?” the Roman soldiers jeered. “Then you’ll need a crown and a robe.” They gave Jesus a crown made out of thorns. And put a purple robe on him. And pretended to bow down to him.  

“Your Majesty!” they said.

Then they whipped him. And spat on him. They didn’t understand that this was the Prince of Life, the King of heaven and earth, who had come to rescue them.

The soldiers made him a sign – “Our King” and nailed it to a wooden cross.

They walked up a hill outside the city. Jesus carried the cross on his back.

Jesus had never done anything wrong. But they were going to kill him the way criminals were killed. They nailed Jesus to the cross.

“Father, forgive them.” Jesus gasped. “They don’t understand what they’re doing.”

“You say you’ve come to rescue us!” People shouted. “But you can’t even rescue yourself!”

But they were wrong. Jesus could have rescued himself. A legion of angels would have flown to his side – if he’d called.

“If you were really the Son of God, you could just climb down off that cross!” They said.

And of course they were right. Jesus could have just climbed down.

Actually, he could have just said a word and made it all stop. Like when he healed that little girl. And stilled the storm. And fed 5,000 people.

But Jesus stayed.

You see, they didn’t understand. It wasn’t the nails that kept Jesus there.

It was love.

“Papa?” Jesus cried, frantically searching the sky. “Papa? Where are you? Don’t leave me!”

And for the first time – and the last – when he spoke, nothing happened.  

Just a horrible, endless silence. God didn’t answer. He turned away from his Boy.

Tears rolled down Jesus’ face. The face of the One who would wipe away every tear from every eye. Even though it was midday, a dreadful darkness covered the face of the world.

The sun could not shine.

The earth trembled and quaked.

The great mountains shook.

Rocks split in two.

Until it seemed that the whole world would break.

That creation itself would tear apart.

The full force of the storm of God’s fierce anger at sin was coming down. On his own Son. Instead of his people. It was the only way God could destroy sin, and not destroy his children whose hearts were filled with sin.

Then Jesus shouted out in a loud voice, “It is finished!” And it was. He had done it. Jesus had rescued the whole world.

“Father!” Jesus cried. “I give you my life.” And with a great sigh he let himself die.

Strange clouds and shadows filled the sky. Purple, orange, black. Like a bruise.

Jesus’ friends gently carried Jesus. They laid Jesus in a new tomb carved out of rock.

How could Jesus die? What had gone wrong? What did it mean? They didn’t know anything anymore. Except they did know their hearts were breaking.

“That’s the end of Jesus.” the leaders said. But, just to be sure, they sent strong soldiers to guard the tomb. They hauled a huge stone in front of the door to the tomb. So that no one could get in.

Or out.


Sixth candle is extinguished

Prayer (By Henri Nouwen)

O dear Lord, what can I say to you?

Is there any word that could come from my mouth, any thought? Any sentence?

You died for me, you gave all for my sins, you not only became man for me, 

but also suffered the most cruel death for me.

Is there any response?

I wish that I could find a fitting response,

But in contemplating your Holy Passion and death

I can only confess humbly to you that the immensity of your divine love

Makes any response seem totally inadequate.

Let me just stand and look at you.

Your body is broken, your head wounded, your hands and feet are split open by nails, 

your side is pierced.

Your dead body now rests in the arms of your Mother.

It is fulfilled. It is accomplished.

Sweet Lord, gracious Lord, generous Lord, forgiving Lord,

I adore you, I praise you, I thank you.

You have made all things new through your passion and death.

Your cross has been planted in this world

As the new sign of hope.

Let me always live under your cross, O Lord, 

And proclaim the hope of your cross unceasingly.


Moment of silent reflection

The Shadow of Burial

John 19:38-42

Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

Christ Candle is hidden. 

Participants are invited to turn off all lights in their home.

Christ Candle is returned 

Silent reflection


May Jesus Christ,
who for our sake became obedient unto death,
even death on a cross,
keep you and strengthen you.  Amen.



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