This morning I received an e-mail forward from Cordelia. It was an electronic meditation written by Barbara Cawthorne Crafton, a retired Episcopal priest who started these “Almost Daily eMos” as a way to provide her parishioners with a meditation they could use for their daily prayers. You can check out her website at http://www.geraniumfarm.org/home.cfm. In this morning’s meditation she quoted Bill Tully, the Rector of St. Bartholomew’s Church in New York City. He said, “Holy Week gives you something the world cannot give you. Yes, we know the story. We can talk it — maybe we can even recite it. But walking it gives us something we can get nowhere else.”
I have been reflecting on that on this Good Friday morning as I prepare for our evening Tenebrae service at Smithville. Of all of the worship services throughout the Christian year, Tenebrae is my favorite. Perhaps I should rather say it is the most meaningful service of the liturgical year since “favorite” may not be the best term to use for such a somber service. Tenebrae is Latin for darkness and the purpose of the service is to create the emotional aspects of the passion story. This service does not offer the benefits of Christ’s resurrection that we have come to expect in Christian worship services – there is no sermon, no prayer in Jesus’ name, no offering as there is no Christian work, no benediction. There are no announcements, no coffee hour, no chit-chat before or after the service. It recreates the betrayal, the abandonment, the agony of Christ’s death and is left unfinished because the service really isn’t over until the resurrection on Easter day. Throughout the service, candles are extinguished until all is dark. And then we sit and experience the darkness.
On this Good Friday, we walk the agonizing path with Jesus and sit in the darkness of his death. It is true that we have hope because we know the end of the story, but for today we must experience the darkness.
Experience the darkness …