2020 Good Friday Tenebrae Worship
Tenebrae is the Latin word for darkness. An ancient custom in the Christian church has been to observe Christ's crucifixion on Good Friday with a Tenebrae Service, in which the lights are extinguished, one by one. The growing darkness recalls Jesus' abandonment by God the Father and the failure of the daylight as Jesus died a slow, painful death in our place, in order to pay for the darkness of our hearts. In this service, we read together the words of the prophet Isaiah, first recorded around 700 years before Christ, which describe the terrible suffering which God's servant would endure in order to secure our forgiveness. Then we hear again the story of their fulfillment through Jesus' crucifixion, as described by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Together these four describe seven times that Christ spoke from the cross. So we extinguish seven candles, a number symbolic of completion, to mark the fulfillment of all the Old Testament prophecies and the complete victory which is ours in Christ.