There is something about candlelight that just draws us in. Maybe it’s the warmth, or the soothing dancing of the flame, perhaps the sense of intimacy that candlelight creates. It could be the light itself, so small but able to cast illumination into the nooks and crannies of any room. Whatever candlelight evokes in your senses, we all agree that what makes candlelight better is more of it. How about 13 candles?
On Good Friday, we will gather for a Tenebrae service, a service of darkness. The only thing that holds back the darkness will be the light of the candles that we will gradually extinguish. We will hear stories to remind us of what the disciples may have felt, and each time we will extinguish a candle. At last, one will remain, a candle to represent Jesus, yet on that cross his life will expire, and in the end, just darkness. It is a stark reminder of the hearts of the disciples that night Jesus was killed on a cross. Their hope was gone, their despair was real, the life and promise of Jesus was finished.
When the service ends, we will leave in silence, but feel free to stay where you are for a bit. Dwell in the darkness and let it sink in. Our instinct will be to bring light back into the space, or to fill it with conversation, to lighten the mood.
I’d encourage you to embrace the mood. Let yourself feel the sorrow of the disciples, the lack of direction, the confusion, the utter dismay. I can’t imagine what they must have felt, but I’m going to try and find it. I’m going to do that because I want Easter Sunday to feel like something I didn’t see coming, like a surprise and the life-altering news that it is. Sometimes we need to feel the lows so the highs can take our breath away. To me, that is the experience of Good Friday and the waiting on Jesus to break out of the tomb. Through the valley so we can experience the mountaintop…
Holy week is upon us, I pray you find time to reflect and walk the path that leads to the cross and beyond it.
God’s blessings, Pastor Luke