Thomas McKenzie
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Tenebrae


Tomorrow is the Wednesday of Holy Week. In the years that I have served in church ministry, this day has always been a bit of a “wild card.” There is no definitive “Anglican” service given for this day, other than the Eucharist (which we celebrate Monday through Thursday at noon in our church).

Hundreds of years ago, the western Church celebrated Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday with the liturgy of Tenebrae (a Latin word meaning “shadows”). These were three services, one each night, that consisted of psalms, readings, and increasing darkness. The services were built around a collection of candles which symbolized the life of Christ. As each psalm was read or sung, one of the candles would be snuffed out. This symbolized the gradual extinction of Jesus’ life.

Today most Anglicans have a Maundy Thursday service on Thursday night and some kind of Good Friday reflection on Fridays. So, we don’t do three nights of Tenebrae. However, a shortened one-night Tenebrae is increasingly seen in our churches on the Wednesday night of Holy Week.

We did our first Tenebrae at our church last year. It was dark, both physically and emotionally. I felt it was a bit too long, and therefore lost some of its impact. I think I tried to do too much. So, this year, I have asked our new worship intern, Glenn McClure, to design the Tenebrae service. I am excited about what he has done. I strongly encourage you to come this Wednesday at 7 pm. I think you will find it worshipful and meaningful.

Church, lentThomas McKenzie