A Good Friday tenebrae service is one of my favorite times in church. In Latin “tenebrae” means shadows or darkness in Latin. In a tenebrae service, there is a gradual extinguishing of candles while reflecting on the death of Jesus.
For Christians, the Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter services are holy and foundational to their faith. In addition, the space for grief is another reason I love the tenebrae service. The songs and scripture reflect grieving and lamenting. Too often, church services or conversations with Christians do not give enough time for expressions of pain, loss, and grief. We want to rush to the happy stuff. We want to convince ourselves and others that life is all good. But life can be really hard.
I’m not suggesting that we should only focus on our grief during Good Friday. However, it is part of a person’s healing journey to take time to reflect on death and loss as part of life.
Don’t get me wrong. I love Easter, too. The celebration of Christ’s resurrection. The hope and joy that sounds out with trumpets. But it is important to remember Good Friday before getting to Easter. As a foundation in the Christian faith, Easter only comes because of Christ’s death.
In our grieving journeys, it is important to leave room for the pain and grief. That is true when helping others, too. Don’t rush people to joy and hope without giving them space to express the anguish.
If you are able to find a tenebrae service in your area, try going. Then follow up with an Easter that brings hope. There is space for both joy and grief.
May you find peace during this Holy Week and Easter.