Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Tenebrae

Greetings!

I hope to start my regular blogging again very soon.

In the meantime, here is the text of the Tenebrae service held at St. Mary’s on Monday of Holy Week. I thought it was a particularly moving service...

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St. Mary the Virgin
✞ Holy Monday✞
Tenebrae - “Shadows around the Cross”

Call to Worship
One: Let us praise God for the gift of his Son who became the Light of the world.
All: We would thank God that Christ came as a great light shining into a world darkened with sin.
One: Let us never forget those shadows of evil which followed Him to the cross.
All: We would remember that the power of Christ is greater than the power of evil, and will overcome it. Lord, help us to be aware of those events that caused Jesus to be taken to the Cross. As we become mindful of those who confronted Him with betrayal, denial, rejection, injustice, torture, ridicule, and mockery, we realize that these same traits may be found in our lives. Help us to re-examine our inner selves as we reflect upon the lives of those who failed our Saviour. If we have crucified Him anew, grant us forgiveness and cleanse our lives of sin. Uplift us that we might see beyond the shadows of the Cross, and find the Spirit of Him who comes as the Light of the world, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Hymn
#22JP - “Be Still and Know That I Am God”

The Shadow of Betrayal - Matthew 26:47-50
While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; with him was a large crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, ‘The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him.’ At once he came up to Jesus and said, ‘Greetings, Rabbi!’ and kissed him. Jesus said to him, ‘Friend, do what you are here to do.’ Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and arrested him.

Meditation

The Shadow of Betrayal

Betrayal - to be unfaithful in guarding, maintaining, or fulfilling a relationship.
- OR to disappoint the hopes or expectations of another person;
- OR to be disloyal to another person.

On his way to the cross, Jesus knew the kiss of betrayal.

Why did it have to be a friend
Who chose to betray the Lord?
Why did he use a kiss to show them?
That's not what a kiss is for.

Only a friend can betray a friend,
A stranger has nothing to gain.
And only a friend comes close enough
To ever cause so much pain.
- “Why” by Michael Card

Who have we betrayed?
To whom have we been unfaithful?
When have we been disloyal to those who placed their trust in us?

When have we added to the shadows around the cross?

Hymn - #431 - Take Up Your Cross (verses 1 & 5)

The Shadow of Denial - Luke 22:54-62
Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house. But Peter was following at a distance. When they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them. Then a servant-girl, seeing him in the firelight, stared at him and said, ‘This man also was with him.’ But he denied it, saying, ‘Woman, I do not know him.’ A little later someone else, on seeing him, said, ‘You also are one of them.’ But Peter said, ‘Man, I am not!’ Then about an hour later yet another kept insisting, ‘Surely this man also was with him; for he is a Galilean.’ But Peter said, ‘Man, I do not know what you are talking about!’ At that moment, while he was still speaking, the cock crowed. The Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, ‘Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.’ And he went out and wept bitterly.

Meditation

The Shadow of Denial

Denial - to refuse to believe;
- OR to disavow or disown another person.

On his way to the cross, Jesus knew he would be deined.

Denial is a defense mechanism in which a person is faced with a fact that is too uncomfortable to accept and rejects it instead, insisting that it is not true, despite what may be overwhelming evidence....sounds like Peter to me.

Whom have we denied?
What have we denied?
When have we felt uncomfortable enough to deny the truth that lays before us?

When have we added to the shadows around the cross?

Hymn - #196 - Ah, Holy Jesus (verses 1 & 2)

The Shadow of Rejection - Mark 15:6-14
Now at the festival he used to release a prisoner for them, anyone for whom they asked. Now a man called Barabbas was in prison with the rebels who had committed murder during the insurrection. So the crowd came and began to ask Pilate to do for them according to his custom. Then he answered them, ‘Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?’ For he realized that it was out of jealousy that the chief priests had handed him over. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas for them instead. Pilate spoke to them again, ‘Then what do you wish me to do with the man you call the King of the Jews?’ They shouted back, ‘Crucify him!’ Pilate asked them, ‘Why, what evil has he done?’ But they shouted all the more, ‘Crucify him!’

Meditation

The Shadow of Rejection

Rejection - to refuse to have;
- to refuse to take;
- to refuse to recognize;
- to refuse to give;
- to refuse to accept.

On his way to the cross, Jesus heard the crowds who had once shouted Hosanna reject him.

Rejection means to say ‘no.’ Or ‘not now.’ Or ‘never.’ Or ‘leave me alone.’

Whom have we rejected?
What have we rejected?
When have we actively rejected another person?
When have we rejected another person by ignoring them?

When have we added to the shadows around the cross?

Hymn - #184 - My Song Is Love Unknown (verses 1, 3 & 5)

The Shadow of Injustice - Matthew 27:24-26
So when Pilate saw that he could do nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took some water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, ‘I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.’ Then the people as a whole answered, ‘His blood be on us and on our children!’ So he released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.

Meditation

The Shadow of Injustice

Injustice - to violate of the rights of others;
- the unjust or unfair action or treatment of others.

On his way to the cross, Jesus felt the helplessness of injustice.

To do injustice is more disgraceful than to suffer it.
- Plato.

There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.
- Elie Wiesel. (Holocaust Survivor and political activist)

When have we less than fair with others?
When have we ignored injustice and unfairness around us?
Have we become deaf to the injustices which fill our world?

When have we added to the shadows around the cross?

Hymn - #386 - When I Survey the Wondrous Cross (verses 1 & 3)

The Shadow of Torture - Mark 15:16-20
Then the soldiers led him into the courtyard of the palace (that is, the governor’s headquarters); and they called together the whole cohort. And they clothed him in a purple cloak; and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on him. And they began saluting him, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ They struck his head with a reed, spat upon him, and knelt down in homage to him. After mocking him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.

Meditation

The Shadow of Torture

Torture - the act of inflicting excruciating pain, as punishment or revenge, as a means of getting a confession or information, or for sheer cruelty.
- to inflict pain upon another person.

On his way to the cross, Jesus felt the horrors of torture.

Pain is not just a physical thing.
- There are mental anguish and psychological abuse we can inflict on those around us.

Whom have we hurt?
When have we chosen to say something in order to hurt another person?
When have we wished we could hurt another person?

When have we added to the shadows around the cross?

Hymn - #511 - Lord Jesus, Think On Me (verses 1 & 3)

The Shadow of Ridicule - Luke 23:39-43
One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, "Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!" But the other rebuked him, saying, "Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong." Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." He replied, "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise."

Meditation

The Shadow of Ridicule

Ridicule - speech or action intended to cause contemptuous laughter at a person or thing.

On his way to the cross, Jesus heard the hurtful taunts and laughter.

In ridiculing another person, we make them less than they are. We bring them down. And we do so in such a way as to give others the opportunity to laugh with us.

Whom have we made fun of?
When have we chosen to say something in order to put another person down?
When have we laughed at the expense of another person?

When have we added to the shadows around the cross?

Hymn - #634 - Jesus, Remember Me (sung three times)

The Shadow of Mockery - Matthew 27:39-50
Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying, "You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross." In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking him, saying, "He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he wants to; for he said, 'I am God's Son.'" The bandits who were crucified with him also taunted him in the same way. From noon on, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And about three o'clock Jesus cried with a loud voice, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" that is, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, "This man is calling for Elijah." At once one of them ran and got a sponge, filled it with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink. But the others said, "Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him." Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last.

Meditation

The Shadow of Mockery

Mockery - A false, or ridiculing imitation.

On his way to the cross, Jesus heard the mockery of his own words being twisted and used against him.

In mocking another person, we take and twist their words and actions in order to criticize them.
But mockery is not criticism, it is an act of creating hurtful lies.

Whom have we mocked?
When have we twisted the words of another in order to put another person down?
When have we made a mockery of ourselves?

When have we added to the shadows around the cross?Hymn - #202 - There Is A Green Hill Far Away

Prayer of Dedication
All: Holy God, as we realize the depth of your love for us and for all your creation, fill us with that sense of holy awe that will assist us in true worship of you. We dedicate ourselves this day to a new awareness of our place of responsibility in your creation, and we seek your mercy and grace to lead us into paths of righteousness. We are your children; cover us with your love, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
One: Jesus says, “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.”
All: Holy God, Mighty God, Everliving God, have mercy on us.
One: Go in peace to serve the Lord in one another.
All: Thanks be to God.

We leave in silence and darkness.

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I hope it’s something to reflect upon...

Every Blessing.

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