Last night my husband and I went to our church’s Maundy evening service.
A Maundy service commemorates t
Our service was a combined service along with twenty other local churches. We expected a big crowd so my husband and I got to church early only to sit and wait for the church to fill up. It didn’t. But there was a nice diversity of people.
At one point there was a re-enactment of the washing of feet with four pastors taking turns. But the best part was the service of Tenebrae.
The word “Tenebrae” comes from the Latin meaning “darkness”, or “shadow”. The Tenebrae is an ancient Christian Good Friday service that makes use of gradually diminishing light through the extinguishing of candles to that symbolizes the events of Holy Week from the triumphant Palm Sunday entry through Jesus’ burial. Lights are gradually diminished with the increasing darkness symbolizing the darkness of Jesus’ death. When the church gets dark, worshippers are encouraged to take that time to reflect on their life in light of the death Jesus and what it means to them personally.
We had seven different pastors read portions of that week’s events, from the betrayal to the crucifixion. The readers were particularly good. Some of the headings of the Scriptures were, “The Shadow of His Agony and Arrest in the Garden”, “The Shadow of His Death”, etc.
A young man from our church sang some “dark” songs in between each reading. However, at the end, a man from one of our local black churches sang “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?” I can only say, it sent shivers down my spine. This version will, too.
But here’s what it meant to me.
I’ve struggled with some things surrounding my mom’s declining health, including taking care of her finances and getting things in order. It’s been very stressful for lots of reasons I can’t share. I’ve struggled with the “unfairness” surrounding some of these issues.
Ordinarily, I never consider whether I’m being treated fairly or not. It’s not who I am usually. But it has been with this experience.
While I sat there last night, it occurred to me that these circumstances are allowing me to experience on even the tiniest scale how Jesus must have felt about the unfairness of what was happening to him. There is, of course, no scripture to suggest this, but I don’t think it’s too far a stretch to think that Jesus might have had a moment when he thought that way. Remember, Jesus was as human as he was divine.
I felt properly chagrined at my attitude when I considered what I was dealing with compared to the unfairness of a crucifixion of an innocent man.
We usually don’t attend the Maundy service so I surprised myself when I told my husband I wanted to go. Now I know why. I needed a “slap up along side my head”, and I got it.
But as the service went on and I was feeling pretty bad about my former attitude. (Part of being forgiven is thinking seriously about our sin. If we really are aware of our sin, there should be some feelings of sadness. That’s how change usually happens and accepting forgiveness means a change is needed. We just don’t accept forgiveness and go one making the same mistake. We might for a while till we get it “licked” but it’s not something that continues. If it does, we weren’t serious when we confessed it.) It also occurred to me that I had been worrying I would make some really wrong decisions during this season of my mom’s impending death.
During the service, I felt God saying to me, “I will never let you make a big mistake if you just keep listening.”
I know that now.
We can trust God to lead us in the right way, if we follow his voice. And following his voice means, praying and listening, and reading his word. There is no other way.
I’m so glad I was there last night. “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” took on new meaning.
God bless and I hope the miracle of Easter Sunday has special meaning for you.