Summary: This is an actual Tenebrae (Good Friday) service that was held.

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Welcome. Introduce guests.

Instructions: Tonight is going to be a little different from most services that you are used to. A solemn experience. It commemorates the crucifixion, the death, and burial of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. As we begin our service, I emphasize that as the service progresses, it will become darker and darker in the sanctuary, to the point of being almost a complete blackout.

As you can see from the bulletin, this will be a very solemn service. After all, the death and burial of Jesus was not a festive event. It was on this day of the week that Jesus was crucified, died, and was laid in the tomb. So we must leave here tonight with that thought in our minds. Believe me, it will make the Sonrise service on Sunday morning so much more meaningful.

At the end of the service, we will be participating in a silent Lord’s Supper. I will give you instructions at that time so you will understand how it will be done. The Lord’s Supper this evening will be done in a way that you may have never experienced.

I will also explain when the time comes about centering prayer and how that portion of the service will be conducted. Do you have any questions?

With that said, let’s begin our Tenebrae experience with a word of prayer.



Explanation of Tenebrae service

The service of worship tonight is taken from an early Christian service called Tenebrae. The name Tenebrae is the Latin word for “darkness” or “shadows.” Tonight we will experience only a small portion of Christ’s pain and suffering on the day of His crucifixion.

One of the most conspicuous features of the service is the gradual extinguishing of candles until only a single candle, considered a symbol of our Lord, remains. As it gets darker and darker we can reflect on the great emotional and physical pain that was very real for Jesus that evening.

The lone white candle that will be relit is understood to represent God’s change toward us with direct access to Him, no longer requiring the ceremonial acts of the priests for our forgiveness of sin. By this single light we all depart this service in silence. At one point in the service, the cross will be covered, signifying Jesus Christ being laid in the tomb.

(Candles are lit. Sanctuary lights are turned off)


The Cross. It rests on the time line of history. It’s absurdity attracts all critics. It’s hope lures all searchers. My! What a piece of wood! History has idolized it, despised it, gold plated it, burned it, worn it and trashed it. History has done everything to it but ignore it.

That’s the one option that the cross does not offer. No one can ignore it! You can’t ignore a piece of lumber that suspends the greatest claim in history—a crucified carpenter claiming that He is God on earth! The cross—it’s bottom line is sobering: if the account is true, history hinges upon it. Period. If not, it’s history’s hoax.

On that 1st Easter morning the Kingdom of death was repossessed and hope took up the payments. But even Easter has to start with the cross.

Pictures - tonight Matthew is taking some pictures of people at the cross. And all of you are in one of these three pictures. No one escapes His snapshots as we look through this photo album of the cross.

Look for your face in one of the crowds at the cross. The first picture we see is located in Matthew 27:32 and is a picture of those who are…

1.) Forced to the Cross. ( 32-37 )

32 As they were coming out, they found a man of Cyrene named Simon, whom they pressed into service to bear His cross. 33 And when they came to a place called Golgotha, which means Place of a Skull, 34 they gave Him wine to drink mixed with gall; and after tasting it, He was unwilling to drink. 35 And when they had crucified Him, they divided up His garments among themselves by casting lots. 36 And sitting down, they began to keep watch over Him there. 37 And above His head they put up the charge against Him which read, “THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.”

I WANT to focus on verse 32 “ and they forced him to carry the cross.” Simon was a common believer—a religious guy. He was a church goer that knew that God would send a messiah, a savior, a cross. This picture only has one man in it. Simon, a man forced to the cross. But is he the only one in that picture? I doubt it.

Some in this room tonight feel just like Simon—Forced to the Cross. Before you turn the page in this photo album look for your face. Are you here in this picture?

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