Tenebrae - a reflection


Let us remember all those who have given their lives to free the oppressed, heal the sick, bring good news to the poor, overcome hatred with good, evil with love.

The seven candles are lit, and the lights of the Church blaze out its windows and its doors.  The  congregation sit, or kneel, silently, as we prepare for the night of shame, of darkness, for that is what Tenebrae means.  Darkness.

I come to the net tonight straight from the Seder, the celebration of the Passover, and from the service of Tenebrae that followed.    From the lights of the upper room to the darkness of Gethsemene.  As with any day in the year we in New Zealand are first to greet it.   So we will have been the first of those in our Church to witness the dawning of Maundy Thursday and the girding of the mind in preparation for the accepting into ourselves  the horror of the crucifixion.

As we ate the food of the Seder, and re-enacted the rituals of the Passover meal, we were filled with the joy of liberation, liberation from slavery and servitude.  We walked the path through the dessert, learning the story of Gods people as we went.   We ate our fill of the greens and the bitter herbs.  We raised our wine glasses and gave thanks to God  fourfold.   And we opened the door for Elijah .

Then leaving that room we entered the world of misgiving and uncertainty, knelt in prayer and listened to the story of that last night in the life of our Saviour.  And then, like the disciples, we fled.  No one stayed to share with Him the agony of those hours of questioning, beating, and crucifixion.

We know that having overcome death, He cannot die again, that He dwells eternally with the Father, and through the Father with us.  Yet once more tonight I was made aware of my continual hammering home of those nails,  of my reviling and torturous acts.   I may not have been there all those years ago, but through my failure to obey Him, my ever present sense of pride, and my crossing over the road to avoid thee needy, I know the part I played that day, and  on my knees I sought forgiveness.

As times flows round the world many of you, too, will be kneeling and seeking forgiveness.  You too will acknowledge the failure born of our humanity.  So it is my prayer that, as one in the body of the Christ, we may join our voices in asking forgiveness not just for ourselves, but for the sins of the whole world.   And as one in the Body of the Christ, we may move forward, holding His death and resurrection in our hearts, striving to be that which, until today, we have failed to be.

Let us remember all those who find life almost too hard to bear;  who find people are insensitive and unloving.

Let us remember those who see violence as the way to solve conflict, and those who live in an environment of conflict and violence.

Let us remember all those who's lives have been stripped of human dignity; those who are forced to live in poverty, in slums, in shanty towns.  For those who live in loneliness, for those denied employment, for those denied the right to be human, by reason of disability.

Let us remember those who suffer from hopelessness and despair, and for all those who we, in the name of self love, reject.

So then let us pray for ourselves, that in praying for others, we may ask the strength, the skills, the compassion and the Love to do His work here in this unhappy world.

And in going forth, may we bring light to  a darkened world.   May we be the light of the Christ to those who live in darkness.

John - New Zealand - Holy Week 2001

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