You are here

Assistant Minister's Column

Blog category: 

Last year we held a liturgically unique and significant worship service to honor the death of Jesus of Nazareth.

It was so well received that we will offer it again. It will be at sundown on the Thursday before Easter (April 17 at 7pm.) Here is what I wrote last year about what to expect and why we are doing it.
 The Tenebrae service is a longstanding tradition in many Christian denominations. It is the retelling of the story of the death of Jesus before the celebration if his resurrection on Easter Sunday. The service takes place at sundown and is a quiet, reflective experience. As each of Jesus's disciples abandon him, a candle is extinguished.  

The service concludes when a final candle, the one representing Jesus, is extinguished. The service ends in silence, in darkness, without a benediction, with people invited to leave when they feel so moved. A handful of Unitarian Universalist churches offer this service.

 If you are anything like me when I first heard about this service, you are probably wondering why. Why have a service that feels and sounds exclusively Christian?

Why retell such a dark story? And why, if my experience of Jesus is not as a god or my personal savior, do we, as Unitarian Universalists, honor this day.
 Without the life of Jesus there would not have been Unitarians or Universalists. Without Jesus's life and the example he gave I would not have this religion which has helped me know myself and love the world.
 The second reason for this service is because it directly challenges much of our culture and addresses a topic that too often we as Unitarian Universalists ignore.

This service honors the death of a man whose life gave billions of people hope and courage. Jesus was murdered because he dared question the religiously orthodox and those who would exclude or isolate. He called us towards love and that cost him his life.
 Too often we look for worship and life to give us all the answers, to tell us what to do, and to tie up all the loose ends. Sometimes in life things aren't as neat and tidy as we'd like. Sometimes we live in the darkness. Before the color and vitality of Easter, the rebirth of spring welcoming us out of the cold, there is darkness.

This worship service honors that. I hope you will join us.