On Thursday, March 24 2016, at 7:00 pm, United Baptist Church will hold a solemn service of remembrance of the death of our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross.
We call this a Tenebrae Service because it is patterned after a very old order of worship, named with the Latin word for shadows or darkness. We will share a simple communion meal, to remember the Last Supper. Then we will slowly and deliberately recount the final hours of Jesus by reading the account in the Gospel According to Matthew. Other than the readings, the service will be conducted quietly, with no music, and periods of silence to encourage reflection and prayer. As the service progresses, candles will be extinguished, signifying the oncoming of the darkness as our Lord took the sin of the world upon himself.
Join us in worship this Thursday.
Every death we die, Jesus died; we cannot go where he has not gone. He companions us even in darkness and sorrow. And he leads us to light and life again.
Every death except one. He did not die the first death, the Primal Separation. Jesus never rebelled against the Father; therefore, Jesus did not deserve to die any death whatsoever. Death for him who didn’t sin could only come by his own choosing. This is an unspeakable mercy: that in order to seek and to save the lost, Jesus volunteered to experience what we are required by our sins to experience.
Every death he died, then, must properly be called a “sacrifice.”
And excepting that first death, he died them all: every Secondary Dying we suffer because of our sins, he suffered as a sacrifice. And the third death, the Corporeal Dying, was his bodily sacrifice upon the cross.
Every death we die, I say, he died: but he died yet one death more which, because of him, we need not die. He suffered the fourth, the Dying Absolute. This is the Greatest Sacrifice. He perished in our places, that we need never come near this extremest sort of perishing.
The faithful shall never descend into hell! They shall live in the presence of God eternally.
But all this is a story.
Of course: God loves us by doing; when we tell what God has done, then we are telling the story. God enters human experience, the living in relationships, the dying of sundered relationships, the resurrection of renewed relationships; we meet him, then, in experience. That is to say, our stories and his story merge. They become the same story.
No story is more important than this one, for none could be hopeful apart from this one. Except for salvation, every tale the world would tell must end in death, cold and sober and eternal.
Listen. Marvel at the depth and the persistence and the power of Jesus’ love for you. And believe in what you hear: this is our story.
From "More Than One Kind of Dying: A Tenebrae service based on Wangerin's Mourning into Dancing"