“Neely, have you ever been to a tenebrae service?”
“Like for Good Friday, you mean? Yeah, we have one at my church most years. We had one a couple months ago.”
“What was your service like?”
I leaned my head against the back of the couch, thinking. “Um … there were seven votives lit on the stage. Different people went up to the microphone; each one read one of the seven last things Christ said on the cross and then extinguished one of the candles. So, after all seven people had read, we were in the dark in the sanctuary.” I could picture Ellen, on my left, growing uncomfortable as the light had diminished. On my right had sat Sophie, her big brown eyes taking in the scene.
“Tenebrae is Latin for ‘shadows’ or ‘darkness,’” said Ruth. “Can you imagine the darkness of that original Good Friday?” she asked. “Think about it. Imagine being a follower of Christ and standing there beneath the cross on the very day he died. You had believed all His promises, but now he is nailed to a tree, dead. I probably would have cried until I went into shock. I’d be staring at that limp body thinking, should I go home? Should I stay? What is the use of anything now? How will I readjust to life without purpose?”
“As if you’d lived a day too long, and now there was nothing for you,” I said, identifying as I knew Ruth wanted but not sure of her point.
“Exactly,” said Ruth. “I bet those early Christians—in the interim darkness between the cross and the resurrection—could understand your misery.”
I waited, still not grasping where …
“On Sunday morning, Christ rose from the dead and conquered death!” she said. “Victory was just around the corner.”