by Anne Breck Peterson
Tenebrae is the ancient service of shadows, poised between Good Friday’s crucifixion and the first service of Easter on Easter Eve. In this service we hang suspended in an in-between-time—between paralyzing disaster and we know not what. Although we know that the story ends well, it is important to linger in this bleak place to honor our own journey of failures, losses and periods of despair.
There was a time in my early life when I felt especially successful and complete and in control of my world. As I look back on that time, I visualize myself as an egg. I had everything figured out and lived a self-contained life surrounded by a protective shell. When the first traumatic experience cracked that shell, I felt out of control and unprotected. In retrospect, I imagine that the Spirit of God had been swirling around my perfect, self-contained life, looking for a way in. And then life cracked my shell, and the Spirit slipped in and found the center of my being.
Everything tonight is cracked and broken. Jesus’ body is broken. The resolve of his followers is broken. The veil of the temple is broken in two. As we lean into the story of our faith, allowing it to support our lives, we let in God in a new way. And because Easter is the finale, we are able to live in this murky place of mystery, paradox and grace tonight—and whenever necessary—through the rest of our lives.