Good Friday Service
The Day: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter commemorate the central events of the Christian Church. Good Friday is the solemn celebration of the Lord’s suffering and death on the cross. Our remembrance of Jesus’ death, while solemn, is not a message of gloom, but a service of adoration of the Son of God as he gives up his life. We gather here today to celebrate the sacrifice of the cross. So we remember his passion, but do so with a triumphant note—for we know in his resurrection, Christ has conquered sin, death, and the devil.
The Service: Tenebræ (ten’ eh bray) is an ancient rite of the Church. The Latin word “tenebræ” means “darkness.” During this service the candles will be extinguished and lights will be progressively dimmed. In this we remember that God the Father cloaked the land with darkness during the death of his Son (Mt 27:45).
This service is a time for prayerful meditation. There is no preservice music. The altar remains stripped bare. There are moments of extended silence for meditation on the magnitude of Christ’s sacrificial love.
We will hear Christ’s Seven Words spoken from the cross. After each reading a candle is extinguished. The seventh candle represents Christ. It is not extinguished, but carried from the chancel to his Father’s side. Then is heard the strepitus (strep’ ee toos), a loud noise that represents the rending of Christ’s tomb. The seventh candle is returned to burn in the chancel, foreshadowing the joy that awaits us on Easter morning.
The Dismissal: The service concludes with the final song, Lord, Let at Last Your Angels Come. There is no closing blessing or closing hymn. The congregation may remain for prayer and meditation. The congregation will dismiss themselves and leave God’s house in silence, to return and gather for the Easter Vigil.