The area near the Altar is bare of decoration. This a result of the “Stripping of the Altar” on Maundy Thursday. Candles for Good Friday are added, as well as a simple, wooden cross.
An Introduction to Good Friday – Tenebrae
We begin our liturgy as we ended the Maundy Thursday Liturgy: in silence. What was begun then continues this day as we journey with our Savior from the Last Supper, the stripping and humiliation, to the cross and tomb. Good Friday is the second day of the Triduum, the “Three Sacred Days” of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday with its Vigil of Easter.
The Good Friday Liturgy is marked with austerity, silence and reflection. The chancel itself is bare from the Maundy Thursday stripping. There is no organ music except to accompany the hymns. Everything focuses on our adoration of the crucified Christ, reigning from the throne of the cross.
The service of Tenebrae is an ancient Holy Week devotion which began in the 7th or 8th century, or possibly earlier. The name “Tenebrae” means shadows. The service takes its name from the ceremony of extinguishing in succession all the lights in the sanctuary, casting it into total darkness which is symbolic of the disciples’ desertion of our Lord, and of his death and burial.
The purpose of the Tenebrae Service is to aid us in realizing the total impact of the darkest day in the history of the world, the day Jesus died on the cross.
The opening portion of the liturgy includes no praise. It proceeds directly to the Invocation and Prayer of the Day. It is a simplified version of our Sunday Liturgy of the Word. The chief acts are the reading of the Passion of St. John and the Bidding Prayer for the needs of our world.
Following the final hymn is a meditation on the Seven Last Words of our Lord which he spoke from the cross. After each word is read, there will be a prayer and silent meditation. Lights and one candle will be extinguished after each meditation until the sanctuary is in darkness.
After the lights are all extinguished, the congregation will stand as the Paschal Candle is carried from the sanctuary reminding us of the burial of Jesus. A loud noise, made by the closing of a Bible, will remind us of the closing of the tomb. This announces the fulfilling of the Scriptures and the completion of our Lord’s work on the cross for us.
The Paschal Candle (called the Christ Candle during Advent/Christmas) will not return until the beginning of the Great Vigil of Easter on Saturday evening at 7 p.m. On Good Friday we recognize that Jesus was fully dead and was placed in the borrowed tomb.
Note: The return of the Paschal Candle moments after the loud noise is a form of the Good Friday service designed to be used in those congregations which do not have the Great Vigil of Easter.
All will leave in silence to return tomorrow as we wait in vigil and then celebrate our Lord’s resurrection at the Great Vigil of Easter. At the Vigil tomorrow evening we will have the first Holy Communion in celebration of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Schedule for the rest of Holy Week:
Easter Vigil – Saturday – 7:00 p.m. – in sanctuary
Resurrection Sunrise service at 7:30 a.m. at the Carmine Cemetery.
(Bring your own chairs for seating at the cemetery)
Breakfast in the fellowship hall at 8 a.m.
Festival Resurrection Service at 9:00 a.m.
Egg hunt and party for the children. ~10:15 a.m.