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The Love of God

Holy Communion and Tenebrae Service

The service of Tenebrae, meaning “darkness” or “shadows,” has been practiced by the church since medieval times. Once a service for the monastic community, Tenebrae later became an important part of the worship of the common folk during Holy Week. We join Christians of many generations throughout the world in using the liturgy of Tenebrae.

Tenebrae is a prolonged meditation on Christ’s suffering. Readings trace the story of Christ’s passion, music portrays his pathos, and the power of silence and darkness suggests the drama of this momentous event. As lights are extinguished, we ponder the depth of Christ’s suffering and death; we remember the cataclysmic nature of his sacrifice.

Prelude
Call to Worship: Psalm 116:12-14 (NRSV)
What shall we return to the Lord for all his bounty to us?
We lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord;
we will pay our vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people.

God’s Greeting

Welcome

Opening Words
Hosea 11:8-9
Hosea 13:14
Hosea 14:9

Sung Call to Worship: “O My People, Turn to Me” PsH 200

Prayer of Confession
Lord Jesus, like Israel we have abandoned you,
like Judas we have betrayed you;
like Peter we have denied you;
and like the other disciples we have forsaken you.
Yet you remain faithful to us unto death,
even death on a cross.
Though you bound yourself to us,
we have not bound ourselves to you.
God, have mercy on us weak and
willful people.
Lead us once again to your table
and unite us to Christ, who is the bread of life
and the vine from which we grow in grace.
To Christ be praise forever. Amen.
—Second half of prayer from The Worshipbook—Services and Hymns. © 1972, Westminster Press. p. 146, alt.

Hymn of Assurance: “Father, Long Before Creation” PsH 464

Sung Prayer of Illumination: “Psalm 31” SNC 131

Scripture Reading: Psalm 22

Sermon: “The Love of God: Remember and Believe”

Communion

Communion Anthem: “My Song Is Love Unknown” PH 76, TH 182

Darkness of Betrayal

Reading: Psalm 34:15-18; Matthew 26:20-25

Hymn: “Lord, Have Mercy” SNC 53

First Candle Extinguished

Darkness of Desertion

Reading: Psalm 41:7-9; Matthew 26:31-35

Hymn: “Lord, Have Mercy” SNC 53

Second Candle Extinguished

Darkness of Loneliness

Reading: Psalm 31:9-14; Matthew 26:36-46

Poem: “I Have Called You Friends”
I have called you friends, says Jesus,
but there are times no one would ever guess it—
friends of each other, friends of mine.
You call each other names.
You impugn each other’s honor.
You covet the best assignment
and the most gratifying credit
even when you are working
for yourselves.
Forgiveness and reconciliation
get lost in the turmoil of your quarrels.
Friends make the most successful
enemies
when they lose touch with each other,
when they lose touch with me, says Jesus.
Nonetheless, I have called you friends.

Poem: “Betrayer”
Who was the betrayer?
One who said
“I come with you”
and went the other way.
—Thomas John Carlisle, Looking for Jesus, © 1993 Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan. Reprinted by permission of the publisher; all rights reserved.

Hymn: “Go to Dark Gethsemane” PH 97, PsH 381, WR 272

Third Candle Extinguished

Darkness of Accusation

Reading: Matthew 26:57-68

Anthem: “The Glory of the Father” (Egil Hovland)

Fourth Candle Extinguished

Darkness of Crucifixion

Reading: Matthew 27:32-44

Choir: “Ah, Holy Jesus, How Have You Offended” PH 93, PsH 386, TH 248, WR 262

Hymn: “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” CH 324, PH 101, SFL 166, PsH 384, TH 252, WR 261

Fifth Candle Extinguished

Darkness of Death

Choir: “My God! O My God!” PsH 22, st. 1, 6, 7

Reading: Matthew 27:45-54

Choir: “Thy Will Be Done” (Craig Courtney)

Poem: “My God”
Despite all
appearances
to the contrary
God
blesses

Our curses
and questions
collapse
when we know Him
better

My God
why hast Thou
forsaken me

becomes
My God
There are
no tenderer
no stronger
words than
these
—Thomas John Carlisle, Looking for Jesus, © 1993 Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan. Reprinted by permission of the publisher; all rights reserved.

Hymn: “Beautiful Savior” PsH 461, WR 105

Sixth Candle Extinguished

Darkness of the Grave

Reading: John 19:38-42

Hymn: “The Love of God” CH 157

Poem: “Finishing Touch”
He drove
the last
nail.
Not they
but he
finished
the uphill
work
executed
his own
life
enterprise
hung up
unbroken
bones
as well-worn
tools
to consummate
his handiwork
and achieve
his all-embracing
and complete
labor of love
—Thomas John Carlisle, Looking for Jesus, © 1993 Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan. Reprinted by permission of the publisher; all rights reserved.

Choir: “Holy Darkness” (Dan Schutte)

Seventh Candle Extinguished

Meditation: Think on these things. Please exit in silence when you have finished your personal time of meditation.