by Christine Sine
A few years ago we attended a Good Friday Tenebrae service at our church. It was a very moving service of readings from those who have walked before us as well as from scripture. We started with the sanctuary alive with light and ended with it in darkness except for the Christ candle which stood at the foot of the cross.
I was reminded of the service as I reflected on this broken image of Jesus today. Jesus body was broken and all seemed lost. Imagine how hard Saturday must have been for the disciples just as it is hard for us to live in the valley where hope seems lost and the world seems untouched by the promises of God. We mourn too for broken hopes and promises. All seems to be in darkness but out of brokenness can come new life.
Here are the readings that most impacted me.
It is in the darkness, when there is nothing left in us that can please or comfort our minds, when we seem to be useless and worthy of all contempt, when we seem to have failed, when we seem to be destroyed and devoured, it is then that the deep and secret selfishness that is too close to us for us to identify is stripped away from our souls. It is in this darkness that we find liberty. It is in this abandonment that we are made strong. This is the night which empties us and makes us pure. (Thomas Merton)
To each one of us Christ is saying: If you want your life and mission to be fruitful, like mine, do as I do. Be converted into a seed that lets itself be buried. Let yourself be killed. Do not be afraid. Those who shun suffering will remain alone. No one is more alone than the selfish. But if you give your life out of love for others, as I give mine for all, you will reap a great harvest. (Oscar Romero)
This is the night which empties us and makes us whole.
Out of my reflections on this service came this poem:
Today we mourn.
For promises unfulfilled
for wholeness unrealized
for brokenness still afflicting.
Today there is only darkness.
Our hopes are buried
our longings shrouded
our desires entombed.
Today the grave engulfs us.
We walk in hell
empty, stripped of life
no light only darkness.
Today God seems to have failed.
Yet here we find freedom
Between death and resurrection
This is the night which empties us
and makes us whole.