A young woman sat in the darkness of the Tenebrae service one Good Friday many years ago and watched as the candles were extinguished one by one. There had been many months of struggle as she wrestled with her doubts in faith. Over the past several years she had fallen away from the faith of her childhood. She doubted that the stories of the Bible could be true . . . yet, she was continually drawn to the person of Jesus Christ. Who was this Jesus? Why had he left such a great influence on so many people over the years? How was it that his followers throughout the ages had self-lessly created so many helping organizations around the world? . . . schools, hospitals, social agencies, world hunger relief programs . . . all because of following Jesus.
People like Mother Teresa made a great impression on this woman. These people seemed to really take their faith seriously and lived dedicated lives.
And there had been many people she had known personally, who had shown great love and compassion . . . always able to forgive, no matter what. These people had been a great support and inspiration to her.
There seemed to be a battle going on inside. One day she felt like she could believe;
the next day, she thought only of herself and what she wanted. Sometimes she would really wonder if God heard her when she prayed. So often her prayer was: God, if there is a God . . . save my soul . . . if I have a soul.
But she had kept searching and open to God in her life. Many of the barriers were being overcome as she came to understand more and more about the grace of God through Jesus Christ.
As she sat there, in the darkness, that Good Friday, and heard again the stories of Jesus’ last moments on earth, a strange thing happened. For the first time, she really understood that this man Jesus had died for her as well as for all the others. Suddenly, that became the most important thing she needed to know. All the other questions and doubts could wait. “It is finished.” She knew this Jesus and why he said, as he bowed his head and died: “It is finished.”
For through him, God’s work for our healing grace is complete.
That’s a powerful thing to believe . . . I know . . . I am that woman.
+ Anna Lin
Tenebrae is a solemn service of darkness held on Good Friday since the fourth century.
7 candles, representing the 7 last words of Christ at his crucifixion, are lit at the front of the church. One by one each candle is extinguished following the readings of scripture, hymns sung, and reflections shared, based on each word of Christ.