Thursday, March 20, 2008

Into The Dark Night

We will not go into that dark night. That is certain. As it approaches, we will turn away, each at our own time and place. And Jesus will be left alone.

Preparing this morning to enter the dark night of betrayal tonight with our Tenebrae service. We do the service with the 13 candles and readings. After each reading (crowds turning against Jesus, disciples turning away, soldiers turning Jesus toward Golgatha, etc.) a candle is extinguished. When the candles, and sanctuary lights are all out, a loud harsh noise (done by a choir member hitting a sheet of metal with a hammer) signifies Jesus' death. No matter how often I sit though that service, or how well I'm prepared for it, that moment still constricts my heart.

Then a soloist sings as we sit in the dark, "Were you there when they crucified my Lord?" Truth is, we probably wouldn't have been. We'd have done the disappearing trick just like the disciples in the gospel passion narratives.

I was reminded in my study this morning how we easily excuse the disciples. They did not understand, the gospels say. They were afraid for their lives, we assert. They had too much to drink at the Passover meal, whatever. But he had told them repeatedly that he would go to Jerusalem to die. They may not have understood, or, they may have refused to listen.

We accept their humanity and failure to stand with Christ because we know our own weakness and failures. We easily excuse them because we know we need the favor in return.

I cannot promise, Lord, that my behavior will be any better than Peter, James or John. But you are the Lord, and I claim the gift you offer in your victory. You have mastered the darknest of nights, and you alone redeem the dark of our betrayals.

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