Note: This is the video and the bulletin for a service of Tenebrae on Maundy Thursday, April 6, 2023 at the Elijah Kellogg Church. There are readings, hymns but no sermon.

VIDEO OF FULL SERVICE: https://vimeo.com/showcase/7960701/video/815700378

April 6, 2023 – Maundy Thursday, A.K.A. Holy Thursday

An Order for Tenebrae

THOUGHTS FOR MEDITATION — “We would rather be ruined than changed. We would rather die in our dread than climb the cross of the present and let our illusions die.” — W. H. Auden (1907-1973)

“Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion? Without all doubt, we may. Herein all the children of God may unite, notwithstanding these smaller differences.” — John Wesley, (1703-1791)

“One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless yet be determined to make them otherwise.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940)

Welcome and Announcements


  • Call to Worship —
    ONE: The people who once walked in the night have seen a great light.
    MANY: Anyone who follows God will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.
    ONE: If we say, “Let the darkness cover us and let the light around us turn to night,” these shadows still do not keep us from seeing our God.
    MANY: The night is as bright as the day; the shadows and the light are both alike to You, O Holy One.

*HYMN — The Empty Cross INSERT

ONE: God be with you.
MANY: And also with you.
ONE: Be free with your hearts.
MANY: We give them freely to God.
ONE: Let us give thanks to God.
MANY: It is right to give God thanks and praise.
ONE: Let us pray.
MANY: Gracious God, You give us the sun to illumine the day and the moon and stars to shine by night. Kindle in us the flame of Your love that our lives may shed abroad the radiance of Your light and the world may be full of the splendor of Your glory; this we pray in the Name of Jesus, Who is the Christ. Amen.


The candles to be used in the service are lighted during the singing of “Phos Hilaron” (commonly translated as “O Gracious Light”). The text used here is adapted from an ancient version of that hymn.

*HYMN — O Mystery of Gentle Light Insert

ONE: Let us confess our imperfection before God and one another.

                        I confess to God and in the company of the people of God that my life and the life of the all the world is not whole.

MANY: May God forgive you, Christ renew you and the Spirit enable you to grow in love.
ONE: Amen.

MANY: We confess to God and in the company of the people of God that each of our lives and the life of all the world is not whole.
ONE: May God forgive you, Christ renew you and the Spirit enable you to grow in love.
MANY: Amen.

(A Time of Silence Is Kept.)

ONE: Living God, Holy, Mighty, Holy Immortal One,
MANY: Have mercy upon us.

ONE: Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through Jesus, the Christ.
MANY: Through Jesus we have obtained access to the grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God. Amen.
One: Indeed, this is the message we have heard from Christ and proclaim to you: God is light.
MANY: If we walk in the light as Christ is in the light, we have communion with one another.

*HYMN — We Yearn, Of Christ, for Wholeness INSERT


Shadow of Betrayal — Matthew 26:20-24 [ILV]
[20] When night arrived, Jesus reclined with the twelve at the table in the room the Passover meal had been prepared; [21] while they were eating Jesus said, “The truth is one of you is about to betray me.”
[22] They became greatly distressed and one after another said to Jesus, “Surely, it is not I, Teacher.”
[23] In response Jesus said, “The one who has dipped a hand into the dish with me will deliver me.”

The first candle is extinguished.

Shadow of the Betrayer — Matthew 26:24-25 [ILV]
[24] “The Chosen One will go as the Scriptures foretold— but woe to that one by whom the Chosen One is betrayed! It would have been better for that one to never have been born.”
[25] Then Judas, who was the one betraying Jesus, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?”
Jesus replied, “You have said it yourself.”

A second candle is extinguished.

Shadow of Disloyalty — Matthew 26:31-35 [ILV]
[31] Jesus said to the disciples, “Tonight you will all fall away because of me; Scripture says, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ [32] But after I have been raised up, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.”
[33] Peter responded, “Though all may fall away because of you, I never will.”
[34] Jesus replied, “The truth is before the cock crows tonight you will deny me three times.”
[35] Peter said, “Even though I must die with you, I will never disown you.” And so said all the disciples.

A third candle is extinguished.

Shadow of the Soul — Luke 22:39-42 [ILV]
[39] Jesus, following a usual pattern, went to the Mount of Olives; the disciples followed. [40] When they all reached that place, Jesus said, “Pray that you may not be put to the test.”
[41] Jesus then withdrew about a stone’s throw away, knelt down, and prayed. [42] “Abba, God, if it is your will, take this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.”

A fourth candle is extinguished.

Shadow of the Vigil — Mark 14:32-34 [ILV]
[32] And they went to a place called Gethsemane, at the foot of the Mount of Olives. Jesus said to the disciples, “Sit down here while I pray.” [33] Taking Peter and James and John along Jesus began to be distressed, troubled, agitated. [34] Jesus said, “I am deeply grieved; my heart is filled with sorrow to the point of death; remain here, and keep watch.”

A fifth candle is extinguished.

Shadow of Anguish — Mark 14:35-38 [ILV]
[35] Going a little farther, Jesus fell to the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, this hour might pass. [36] Jesus prayed with these words: “Abba, God, for You all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.”
[37] Jesus returned to where the disciples were and found them sleeping. “Simon, are you asleep?” said Jesus. “Could you not keep awake one hour? [38] Keep awake and pray that you will not be put to the test; the spirit is, indeed, willing, but the flesh is weak.”

A sixth candle is extinguished.

Shadow of Repetition — Mark 14:39-41 [ILV]
[39] Going back again Jesus began to pray and said the same words. [40] Having prayed some more, upon returning Jesus found the disciples were once again sleeping; their eyes were very heavy; they could not keep their eyes open. And they did not know what to say to the Rabbi.
[41] Having prayed and returned a third time only again to find the disciples asleep Jesus said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Enough! The hour is upon us; the Chosen One is betrayed into the clutches of evil doers.

A seventh candle is extinguished.

Shadow of the Hour — John 17:1b-6 [ILV]
[1b] (Looking to heaven Jesus said) “Abba, God, the hour has come; glorify Your Only Begotten that I may glorify You, [2] through the authority You have given me over humankind by bestowing eternal life on all those You gave me. [3] And this is the eternal life: to know You, the only true God, and the One You have sent, Jesus, the Messiah. [4] I have given You glory on earth by finishing the work You gave me to do. [5] So now, Abba, glorify me with Your own presence, the glory I had with You before the world began.
[6] I have made manifest Your Name to those You gave me from the world. They were Yours, and You gave them to me, and they have kept Your word.”

An eight candle is extinguished.

The Shadow of Commencement — John 17:15 -23 [ILV]
[15] I do not ask that You take them out of the world, but I ask You to guard them from the Evil One. [16] They are not of the world, any more than I am of the world. [17] Consecrate them— make them holy through the truth— for Your Word is Truth. [18] As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. [19] I consecrate myself now, for their sakes so that they may be made holy in truth.
[20] I do not pray for them alone, but I pray also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their message, [21] that all be one. As you, Abba, are in me and I am in you, I pray that they may also be one in us, so that the world may believe that You sent me. [22] I have given them the glory You gave me that they may be one, as we are one— [23] I in them, You in me— that they may be made perfect in unity. Then the world will know You have sent me and You loved them as You have loved me.

A ninth candle is extinguished.

The Shadow of the Arrest — John 18:1-5 [ILV]
[1] Jesus spoke these words and went out with the disciples across the Kidron valley. A garden was there. Jesus and disciples entered it. [2] Judas, the betrayer, also knew that place, because Jesus often met there with the disciples. [3] So Judas led a detachment of soldiers to that place along with Temple guards sent by the chief priests and the Pharisees. They all were armed and carried lanterns and torches. [4] Jesus, aware of everything that was going to take place, came forward and asked, “For whom are you looking?” [5] “Are you Jesus of Nazareth,” they asked. Jesus replied, “I am.” Judas, the betrayer was with them.

A tenth candle is extinguished.

Shadow of Imprisonment — Mark 15:16-17 [ILV]
[16] Then the soldiers led Jesus into the courtyard of the Praetorium, the governor’s headquarters, and called together the whole cohort, the battalion. [17] And they dressed Jesus in purple, a royal color; they also twisted some thorns into a crown and put it on the head of Jesus.

An eleventh candle is extinguished.

Shadow of Mocking — Mark 15:18-20 [ILV]
[18] Then they stood and saluted saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” [19] and struck the head of Jesus with a reed. They spat on Jesus and knelt down pretending to pay homage. [20] After mocking Jesus, they stripped the purple cloak and put his own clothes on. Then they led Jesus out to be crucified.

A twelfth candle is extinguished.

SPECIAL MUSIC — O Sacred Head, Now Wounded
Soloist: Betsey Nehf

The Word Was God — John 1:1-4, 14, 10, 12; 14a [ILV]
[1] In the beginning was the Word; the Word was with God, in the presence of God and the Word was God. [2] Indeed, the Word was present to God. [3] All things came into being through the Word, and apart from the Word not one thing came into being. The Word was life and [4] and that life was the light to all humanity. [5] The light shines in the deepest night, and the night has never been able to overtake it, shall never be able to conquer it.

[9] Indeed, the Word was coming into the world— [10] was in the world— and though the world was made through the Word, the world did not recognize it.

[12] Yet any who did accept the Word, who believed in that Name, Were empowered to become children of God,...

[14a] And the Word became flesh, human in form, and stayed for a little while
    among us;...

At the conclusion of the reading, the reader extinguishes the Christ candle and the lights are made very dim. Three beats of a drum are heard and this is meant to signify the death of Christ. After a pause, the candle is relit a symbolic promise of the resurrection. At this time the lights are brought up slightly and all are invited to leave the church in silence.


SERVICE NOTES: Tenebrae is the Latin term for “shadows.” It 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 during Holy Week. It is a service of lessons accompanied by the gradual extinguishing of lights. Tradition says the twelve candles represent the twelve disciples. A larger candle represents the Christ. No other candles are lit for this service. At the end of the service people are invited to leave the worship space in silence.

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