On the Tuesday evening of Holy Week, St. Mark's observes the service of Tenebrae. In the reflection below, St. Mark's member Jeff Devereux shares his experience of this beautiful service.
My first service in the Episcopal Church was Tenebrae in 2018. I should note that up to this point, I had been invited to attend St. Mark’s multiple times by close friends, but I always refused due to my experience with the Church growing up. I felt betrayed by the Church and by God for my coming out and the losses I had experienced as a young man, convincing myself that God did not want me and, quite frankly, I did not want him either.
Which makes Tenebrae as my first service upon my return to the Church very fitting. Tenebrae is a service which acknowledges the betrayal of Jesus in the garden, a time of shadow in our Holy Week foreshadowing the coming crucifixion and death of Jesus. It is not a happy service, but it is reverent and solemn, acknowledging that the Christian experience sometimes requires us, as Christ did, to walk through shadow and darkness. My arrival and attendance at Tenebrae, therefore, was an acknowledgement of the betrayal and shadow I had gone through and still existed within when I sat in the pews.
This is all to say, there is an odd peace in knowing that your struggle with shadow is something to be acknowledged and not to be ignored because without it, we can never find true peace or understand ourselves in the way Christ understands us. In the Church with which I was raised, darkness and shadow was something experienced as a result of your own sinfulness. Tenebrae is a reminder that this is not the case, but rather, that part of Christianity is walking through shadow in order to find Christ, or rather, the self Christ has created and called us to be." - Jeff Devereaux