Category Archives: Lent

What is Tenebrae? Thursday 22nd March, 8.00pm

On Thursday 22 March we will be hosting a service of Tenebrae at St Mary’s Church, Redbourn. But what is it?

The word ‘tenebrae’ is Latin for shadows. The purpose of the Tenebrae service is to recreate the emotional aspects of the passion story, so this is not supposed to be a happy service, because the occasion is not happy. If your expectation of Christian worship is that it should always be happy and exhilarating, you won’t appreciate this service until the second time you attend it.

The service was originally designed for Good Friday, but it can be used at other times in Passiontide. The service has long passages of scripture, which for this service is divided into seven, eight, or nine parts, each one assigned to a different reader.

The service may include other parts, such as solemn hymns, a sermon, and Communion, but the core of the Tenebrae service works like this: It starts out with the church in candlelight. There are as many candles as there are readings, plus a white Christ candle. The readers go up one at a time, read their assigned selections, and extinguish one of the candles, until only the Christ candle remains. Then someone reads the first part of Psalm 22, which Jesus quoted on the cross. Then the Christ candle is put out, leaving the congregation in near total darkness – and near total devastation. At this point, the service ends. There is no blessing and the people leave in silence. (The lights are turned up but remain dim so that people can see their way out.)

The purpose of the service is to recreate the betrayal, abandonment, and agony of the events, and it is purposefully left unfinished, because the story isn’t over until Easter Day.

We invite you to come and join us at 8 pm on Thursday 22 March at St Mary’s for what will undoubtedly be a powerful and moving service. All are welcome.

Highlights for Holy Week

Come and join us for the most powerful and important services of the whole year.


PALM SUNDAY

Sunday 9th April

This coming Sunday we celebrate Palm Sunday, remembering Jesus entering Jerusalem to be greeted by the crowds. We gather at the Cricket Pavilion at 9.15 am to hear the story and then, carrying palms and singing hymns, we make our joyful procession to St Mary’s for our Parish Eucharist, which this year includes a dramatic reading of the Passion story led by members of our Gospellers.

On Sunday evening at 6.30 pm, we gather for ‘The Way of the Cross’, a powerful service with choir anthems, hymns, readings and prayers for the start of Holy Week.


MONDAY, TUESDAY & WEDNESDAY OF HOLY WEEK


Monday 10th, Tuesday 11th and Wednesday 12th April

Each evening at 8.00pm, we gather to share in the Eucharist, a lovely quiet and reflective service ‘in the round’ in the Chancel area of the church. Each night our Curate Tim will offer a devotional address to help us to enter more deeply into the meaning and events of the last days of Jesus’ life.


MAUNDY THURSDAY

Thursday 13th April, 8.00pm

Our evening service recalls the events of the Last Supper, the washing of feet and Jesus’ gift to us of the Eucharist. It starts with joy; but over it lies the shadow of the Cross, the Agony of Gethsemane and the torment of Good Friday. What begins as an occasion of rejoicing and thanksgiving ends on a different note in this extraordinarily powerful service. The Stripping of the Altars, the removal of all ornaments from the Sanctuary, the exit of choir, ministers and congregation in silence, all symbolise Christ’s isolation and loneliness.

Before that, however, there is the solemn procession to the Altar of Repose, symbolising the walk of Jesus and his disciples from the Upper Room out to the Garden of Gethsemane.

On arrival at the Altar of Repose the sacrament is placed on the Altar surrounded by flowers, reminding us of Gethsemane where Christ in his Sacrament waits; and we watch and pray with him in a vigil up until midnight…


GOOD FRIDAY

Friday 14th April

10.00am – All Age Service

Our All Age Service is suitable for everyone. We gather to offer our songs, prayers and readings as we remember the events of the first Good Friday and Jesus going to the Cross to die for us.

The Easter Garden – decorated by our Friday morning Teddy Tots – will be on display for the first time after the service and then we make our way to the Transept for Hot Cross buns and other refreshments.

11.30am – Walk of Witness

We gather outside St John Fisher Roman Catholic Church on Dunstable Road to begin a Walk of Witness shared with Christians from all the different churches in Redbourn. At various points we stop to hear another part of the last hours of Jesus’ life, to pray and to offer a hymn as we celebrate our shared faith in Christ. All are welcome – young and old – as we walk and witness together.


1.30pm – Good Friday Liturgy with Communion

A stark, solemn and incredibly moving service offered at St Mary’s at the very time when we recall Jesus hanging on the Cross. The service includes a reading of the Passion story (this year interspersed with exquisite choral pieces composed by Tomás Luis de Victoria), the veneration of the Cross, a powerful Litany of prayers and an opportunity to receive Christ’s body and blood in the sharing of Communion with him in his death for each and every one of us.


EASTER DAY

Sunday 16th April

Our Easter celebrations start at dawn with the 6.00am Vigil of Readings, as we hear again the story of our salvation, fill the church with the new light of Easter, finishing with a splendid cooked breakfast. Our services continue with 8.00am, 10.00am (All Age) and 12 noon celebrations and we round of the day with a splendid Choral Evensong at 6.30 pm led by our choir.


EASTER MONDAY PILGRIMAGE

Monday 17th April

On Easter Monday we join in the traditional Easter Pilgrimage to St Albans Abbey to join with thousands of others from around the Diocese. We meet at 10.15 am for breakfast in the Transept, set off at about 11.00am and make the gentle walk along the River Ver to St Albans where we share a picnic lunch on the Abbey Orchard (bring your own) and then join in the joyful All Age Service at 3.00pm. Please sign up in church if you’re coming so we know how many to expect. Dogs welcome!