I am still giggling about how our Tenebrae service ended last night, teehee, snicker, giggle and other "unholy" gales of laughter.....
During a tenebrae service a series of psalms or other appropriate biblical passages are read or chanted. The burning candles that often constitute the only light for the service, are extinguised one by one at the end of each reading, until only 1 is left burning. A predesignated person, usually a deacon or other leader assistant in the service takes that candle right out of the room. The candle represents Christ as he goes to the cross and the period of darkness that follows the crucifixion. After the candle leaves, the priest and congregants say a prayer together, followed by the priest intoning the final psalm and short prayer.
At that point a loud noise is supposed to happen...representing the post crucifixion earthquake that occurred as Jesus died.
Since most of our churches don't have a way of simulating that sort of sound...at least in our older Anglican buildings there is no sound equipment or other way of computer generating the earth rumbling, often some other loud sound is substituted.
As we sat in the dark last night awaiting the re-entry of the candle, by which light we then depart the church in contemplative silence, the person who had removed the candle and taken it into a side room slammed the door of the room to create the loud noise.
That is when, for me, the hilarity began. My husband and I were sitting facing that room. We saw the fellow's hand grasp the door and, being familiar with the order of service, knew it was likely that door was going to be slammed shut to make the necessary noise. Directly across and facing us was a row of chairs filled by people who had their backs to that door and couldn't see what we could see. There were 5 people sitting in those seats. 4 of them are regular attenders of that congregation and have been going to Tenebrae for years. They all knew that slam, or something like it, was coming momentarily.
Unfortunately there was a newcomer seated in the fifth chair. She had no idea what the possible noise was going to be, in fact I am not even sure if she noticed at the end of the service bulletin that the noise was listed as occuring. hohoho!! When that door slammed shut, her rear end lifted a good 4 inches off her chair, the walking cane she was gripping flew straight up in front of her face and a sound barrier breaking, "WHOOOOPPPPPEEEEEE", came out of her mouth! hahahahahahaha
My first thought was, "Lady, I know how you feel!!!", because her jumping and hollering caused me to jump as well!! Without thinking, I grinned away at her as if the two of us were fellow conspirators in disrupting the solemnity of the meditative, contemplative service and fortunately she grinned sheepishly back at me. The rest of the people must have iron control over their facial muscles. Not one other person in that room gave any indication they had seen or heard her faux pas....NOT ONE OF THEM! WOW!! HOW did they manage THAT???
As we filed out afterward into the lobby and silently out into the street, she and I caught each other's eye and winked simulaneously. hahahahahaha
What a great ending to the service! I have to admit it certainly cheered me to see someone able to be so human in a very structured and quiet evening service. It is supposed to be quiet and structured and meditative because it is all about Christ going to be tortured on the cross. What struck me though as quite wonderful about that frightened woman's response to the door slamming is that Christ died to save all of us who, like that woman, are so very human and not always in iron control of our every reaction.
Her involuntary response to the slamming door gave me another slant on just who Jesus came to save....all of us in our involuntary human reactions that are not always appropriate to or in a particular situation!