Last night, my church held a Tenebrae (or Service of Shadows). Here’s an explanation of what happens:
The service of worship is taken from an early Christian service called Tenebrae. The name Tenebrae is the Latin word for "darkness" or "shadows." Tonight we will experience only a small portion of Christ’s pain and suffering the day of His crucifixion. One of the most conspicuous features of the service is the gradual extinguishing of candles until only a single candle, considered a symbol of our Lord, remains. As it gets darker and darker we can reflect on the great emotional and physical pain that was very real for Jesus that evening. Toward the end of the service, the Christ candle is hidden, typifying the apparent victory of the forces of evil over good. At the very end, a loud noise is made, symbolizing the earthquake at the time of his death (Matthew 27) and his resurrection (Matthew 28:2). At the moment of the earthquake, the temple veil was torn apart, making the Holy of Holies exposed to public view. This is understood to represent God's change toward us with direct access to him, no longer requiring the ceremonial acts of the priests for our forgiveness of sin. The hidden candle is then restored to its place, symbolizing the triumph of good over evil. By this single light we all depart this service in silence.
I found it very powerful and moving ...