A contemporary Tenebrae service titled "The Shadow of the Cross" will be offered at 4 p.m. Sunday, March 25 at Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, 175 South Third St., Lehighton.

Tenebrae, which is Latin for darkness, is a Lenten service focusing on the final days of Jesus' life and crucifixion. The "service of darkness" is believed to date back to the fourth century.

Lent is a period of preparation and reflection observed by Christians for 40 days before Easter and the resurrection of Christ. Many Christians mark this time through self-denial, prayer, and repentance as they prepare to celebrate Easter Sunday.

"The Lenten season and Holy Week represent, to me, a time of darkness and reflection," said Susan Lovejoy, director of "The Shadow of the Cross" and the choir director and organist at Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church.

"What we are looking toward is the light of Christ, which will come on Easter morning. In order to appreciate the light, you must first spend some time in darkness."

To represent this darkness, the service will begin with seven lit candles. As narrators read each of seven readings, one candle will be extinguished to portray the deepening darkness of Christ's imminent suffering and death.

The Tenebrae service will use readings and song to portray the final three days of Holy Week, which marks the final week of Lent. Holy Week includes Maundy Thursday, a day that Christians mark the Last Supper, and Good Friday, which commemorates the crucifixion and burial of Jesus.

"It can be a wonderful preparation for the upcoming Holy Week. This service reflects on the love of Jesus and how we depend on that love, for strength through difficult times in our lives," said Lovejoy.

"The Shadow of the Cross" is arranged and composed by Lloyd Larson. The service contains a blend of traditional Lenten songs and contemporary music, including traditional music such as "Near the Cross" and "Oh Jesus, I Have Promised" and contemporary selections including "Lamb of God" and "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross."

Narrators for the service will be Kathy Long and Robert Harris. Soloists include George Markley and Stacey Sheckler. The service will be led by Trinity's Sanctuary Choir and guest musicians, including 20 singers and professional musicians on piano, cello, oboe, flute and French horn.

"Our musicians are from as close as Lehighton to the Lehigh Valley and New York City," said Lovejoy.

She noted that the service and performance will also be chance to hear a high-quality performance without leaving the area.

"It's a good opportunity to hear musicians, both local musicians and from out of the area," she said. "These are good quality musicians."

A freewill offering will be taken during the service to benefit the Trinity Food Pantry, which provides food to needy families living in the Lehighton Area School District.