Lazarus Saturday: An Appropriate Beginning to Holy Week

In a matter of days, we will be celebrating Lazarus Saturday. What a perfect introduction to Holy Week, and what a glorious way for our Lord to reassure his followers of His power that even conquers death. It was, in a sense a “spoiler alert” of what was to happen in the days ahead!

Lazarus Saturday is the only time in the church year that the resurrectional Divine Liturgy is celebrated on a day other than Sunday. It makes sense: after all, on Lazarus Saturday, Christ raised His very dead friend Lazarus from the dead, a precursor of his own death and resurrection! His raising Lazarus demonstrated Christ’s power over death, giving His followers a reason to hope during the events of the week ahead of them.

Let us make it a priority to attend the Lazarus Saturday Divine Liturgy with our children. What a beautiful way for our families to begin Holy Week, with the joy and hope of a resurrection pointing us all to the hope and joy of our Lord’s resurrection (and, God willing, one day, our own resurrection), to come! It does mean attending Divine Liturgy two days in a row, however… (Molly Sabourin blogs about that challenge, along with why it’s worth meeting that challenge, at http://www.antiochian.org/node/25669.)

Here are a few resources that we can use with our children to better prepare for this special celebration:

A brief description of the feast/the icon of the feast, along with suggested ideas to enhance family participation can be found at  http://www.theologic.com/oflweb/feasts/lazsat.htm.

We can re-enact the story as a family, complete with a toilet-paper-wrapped “Lazarus,” and discuss the significance of the event as suggested at http://orthodoxeducation.blogspot.com/2012/03/lazarus-arise.html.

We may read about (and watch a few short videos about) Greek traditions for Lazarus Saturday at http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2011/04/greek-traditions-for-saturday-of.html. We may be inspired to bake “Lazarus Bread” as Matushka Constantina did, and wrote about at http://lessonsfromamonastery.wordpress.com/2013/04/27/lazarus-saturday-baking-lazarakia/.

We can read through the song “Rejoice O Bethany” as a family, making sure that our children understand the words as much as possible. It tells the story so well! Practice singing the song: at least the first (and again, last) verse, so that our children can sing along. Listen to the song here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rju5GyVtfnQ

Best of all, let us all attend the Lazarus Saturday Divine Liturgy, and participate in the service. It sets the atmosphere for Holy Week and prepares our hearts for what lies ahead. Holy Week is a beautiful journey, and Lazarus Saturday is the appropriate first step.

O Christ God, when Thou didst raise Lazarus from the dead, before Thy Passion, thou didst confirm the universal resurrection. Wherefore, we, like babes, carry the insignia of triumph and victory, and cry to Thee, O vanquisher of death, Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he that cometh in the Name of the Lord. ~ Orthros Troparion for Lazarus Saturday

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