Saturday of Lazarus

Yesterday we saw the final service of the Lenten season for the Orthodox, well almost the last service Palm Sunday is th e bridge between the two so I guess you could say it was the last. This is the Saturday that we recall the rasing of Lazarus. One of my favorite Gospel passages is read at this liturgy with the most amazing verse of all, “and Jesus wept” This shows his humanity and although he knew he was going to raise his friend from death he still wept for him I find this a truly amazing thing and will be the center piece of my sermon today.

Here is a little snipit from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese website on the Saturday of Lazarus:

According to an ancient tradition, it is said that Lazarus was thirty years old when the Lord raised him; then he lived another thirty years on Cyprus and there reposed in the Lord. It is furthermore related that after he was raised from the dead, he never laughed till the end of his life, but that once only, when he saw someone stealing a clay vessel, he smiled and said, “Clay stealing clay.” His grave is situated in the city of Kition, having the inscription: “Lazarus the four days dead and friend of Christ.” In 890 his sacred relics were transferred to Constantinople by Emperor Leo the Wise, at which time undoubtedly the Emperor composed his stichera for Vespers, “Wishing to behold the tomb of Lazarus . . .”

Brother of Mary and Martha and friend of Jesus we recall his raising from the dead. The troparion of the feast tells the entire story. Again from the GoArch Website:

O Christ our God, before Your Passion, You raised Lazarus from the dead to confirm the common Resurrection for all. Therefore, we carry the symbols of victory as did the youths, and we cry out to You, the victor over death, “Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. “

… to confirm the common resurrection of all. … we carry sysmbols of victory… Much of our theology is contained in this little verse that unfortunatly almost no one heard yesterday as the church was mostly empty. Could you not wait an hour with me?

Lazarus is symbolic of all of us and, as the troparion says, the common resurreciton of us all. The difference between the raising of Lazarus and that of Christ is very interesting. When Lazarus came forth from the tomb his head was still wrapped and for Christ is head wrapping was left behind. Lazarus remained covered because he was to die again. Not so for Christ as he will be raised of all of us.

Easter blessing to my family and friends of the Western Tradition and please pray for us as we enter the holiest of weeks on the church calendar. Pray also that one day we may truly be as the Creed states, “One”

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