A Triumphant Weekend Remembered - My First Lazarus Saturday & Palm Sunday

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This weekend is an interesting time in the Orthodox Church's liturgical calendar; we are in a time between Great Lent and Holy Week, and this time is a triumphant joy for us. We celebrate two days called Lazarus Saturday and Palm Sunday. I know many Western Christians celebrate Palm Sunday (I remember our little Assemblies of God church giving all of the kids palms to wave in the air as our pastor would talk about Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem), but Lazarus Saturday doesn't exist in the West.

I remember my first Lazarus Saturday. I was a Catechumen at St. Antony's in Tulsa, preparing to be received into the Orthodox Church through Chrismation on Holy Saturday (the Saturday before Pascha/Easter). I had been attending the parish for a while, loved Orthodoxy and knew I wanted to be a part of the Church. But the beauty of the liturgical year was still something fresh and new to me. My friend Dennis had a connection to Lazarus Saturday (though I can't quite remember what that connection was), and got Christmated as Gregory that day. So I got up early and went to the, it was a Saturday morning and I was in college so it probably wasn't that early - maybe 9:00 am. I went in and everything was still the Lenten purple, but the lights in the parish were really bright and there were several people there. Don't get me wrong, of course I was familiar with the story of Lazarus in Bethany, with Mary and Martha mourning the sadness of his death and the confession of faith from Martha, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died...But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.”" (John 11:21-22 ESV). I remembered well that the loss of Lazarus was the one occasion in which the Gospels recor...

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...h His eternal reign, after His self-emptying Crucifixion and soul-saving Resurrection. The Prophet Zechariah was speaking about this feast when he said, "Fear not, О daughter of Zion; behold, your King is coming, sitting on an ass's colt" (Zech. 9:9). And the Holy Prophet David spoke about the children, saying, "Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings. You have perfected praise" (Ps. 8:2). When Christ entered Jerusalem, all the city was in an uproar. In retaliation, the wicked Jewish High Priests instigated the crowds to kill Him. But Jesus evaded them, both hiding and then appearing, speaking to them in parables.[/box]

Further Readings Lazarus Saturday and Palm Sunday

What happened to Lazarus after he was raised?

Lazarus Saturday posts on Fr. Ted's Blog

The Strange Case for Lazarus by Fr. Stephen Freeman

Great Palm Sunday Podcast from Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick
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