Eve of Lazarus Saturday
Little Compline & Great Canon of Lazarus 6PM
Lazarus Saturday (3/31)
Divine Liturgy 9:30AM
Immediately following the Divine Services on Saturday, we will gather together in the conference room for bagels, coffee, and the traditional making of “Palm Crosses” for the feast of our Lord’s Entry into Jerusalem (Palm Sunday – 4/1). These crosses are traditionally taken home after service on Palm Sunday and kept in ones prayer corner until the following year.
Lazarus Saturday is the day before Palm Sunday (the feast of Christ‘s triumphal entry into Jerusalem). This Saturday and Sunday are the connection between Great Lent and Holy Week. On the eve of the celebration of the Resurrection of Lazarus, the forty days of Great Lent are formally brought to an end at Vespers. These two days are the unique and paradoxical days before the Lord’s Passion.
Lazarus Saturday is a paschal celebration. The liturgy of Lazarus Saturday glorifies Christ as the Resurrection and the Life who, by raising Lazarus, has confirmed the universal resurrection of mankind, even before his own suffering and death. This liturgy is the only time in the Church year that the resurrectional service of Sunday is celebrated on another day. As such, one does not kneel during time of the consecration of the Holy gifts.
Lazarus Saturday was once among the few great baptismal days in the ecclesiastical year. At the Divine Liturgy of Lazarus Saturday the baptismal verse from Galatians: As many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ (Galatians 3:27) replaces the Thrice-Holy Hymn.
Because of the resurrection of Lazarus from his four-day-long death, Christ was hailed as the long-expected messiah, the King of Israel.
In fulfillment of the prophecies of the Old Testament, he entered Jerusalem, the city of the king, riding on the colt of an ass (Zech 9:9; John 12:12). Crowds greeted him. They had branches in their hands and called out to him with shouts of praise: Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! The Son of David! The King of Israel! Because of this glorification by the people, the priests and scribes were finally driven to destroy him, to put him to death (Luke 19:47; John 11:53, 12:10).
On this day in the Holy Orthodox Church, the Saturday before Palm Sunday, we celebrate the resurrection of the friend of Christ, the holy and just Lazarus, who was dead four days.
Thou mournest, O Jesus: this is of mortal nature;
Thou quickenest Thy friend: this is of divine power.
Lazarus was beloved of Jesus, as also were his two sisters, Martha and Mary, who were frequent hosts of Jesus, and who served Him much, as evidenced in the Holy Gospels. They lived in the town of Bethany of Judea, just two miles away from Jerusalem. Our Savior summoned His Disciples to go with Him to wake Lazarus from the deep sleep of death. Jesus reached Bethany four days after Lazarus died and was buried. He was aware of the approaching death of Lazarus but deliberately delayed His coming, saying to His disciples at the news of His friend’s death: “For your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe” (John 11:14). After comforting Martha and Mary, and mourning and weeping at the death of His friend (John 11:35), Jesus went to the tomb and commanded Lazarus to “come forth.” Lazarus emerged, wrapped in grave clothes. Through all of this, our Savior shows His humanity and His divinity in that He will raise the dead as He will raise Himself in the coming days, thus confirming the “universal resurrection.” Ancient accounts relate that Lazarus was 30 years old when Jesus raised him, and he lived another 30 years and died in Cyprus in the year 63.
By the intercessions of Thy friend, Lazarus, O Christ God, have mercy on us. Amen.