Saturday, March 27, 2010

Lazarus Saturday

Lent is over.  Where did it go?  It seems like this season has just flown by.  It is a bittersweet passing.  I feel excited on the one hand that the big day of celebration is almost here.  On the other hand, I feel like there is so much more I could have done with this Lenten journey.  So many opportunities I missed.  Missed time to pray.  Missed time to repent.

Holy Week begins.  It stands apart from the rest of Lent in its own time and space.  Holy Week is like a different world, a parallel life to the hustle and bustle around us.  Time seems to stop its chaotic churning and matches its step to the rhythmic flow of the services.  There's a slowness.  A purposefulness.  Everything comes together to march on...on to Pascha.

I decided to try my hand at Lazarakia this year.  These spiced breads in the shape of Lazarus in his grave clothes are just the cutest thing ever!  We had fun making them last night to bring to church to share this morning.

They turned out pretty good.  I think they'll be even better when I tweak some things for next year.

We had a baptism at this morning's Liturgy.  The sweet baby girl had absolutely no desire to be there.  She didn't like the people smiling and cooing at her.  She didn't like the cold.  She especially despised the priest!  Father can be encouraged, though.  It seemed to me like she didn't like anyone in a cassock.  Even the altar boys.  Men in dresses just don't sit well with her.  Makes sense I guess.  Of course, I must include the gratuitous naked baby shot.

As we sang "As many as have been baptized into Christ", I found myself making that mental switch to Holy Week.  It's so easy to get caught up in the fast of fasting.  To get distracted by the food.  But just how many times can I remind myself that it isn't about the food???  This baptism is what it's all about.  Dying with Christ.  Bathed in the water.  Rising again.  Lent is just a drop in the bucket.  A moment in an eternity of preparation.  It's all been building up to this.  Not just for the last forty days.  But since the beginning.  God's been preparing this moment for us.  The moment of our salvation that we enter in the Resurrection.  Life and death.  Time and eternity.  Love...boundless love.  How shallow and simpleminded I am when I just make it about the food!!!!

It's going to be a long week.  Full of so many services, it will begin to feel like we moved into the church building to stay.  What a comfort it will be to be able to do that.  To get lost in Holy Week time.  I'm ready!

After Liturgy, we decorated the church with palms.  We tied palm branches with bells for everyone who will come to the service tomorrow.  We'll wave them with gusto during the entire service.  The green was lovely to see.  Especially with the cold snap and snow we've had this week, I was beginning to forget that spring actually officially began.  The green looks and smells of life.  The whole church glowed with a new warmth and vibrancy.

It looked like a jungle with all the branches awaiting their blessing for tomorrow's festivities.  In addition to the large branches, we wove small crosses out of palms for people to take home and put on their icons.  I don't know how Jared did it, but he managed to weave the tiniest crosses I've ever seen.  We're using one of them for a figure in the learning box for Palm Sunday.  (Pictures of the latest boxes to come tomorrow!)
I feel like I keep saying this lately, but I wish more people knew what they were missing when they miss this service.  In Orthodoxy, we love to prepare.  In fact, we even love to prepare to prepare.  Lazarus Saturday gets us ready and motivated for Holy Week.  A resurrection on the way to the Resurrection.  It's going to get dark very soon.  Will I be like Martha and be short-sighted?  Will I worry about the stench...the stench of my own death?  Will I pay attention enough to hear Christ when he tells me to come forth like Lazarus?  Will I believe Him when He says, "I am the Resurrection and the life."?  Will I wiggle and hop my way out of the grave, tightly bound in cloths, struggling to break free?  Will I? 

Christ is the resurrection.  Christ is life.  Oh that I not stay in the grave! 

1 comment:

  1. I like your comment about wishing people knew what they were missing if they miss a service. Friends of ours are in vegas. It's holy week. I'm trying not to be judgemental, but i feel bad for them and also afraid. I guess to some, easter is just on sunday? It's been a rough road these last 40 days for us. I enjoy your blog very much and I learn so much. Thank you.