Tonight was the service of Matins for Lazarus Saturday. It made me so happy. About a week before Pascha we experience this foretaste of Paschal joy, witnessing the raising of Lazarus after he had lain in the tomb for four days. But first, picture the scene when Jesus came into town: Lazarus’s sisters were grieving and seemed to blame Jesus for their brother’s death, saying, “If you had been here, he wouldn’t have died.” Jesus wept. The sisters made mention of the fact that their brother’s corpse was at the point of stinking. It was kind of a downer all around.
I know Lent is a time of drawing close to God, and learning of His tender love for us, and looking eagerly toward The Resurrection. But it’s also characterized as a time of bright sadness. This year I have felt the sadness part more than the bright part, as a burden-bearing, until these last few days.
Since December I’d had bright white lights still up around my kitchen window, and for many weeks I left them on night and day, to help my mood. Sometime in March I unplugged the string, but I was still reluctant to untape and untack them. I pondered leaving them all year, unlit but ready to come to my aid with the next dreary day in the Fall, but it was an idea stemming wholly from weariness.
Suddenly one morning during a short spell of sunshine, I knew I needed to wash the window and the sill, so of course the lights could not stay there. I washed and swept and scrubbed all kinds of things around the house and the yard for two or three days, and prepared myself to be resurrected. I took away the candlesticks and put fresh flowers instead on the windowsill.
And the brightness has taken over. Pascha is so late this year, Spring also in many places, but Lent seems to have passed quickly. Perhaps during Holy Week I can finish my housecleaning and make the place look properly freshened up for Christ’s glorious Resurrection.
But first Lazarus will walk — alive! — out of the tomb and be unbound. If he can be raised after his body was rotting, so can I be relieved of my burdens and my stinking sins and put on Christ. As he said,
Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.
I will try to pay attention and learn and find that rest through the next week as we are on our way to Calvary, and I’m really looking forward to being there at the empty tomb!