Today was Lazarus Saturday, which has something of the flavor of Pascha, because when Christ raised Lazarus he showed that He had power over death. And eleven people were baptized this morning before the festal Divine Liturgy! That is a lot of joy right there, flowing from “the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead.” We had a reception lunch for them, and afterward, no one wanted to go home. The afterglow was clinging to us who rejoiced with the new members, and we also experienced some of the joy of our own baptisms, whether we were able to remember them or not.
The night before, because I was sponsor for one of the catechumens, I attended their last class. Our rector urged the eleven who would the next day be Newly Illumined to forget about social media for Holy Week and Bright Week, and give themselves to accompanying Christ to the Cross by means of the church services. I am trying to do that, too…
But – oops – I looked at Facebook just now, and saw this status from Father Stephen Freeman (from Tennessee):
“It is said that Christ used Lazarus’ name when He raised him from the dead. Had He just said, ‘Come forth!’ everyone in their graves would have come forth.
“St. Paul writes that on the Last Day, Christ will descend from heaven with a shout! I suppose it will be a general, ‘Come forth!’ Sometimes I think it might be, ‘Ya’ll come forth!’ or the Aramaic equivalent.
“That great gettin’ up good morning!”
This evening we had moved on to Vigil for Palm Sunday, and blessing of palm branches. While some of us had been sitting and chatting this afternoon in warmth and light, other dear parishioners had been using the energy from their dose of grace to decorate the church.
“Today the grace of the Holy Spirit has assembled us.” That was one of the lines that I heard a lot at tonight’s service, and then, when the candle chandeliers that had been festooned with palm branches were set swinging, and I was standing under one of them, we sang the long Psalm hymn, “His mercy endureth forever.” Truly.
Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the LORD!