October 17: Hosting a Little Party in Honor of St. Lazarus, of Four Days Dead
We all remember the story of Lazarus who was raised from the dead after four long days spent in his tomb. Lazarus was a very well-known man in Bethany, and there must have been many guests at the funeral and many mourners with his sisters at the cemetery garden when Jesus came there to perform this miracle. What a spectacle it must have been! My children and I used to have fun re-enacting what it must have been like for his mourners and family to witness his rising from the tomb. How often does someone see a man, especially one who had been dead for four days, wake up and come back to life? I’m sure they all RAN home (at top speed…I know I would if I saw someone come out of a tomb!) And I’m sure they told absolutely everyone they met about what Jesus had just done. People were so impressed by this miracle, that they all resolved that Jesus should be their king. They would meet Him as He entered the city for Passover! They began setting to work, organizing their friends to line the streets to meet Him, and collecting palm branches and olive branches to wave at Him. This angered the Pharisees very much, to the point that, even after Jesus had resurrected and ascended to Heaven, some of them even wanted to see Lazarus to be killed as well! He was a powerful reminder of the might of Jesus and the Pharisees were very jealous of the power that they held over the Jewish people. Lazarus, however, never wavered in his love for Jesus and sought to help the disciples carry on His Church. He fled to Cypress where the apostles made Lazarus a Bishop. He lived, served, taught, and eventually died there (for the second time) and was buried. Legend tells us that he was never the same after having endured such a profound state. He rarely spoke, and even more rarely did he laugh.
In the ninth century, his remains were discovered and identified, and on October 17, 898AD they were translated, meaning they were moved, to Constantinople where a church was built to house them, and dedicated and named for St. Lazarus.
With the secular Halloween season upon us, its a perfect time for us to remember our friend Lazarus by having a little Lazarus Party! First we can make up a batch of our favorite bread dough and make some special Lazarus Sweet Rolls. They're shaped like mummies and are decorated with a white "winding sheet glaze" and are a yummy way to help us commemorate his feast day!
To make the Dough:
1 package of dry yeast 2 cups warm water (about 100 degrees)
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp salt
1/2 cup coconut (or other) oil, melted (optional)
5-7 cups of flour
Add the warm water to the yeast and sugar in a large mixing bowl and allow it to sit 10 minutes or so until the yeast begins to bubble (proof). Add the salt and oil, and then the flour, mixing in the last cup or so only if necessary, to make a workable dough. Knead 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Cover with plastic wrap and allow the dough to sit in a warm place until doubled in bulk, (about an hour). Once our dough has risen and doubled, we can roll it out and use a gingerbread-man cookie cutter to make little Lazarus. Give him two raisin eyes, then place him on a greased baking sheet and cover him with a clean white cloth...poor fellow. It is time to mourn the death of our friend, Lazarus.
While he’s laid out (in a warm place) you can read the bible story, so we know exactly what has happened to Jesus’ best friend. (See: John 11:1-45)
How would you feel if you were standing in the cemetery and had just seen someone call out a man who was buried there for four days? What would you do? Well, first I would probably run until I couldn’t run anymore! But then, I would think about what I just saw. No wonder they wanted to make him a king! What power! What influence! They all shouted and waved and welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem as a triumphant king! All but the Pharisees...THEY wanted the influence! THEY had the power! And to them, Jesus only got in their way. After the story, you can place our poor friend Lazarus in the tomb...I mean, the oven...and bake at about 375 degrees, for about 12-15 minutes or so, just until he's risen (and slightly golden brown!). When the timer goes off and he's done, the children may imitate Our Lord and shout, “Lazarus, Come forth!”, before you open the oven door....they always love to do that. Once the Lazarus Buns are completely cooled, you can mix up his winding sheet glaze.
To make the Winding Sheet Glaze:
In a medium mixing bowl, combine: 1 cup powdered sugar a dash of vanilla or almond flavoring water Add one Tbsp of water at a time, to make a glaze of a “white glue” consistency. Spoon it into a plastic bag. Cut the tip off the bag and then pipe on his winding sheet, making sure not to cover his eyes
While you wait for these treats to cool, you can play the Lazarus Winding Sheet Game!
Have the children pair up into teams of two. One will be Lazarus, and the other will cover him as fast and completely as he can in his winding sheet of bathroom tisssue! Start the clock! The first to wrap him up completely wins! Here are my two sons, several years ago, playing this game at our parish's All Saints Day party. (...they won!)