I enjoy learning about different cultures and traditions through baking bread. Today I baked Lazarakia (“Little Lazaruses”) shaped to resemble men wrapped in burial cloths. These buns use spices such as mahlepi (the ground pit of a sour cherry), Greek masticha (a resin gathered from the Mediterranean mastic tree), and cloves for eyes. In order to maintain rules of the Lenten fast, no eggs or dairy products are used. Orthodox Christians eat this bread on Lazarus Saturday – today – to celebrate the miracle of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.
In the Gospel of John, where the Lazarus account is found, Jesus’ miracle of bringing Lazarus back to life and his later return to Bethany to visit Lazarus and his sisters are the last recorded events before the Lord’s journey to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday and his subsequent arrest and crucifixion. In commemorating the miracle of Lazarus on the day before Holy Week begins, the Orthodox calendar reminds us that this “first Easter,” as Lazarus’ resurrection is sometimes called, foreshadows the miracle to come, giving us a foretaste of Easter joy that can carry us through Holy Week. ~Beth Bevis
If you’re dying to try Lazarakia, come to the choir room between services on Sunday. The choir members may let you sample one, but be prepared to sing with us!
Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.” – John 11:25-26