When we look at the icon of Lazarus being raised from the dead, we see that the stone has been rolled away, the tomb has been opened and Lazarus is just starting to emerge; burial clothes and all. The gospel says that 'the dead man came out, his hands and feed bound with bandages, and his face wrapped with a cloth'. This scripture combined with seeing Lazarus in the icon gives you a sense that it is a bit of an awkward situation for Lazarus. By the divine power of Jesus, Lazarus has been brought back from death. Immediately after this incredible miracle, we have a very human moment of Lazarus hobbling out of the tomb. The image of awe and wonder from a person being resurrected is mixed with that same person hopping out of the tomb in a clunky and goofy manner must have been a unique sight indeed.
With this in mind we return to our present reality. We are just days away from Christ's resurrection, Pascha, the most incredible event in all human history that unlocks the path of salvation to all of us. And yet we are in the midst of a horrible pandemic that requires that we not gather and that we practice unfamiliar behaviors like social distancing. The reality is we WILL experience the resurrection of Christ, and there is no way to diminish or reduce that in any way. However, this will be an awkward Pascha for all of us; we won't get to participate in the Divine Liturgy together in person, receive the Light, break the fast together, or have our traditional Pascha celebrations as a community. My dear brothers and sisters, we are like Lazarus. We have been raised by Christ's resurrection but we will celebrate this joy, figuratively speaking, a bit clumsily, as we are still bound by the bandages of this pandemic. We will celebrate Pascha but through streaming services, we will experience the overwhelming joy of death being conquered but will sing 'Christ is Risen' in our homes, and we will break the fast together but from afar. Just like Lazarus, the tightly wrapped 'bandages' of the pandemic keep us home-bound and makes celebrating the Paschal beauty awkward and different than how we normally do, but it does not diminish the reality of Christ's resurrection. Day by day the bandages of this pandemic will be removed and one day we will be able to move about freely to come to Church, return to our normal lives, and be together with one another, just as Lazarus was reunited with his family and friends who loved him so much. Until then, let us not lose sight of the mystery of the resurrection of our Lord, stay connected best we can, and keep seeking Him through the trial upon us all.
Kalo Pascha my brothers and sister!