Lent has begun and I’m sure you’re thinking about activities you can do with your children or Church School students. I know I am! Every year we have a Lazarus Saturday event at the church for the kids and I wondered if others might do the same thing. Here are a few engaging activities you might want to try at home or in your classroom.
Fun Facts about St. Lazarus
Lazarus was 33 when Jesus raised him from the dead. This occured near the Mount of Olives. There is a mosque, a Catholic Church and a Greek Orthodox Church near his 1st tomb. Click here for images of the tomb.
Some time after Jesus’s Resurrection, Lazarus was forced to flee Judea. There were rumors going around that there were people who wanted to murder him. He fled to Cyprus where he lived for over 30 years. While there St. Paul appointed him the first bishop of Kition, which is now called Larnaka. This is where he was buried for the second time.
St. Lazarus missed the Theotokos and sent a ship to bring her to Cyprus to visit him. She brought him a gift – a bishop’s omophorion that she wove herself.
HIs feast day is October 17th.
According to tradition, Lazarus was not found to smile after his Resurrection, because of the sight of the unredeemed souls he saw during his 4 days in Hell.
In 890 they found his tomb with the inscription “Lazarus 4 days dead and friend of Christ” and the remains were transferred to Constantinople in 898.
With every activity I create, I try to have children’s books to accompany them. I recently found this amazing book called, “Goodbye to Goodbyes: A True Story about Jesus, Lazarus, and an Empty Tomb” by Lauren Chandler and illustrated by Catalina Echeverri. The story goes through the events surrounding Lazarus’ death and combing back to life. It relates Lazarus’ death to Jesus’ death that would soon happen. Jesus had to say goodbye, died and will walk out of the tomb alive to heaven. At the end of the story it relates these ideas to kids saying goodbyes that might be short or long. But just because a person dies does not mean it is a forever goodbye, because we will see them again in heaven. Jesus came to end forever goodbyes.
Most children’s bibles will have the story of Lazarus in it, if you want your child to read it. If you want to find it in your bible, it can be found in John 11.
If you listen to a contemporary Christian music station, I’m sure you’ve heard a song by Cain called, “Rise Up (Lazarus).” This song is fun, upbeat and just a warning – the tune is so catchy, it might get stuck in your head! 🙂 The song is about how Lazarus was dead and in the tomb. Then Jesus called to him to rise up. The song invites the listener to Rise Up like Lazarus when Jesus calls you. Jesus is inviting you to have a new life in Him.
“Come on and rise up
Take a breath, you’re alive now
Can’t you hear the voice of Jesus calling us
Out from the grave like Lazarus
You’re brand new
The power of death couldn’t hold you
Can’t you hear the voice of Jesus calling us
Out from the grave like Lazarus.”
During the refrain they sing the phrase, “rise up,” many times. Have your children put their hands down by their feet and raise them up to the ceiling whenever they hear the words, “rise up.” When there are hand motions to a song, it helps children remember concepts. My hope is that it will help them associate Lazarus with getting up and out of the grave.
Make Your Own Lazarus that Comes Out of the Tomb
There are a lot of activities to make your own St. Lazarus where one side of the paper is Lazarus dead and you flip it over to see him awake. I wanted to do something a little different where kids could move Lazarus in a fun way. This craft also makes a really good visual if you are retelling the story to your kids or in front of the class. It also helps children remember the parts of the story when they retell a story and get to “act it out” with their creation.
1 paper plate
Print out of Lazarus & Jesus (see link below)
Brown construction paper or reuse some packing paper
Stapler and staples
2 magnets (I found some strong magnets in the craft aisle at Dollar Tree)
- Print out the image of Jesus and Lazarus and have your child color it.
- Cut out Lazarus and Jesus from the paper and set aside.
- Glue Jesus on the left side of the plate.
- Cut a big cave type rock out of the brown paper. You can glue it or staple it to the right side of the plate.
I also cut out an opening and then used that to cover the hole to show the rock that was placed in front of the tomb. In the story Jesus tells the guards to remove it. I stapled it on the one end so that I could fold it back to represent the moving of the stone.
4. Glue Jesus on the left side of the plate.
5. Glue a magnet on the backside of the chest area of St. Lazarus. You will make St. Lazarus move by putting the other magnet on the other side of the paper plate. As you move the magnet on the backside, Lazarus will move towards Christ.
Have your child retell the story.
- Lazarus died and they buried him. (Put Lazarus in the tomb and move the big stone to close it.)
- How many days did Lazarus stay in the tomb? (4 days)
- Jesus came and said, “Lazarus come out.” Lazarus was alive again and came out of the tomb. (Using the magnets, make it so that Lazarus is moved to a standing position and drag it towards Jesus to show him walking.)
I’m not a baker, but we make these with our church school on Lazarus Saturday and they love it! These are adorable. Click here for the recipe.
Resources about St. Lazarus
A 5 minute video about the life of St. Lazarus. It is an excellent supplement to any lesson about his life. In the video they talk about his relics and you get to see inside the church where he was buried for the 2nd and final time. Trisagion Films – The Life of Saint Lazarus, Friend of Christ
Information about Lazarus Saturday, including the story of Lazarus, an explanation of the icon, and the Troparion and Kontakion. Greek Orthodox Archdiocese
If you need to show your children or your class the icon of St. Lazarus, you can find a copy from the Department of Christian Education from the OCA.
Church of St. Lazarus in Cyprus – Official Website – This link will automatically show in Greek, but in the middle of the page you will see a Brittish flag. Click on it to view in English. You can see the church where Lazarus was buried for the final time. It is really neat to see the tomb and the church. If you click on the history tab, there is the history of his life with many interesting information! I love reading about the history of places we’ve heard about in church.
I hope you have enjoyed all of the activities to celebrate Lazarus Saturday!