Join us for a special day for children as we commemorate Lazarus Saturday (Vrbica Day) with Divine Liturgy and Holy Communion for children beginning at 10:00 a.m. and Confession beginning as early as 9:00 a.m. Saturday, April 8 at St. Sava Church in Merrillville. Services will include a mini-concert by the Children’s Choir of St. Sava.

Palm Sunday Services begin Sunday, April 9 at 10:00 a.m. with Confession beginning as early as 9:00 a.m.

This weekend marks the beginning of Holy Week with special services taking place daily. A complete list of services is available in the schedule below.

About Lazarus Saturday and Palm Sunday

Lazarus Saturday is the first day of the Great and Holy Week. On this day we commemorate Jesus raising his friend, Lazarus, from the dead. Lazarus Saturday is a paschal celebration, and is a preview of the Resurrection that we will celebrate one week later. At the Liturgy for this day, Christ is glorified as the Resurrection and the Life, and the baptismal verse “All you who have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ” replaces the Thrice Holy Hymn.  By raising Lazarus, Christ has confirmed that we all will one day be resurrected.

To gather pussywillows we walk in a festive procession on Lazarus Saturday. Coming back is particularly solemn. The clergy in their festive Garb are followed by festively dressed school children. They sing while they walk to the accompaniment of church bells. From the voices of innocent children who carry their willow twigs as a symbol of Christ’s victory reverberates, “HOSANNA…!” it is customary that each child is given a small bell which is rung during the procession thus proclaiming the Solemn Entry of our Lord into Jerusalem.

The picture remains indelible in the minds of children and continues into their later years. This is where the beauty of Orthodoxy is presented to them; this is where true dogmatic beliefs penetrate their souls to grasp resurrection from death. The beautiful holiday Troparion convinces them as well as nature which rested all winter and emerges to show itself stronger and more luxuriant.

Palm Sunday is the holiday which commemorates the solemn entry of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ into Jerusalem six days before the Passover (Matt. 12:1-12).

As Jesus neared the Mount of Olives, He sat on an ass and entered into the Holy City. Throngs of inspired people greeted Him as their King, singing and strewing their garments and green branches in His path as He rode. The crowds followed Him, carrying Palms in their hands and crying, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”

In remembrance of that event the first Christians established the holiday, Palm Sunday. With the celebration of Palm Sunday the custom to bless palm branches was established to celebrate Christ’s victory.

Even prior to the Christian era Palms were awarded as a sign of victory.  Palms, always green, are said by old beliefs, grown out of their ashes. It signifies the glory of a victor who deserves an immortal name.

Heroes were greeted and decorated with palms. Therefore, the people greeted the Savior with palms because nothing could have dissuaded His voluntary sufferings: no Gethsemane horrors, no injustice of Judean courts, no insidious leaders, not even His mother’s love nor Golgotha’s horrible sufferings.

In pictures, palms in the hands of angels or saints represent their victory over the earth and remind us of a beautiful place in Revelations, “Then I saw many people of all languages, generations and races standing before the throne and lamb, dressed in white garb, and palms in their hands.”

The word “palma” according to the Greek fine interpretation was a phoenix with which Christ was met, or in a wider interpretation may mean a bud or a shoot.

In regions where there are no palms, a willow is blessed because it is the first one to become green after winter. It reminds us of a general resurrection. Our presence at the church service with green willows in our hand witnesses our belief in Christ victory over death.

Holy Week Schedule of Services

LAZARUS SATURDAY LAZARUS SATURDAY – APRIL 8th 2017

  • Confession at 9:00; Divine Liturgy at 10:00 – VRBICA
  • Holy Communion for children

PALM SUNDAY PALM SUNDAY – APRIL 9th 2017

  • Confession at 9:00; Divine Liturgy at 10:00AM

HOLY WEDNESDAY HOLY WEDNESDAY – APRIL 12th 2017

  • Presanctified Divine Liturgy at 9:00AM
  • Holy Unction Service: St. George Church East Chicago – 6:00PM

HOLY THURSDAY HOLY THURSDAY – APRIL 13th 2017

  • Divine Liturgy at 9:00AM
  • The Great Vigil: Reading of 12 Passion Gospels at 6:00PM

HOLY FRIDAY HOLY FRIDAY – APRIL 14th 2017

  • Morning Service / Hours at 10:00AM
  • Vespers with laying of Holy Shroud and Funeral Service at 6:00PM

HOLY SATURDAY HOLY SATURDAY – APRIL 15th 2017

  • Divine Liturgy at 9:00AM
  • Resurrection Matins at 11:30PM

PASCHA – APRIL 16th 2017

  • Divine Liturgy at 10:00AM

EASTER MONDAY EASTER MONDAY – APRIL 17th 2017

  • Divine Liturgy at 9:00AM

EASTER TUESDAY EASTER TUESDAY – APRIL 18th 2017

  • Divine Liturgy at 9:00AM

SUNDAY – APRIL 23rd 2017

  • Divine Liturgy at 10:00AM