Presvytera Alexandra Houck created The Children's Word bulletin so children will know they are not only welcome in church, but even more, an essential part of the Church family. She hopes the weekly bulletin will be just one more way we can make kids feel at home in church. Presvytera Alexandra is a graduate of Duke University and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. Her husband, Fr. Jason Houck, is a priest at St. Mary's Greek Orthodox Church in Minneapolis, MN. Presvytera Alexandra and Fr. Jason have three small children: Lydia, Paul, and Silas. Presvytera Alexandra grew up attending Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Asheville, North Carolina with her nine siblings.
Imagine your parents telling you to clean up your room. What would you do? Would you put everything back into its right spot? Would you hang up your clothes and put your toys away? Or…would you think about hiding the mess? You could stuff your things in the closet so your room would look good on the outside…and maybe your parents wouldn’t even notice!
In today’s Gospel reading, we hear a story about two men who were doing a different kind of cleaning—cleaning the heart and soul! These two men went to go pray. One of them tried to show off, telling God all the great things he had done. The other one asked God, “Be merciful to me, a sinner!”
Now, which one of these two men do you think was really trying to clean his heart? Which one really wanted to be right with God? The second one, right? This one was honest with God. The first man wasn’t really cleaning his heart. He just wanted to look good on the outside…and maybe he thought other people (or even God!) wouldn’t notice.
Let’s remember: God always notices how we pray. When we pray like the humble man in the story, then we’re really cleaning our hearts…not just hiding it in the closet!
WAITING, WAITING, WAITING: The Presentation of our Lord into the Temple
Sometimes it’s hard to wait, isn’t it? Waiting for your birthday, waiting for a friend to come over, waiting for school to get out, waiting for dinner to be ready.
We’re always waiting for something. But imagine waiting for something bigger. Imagine waiting for heaven to open. Imagine waiting for Christ to be born. Imagine waiting for somebody to save the world!
This Friday, we celebrate one of the 12 Great Feasts of our Orthodox Church. We will celebrate the Presentation of our Lord into the Temple. When baby Jesus was still a baby, only 40 days old, His parents took Him to the Temple for the first time. The elder there was named Simeon, and he was very old. He was waiting. Waiting for the Savior. All his life he had been waiting.
When he saw baby Jesus and when he held Him in his arms, he said, “Lord, now let your servant depart in peace for my eyes have seen your salvation.” After all these years of waiting, Simeon knew that he could die in peace. He had finally seen the Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ! Let’s thank God again that He sent His Son to us!
We celebrate this great feastday on Friday, February 2nd (Feb. 15 OC).
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