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.
Have you ever gotten a message? A letter, a phone call, an email, a text message? Was it a good message, or was it something you didn’t want to hear? What did you think of the news you received?
Just this week, we will celebrate the great feastday of Theophany, when our Lord Jesus Christ was baptized by Saint John. Today in the Gospel, we hear a little bit about Saint John and the message he brought to all the people.
The Gospel tells us, “As it is written in the prophets, ‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who shall prepare your way; the voice of one crying in the wilderness: prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’” These words were written hundreds of years before Christ came to earth, but when we read these words, we know God’s plan!
God planned to send a messenger before our Lord, Jesus Christ, came. Do you know who that messenger is? It’s Saint John! Saint John was the messenger who brought the best message—the message that the Lord is coming!
This week, when we celebrate the wonderful feast, let’s remember God’s big plan, and His messenger, Saint John, who brought the news!
HOW DO WE CELEBRATE THEOPHANY?
Orthodox Christians celebrate Theophany on January 6th. On this day, we hold a special service called the “Blessing of the Waters.” If you go to church, you can drink a little of the holy water. The priest will give you a little bottle of holy water to take home with you, too. Along with this wonderful tradition in the church, here are some other ways that Orthodox Christians celebrate this great feast!
In Greece, Bulgaria, and Cyprus, the priest throws a cross into the water. Lots of people jump into the cold water. Whoever brings it back first is said to get a special blessing for the year.
In Romania, people compete in a big horse race! The priest blesses the horse riders with holy water, and then they are off! Afterwards, everyone celebrates the feast together.
In Russia, it is very cold in the winter. But that doesn’t stop people from jumping in icy water. In some places, people cut a hole in the ice in the shape of a cross. Then people jump in.
On Theophany, thousands and thousands of Orthodox Christians visit the place where Jesus was baptized. They go to the Jordan River, near the city of Jericho. Some people who want to be baptized do so on this holy day.
But the best way to celebrate is by going to church, thanking God for giving us the Holy Spirit and His Son, Jesus Christ!
We celebrate Holy Theophany on Saturday, January 6th (Jan, 19 OC).
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