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 five small children: Lydia, Paul, Silas, Philip, and Sarah. Presvytera Alexandra grew up attending Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Asheville, North Carolina with her nine siblings.
Children of Light
Have you ever done something wrong—something that you didn’t want anybody to know about? When we do that kind of thing, we might try to cover it up. We try to hide it, so nobody ever knows. Let’s say you break a dish or tear a book—you might try to hide it in a dark place where nobody can see it. But when we do something right, we want to show everybody! We bring it out into the light so everybody can see it. In the Epistle reading today, we hear about light and darkness. “Live as children of light— for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true. Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord.” Lots of times, we make mistakes. We say things we shouldn’t. We do things we shouldn’t. Let’s always remember—we are children of light! We are children of our good and loving God. Sometimes we can catch ourselves before we do the wrong thing—before we say something mean to a classmate or to our brother or sister. You can think to yourself, “I am a child of light!” and then, our Lord will show us the right way.
Saint John from Damascus, Syria
Do you listen to the news? Even if you listen just a little bit, you have heard about Damascus, in the country of Syria. Christians have lived in Syria for many, many years. Saint Peter even told the people there about the Good News of Jesus Christ! On Friday, we will celebrate the feastday of a saint from Damascus, in Syria. Saint John lived 1300 years ago. He was a super smart boy who was interested in all kinds of things. He followed his father, and became kind of like a judge. At that time, the emperor made a law against icons. He made it illegal to have icons in public places. Saint John knew this was wrong, and he knew he had to say something!
Saint John knew icons were a part of the Christian faith, so he wrote something to show the emperor why he was wrong. The emperor, of course, did not like this and punished Saint John by cutting off his hand. But in a miracle, God restored his hand so he could finish his work.
Saint John went on to write lots of hymns that we still use in our church today—especially around Easter, Christmas, and even at funerals. Let’s pray to Saint John—He can ask God to bring peace to Damascus and Syria and the Middle East.
We celebrate St. John from Damascus on Friday, December 4th.
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The Orthodox Christian Network (OCN) is an official agency of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops. OCN offers videos, podcasts, blogs and music, to enhance Orthodox Christian life. The Children’s Word is a weekly Sunday bulletin created by Presvytera Alexandra (Gilman) Houck for Orthodox Christian young people. Each issue includes a message on the Sunday Gospel lesson and on one of the saints for the week. You’ll also find a coloring page and other activities. It is designed for an 8.5 x 14 page, and it can be downloaded and printed.
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