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.
When we hear a story, sometimes we think about how we fit into it, don’t we?
Today we hear the story of the Publican and the Pharisee. Do you remember it? Two men went to the temple to pray. One of them said, “God, I thank you that I am not like other people.” He went on to compare himself to other people, other sinners. He told God all the great things he did. But the other man would not even look up, and just said, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!”
When we hear this story, we think about how we fit into it. You can ask yourself: Which way do I pray? Do I tell God all the great things I have done? Do I compare myself to the bad kids at school, and remind God that I’m not like them? OR do I tell God that I make mistakes? Do I ask Him to help me with my problems?
Which way do YOU pray?
Just think: the two men came to the same temple. They came to talk to the same God. But how different they were! Remember, God wants all of us to talk to Him, to pray to Him. But let’s follow the example of the humble man. “God be merciful to me, a sinner!”
THE SAINT OF THE PRISONS: SAINT VALERIU GAFENCU, OF ROMANIA
Have you ever tried to copy somebody? Maybe you’ve tried to be like an older brother or sister. Or maybe you try to imitate somebody on TV, like a sports star or an actress. When we see something we like about somebody, we might try to be like him or her!
God wants us to copy somebody too. You know who, don’t you? His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ! We read about how Jesus acted, and we want to try to copy Him, to be like Him!
Today we remember a saint who really tried to copy our Lord, to be like Him. Saint Valeriu was born less than 100 years ago, in Romania. At that time, the country of Romania was being taken over by leaders who hated the Christian Church. When Valeriu was a teenager, he was part of a group for Christian young people. That might sound okay to us, but to the cruel people in power, it wasn’t okay. In fact, Valeriu was sent to prison—for 25 years!
So that’s where this young man went…to spend the rest of his life in prison. But even in prison, Valeriu tried to imitate our Lord, Jesus Christ. He was kind to other prisoners. He prayed with them and told them about God’s love for them. Once, Valeriu gave up his medicine so that another man would live. Saint Valeriu is such a great example for us because when he copied Christ, other people wanted to copy him too!
We celebrate the nameday of Saint Valeriu today, Sunday, February 5th.
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