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.
Are you still celebrating Christmas? Maybe you are still enjoying your presents or munching on Christmas chocolates. But are you really celebrating? In church, we still sing the Christmas hymns, and our Gospel reading today tells us about Jesus as a baby. Everything is still decorated for the feast day. Yes, we are still celebrating the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ!
We think about the birth of our Lord throughout the whole year too! When we get ready to receive Holy Communion, we say special prayers to ask God to make us ready to receive it. (When you’re older, you can pray all of the prayers, but kids can pray what they can.) One of the Communion prayers says, “As you willed in the cave to lie in a manger of senseless animals, take it upon yourself now to enter the manger of my soiled body.”
This prayer reminds us of what God did for us when He sent Jesus to us. And this prayer reminds us of what God does for us each time we receive Holy Communion! Our Lord, Jesus Christ is God, but He came and was born in a dirty, old cave. And every time we receive Holy Communion, He comes into our dirty, old bodies. (They’re “dirty” because we have all done wrong things.) God comes to us anyway because He loves us so much. He comes to save us! So, let’s do what we can to ask God to make us ready to receive Him.
SAINT STEPHEN: FORGIVING OUR ENEMIES
Did somebody ever do something mean to you…and you forgave him? We all know that God wants us to forgive our enemies. Well, you might not even have any enemies. But you can always try hard to forgive somebody for being a little mean to you.
Today we remember a saint who had enemies. Saint Stephen had people who really hated him! They lied about him. They tried to get others to hate him too. And in the end, they threw stones at him and even killed him. But Stephen forgave them all. We hear in the Bible, “And as they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he knelt down and cried with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’”