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.
When you see your friends, what do you say? “Hey, what’s up?” “How’s it going?” We al-ways have something to say, don’t we? At church, you might hear people greet each other in a different way. “Christ is in our midst!” Christ is with us! And you can answer, “He is and ever shall be!” He always will be with us!
We know that our Lord, Jesus Christ, is with us always: when things are going well and when they’re not, when we’re in church and when we’re somewhere else, when we’re with our Christian friends and family and when we’re not. But today, in the Gospel reading, we hear about how Christ is with us in a different way too. We hear how God wants us to think about our Lord anytime we see another person!
The Gospel says, “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,” and more. And for those people, God says, “Inherit the kingdom prepared for you.” He invites these people to be with Him in heaven! Then the people wonder when they gave Jesus food or drink or clothes, or when they visited Him. But He answers that as you did it to “the least of these,” you did it to Him. So when we help another person, we are really helping Christ too!
Let’s always remember, “Christ is in our midst!” He is with us! Let’s do our best to give Him food and drink and clothes, and love—every time we help another person!
A BRAVE WOMAN: SAINT PHILOTHEA OF ATHENS
What is the bravest thing you ever did? Rock-climbed up a 50-foot climbing wall? Stood up for a friend when your classmates were making fun of her? Held a poisonous snake?
Today we celebrate the feastday of one of the bravest women you will ever find. St. Philothea of Athens lived more than 1,500 years ago in Athens, Greece. Her family was very rich, and her parents left St. Philothea lots of money when they died. She could have spent it all on fancy clothes, exciting shows, or interesting trips. But instead, St. Philothea decided to build hospitals, help orphans, and feed and clothe poor people. She even built a convent for young, Christian women.
All those things were very brave things to do. But St. Philothea didn’t stop there. In St. Philothea’s time, the Ottomans were making things hard for Christians. Young Christian girls sometimes were even stolen from their families and sold as slaves! Many of the girls even became Muslim.
So St. Philothea hid lots of these Christian girls in her convent where they were safe. She did this for many years, but sooner or later, the officials found out about her secret.
One night, a group of these men came to St. Philothea’s convent, tied her to a pillar, and beat her. She died not long after that.
St. Philothea is a great example to young women and men, showing us how important it is to be brave in our faith. If you go to the big cathedral in Athens, you can pray in front of her relics (her body).