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.
What does it mean to “grow up”? Does it mean you are getting taller? Or older? Or smarter?Or does it mean you can drive a car now? Or go to college? What does it mean to “grow up”?
Today is January 1st, and it is eight days after Christmas, the day Jesus was born! The Gospel reading tells us that Jesus received His name when He was eight days old. The Gospel also tells us just a little bit about His childhood. It tells us the story of Jesus as a 12 year old boy, when His parents couldn’t find Him anywhere. When they finally did find Him, the boy Jesus was in the Holy Temple, learning from the teachers.
Then, we read, “And Jesus grew in wisdom and in years, and in favor with God and man.” Then, the Bible is funny, because we don’t hear anything more about Jesus’ life until He is all grown up, at age 30!
Lots of kids are in a hurry to grow up, but since we’re Christians, let’s think about what it really means to grow up. Let’s try to follow our Lord’s example. Let’s try to grow “in wisdom” and “in favor with God and man.” That means, when we grow up, we are growing closer and closer to God! And that’s something we can all do—kids and mothers and fathers and grandparents too. We can all keep “growing up,” growing closer to our Lord!
SAINT SERAPHIM OF SAROV: A PEACEFUL SAINT
Saint Seraphim was a saint who really did want to “grow in favor with God.” He knew that a good way to do that was by talking to God. So he prayed…a lot!
For 25 years, Saint Seraphim lived in the wilderness. He had a little hut in the woods there, and he would spend most of
his time praying. Once, he spent 1,000 nights—that’s almost three whole years—on his knees, praying to God. Do you think you can go for even a few minutes?
Once, some thieves came and beat him up, but Saint Seraphim never fought them. The thieves didn’t find any money—only an icon to the Theotokos.
Saint Seraphim reminds us to try to be peaceful and gentle. He said that when we get a peaceful spirit, “thousands around you will be saved.” That means that when we are peaceful, we can make a big huge difference in other people’s lives too! Think about today or yesterday. Can you think of a time when somebody made you angry or annoyed? We can choose to either fight back and argue, or we can be more like the great example of Saint Seraphim, this peaceful saint.
We celebrate the nameday of Saint Seraphim tomorrow, January 2nd.
Photo Credit: Father Nectarios Serfes
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