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.
Have you ever done something wrong, and you tried to make it right? If you hurt your brother or sister, maybe you tried extra hard to do something nice for him or her. Or if you broke something, you could try to fix it, or even buy a new one. We all want to make things right again. We all want to make amends.
In today’s Gospel reading, we hear about our friend, Zacchaeus. Remember, he’s the one who climbed up into a tree to see Jesus pass by. The Gospel says he was a tax collector, and rich, too. Zacchaeus was rich because he would take some of the taxes for himself. People didn’t like tax collectors, and the people in the story grumbled about Zacchaeus.
But remember, Jesus noticed Zacchaeus up in that tree, and He spoke to him. The other people grumbled about Zacchaeus, but Jesus didn’t. Zacchaeus explained, “Lord, half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone, I give back four times as much.” Zacchaeus tried to make things right. He tried to make amends.
God notices when we try to make amends. God notices when we do the wrong thing, but we try to make things right. In the Gospel today, Jesus explains that He “came to seek and to save the lost.” God looks for us to save us. He accepts our apology, and He accepts our amends!
SAINT DIMITRI: A PRIEST IN WARTIME PARIS
Have you ever helped somebody, in secret? The Bible tells us that it’s good to help people in secret. Then, God, “Your Father, Who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
Today, we celebrate a newer saint who helped many people in secret. In fact, he saved their lives! Seventy-five years ago was the terrible World War 2. In France, an Orthodox nun named Saint Maria started a special shelter to help people who became poor and sick during the awful war.
Also, during the war, many Jewish people were being hurt and killed by the evil Nazi rule. These French Jewish people weren’t Christians, but they went to the Orthodox Christian shelter for help. Saint Maria helped them there. The priest, Father Dimitri Klepinin, helped them too. He knew that if the Jewish people said they were Christians, they would be safe. So, the priest signed his name on pretend baptism certificates to keep them safe. With the certificates, the Jewish people could save their lives!
Soon, the Nazi rulers figured out what Father Dimitri had been doing in secret. They sent him to prison, and he was later killed. God saw what Father Dimitri had been doing in secret too, and as He promised in the Bible, He rewarded him! Now he must be joyful in heaven.
We celebrate St. Dimitri on Sunday, January 27th (Feb 9, OC).
Welcome to “The Children’s Word,” a weekly ministry of the Orthodox Christian Network. Each week, Presvytera Alexandra Houck writes this little newsletter for young parishioners! You will find age-appropriate articles, stories, and activities in every edition. The newsletter is provided in PDF format so that you can easily download and print it, and share it with your parish, church school, homeschool, family, and friends.
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 a 8.5 x 14 page, so it can be printed and folded.
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