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.
Can you think of a time that you saw something you had never ever seen before? Maybe it was an interesting animal or car or even food. Maybe you said to yourself, “I’ve never seen that before!”
In today’s Gospel reading we read about something that happened while Jesus visited the people. He healed a man who had been blind since he was born! And after Jesus healed him, everybody seemed to say, “I’ve never seen that before!” Later on in the Gospel reading, the man who had been blind says, “Never since the world began has anyone opened the eyes of one who was born blind.” Nobody had ever seen that before, because it had never happened! Our Lord Jesus Christ did something that nobody had ever done.
One of our wonderful saints, Saint Athanasios the Great, tells us why this miracle is such a big deal. He tells us that there were lots of miracles in the Old Testament, before Jesus came to earth. People even were raised from the dead! But Saint Athanasios reminds us about the prophecy in the Old Testament, the words that were written 700 years before Christ was born. Those words tell us that the savior is here when the eyes of the blind are opened. This miracle was such a big deal because nobody had ever done it before. This miracle showed that Jesus was the one who would save the whole world!
Fighting for Icons: Saint Nikephoros the Confessor
Do you love icons so much that you would fight for them? If you saw somebody putting them down and stomping on them, would you fight for them?
Well, Saint Nikephoros did! Saint Nikephoros was born many years ago, in the year 758. At that time the emperors seemed to go back and forth between loving icons or hating them. For a few years the people would have an emperor or empress who protected icons, and then for a few years they would have a ruler who hated them and wanted them all destroyed!
Saint Nikephoros wrote three great works to explain why the Church must have icons! Later on, Nikephoros became the Patriarch of Constantinople, but unfortunately the emperor at the time was a terrible icon-hater. He hated icons so much that he punished people who defended them! Saint Nikephoros fought for icons, even though the emperor sent people to secretly attack and kill him. This didn’t happen, but finally the emperor sent the holy saint away into exile, where he was forced to live away from his church flock. That way, the emperor wouldn’t have to listen to his warnings and advice!
Saint Nikephoros died in exile, but our Church remembers his courage and how he loved icons so much that he fought for them!
We celebrate St. Nikephoros on Sunday, June 2nd.
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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