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 had a guest come to your house, somebody you were so happy to see? Maybe you had a visitor you weren’t expecting, somebody who brightened up your day!
Just last week, we celebrated the greatest feast, when our Lord, Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Jesus’s followers had heard that Christ had risen, but some of them weren’t sure what to think. Some of them weren’t sure if the story was true. Most of them were scared. And all of them missed their teacher, Jesus Christ. They were sad that He was not there anymore.
So, can you imagine how happy Jesus’s disciples were when they looked up and saw Jesus with them again? He stood with them, and said “Peace be with you.” The Bible says, “the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.” They were glad, because Christ was with them again! Christ turned their sadness into joy. They had a visitor—the best visitor of all!
We know that God is with us all the time. In another part of Bible, we read how Jesus promises His followers, “I am with you always, to the end of the age.” When we know that God is with us, we also know that God will turn our sadness into joy too. Christ is a visitor we always want to have with us!
SADNESS TO JOY: SAINT JOHN THE TAILOR OF IOANNINA
Has anybody ever accused you of something…that you didn’t even do? Maybe somebody broke something or hurt somebody, and then blamed it on you! That’s an awful feeling, especially when nobody will believe you.
Saint John of Ioannina felt that same awful feeling, too. But people accused him of doing something much, much worse. Saint John was from the town of Ioannina, in Greece, but he went to live in Constantinople to work as a tailor (to sew clothes). Constantinople was ruled by the Ottoman empire, and all the rulers were Muslim, not Christian.
When John was on his way to Constantinople, some people said that John was once Muslim. They said he used to be Muslim, but now was a Christian. John knew that wasn’t true. He had always been a Christian! Later on, those same people accused him again, and this time they got him in trouble. John stayed strong in his faith. He knew that his sadness now would turn into joy with Christ!
John climbed onto one of the tall towers in Constantinople, and he sang “Christ is risen!” The Turkish rulers ordered that Saint John should be killed that same day. Saint John died that day. His sadness did turn to joy, because now this strong saint is with Christ forever!
We celebrate this feastday on Wednesday, April 18th (May 1, 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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