Children's Readings (Cycle C)

Together Time With Family and God

Opening Question: How was Christmas with your family? Was it peaceful? Full of happiness? Explain.

First Reading: Colossians 3:12-21

God chose you. After all, he made you holy. And he loves you very much. So, act with compassion. Be kind, gentle, and humble. Be patient with others. Take time to understand each other. Forgive each other, even if someone complains about another Christian. Remember, the Lord forgave you. You should do the same. Above all, love others the way you would like to be loved. This kind of love will completely bind you together.

Let the peace Christ gave you rule your hearts. That peace brings us together, like we were a single body. Always thank God. Let Christ's words live in you, like gold that overflows a bank vault. Use all your wisdom when you teach others or give them advice. And sing to God with all your heart in psalms and other church songs, as you thank him through his Son. Whatever you say or do, do it all in the name of our Lord Jesus.

Christmas was good for three different kind of families.

Jack and Susie had a fun time bagging food for the poor a few days before Christmas. Usually they fight or nag their parents or ignore each other. But, between filling boxes and getting small things for the adults, both kids played tag and laughed as they slid into each other on the slick floor. The joy of helping others this time of year was contagious. Jack and Susie both agreed it was the best Christmas they could remember.

Matt also had a great Christmas. In years past, his divorced parents would fight over who had the kids Christmas Eve or Christmas day. At one point, his parents hated each other so much they wouldn't talk to each other or be in the same room with each other. But this year was different. Matt and his mom went over to his grandmother's house on Christmas Eve. His mom was especially loving to him. They sat in the chair together and sang Christmas carols.

Then, his dad showed up. His dad kissed grandma, turned, ran over to Matt, and gave him a big hug. His dad then turned to his mom, smiled, and said "Hi." His mom and dad talked for a while. It was plain to see that the hurt and the anger were in the past. His mom and dad could talk together and work as a team for his good. What a great Christmas present!

Janet had a wonderful time this Christmas. Since, her mom could not take care of her, Janet lived with her grandparents. At first, it was hard to get used to her grandparents habits and rules. When she lived with her mom, Janet could do what she wanted. But now, she lived in a house with rules and regulations. Grandpa and Grandma were good people, but they insisted upon no TV during the week, homework done until bedtime, and chores, lots of chores. Janet used to hate living with her grandparents. But, in time, she got used to it. In time, she got to depend upon it.

Janet also realized one thing this Christmas. Living with her mom gave her freedom. But living with her grandparents gave her love. Janet loved her mom, but she needed to live in a house of love to grow. Sometimes, the rules and the hassles are worth the cost of living in a house of love. When Grandma and Grandpa kissed her goodnight, and said "I love you," Janet knew they meant it.

Three different families who had great Christmases. But their families shared the same thing that made Christmas special. A love that gives and brings people together.

Bridging Question: Did your family ever leave you behind? What happened?

Gospel: Luke 2:41-52

Reader 1:

Every year, Joseph and Mary used to travel to Jerusalem and celebrate the Passover. When Jesus was twelve years old, they took him to Jerusalem for the festival. After the family celebrated Passover, Joseph and Mary started home. But, the young boy Jesus remained in Jerusalem and his parents didn't realize it. Joseph and Mary thought Jesus tagged along with the travel party. So they looked for him among their family and friends. When they didn't find him, Joseph and Mary returned to Jerusalem to look for him there.

Reader 2:

Three days later, Joseph and Mary found Jesus in the Temple sitting with some religious teachers. He listened to what they taught and asked them questions. Everyone who heard Jesus was surprised at his bright answers.

Reader 1:

When his parents saw him, they were astonished. "Child, why did you do this to us?" his mother scolded Jesus. "Listen! Your father and I searched for you everywhere. We were worried about you!"

Reader 2:

"Why did you spend all your time looking for me?" Jesus answered. "Didn't you know I needed to be in my Father's house, doing what my Father wants me to do?" They didn't understand his answer. But his mother thought a lot about everything that happened.

Reader 1:

Joseph, Mary, and Jesus returned home to Nazareth. There, obeying his parents, Jesus grew in wisdom and physical size. He pleased God and the people more and more.

Freddie and his mom went to the mall for an after Christmas sale. Freddie walked with his mother from store to store, looking at clothes and dishes and kitchen items. Freddie was amazed that the Christmas decorations were already down and Valentine Day decoration displays were going up. Everywhere Freddie went, he pointed out all the changes in the stores. "Wow! Look at that mom!" Freddie exclaimed over and over.

But his mother saw things differently. The mall was as crowded this day as it was before Christmas. No matter what she did, she kept bumping into people. Keeping an eye on Freddie was a real challenge. He kept stopping to comment on the store decorations and all the colors. "Yes, dear," Freddie's mother replied to his exclamations. "Let's go."

Inside a large department store, Freddie's mother stopped for directions. "Freddie, wait here while I find out where to go."

"Okay, Mom," Freddie said.

"Where's the sale?" she inquired of the cashier behind the counter.

"Upstairs, to the left, behind the kitchen wares," the man replied.

Freddie's mother didn't waste a minute. She charged up the stairs, to the left, and walked around the kitchen wares. There she saw table clothes on sale. She carefully picked over the coverings, took two, and looked for matching napkins. When she found the napkins, she ran over to stand in line at the cashier.

Suddenly, she looked around, "Freddie?" she said. The boy was no where in sight. The eyes on his mother's face got wide with panic. She dropped what she had in her hands, and began frantically running from row to row. "Freddie," she said louder and louder. But it was no use, noise of the crowd just drown her out.

She went through the entire floor, then she decided to retrace her way up to the sale. She went down stairs and through the aisles. She noticed the toy section, so she made a fast trip in that direction. Then she heard a familiar voice.

"Freddie! Where have you been?" Freddie's mother in a frightened voice. "I've been looking all over for you!"

Freddie stood with another child. He had been discussing the action figures from the latest movie he saw. When he heard his mother's voice, he turned and looked at her with a puzzled face. "Why were you looking for me?" Freddie said. "You told me to stay here, didn't you?" Sure enough, Freddie stood directly opposite from the cashier his mother asked directions.

Freddie's mother sighed. "Come on, Freddie," she said. Latter, she was thankful Freddie didn't panic like she did. On the way home, she apologized and bought Freddie an ice cream sandwich.

Like Freddie, Jesus didn't panic when he got separated from Joseph and Mary. Like Freddie, Jesus obeyed his parent, but not his mother. He obeyed his real Father, God in heaven. Yes, Jesus would go home, obey Joseph and Mary, and grow up. But he never forgot who his real Father was, or what his Father wanted him to do. Like Freddie who helped the other boy with the action figure, Jesus would help others no matter who they were.

Closing Question: How have you helped others who seem to be lost, left behind? How has God helped you when you feel alone, left behind?