If we want to demonstrate the kingdom of God on earth, we will not only welcome children, we will cherish and learn from them.  For in them the pure love of God is revealed.  – Charles E. Moore

One of my favorite things to do at St. John’s is to welcome children into the building.  On several occasions, I have been pleased as the children come into the main body of the church and gasp at the size and beauty within.  From the outside, St. John’s seems like a regular, red brick building with foggy windows.  Inside, however, you are transported into a sanctuary with years of sacred residue.  I often invite those same children, and their parents, to explore the church, to wander throughout the eucharistic service, and to explore.  The parents seldom take me up on this offer, but the kids do. I especially love it when they find their way to the altar, that distant place where the strange man in colorful dresses stands.  It is always a gift to welcome new people to St. John’s, especially the children. 

In many ways, the Ecumenical Order of Charity is an invitation to me to be the child I am and have always been in Christ.  I know this sounds strange.  What I mean by this is that when I first approached and got to know the EOC, I discovered a religious order in which I was celebrated as I am.  At first, I had worried about having to hide one aspect of myself or another and was particularly afraid when I showed up late to the first meeting.  Instead of a reprimand or scorn, I was welcomed with great love and wonder.  The community received me with great joy and I welcomed them as well. 

In so many ways, one of the gifts of the Ecumenical Order of Charity is that we have a child-like spirit.  It is no coincidence that for over 30 years, we have grown to become a beacon of light and life as we show the beauty of God’s Kingdom to the world we inhabit.  In our different gifts and charisms, we live our vows as we freely and willingly share our vocations with the world.  This sharing may not always be easy, but as members of the Order, as Companions, we are energized by the gifts that are so lovingly shared with us by other Companions.  This child-like, free sharing, brings us to a place of joy, even amid difficulty.  We share in ways that give life to other Companions encourage us to shine brightly in the world and invite others to let their light shine as well.  Perhaps none of us Companions (except Bro. Francisco) has children at this time, and we certainly don’t have “little Companions,” (although I would argue that Livia and Diogo are little Companions) but I rejoice at the thought that in the joy that we share, the child-like spirit that Christ calls us to, is lived out well and with great gusto every day of our lives.  I choose to be a Companion, and I am grateful that as a Companion, I can live as a child-like member of the beloved community that Christ calls us to, a community made up of all kinds of people, a community who, like those who come to St. John’s, gasp to see the great beauty and love with which God calls us God’s own. Amen.