At 8 am on Sunday morning, my toddler was ready for church.
She was dressed, fed, and determined to go to church.
We go every week.
She knows Sundays are for church.
Church which means Sunday school, music, friends, being known, sharing the peace, running around with her friends after the service, and being loved.
She just loves church.
So at 8 am she was ready to go.
Ready and waiting by the front door.
But there was one problem.
We didn’t need to leave until 9 am.
And try explaining to a 3-year-old that no one would be at church yet.
And that she still had plenty of time before we needed to walk out the door.
My daughter loves church and could not be convinced otherwise.
Do you have that same feeling on Sunday mornings?
Do you wake up, know it’s Sunday, and smile with joy knowing you’ll be going to church?
Do you go to sleep the night before saying “church” and anxious for morning to come?
Can you wait patiently the last few hours before worship starts?
Not if you’re my 3-year-old.
And shouldn’t that be the case for all of us?
I love seeing my daughter so excited to attend worship.
I love the joy she experiences being in community.
I delight in her delight.
I smile at her smiles.
I hope that this joy remains with her throughout her life.
More truthfully, I hope this commitment remains with her even when she’s not that excited about church.
I know church is not always fun.
I know church has its share of challenges, arguments, and hypocrites.
I know church doesn’t connect with us all the time.
I know church feels outdated at times.
I know church doesn’t always fulfill.
With my daughter, I see that sometimes worship involves pieces that are not easily understood. I see that sometimes she doesn’t like the music or can’t follow along with the readings.
But she’s happy nonetheless.
She’s joyful just for being at church.
I’m hoping she senses a deeper purpose for being at church.
At least that’s what I’ll keep teaching and showing her.
That we go to church to be in community.
That God brings us together.
That we can be neighbors for one another.
That we can love wholeheartedly and unselfishly.
That we can see the depth of love as God showed us through Jesus.
That we can follow Jesus’ example of selfless love and humble acts of service.
That we can see the power in showing up.
And knowing that there’s always a place for us.
I pray that this joy I experience in my daughter stays with her. And that she’ll find places of community throughout her life that will welcome her with that same joy.
That she’ll keep counting down the hours to worship.
And that her joy will bring others with her.
Celebrating God’s gift of community.
Kimberly Knowle-Zeller is an ordained ELCA pastor, mother of two, and spouse of an ELCA pastor. She lives with her family in Cole Camp, MO. You can read more at her website: http://kimberlyknowlezeller.com or follow her work on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KimberlyKnowleZeller/