The bells ring signaling the start of worship
one by one people enter the church
greeting friends and neighbors
offering hands in peace and welcome
each one carrying something —
hearts full and hearts breaking
loneliness and grief
joy and happiness
hope for a new start
spirits yearning for renewal
hearts looking for healing.
The music begins, the pews fill
everyone finds a spot
some wanting to be seen and heard
needing someone to look them in the eye and remind them they are seen
others sit by themselves, keeping eyes down
there are those who know all the words of worship by heart
and those who fumble with the bulletins and books
some sit quietly while others squirm and wiggle
some of the youngest delight in running up and down the aisles
and their parents simply want a space to rest
some are waiting to hear words of peace and forgiveness spoken to them
and others voice their love and concern.
Everyone has come for a reason
gathered in community
to feel God’s presence
to touch the divine
to drip with water pouring over them
to taste goodness at God’s table
everyone needs something, or someone.
Wherever they sit, whatever they feel
everyone is welcome here
in worship, in the care of God
everything held in God’s grace
everyone is loved by God.
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 or follow her work on Facebook.