by Kimberly Knowle-Zeller
I find so much to love about serving as a pastor. There are many reasons, but possibly my favorite includes watching the interactions and relationships between different generations.
As a pastor I have the privilege of watching relationships develop. Sometimes with a little encouragement on my part and sometimes by the work of the Spirit.
In my first call congregation I saw learning and sharing occur between the confirmation students and their mentors. It was a joy to see them interact during class time through discussion, videos, and play. And to watch those relationships continue beyond confirmation class.
I loved watching the organic relationships that developed between the youngest members and the oldest members. From seeing the candy that got passed quietly between the ushers to the children. To the pew with a young family with two girls sitting with the older couple. To see coloring between young and old. To hearing of meals shared. To witnessing the hugs.
Church is one of the best places to have relationships between the generations. Church is a great place to learn about being in community together.
My husband and I are both pastors, so my daughter was born going to church. Now, as I’m on leave from call I have the privilege of seeing the same relationships develop between my daughter and members of the congregation. Of course she loves running around the sanctuary after worship with the other kids. Of course she grabs the donuts before church and sits with the other kids feasting.
But it’s the relationships across generations that really strike me.
One Sunday my daughter walked to communion with me and after receiving her blessing she turned in the opposite direction and walked back to the pew with our older next-door neighbors. I watched as my daughter followed them back to their pew and then joined them for the remainder of the service.
I love the Sundays when she goes up on her own to different members to play with them. How she shows her doll to them. How she wants to color with someone. How she shares the peace. How she sits with them when I need to leave the pew for a minute. How she helps a member set the tables for a meal. How she waves excitedly when she sees a familiar face.
I remember one Sunday after church when she was running around and accidentally bumped into the communion cups knocking them over. I jokingly said to whoever was nearby, “That would be the pastor’s kid!” To which immediately a member said, “No, she’s all of ours.”
Isn’t that the gift – that we all belong to one another? That we all care and love and serve one another.
Each Sunday at church my daughter gets the opportunity to be loved by the community. She also gets to share her love. It’s a true gift. One that we don’t take for granted. One that will influence and impact her as she grows older. For I hope and pray that church is always a place where she’ll feel comfortable with all people. Where she won’t be afraid to make new friends. Where she’ll welcome those who are new. Where she’ll remember that community happens best when we open our hearts, hands, and toys to our neighbors.
Kimberly Knowle-Zeller is an ordained ELCA pastor, mother of a toddler, and spouse of an ELCA pastor. She lives with her family in Cole Camp, MO. Her website is http://www.kimberlyknowlezeller.com