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Holding Church

Holding Church

Nestled on the couch on Sunday morning with my toddler son, we peer out the window in front of us. It’s almost time for worship to begin across the street. We’re home nursing a fever and cough while others make their way to church. Car doors slam and the drivers and passengers greet one another while walking towards the sanctuary doors. I see kids pop out of their minivans, coats half on, eager to be outside. I see friends waiting for one another and an older couple holding on to each other for support. A car pulls up the church ramp to let someone out while a teenager holds the door for them. Some walk from their homes in the neighborhood and others drive miles to arrive in time for worship. Yet, everyone arrives to church and enters the doors for worship.


I can’t help but wonder what each person is holding as they walk to church.


What sadness they are bringing with them.

What grief weighs their heart down like a rock.

What addiction holds them captive.  

What missed opportunities they regret.

What hard decisions need to be made.

What longing they feel for reconciliation.

What bitterness they feel for being overlooked.  

What tiredness they feel as new parents.

What questions they have about God.


I can’t help but wonder what each person is holding as they walk to church.


What joy they’re feeling at a new relationship.

What peace comes from following your dreams.

What hope they have in hearing God’s word speak to them.

What excitement blooms at gathering with friends.

What solace comes from singing hymns and praying together.


I can’t help but wonder what each person is holding as they walk to church.


I keep watching them arrive, one by one, and enter the church. What is this place that welcomes them? What is beyond those doors that compels them to show up week after week? What is it that draws everyone closer? What is it that speaks to each and every person who is present as if personally calling them by name?

What is this place that welcomes the weary, the downtrodden, the confused, the doubting, and the confident?


What is this place?


Nothing short of living hope as the body of Christ, broken and poured out, for the world.


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:



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