Psalm 61: 3-4
For you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the enemy.
I will dwell in your house for ever;
I will take refuge under the cover of your wings.
I love the gift I have of worshipping with my daughter.
I love sitting with her in the pews.
To see her look around.
To watch her color the bulletin.
To flip through the pages of the hymnal with her.
To see her dance to the music and choir anthems.
To watch her quickly stand up when the congregation stands up.
To watch as she runs up to the children’s message.
To see her reach her arms up so she can listen intently as her dad leads the communion liturgy.
I’m so glad church is a safe place for her. A refuge of sorts. I’m delighted she feels at home there. I hope and pray it will remain that way throughout her life.
But I also hope that church doesn’t feel too safe.
I’d like her to be uncomfortable at times, too. To question her thoughts and beliefs. To wrestle with God and with God’s people. To be continually striving to make a difference. To be forced to think bigger and grander when needed, but also smaller and simpler at times, too. To welcome all in church and in the neighborhood. To continually be pushed to be the good in the world.
I hope the church doesn’t let her be so comfortable where simply showing up is sufficient.
I hope she’s encouraged, maybe forced at times, to speak up, to advocate for justice, to recognize the neighbor in everyone she meets.
When much of the world, and unfortunately the church, tries to build walls and work to keep like-minded people together, I hope she’ll open the doors and her hands even wider.
I do hope my daughter feels safe, but I also hope she doesn’t stay there. With the love and hope and grace of a church community behind and with her, she can traverse this life and world speaking and living the hard truths. The necessary truths to living the Gospel.
She can be safe in the hope that good will always triumph over evil.
She can be safe so that others can know the same love and hope.
She can be safe in the knowledge that she is loved, called, and claimed.
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