On my rainy, Sunday morning drive to church there were very few cars on the road.
The sky dark.
The rain steady.
To my right I passed a small country church. One lone car sat in the grassy field next to the building. At the door I could see one woman under her umbrella opening the church door.
The one to get the church ready. The keeper of the keys to unlock and prepare the building.
Her task could simply have been to get the door unlocked and turn the lights on. Or perhaps she was the Sunday morning greeter. Maybe she was the pastor. She was alone and diligent in her task coming to church despite the rain and darkness.
I wondered, in that moment, about all the other men and women who come to church buildings early to get it ready for Sunday morning worship.
The one who comes no matter what. The one who believes in preparing a space for all.
The one who turns on the lights.
The one who makes sure the communion pieces are set up.
The one who turns the air on in the summer and the heat on in the winter.
The one who folds the bulletins.
The one who gets the coffee going.
The one who picks up the donuts.
The one who decorates and prepares Sunday school classrooms.
The one who cleans up any garbage left on the floor.
The one who waters the flowers.
The one who checks the microphones.
These are the silent volunteers.
The one who so many times goes unnoticed. The one who knows the power in preparing place. In welcoming through cleanliness, light, and fresh-smelling coffee. The one who knows God delights in welcoming anyone to walk through the doors.
These are the people who show up to open doors and turn on lights. The people who many times are also the last to leave.
On my drive to church I said a prayer for that woman under the umbrella. I gave thanks for her ministry. Her presence.
And as I walked through the doors of church that morning, I was grateful someone, too, had unlocked the doors.
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. Her website is http://www.kimberlyknowlezeller.com