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Weariness in Worship

Weariness in Worship

“Push, push, push,” the toddler yells as we arrive at the door. He’s leaning out of my arms reaching to push the handicapped door button. His sister sees his desire and quickly beats him to the button and pushes it herself. “Push, push, push,” he yells louder with a rising cry in his voice. He falls out of my arms and runs to push the button. Rushing in the front doors they greet everyone else who has come to church this morning. I try to get them to slow down to take off their coats and hats.


We haven’t even begun worship yet, and I am weary.


It’s time to find our seats for worship. Everyone is grabbing for the bulletins and children’s pages. “Me, me, me,” comes from both of their mouths. They reach for the bulletins and walk down the aisle. We find a pew and situate ourselves precisely in the middle surrounded by families on each side of us. The less room given to the toddler, the happier we’ll all be. My daughter sits in front of us with her friends. I drop the diaper bag full of toys and snacks on the pew and sit the toddler down. He’s reaching for the hymnals and pencils. He wants to sit with his sister and keeps calling, “sister, sister, sister.” He wants to be up on the pews and then down on the floors. He wants to sit on my lap and then on the pews.


We haven’t even begun worship yet, and I am weary.


The service begins and I hear my daughter’s voice repeating letters with her friend. There’s no volume control and she’s excited to know her letters. She cheers in delight when her friends write a letter or draw a picture for her. Meanwhile the toddler wants to move all around. First he wants his book. Then he wants a crayon. Then he drops both to the ground. Then he wants to sit up and wave to the people behind us. He wants his water and milk. He wants his cheerios. Through it all I hear the singing and voices of the congregation.


Yet I am weary.


Towards the end of the service both kids are back in the pew with me. One has a book and the other one immediately wants the same book. They grab it back and forth from each other. I pick the toddler up and try to rock him as he pushes away from me. He wants to walk up and down the aisle and tries to move my shoes and legs so he can get through. My daughter wants me to write letters for her with the exact same pencil that her brother is holding. I look at our pew and see books and paper scattered, cheerios on our clothes, and a bulletin I haven’t even looked at once.


I think about how much longer I’ll have till worship ends, I am weary.


Yet somewhere between the cheerios and scattered paper, I can almost hear the voice of Jesus. It comes from those singing around me. It comes from the prayers being offered for the community and the world. It comes from bits of bread and wine freely given. It comes from fellow church members reading a book or writing letters with the kids. It comes from the knowing smiles of other parents. It comes from the outstretched arms welcoming my children.


Thanks to the community, I can hear Jesus’ voice.


I am weary, yet he says to me: Come to me, all you that are weary and carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.

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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Holly McCullough

I hope that we can be a church that includes children in ways that help children connect deeply with God and help parents hear, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest… For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light,” because I’m so weary too.


We ask all commenters to please use their real first and last names – thx, editor

Sometimes it’s the parent’s work to just get our children into the worship space and let the Holy Spirit take over. Keep the faith.

Art Engler

I had twins and my spouse was a rector at another church. I feel like I spent more time in the parish hall than in worship!

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