My 2-year-old daughter watches everything, especially when it comes to food. She knows what it means when I get out the blender—smoothies! She knows where to pick our strawberries from the garden. She loves to watch cookies and bread baking in the oven.

One morning I turned to my daughter at the breakfast table and saw her tiny hands holding the cereal bowl to her mouth. She was savoring each gulp of milk. After drinking a glass of milk, you can usually hear  her say, “Ahhh.” When we gather at the table and say it’s time to pray, her hands come together and her head bows.

My husband and I didn’t teach my daughter to do any of these things. Yet they’ve become her natural inclinations at the table. She learned them from watching us. From eating with us. From praying with us.

And while my daughter is noticing everything that goes on at the table and in the kitchen, I notice that she isn’t afraid to make a mess. Whether it’s the milk all over her face or the flour that misses the bowl, she’s still eager for more.

One afternoon while baking cookies with my daughter, I was brave and let her crack her first egg. She usually grabs them out of the refrigerator for me and I yell to her to be careful. But this time I gave her an egg and showed her how to crack it in the bowl. She quickly took the egg out of the carton and slammed it on the bowl—yolk, shells and egg whites splattered everywhere. We had a mess!

At that moment, I thought of the communion table—of coming forward week after week full of doubts, failures and hurtful words. Life has a messiness to it that we can’t escape. Yet whether at the family table or the communion table, we practice and receive grace.

I’ll keep cooking, eating and serving with my daughter. She’ll keep watching, helping and making messes. And we’ll both keep coming to the table hungry for words of grace and forgiveness.


  • As a family bake bread together. Notice the smells, the touch, the taste. Give one of the loaves to a neighbor or friend.
  • Make a meal as a family. Start by picking a recipe together, and maybe even invite a neighbor over to enjoy the finished product.
  • Research opportunities in your town to help serve a meal to those who are hungry.
Kimberly Knowle-Zeller
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

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