Focal verse

I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:18-19).

Reflection

The story I’m about to tell makes me cringe, yet without it, I wouldn’t be the pastor, mother or writer I am today.

At Divinity Lutheran Church in Oregon, Ohio, the youth routinely led worship. One year, when I was in high school, my turn came to preach. I looked forward to standing behind the pulpit, sharing my carefully crafted and rehearsed sermon and invariably receiving words of affirmation.

My congregation had been my home since elementary school and was the place where I felt the most known, safe and welcome. It’s where I could be excited about church and God; it’s where I could be a leader. On this particular Youth Sunday, I preached a sermon lifting up the church and all the ways I partnered with it to do good. I was ready for the applause I was about to receive.

Now I shake my head at the naive youth who spoke those words.

I don’t remember where I was or when the conversation occurred, but I do remember my pastor, Marc Miller, gently asking me to reflect on my sermon: “You talk a lot about what you do, Kim, but what about what God is doing?”

I imagine at that moment you could have heard a pin drop. What is God doing? Perhaps I’d heard Sunday school lessons or even sermons on grace, but his question was the first time I started to understand what it meant.

It was never about me, but about the God who first called me before I was born and continues to call me to a life rooted in Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.

What is God doing? This question still convicts me. Right now, I’m doing all I can to keep my family healthy during the coronavirus pandemic. I’m worried about neighbors losing jobs; neighbors struggling to manage work, home and school; and those working on the front lines of the pandemic, restocking food shelves every day or caring for sick patients. I’m worried that because I’m afraid, I cannot share faith with my children.

But what about God? How can I remember God during this season? Where is God’s grace shining through?

God is with me in my fear and worry. God is with my children. God is with our leaders. God is with the health care providers. God is with the sick. God’s voice comes to my family through Scripture, songs and gathering for worship on the computer. God’s love can be felt through phone calls and encouraging notes from friends.

It’s up to me not only to teach my children about God’s grace but also to point out God’s presence in the world around us.

Practice

Write or draw a list of all the ways God is acting in the world right now. Start with your home and family and work your way out into the community and the world. Display your list and, over the next few weeks, keep adding to it signs of God’s grace.

Prayers

We pray for students, teachers and families figuring out how to teach and learn in new ways.
We pray for people feeling alone, that they trust God is always with them.
We pray for families struggling financially and those fearful of losing their jobs.
We give thanks for church leaders and musicians who are creatively engaging with their communities.
We give thanks for spring’s renewal found in green grass and flowering trees.
We give thanks for God’s grace claiming us as loved children of God.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayers.
Amen.

Service opportunity

During this time of social distancing, choose a medium for your family and share with others to show how God is with them. Post pictures and words of hope and affirmation on social media, or make a video of yourselves singing a song about God’s love. Write and send notes with Bible verses to health care providers or nursing home residents.

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 kimberlyknowlezeller.com.

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