By Kimberly Knowle-Zeller
“Let all that you do be done in love” (1 Corinthians 16:14).
I am where I am because of the church ladies.
At my Ordination, there was one table of mostly women gathered to celebrate this milestone in my life. They were women who I attended church with growing up. They were the women who saw gifts in me and asked, “Have you ever considered being a pastor?” Their words took root over the years, their belief in me a balm to my soul.
Inevitably, whenever I talk about my path or ordained ministry, it includes Women of the ELCA. I remember Mary Jane who directed the choir. I remember Ruth who faithfully attended Thursday Bible study for decades sharing her faith. I remember Nadine who organized volunteers. I remember Sally who sent handwritten cards to every member of the church on their birthdays and anniversaries. I remember Connie who always had a sweet treat and hot coffee ready for meetings and Bible studies. I remember Andrea whose eyes lit up when she talked about attending Triennial gatherings with her mother and sisters and thousands of other women. I remember the women who quilted and knitted week after week.
Over and over again, Women of the ELCA showed up for me.
You have your own list of women who have impacted you over the years. And I’m sure you, too, have been that woman offering her support and encouragement to others.
Don’t neglect the power of your work, showing up to set up and cook, baking, sending care packages to college students, quilting, passing out Thankoffering boxes and envelopes, and donating your money to organizations. Don’t hide your gifts or your love but keep your eyes open for where God’s people could use a word of encouragement.
Your work is seen. Your work matters.
I saw you.
The boys and girls of your congregations see you. They’re watching you live out your callings as disciples of Jesus. They hear you when you invite them to lead, or when you offer them a compliment on an accomplishment at school or when they read at church. When you encourage them in their gifts, you’re lifting up the body of Christ.
Let us pray: Gracious God, help us to immerse ourselves in community; loving others as you love us. Open our hearts to see what gifts you’ve given us and encourage us to share them lavishly with others. Amen.
Kimberly Knowle-Zeller is a writer, pastor, wife, mother of two, and the co-author of The Beauty of Motherhood: Grace-Filled Devotions for the Early Years. She lives with her family in Cole Camp, Mo. Her website is kimberlyknowlezeller.com.