by Kimberly Knowle-Zeller
My days in Lent look different. My Lenten days rise and fall with the sounds of children’s laughter and cries.
My prayers rise from the humblest of places caring for my children–baths, potty training, spit up and speech delays.
Lullabies and kids’ songs comprise my music for the season.
My body finds peace in watching my children sleep. My heart beats with joy in the stolen kisses and unexpected hugs.
Days no less holy, no less faithful
The days are no less holy than when I was serving a church as pastor. The days are no less sacred. The days are no less faithful.
Tonight, we gathered as a family for soup and crackers at the church. Once we finished our soup, I left with the kids before worship began. I didn’t have any responsibility to lead or plan worship. My only responsibility was to put the kids to bed.
We came home to go through our nightly bedtime routine. As we brushed teeth and washed hands, the water splashed on the counter, and it was if I could feel the sign of the cross being made on my forehead. I could hear the words being spoken to me: You are a loved child of God.
Next the pajamas came out. It was if I could hear the words of Scripture being spoken to us: As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. (Colossians 3:12)
My days in Lent do look different in this season of my life. But they are no less faithful.
I piled on the bed with the toddler and baby, our bodies touching and fidgety. We read the same stories over and over. We sing. It’s almost as if I can hear the words of Scripture being spoken to me: Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. (Colossians 3:16)
Then we settle in for prayers. We pray for our family. We pray for this world. We pray for our community. We give thanks. We entrust to God all that makes our hearts heavy. The toddler grabs the baby for a kiss. The baby grabs a book stuffing it in his mouth. We pray with our words and our bodies.
To close our prayers, I say the Lord’s Prayer. Our Father, who art in heaven…
And then, finally, we mark the sign of the cross on our foreheads. You are a loved child of God.
I tuck the kids in bed. The lights turn off and I entrust their rest to God. As I walk down the hall, with a full heart, I can’t help but be fulfilled.
My days in Lent do look different in this season of my life. But they are no less faithful. I am grateful for the worship of my days feeding, cleaning, reading, bathing and playing. I am grateful for the church whose doors extend all the way to the bedroom of my children.
This is worship. This is Lent.
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., and attends St. Paul’s Lutheran Church. You can read more at her website or follow her work on Facebook.
Photo of Knowle-Zeller’s children