by Kimberly Knowle-Zeller

In our dining room sits a purple, crystal vase. Most days it’s empty of flowers. It’s there for decoration but also so much more. The vase, like many objects, has a story—a beautiful story of hope, of love beyond death and of the connections we make in this life. When I share the story of this one purple vase, I share a piece of my faith. I let others see what I believe.

In my kitchen cabinet sits a yellow, Pyrex mixing bowl that belonged to my grandmother. She mixed in that bowl, and now I mix in it as well. I let my toddler daughter help with the pouring and mixing too. Passed down from my grandmother to my mother and now to me, the yellow bowl is full of history and stories of shared meals: love expressed through food. Whenever I take out the yellow bowl, I share a piece of my faith. I let others see what I believe.

In my car, tucked safely in the glove compartment, I have a hedgehog doll. She’s old, worn and funny-looking. She’s my good luck hedgehog. That’s the tradition passed down from my German family members. The hedgehogs were bought in Germany and have been safely stowed in cars, homes and suitcases for decades. I have no doubt that I’ll be gifting my daughter with her own hedgehog someday. Whenever I show my hedgehog to a friend, I share a piece of my faith. I let others see what I believe.

A purple vase, a yellow mixing bowl and a hedgehog are all simple objects. But if we let them, our objects can tell a powerful story of faith and belief—a story of our lives and a story of the God who created us and the world.

This is the lesson we learn at church over and over: Simple, tangible objects can and do contain the holy. We touch and taste the bread and wine. We feel the water on our foreheads marking the sign of the cross. Bread, wine and water show us what it means to be transformed by our objects. Bread, wine and water that are never just bread, wine and water.

Kimberly Knowle-Zeller is an ordained ELCA pastor, writer, mother of a toddler and spouse of an ELCA pastor. She lives with her family in Cole Camp, Missouri. Her website is