God's Masks

The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand, satisfying the desire of every living thing.
Psalm 145:15-16
When we think of providence, we too seldom remember that what God gives us almost always comes through the hands of our neighbors. Instead of manna from heaven, bread comes from a baker—or these days from a grocery store which bought the bread from a baked goods factory. And it's the same thing with virtually all our resources these days. 

Martin Luther taught that receiving nourishment in this way is no less providence than the bread Israel received in the wilderness. It's just that God wears the masks of the baker and the milkmaid to provide for us. How much more spiritual, then, would a visit to the grocery store be if we believed that the checkout clerk or the stocker were doing God's work—that if we were able to see through the mask they were wearing, we would see the God of the universe!

I think this train of thought works double for people in need who encounter volunteers at the church food cupboard, or wonder where the food at a Project Hope meal comes from. Yes, we should remember when we receive sustenance that the hand we receive it from is doing God's work. But might we also dare to realize that when we do God's will, when we feed others or provide them with goods or services they need, when we donate money or food or clothing to a useful cause, then we, too, are wearing a mask behind which lies the love of God.

Do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!
 Luke 12:22-24
Prayer after thinking about today's devotion:
Make us worthy, Lord, to serve our neighbors throughout the world who live and die in poverty and hunger. Give them, through our hands, this day their daily bread, and by our understanding love, give peace and joy.
 Teresa of Calcutta
After your own thanksgivings & petitions, close with the Lord's Prayer.
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