God At Work

Here is one of my favorite poems by Christian poet John Leax titled, “At the Winter Feeder.” Leax has a way of seeing God in creation. 

His feather flame doused dull

by icy cold,

the cardinal hunched

into the rough, green feeder

but ate no seed.


Through binoculars I saw

festered and useless

his beak, broken

at the root.


Then two: one blazing, one gray,

rode the swirling weather

into my vision

and lighted at his side.


Unhurried, as if possessing

the patience of God,

they cracked sunflowers

and fed him

beak to wounded beak

choice meats.


Each morning and afternoon

the winter long,

that odd triumvirate,

that trinity of need,

returned and ate

their sacrament

of broken seed.

(From John Leax, The Task of Adam (Zondervan, 1985).

It is just like God to be “hidden” in His creation as two birds care for a third with a broken beak. Their “sacrament of broken seed” is “sacramental” as God provides for even the weakest of His creatures through the care of others.

One often hears today of a choice between being a church which takes good care of its own and being a church which cares for the lost. The choice is false. In mercy the church cares for all. Both a mutual encouragement of one another and an unconditional love of strangers characterize the body of Christ.

A friend of Martin Luther, musician Matthias Weller, was prone to depression.  In 1534 Luther wrote Weller, “Since you are still weak in your faith, listen to us, who by God’s grace know it, and lean on our staff until you learn to walk by yourself.  When good people comfort you, my dear Matthias, learn to believe that God is speaking to you through them.” (Quoted in Philip Krey and Peter Krey, Luther’s Spirituality [Paulist Press, 2007], 12.)

The mission of making disciples depends on God strengthening us through the mutual encouragement of brothers and sisters in Christ. Sometimes we are the comforted, receiving God’s Word and strength from others; sometimes we are the comforters, sharing God’s Word and strength with others (2 Cor 1: 3-4).  All this comforting takes on a sacramental quality because, behind it all, God is at work, strengthening His church for His mission.

In the Book and in the words of a family member or friend, with the daily renewal of Baptism, under bread and wine, and in our love toward every neighbor, God is at work. As in two cardinals at a winter feeder, caring for a third, God is here, hidden, but if we see, very much at work.

This should not surprise us, a hidden God at work in love. Consider the cross.