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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Tuesday, January 14, 2020  

Today’s Scripture Reading | Psalm 147:12–20                             

Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem!
   Praise your God, O Zion!
For he strengthens the bars of your gates;
   he blesses your children within you.
He grants peace within your borders;
   he fills you with the finest of wheat.
He sends out his command to the earth;
   his word runs swiftly.
He gives snow like wool;
   he scatters frost like ashes.
He hurls down hail like crumbs—
   who can stand before his cold?
He sends out his word, and melts them;
   he makes his wind blow, and the waters flow.
He declares his word to Jacob,
   his statutes and ordinances to Israel.
He has not dealt thus with any other nation;
   they do not know his ordinances.
Praise the Lord! (NRSV)

It is hard for me to imagine that this psalmist living in the Middle East experienced things like hoarfrost, snow, ice, blowing gale-force winds. It doesn’t strike me as a place with intense seasons. But in this psalm we are plunged into winter imagery. The seemingly frozen tundra of the world encounters the power of God, who melts away the stinging winter’s ice pellets and the snow that covers the earth.

The psalmist is very far from Chicago, both in distance and time. The psalmist offers his hearers imagery of a God who made the earth, both the balmy summer breeze and the biting winter gale. The psalmist in an uncanny way melds the seasons’ sharp contrasts with a God who brings life, solace, even peace to those with whom God is in close relationship. And the reminder of the power of nature’s forces may just speak to the power of God’s capacity to bring about peace, justice, and harmony, even when it seems like the bleak midwinter has the final word.

As you step out into the gale and biting wind, you might remember that its strength and fury give way to stinging cheeks, frostbitten toes, and numb fingers, finding the spring’s light—warm in its holy harboring. Yes, just you wait. For the more penetrating the cold the more ready one is for waters to flow, the light to play, the land to sing with the glory of God’s holy balm! We urgently wait for the frosty, moaning wind to give way to the flow, the remedy of God’s remarkable changes! And we wait for peace—peace that claws its way out of the winter gale and nests in the heart of all who open the way to it.

In the bleak blizzards of this wintertide help us, O God, to trust in your eternal store of change. For you created this world in all of its wonder, and for that we give thanks. We give thanks for snow, for wind, for all that is hard and bitter cold. And we wait for the melting flow of your love to reside within us. Amen.

Written by Lucy Forster-Smith, Senior Associate Pastor for Leadership Development and Adult Education

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