Psalm 147:12-20 (NRSV)
Verse 12Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem! Praise your God, O Zion!
Verse 13For he strengthens the bars of your gates; he blesses your children within you.
Verse 14He grants peace within your borders; he fills you with the finest of wheat.
Verse 15He sends out his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly.
Verse 16He gives snow like wool; he scatters frost like ashes.
Verse 17He hurls down hail like crumbs- who can stand before his cold?
Verse 18He sends out his word, and melts them; he makes his wind blow, and the waters flow.
Verse 19He declares his word to Jacob, his statutes and ordinances to Israel.
Verse 20He has not dealt thus with any other nation; they do not know his ordinances. Praise the Lord!
I wonder if this psalm would sound any different had the author experienced a real Upper-Midwestern polar vortex. "Who can stand before his cold?" The Minnesotan in me wants to say to this Israelite, "You think you know cold? I'll show you cold!" But God is described here as both the bringer of cold and hail and the one who melts it. God both makes the wind blow and strengthens the shelter of bars and gates, blessing those inside. God declares God's word, and we respond with praise.
As we continue to bask in the good news of Christmas, I am astounded that the God described in this psalm is the same God we know in the baby Jesus. As a human infant, God became vulnerable to wind and cold and needed the shelter of a manger along with the shelter of a human family. We can take comfort in our shared vulnerability with Jesus. God knows our need for warmth, security, and comfort.
Sheltering God, when cold winds blow, you give protection. When we hunger, you provide the finest wheat. When we are lost and lonely, you send your Word to take on flesh and dwell with us. Today, strengthen us to be a shelter for others in whatever storms they face. Amen.