I am an emeritus professor from Cornell University and a Commissioned Lay Preacher in the Presbyterian Church (USA). For many years I have followed the Daily Lectionary as printed in the Mission Yearbook of my church. For each day of a two-year cycle, the lectionary lists four psalms and three other scriptural passages--usually one from the Old Testament and two from the New Testament. My practice is to copy down a verse or two from one of the psalms and from each of the other three passages. After I have written out all four selections, I reflect upon them, rearrange their order, and incorporate them into a meditation. Sometimes I retain much of the original wording; sometimes all that remains of a selection is an idea that was stimulated when I read the original words. All selections are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible. For the Daily Lectionary, see the link below.

A Help for Shaken Hearts--Dec. 8, 2016


You, O God, are our rock and our salvation,
what can cause us to shake with fear?
You are our fortress, our protector against 
bad news and false rumors--why do
our hearts shake as trees shake before wind?
We must not be alarmed or shaken
in mind, by word or by spirit or by letter.
Make us obedient like Peter and
like John, who obeyed Jesus and found
everything just as he had told them.

Lectionary Readings
Ps. 18:1-20; 147:12-20; 126; 62
Isa. 7:1-9
2 Thess. 2:1-12
Luke 22:1-13
           
Selected Verses
Ps. 62:2
[God] alone is my rock and my salvation,
          my fortress; I shall never be shaken.

Isa. 7:2
When the house of David heard that Aram had allied itself with Ephraim, the heart of Ahaz and the heart of his people shook as the trees of the forest shake before the wind.

2 Thess. 2:2
…not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as though from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here. 

Luke 22:13
So [Peter and John] went and found everything as [Jesus] had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal.

In the Day of Trouble--Dec. 7, 2016


In the day of trouble, O God, we call on you.
Take away our sin, and blot out our guilt;
make us worthy of your call, and by
your power fulfill every good resolve
and work of faith, so that the name of
our Lord Jesus may be glorified in us,
and us in him, according to your grace.
Then send us on our way, forgiven and
endeavoring not to sin again.

Lectionary Readings
Ps. 50; 147:1-11; 53; 17
Isa. 6:1-13
2 Thess. 1:1-12
John 7:53-8:11
           
Selected Verses
Ps. 50:15
"…Call on me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me."
[God to God's people]

Isa. 6:7
The seraph touched my mouth with [a live coal] and said: "Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out." 

2 Thess. 1:11-12
To this end we always pray for you, asking that our God will make you worthy of his call and will fulfill by his power every good resolve and work of faith, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

John 8:11
[The woman caught in adultery] said, "No one, sir." And Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you.  Go your way, and from now on do not sin again."

How Long Shall the Wicked Exult?--Dec. 6, 2016

[A post election prayer]

O God, how long shall the wicked,
how long shall the wicked exult?
Those who call evil good, and good evil,
who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter,
who put darkness for light, and light for darkness?
Lord, give us the strength to endure all these things,
but remind us in all circumstances to give you thanks,
rejoicing in your love, praying without ceasing.
And remind us--even though heaven and
earth pass away, your words
shall not pass away.

Lectionary Readings
Ps. 33; 146; 85; 94
Isa. 5:18-25
1 Thess. 5:12-28
Luke 21:29-38
           
Selected Verses
Ps. 94:3
O LORD, how long shall the wicked,
          how long shall the wicked exult?

Isa. 5:20
Ah, you who call evil good
     and good evil,
who put darkness for light
     and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
     and sweet for bitter! 

1 Thess. 5:16-18
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 

Luke 21:33, 36
"…Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. …Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man."  [Jesus to the people in Jerusalem] 

Destined Not for Wrath--Dec. 5, 2016


When the powers of heaven are shaken,
and people faint from fear and foreboding,
remind us, O God, you have destined us not
for wrath, but for salvation through our Lord
Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether
we are asleep or awake we may live with him.
Draw us up from the miry bog of selfishness,
of extravagant building, of mindless growth,
of thoughtlessness for the rest of the world,
and set our feet on the solid rock of love
for your creation, and all living things.

Lectionary Readings
Ps. 122; 145; 40; 67
Isa. 5:8-17
1 Thess. 5:1-11
Luke 21:20-28
           
Selected Verses
Ps. 40:2
[The LORD] drew me up from the desolate pit,
          out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
          making my steps secure. 

Isa. 5:8
Ah, you who join house to house,
     who add field to field,
until there is room for no one but you,
     and you are left to live alone
     in the midst of the land! 

1 Thess. 5:9-10
For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him. 

Luke 21:26
"…People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.  …"  [Jesus to the people in Jerusalem] 

Three Questions for God--Dec. 4, 2016


God, you expect justice,
but you see bloodshed;
expect righteousness,
but only hear a cry.

To what then can you compare
the people of this generation,
and what are we like?

Who among us can ascend your hill;
who can stand in your holy place?

And what sort of persons do you want us to be
in leading lives of holiness and godliness?

Lectionary Readings
Ps. 24; 150; 25; 110
Isa. 5:1-7
2 Peter 3:11-18
Luke 7:28-35
           
Selected Verses
Ps. 24:3
Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD?
     And who shall stand in his holy place?

Isa. 5:7
For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts
     is the house of Israel,
and the people of Judah
     are his pleasant planting;
he expected justice,
     but saw bloodshed;
righteousness,
     but heard a cry!

2 Peter 3:11
Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought you to be in leading lives of holiness and godliness…

Luke 7:31
"…To what then will I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like?  …"  [Jesus to the crowds]

Before the Mountains Were Brought Forth--Dec. 3, 2016


Before the mountains were brought forth,
or ever you had formed the earth and world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

You give shade by day from the heat and
 refuge and shelter from the storm and rain.

The days will come when all that we create
will be thrown down; even so, through Jesus,
you will bring with him those who have died.

Lectionary Readings
Ps. 90; 149; 80; 72
Isa. 4:2-6
1 Thess. 4:13-18
Luke 21:5-19
           
Selected Verses
Ps. 90:2
 Before the mountains were brought forth,
          or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
          from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

Isa. 4:6
[The LORD's canopy] will serve as a pavilion, a shade by day from the heat, and a refuge and a shelter from the storm and rain.

1 Thess. 4:14
For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died. 

Luke 21:5
When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, [Jesus] said, "As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down."

How We Ought to Live to Please God--Dec. 2, 2016


Lord Jesus, you regarded the prayer of the destitute,
and did not despise it.  Should we?
You called out those who ground the face of the poor,
who devoured widows' houses,
and then for the sake of appearance said long prayers.
Does that describe us?
You showed us how we ought to live and please God.
When will we do so?

Lectionary Readings
Ps. 102; 148; 130; 16
Isa. 3:1-4:1
1 Thess. 4:1-12
Luke 20:41-21:4
           
Selected Verses
Ps. 102:17
[The LORD] will regard the prayer of the destitute,
          and will not despise their prayer. 

Isa. 3:15
What do you mean by crushing my people,
          by grinding the face of the poor? says the Lord GOD of hosts.

1 Thess. 4:1
Finally, brothers and sisters, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus that, as you learned from us how you ought to live and to please God (as, in fact, you are doing), you should do so more and more. 

Luke 20:47
"… [The scribes] devour widows' houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers.  They will receive the greater condemnation."  [Jesus to his disciples, in the hearing of all the people]