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.

Balaam's Prayer, and Mine--June 28, 2016

[From July 3, 2012 archive]

O God, I am determined to pursue
what I am certain is the correct path;
but the insolent have risen up against me.

I know that rules and righteousness
are completely on my side;
but my way is blocked.

I am ready to beat on any
jackass who will not help me pass,
even one who has been a faithful servant.

Open my eyes to see--have you sent
an angel to block the road?
Have I chosen to rely on
the wrong authority?

Remind me to whom
I belong; make me willing
to change my mind and my way,
that I may bear fruit in your vineyard.

Lectionary Readings
Ps. 54; 146; 28; 99
Num. 22:21-38
Rom. 7:1-12
Matt. 21:23-32

Selected Verses
Ps. 54:3a
For the insolent have risen against me…

Num. 22:31-32
Then the LORD opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road, with his drawn sword in his hand; and he bowed down, falling on his face.   The angel of the LORD said to him, "Why have you struck your donkey these three times?  I have come out as an adversary, because your way is perverse before me.  …"

Rom. 7:4
In the same way, my friends, you have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead in order that we may bear fruit for God.

Matt. 21:28-29
"What do you think?  A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, 'Son, go and work in the vineyard today.'  He answered, 'I will not'; but later he changed his mind and went.  …"  [Jesus to religious authorities who questioned his authority]
The Temple of Our Hearts--June 27, 2016
[From July 2, 2012 archive]

Jesus, enter the temple of our hearts,
by your good grace drive out
sin's dominion over our lives.

Overturn our lust for silver and gold;
may we never go beyond your
command, to do less or more.

Turn our hearts to you, give us faith,
speak peace to all your people,
let us hear what you will speak.

Lectionary Readings
Ps. 57; 145; 85; 47
Numb. 22:1-21
Rom. 6:12-23
Matt. 21:12-22

Selected Verses
Ps. 85:8
Let me hear what God the LORD will speak,
          for he will speak peace to his people,
          to his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts.

Num. 22:18
But Balaam replied to the servants of Balak, "Although Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not go beyond the command of the LORD my God, to do less or more.  …"

Rom. 6:14
For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

Matt. 21:12
Then Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who were selling and buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves.

In Need of Moses, Paul, and Jesus--June 26, 2016

[From July 1, 2012 archive]

O God, you are our refuge and strength;
we need help in a time of trouble.

We have sinned; we need a Moses to pray to you
that you will take the serpents from us.

We need a Paul to proclaim to us, who the
the unknown God we worship is.

We are bent over, unable to stand straight;
we need Jesus to lay hands on us.

Lectionary Readings
Ps. 67; 150; 46; 93
Num. 21:4-9, 21-35
Acts 17:12-21, 23-24
Luke 13:10-17

Selected Verses
Ps. 46:1
God is our refuge and strength,
          a very present help in trouble.

Num. 21:7
The people came to Moses and said, "We have sinned by speaking against the LORD and against you; pray to the LORD to take away the serpents from us."  So Moses prayed for the people.

Acts 17:23
"…For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, 'To an unknown god.'  What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.  …"  [Paul to the Athenians]

Luke 13:13
When [Jesus] laid his hands on [the woman who was bent over and could not stand straight], immediately she stood up straight and began praising God.

Retreat of the Sins that Bind Us--June 25, 2016

[From June 30, 2012 & July 1, 2000 archives]

The sins that bind and oppress--hatred,
selfishness, jealousy, pride, vindictiveness--
all enemies shall retreat in the day we call to you.

To us it was a hard thing, when Aaron was dying,
to strip him of his vestments and put them on his son;
but it was thought a father can die, yet live on in his son.

Much more crucially, because you are for us
we can die to our old life, and yet live in your Son.
Blessed is the one who came in your name.  Hosanna!

Lectionary Readings
Ps. 56; 149; 118; 111
Num. 20:14-29
Rom. 6:1-11
Matt. 21:1-11

Selected Verses
Ps. 56:9
Then my enemies will retreat
          in the day when I call.
          This I know, that God is for me.

Num. 20:28a
Moses stripped Aaron of his vestments, and put them on his son Eleazar; and Aaron died there on the top of the mountain.

Rom. 6:8
But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.

Matt. 21:9
The crowds that went ahead of [Jesus] and that followed were shouting, "Hosanna to the Son of David!  Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!  Hosanna in the highest heaven!"

By Your Grace, Calm Our Fear--June 24, 2016

[From June 27, 2014 archive]

Loving God, in your grace you have given us
a free gift--the grace of Jesus Christ--
which has abounded for many.

Like the blind by the roadside
we call to Jesus to have mercy on us;
like Israel in the desert we cry out in despair.

But the terrible darkness that so frightens us
is not dark to you, O Lord, for to you
the night is as bright as the day.

By your light lead us;
by your grace,
calm our
fear.

Lectionary Readings
Ps. 130; 148; 32; 139
Num. 20:1-13
Rom. 5:12-21
Matt. 20:29-34

Selected Verses
Ps. 139:12
…even the darkness is not dark to you;
          the night is as bright as the day,
          for darkness is as light to you.

Num. 20:5
"…Why have you brought us up out of Egypt, to bring us to this wretched place?  It is no place for grain, or figs, or vines, or pomegranates; and there is no water to drink."  [The people to Moses]

Rom. 5:15b
For if the many died through the one man's trespass, much more surely have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abounded for the many.

Matt. 20:30
There were two blind men sitting by the roadside.  When they heard that Jesus was passing by, they shouted, "Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!"

From the River of Your Delights--June 23, 2016

[From June 26, 2014 archive]

O God, when we are angry
with our sisters and brothers,

quiet our complaints, and through
our Lord Jesus Christ grant us your peace.

Together may we feast on the abundance of your house,
and may you give us drink from the river of your delights.

Lectionary Readings
Ps. 36; 147:12-20; 80; 27
Num. 17:1-11
Rom. 5:1-11
Matt. 20:17-28
       
Selected Verses
Ps. 36:8
[All people may] feast on the abundance of your house,
          and you give them drink from the river of your delights. 

Num. 17:5
And the staff of the man whom I choose shall sprout; thus I will put a stop to the complaints of the Israelites that they continually make against you.

Rom. 5:1
Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…

Matt. 20:24
When the ten heard it, they were angry with the two brothers. 

God of Life, not Death--June 22, 2016


Gracious God, I understand that you have the right
to do what you choose with what belongs to you,
but, forgive me, I cannot believe you executed
fifteen thousand of your people--including
mothers and babies--because men dared
question Moses' right to lead them.
I know you as God who gives life
 to the dead, not death to the living;
who calls into existence the things that
do not exist; who gives us room in our distress.

Lectionary Readings
Ps. 15; 147:1-11; 48; 4
Num. 16:36-50
Rom. 4:13-25
Matt. 20:1-16
       
Selected Verses
Ps. 4:1
Answer me when I call, O God of my right!
          You gave me room when I was in distress.
          Be gracious to me, and hear my prayer.

Num. 16:48-49
[Aaron] stood between the dead and the living; and the plague was stopped.  Those who died by the plague were fourteen thousand seven hundred, besides those who died in the affair of Korah. 

Rom. 4:17b
…in the presence of the God in whom [Abraham] believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. 

Matt. 20:15
"…'Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me?'…" [The landowner to his slave in Jesus' parable of the vineyard laborers]