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.

What Matters Most--July 29, 2016

[From Aug. 4, 2006 archive]

Teach us what matters most, O God—
not armaments, but your name.

Teach us to sing our praise to you,
no matter how illustrious the competition.

Teach us to hear your voice speaking
midst the uproar of the crowd.

Then teach us with fear and joy
to run and do your bidding.

Lectionary Readings
Ps. 88; 148; 6; 20
Judg. 5:1-18
Acts 2:1-21
Matt. 28:1-10
           
Selected Verses
Ps. 20:7
Some take pride in chariots, and some in horses,
            but our pride is in the name of the LORD our God.

Judg. 5:3
“Hear, O kings; give ear, O princes;
            to the LORD I will sing,
            I will make melody to the LORD, the God of Israel.   

Acts 2:6
And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each.

Matt. 28:8
So [Mary Magdalene and the other Mary] left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples.

A Voice We Had Not Known--July 28, 2018

[From Aug. 3, 2006 archive]

We hear a voice we had not known,
a voice that promises relief from our burden.
What voice is this?

Is it like the sugary voice of Jael to Sisera,
who offered the warrior a rug to hide under and warm milk to ease his fear,
then while he slept hammered a tent stake through his temple?

Or like the voice of Judas, whose love for Jesus
did not preclude his serving as a guide
for the arresting party?  

No, it is more like the voice of women who followed Jesus
and provided for him all the way from Galilee to crucifixion,
then stayed with him even after.

Lectionary Readings
Ps. 143; 147:12-20; 81; 116
Judg. 4:4-23
Acts 1:15-26
Matt. 27:55-66
           
Selected Verses
Ps. 81:5c-6
I hear a voice I had not known:
“I relieved your shoulder of the burden;
            your hands were freed from the basket.   

Judg. 4:18
Jael came out to meet Sisera, and said to him, “Turn aside, my lord, turn aside to me; have no fear.”  So he turned aside to her into the tent, and she covered him with a rug.

Acts 1:16
“Friends, the scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit through David foretold concerning Judas, who became a guide for those who arrested Jesus…”  [Peter, to the believers]

Matt. 27:55
Many women were also there, looking on from a distance; they had followed Jesus from Galilee and had provided for him.

When Darkness Covers the Land--July27, 2016


Rare the land--certainly not ours--
with eighty years' rest from warfare.
When darkness covers the whole land,
and we are sure you have forsaken us,
it is hard to wait for your promises,
but as the mountains surround
Jerusalem, so you surround
your people, O God.

Lectionary Readings
Ps. 65; 147:1-11; 125; 91
Judg. 3:12-30
Acts 1:1-14
Matt. 27:45-54
           
Selected Verses
Ps. 125:2
As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
          so the LORD surrounds his people,
          from this time on and forevermore. 

Judg. 3:30
So Moab was subdued that day under the hand of Israel.  And the land had rest eighty years.

Acts 1:4a
While staying with [the apostles], [the risen Jesus] ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father.

Matt. 27:45-46
From noon on, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon.  And about three o'clock Jesus cried with a loud voice, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" that is, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

Why Not Yourself, Jesus?--July 26, 2016

[From July 31, 2012 archive]

Jesus, you were wise in what is good,
and you were guileless in what is evil.

You were moved with pity by the groaning
of those who were persecuted and oppressed.

But with mischief in their hearts, workers of evil
mocked you--if you saved others, why not yourself?

We have often heard the answer, yet plaintively ask anew:
Why did not God deliver you from the hand of your enemies?

Lectionary Readings
Ps. 54; 146; 28; 99
Judg. 2:1-5, 11-23
Rom. 16:17-27
Matt. 27:32-44
           
Selected Verses
Ps. 28:3
Do not drag me away with the wicked,
          with those who are workers of evil,
who speak peace with their neighbors,
          while mischief is in their hearts.

Judg. 2:18
Whenever the LORD raised up judges for them, the LORD was with the judge, and he delivered them from the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge; for the LORD would be moved to pity by their groaning because of those who persecuted and oppressed them.

Rom. 16:19b
…I want you to be wise in what is good and guileless in what is evil.

Matt. 27:41-42a
In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking [Jesus], saying, "He saved others; he cannot save himself.  …"

Until the Destroying Storms Pass By--July 25, 2016


God, we cannot know what refuge we will find from  
the destroying storms.
On his deathbed, Joshua was surrounded by loyal friends,
from whom he extracted promises.
Paul in his letter to the church at Rome sent greetings
to all whom he knew and hoped to visit.
Jesus had to confront alone those who mocked him
and led him away to be crucified.

Lectionary Readings
Ps. 57; 145; 85; 47
Josh. 24:16-33
Rom. 16:1-16
Matt. 27:24-31
           
Selected Verses
Ps. 57:1b
…in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,
          until the destroying storms pass by.

Josh. 24:28-29
So Joshua sent the people away to their inheritances.  After these things Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died, being one hundred and ten years old. 

Rom. 16:15-16
Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them.  Greet one another with a holy kiss.  All the churches of Christ greet you.

Matt. 27:31
After mocking [Jesus], [the soldiers] stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him.  Then they led him away to crucify him.

Before You, We Present Ourselves--July 24, 2016


We present ourselves before you,
for you are exalted
among the nations, exalted in the earth.

We present ourselves before you,
and we are still,
and we know that you are God.

We present ourselves before you,
and we believe,
even though some refuse to believe.

We present ourselves before you,
and before Jesus,
for he is with you, and Lord of all.

Lectionary Readings
Ps. 67; 150; 46; 93
Josh. 24:1-15
Acts 28:23-31
Mark 2:23-28
           
Selected Verses
Ps. 46:10
“Be still, and know that I am God!
          I am exalted among the nations,
          I am exalted in the earth.” 

Josh. 24:1
Then Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and summoned the elders, the heads, the judges, and the officers of Israel; and they presented themselves before God. 

Acts 28:24
Some were convinced by what [Paul] had said, while others refused to believe. 

Mark 2:28
"…so the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath."

Where to Put Our Trust?--July 23, 2016


Neither Paul nor Jesus
put their confidence in mortals;
they put their trust in you, dear God.
They were not able to rest from all their
enemies, nor did they live to be old
and well advanced in years;
but who can doubt their
ministries were
acceptable
to you?

Lectionary Readings
Ps. 56; 149; 118; 111
Josh. 23:1-16
Rom. 15:25-33
Matt. 27:11-23
           
Selected Verses
Ps. 118:8
 It is better to take refuge in the LORD
          than to put confidence in mortals. 

Josh. 23:1
A long time afterward, when the LORD had given rest to Israel from all their enemies all around, and Joshua was old and well advanced in years…

Rom. 15:30
I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in earnest prayer to God on my behalf, that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my ministry to Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints…

Matt. 27:23
Then [Pilate] asked, "Why, what evil has he done?"  But [the crowds] shouted all the more, "Let him be crucified!"