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.

The Lions of Famine and War--Feb. 20, 2017


God of Mercy, for too many people
there is a famine in the land.
They lie down among lions
that greedily devour human prey.
They have been afflicted,  
 been unbearably crushed,
and they despair of life itself.
Now may we who have
 been blessed with your
mercies be merciful to them.

Lectionary Readings
Ps. 57; 145; 85; 47
Ruth 1:1-14
2 Cor. 1:1-11
Matt. 5:1-12

Selected Verses
Ps. 57:4
 I lie down among lions
          that greedily devour human prey;
their teeth are spears and arrows,
          their tongues sharp swords.

Ruth 1:1
In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land, and a certain man of Bethlehem in Judah went to live in the country of Moab, he and his wife and two sons.

2 Cor. 1:8
We do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, of the affliction we experienced in Asia; for we were so utterly, unbearably crushed that we despaired of life itself.

Matt. 5:5
"…Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.  …" [Jesus, to the crowd on the mountain]

A Refuge for Refugees--Feb. 19, 2017


Lord Jesus, there is no question about your love;
you laid down your life for your sheep.
Be with us as we try to love refugees,
who are in particular need of love.
Comfort them, as a mother comforts her child;
be their refuge and strength, a very
present help in trouble.  And
show us how to help.

Lectionary Readings
Ps. 67; 150; 46; 93
Isa. 66:7-14
1 John 3:4-10
John 10:7-16

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

Isa. 66:13
As a mother comforts her child,
          so I will comfort you;
          you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.

1 John 3:10
The children of God and the children of the devil are revealed in this way: all who do not do what is right are not from God, nor are those who do not love their brothers and sisters.

John 10:14-15
"…I am the good shepherd.  I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father.  And I lay down my life for the sheep.  …" [Jesus to the Pharisees]

To Take Hold of Life that is Really Life--Feb. 18, 2017


God, you take pleasure in your people,
in the humble and contrite in spirit,
who tremble in awe at your word.
Long prayers are useless, if we
do not do justice to the poor.

However much wealth we possess,
may we be rich in good works,
generous and ready to share,
so that we may take hold
of the life that is really
life.

Lectionary Readings
Ps. 56; 149; 118; 111
Isa. 66:1-6
1 Tim. 6:1-21
Mark 12:35-44

Selected Verses
Ps. 149:4  
For the Lord takes pleasure in his people;
          he adorns the humble with victory. 

Isa. 66:2b
  But this is the one to whom I will look,
          to the humble and contrite in spirit,
          who trembles at my word.

1 Tim. 6:18-19
[The rich] are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.

Mark 12:40
"…[The scribes] devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation."  [Jesus, while teaching in the temple]

The Conspicuous and the Hidden--Feb. 17, 2017


You search us, O God, and know our hearts;
you test us, and know our thoughts,
and you know well how far we
are from your kingdom.

Forgive our sins,
the conspicuous ones
and the hidden ones, too.

As for good works we have done,
may the conspicuous not
make us proud,
and may we not be too
eager to reveal the hidden--
but may our focus be on you
and the new things you
will bring to pass.

Lectionary Readings
Ps. 130; 148; 32; 139
Isa. 65:17-25
1 Tim. 5:1-25
Mark 12:28-34

Selected Verses
Ps. 139:23-24
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
          test me and know my thoughts.
See if there is any wicked way in me,
          and lead me in the way everlasting.

Isa. 65:17
For I am about to create new heavens
          and a new earth;
the former things shall not be remembered
          or come to mind. 

1 Tim. 5:24-25
The sins of some people are conspicuous and precede them to judgment, while the sins of others follow them there.  So also good works are conspicuous; and even when they are not, they cannot remain hidden.

Mark 12:34a
When Jesus saw that [the scribe] answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”

To Feast on the Abundance of Your House--Feb. 16, 2017


Generous God, everything you created is good,
and all may feast on the abundance of your house;
you give them drink from the river of your delights.

You are ready to be sought out, but we do not ask;
you call to us over and over, but we do not reply.
We do not give back what belongs to you--
the grateful acceptance of your gifts.

Lectionary Readings
Ps. 36; 147:12-20; 80; 27
Isa. 65:1-12
1 Tim. 4:1-16
Mark 12:13-27

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. 

Isa. 65:1
 I was ready to be sought out by those who did not ask,
          to be found by those who did not seek me.
I said, “Here I am, here I am,”
          to a nation that did not call on my name. 

1 Tim. 4:4
For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, provided it is received with thanksgiving…

Mark 12:17
Jesus said to [those who had tried to trap him], "Give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s."  And they were utterly amazed at him.

The Mystery of Our Faith in You--Feb. 15, 2017


In the midst of your temple, Lord,
we ponder your steadfast love
and the mystery of our faith in you. 
Was it all a gift from heaven,
or was it merely of human origin?

Let us not, with hardened hearts,
stray from your ways, O God.

Lectionary Readings
Ps. 15; 147:1-11; 48; 4
Isa. 63:15-64:9
1 Tim. 3:1-16
Mark 11:27-12:12

Selected Verses
Ps. 48:9
We ponder your steadfast love, O God,
          in the midst of your temple. 

Isa. 63:17a
Why, O LORD, do you make us stray from your ways
          and harden our heart, so that we do not fear you?

1 Tim. 3:9
"…[deacons] must hold fast to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.

Mark 11:30
"…Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?  Answer me."  [Jesus to the chief priests, scribes, and elders in the temple]

More than Enough of Contempt--Feb. 14, 2017


There has been more than enough of contempt,
dear God, far more than enough.
Have mercy on us.

After all you had done for the house of Israel,
they held you in contempt,
and rebelled.

People were spellbound by Jesus' preaching,
but contemptuous leaders
plotted to kill.

When even we who profess to follow Jesus
have contempt for conscience,
faith is shipwrecked.

Yes, more than enough
of contempt.

Lectionary Readings
Ps. 123; 146; 30; 86
Isa. 63:7-14
1 Tim. 1:18-2:15
Mark 11:12-26

Selected Verses
Ps. 123:3
 Have mercy upon us, O LORD, have mercy upon us,
          for we have had more than enough of contempt. 

Isa. 63:10a
But [the house of Israel] rebelled
          and grieved [the LORD's] holy spirit…

1 Tim. 1:19b
By rejecting conscience, certain persons have suffered shipwreck in the faith…

Mark 11:18
And when the chief priests and the scribes heard it, they kept looking for a way to kill [Jesus]; for they were afraid of him, because the whole crowd was spellbound by his teaching.