george_hancockstefanIn the life of any church there are two major events – Christmas and Easter.  The regular members of the church organize lots of sacred activities and the ones that are less active choose these times to show that they are still a part of the flock.  If at these two holidays, a local church does not have at least a fifty percent increase in attendance, it means that the church is struggling with survival.

Because I attend so many events during the Holy Week, I pay close attention to my ministerial colleagues preaching the Word of God.  I participated in the Maundy Thursday Service, in the Stations of the Cross, the Easter Sunrise Service and our own church’s 11:00 AM Worship Service.  The 14 Stations of the Cross this year were divided between 7 seven churches with two stations at each church.  This meant that we were walking, singing, and listening to sermons for close to 4 hours.  It was indeed a blessed time.

It was at this four hour worship service that I had the opportunity to listen to 12 preachers – both ordained ministers and laity.  (One person had to preach two homilies and I preached one)

There are a number of things that I have learned in listening to these homilies this year:

1.  There is so much diversity in preaching styles that no one from this community can excuse oneself that they could not find a preacher that fits their preference.


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2. The great surprise was that after being in the Christian Church for over fifty years, when God’s people present His word there is freshness and newness in it.  In the words of an old Puritan, God still has lots of light to shed on His Holy Word.

3. The other thing that I have learned is to appreciate repetition and tradition.  There are certain things that I have learned in my childhood and even as I hear them over and over again they do not loose their meaning.  Sometimes I play mind games by trying to recall where have I have heard this truth for the first time.

4.  God tells us that his word is powerful and that it will not return unto him void, but it will be accomplishing the purpose for which it was sent.  It is good to know that God calls us to proclaim His word, but the effectiveness of His word does not depend on us but on Him.

5. As I came home after hearing all these sermons, I remembered what Christ said: Let him who has ears, hear what the Spirit says.


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Rev. Dr. George Hancock-Stefan

George Hancock-Stefan

Pastor George Hancock-Stefan completed 30 years as the pastor of the great congregation at Central Baptist Church in Atlantic Highlands in 2020. Those 30 years have been a blessed time for him, his wife...