george_hancockstefanAs the Christmas celebration comes around, it is expected that people throughout this nation will feel that they are pressured to accept more of the Christian cheer and celebration than they want to.  On the other hand there are Christians who feel that their right to do what they want is being minimized with each passing year.  Sometimes this is true, but sometimes we construct imaginary things – no one has forbidden us to sing carols in our neighborhoods, in our parks, in nursing homes, but our conversation centers on how the public square has reduced Christmas.  On the other hand, there are people who imagine that millions of Christians have stopped shopping at stores where there Christmas greetings are not allowed. Those businesses talk about the economical injustices that Christians are doing.

As I was listening to another complaint about the reduction of Christmas spirit in the market place, a refrain from a song came to mind, “Brighten the corner where you are, brighten the corner where you are! Someone from harbor you may guide across the bar, Brighten the corner where you are!”

Sometimes it is easy to fall into the great nostalgia of the past. People talk about the great times of the past and they should not be minimized, but we should not imagine them as the perfect world.  One can read the newspapers of today and then read some history books about the sinfulness that abounded in this country before the great spiritual revivals came to this country. It was the deep sinfulness in this country that brought the various prayer and missionary movements. Brighten the corner where you are!

Sometimes we forget that we are the joy people, not the complaining people.  We have the joy of the Holy Spirit because of the great news that God has given to us. Instead of complaining, share the Good News.  Share the difference Christ has made and continues to make in your life, the life of your family, and the lives of your children.  Brighten the corner where you are.

Sometimes we have forgotten the old songs and we have not learned new ones.  I found this in myself recently. This song that I am using this morning is a song that I had to find in an old hymnal. I was thinking with sadness of all the people in our churches that never learned this song.  Then I thought of the Christmas songs that have appeared in the last 20-30 years.  Sadly, I do not know any from memory.  The Christmas story has produced new songs, yet somewhere along the line, I stopped learning them.


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Then there are those songs that are so important, the songs that make us different. There is a song that says, “You can have all this world, but give me Jesus!” I can criticize all the materialism that comes around Christmas time, but can I really sing this song?  Apostle Paul tells us that we brought nothing in this world and we will not take anything with us. I was reading an article entitled “What to give to the person that has everything.”  At what point do we say, “We do not need anything more – give it to someone else!” Brighten the corner where you are!

This year Christmas Eve is on Saturday evening and Christmas day will be the next day, Sunday. In many churches parishioners have started to tell the pastors around Thanksgiving that they cannot make two services in the row. Having to come to two services has become a negative.  The “Do we have to come to both services” question has taken away the joy of celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. No one has to come to both services! Come because you want to celebrate, come because you want to worship, come because you want to create a positive influence in your neighborhood, come and brighten the corner where you are. 

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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...