Brighten the corner

light-1282246_960_720“Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.” (Matthew 5:15 ESV)

Power-cuts. How common in many parts of the world and how troublesome! The power goes out at the worst possible moments – on the coldest nights, the hottest afternoons or when you are cooking dinner. Are we Christians sometimes like an inconvenient power failure?

There is a song I remember from childhood about brightening the corner where you are:

“Do not wait until some deed of greatness you may do,
Do not wait to shed your light afar;
To the many duties ever near you now be true,
Brighten the corner where you are.”

This song reminds us how much the world needs the light of Jesus that we have. An encouraging word to someone in distress, an act of kindness to another or forbearance with a difficult person. Our words and deeds are to be little candles to brighten the difficult spaces in people’s lives.

“Just above are clouded skies that you may help to clear,
Let not narrow self your way debar;
Though into one heart alone may fall your song of cheer,
Brighten the corner where you are.”

Years ago, I visited a discotheque for a get together with other hospital staff. I had never been to one before, and only realised half-way through the 3 hour drive that I was headed towards the sort of place my mother had warned me against. But what an experience! Situated on an island and with a tacky name like Purple Town, it was probably the most welcoming place I had ever visited. The employees were out in force to welcome us. Although I did not touch the alcohol or join the dances, everyone stopped by for a chat. No one was judgemental. Songs were dedicated to each of us. The charming lady floor manager and the head waiter went out of their way to make each of us feel special. I was treated like an old and valued friend, not a stranger. No wonder people keep going to places like that.

It struck me then, isn’t this what churches are meant to be like? Welcoming and non-judgemental. Yet, again and again I hear of people visiting churches and feeling excluded and never wanting to go there again. Personally, I find it difficult to go and greet a total stranger, and I am grateful for people in my church with a gift for chatting up new people.

“Here for all your talent you may surely find a need,
Here reflect the bright and Morning Star;
Even from your humble hand the Bread of Life may feed,
Brighten the corner where you are.”

Still, we all have gifts that we can use to make life easier for others. Remember the little boy who offered his lunch to Jesus – for the feeding of the five thousand – and what a difference that made. If all of us presented ourselves and our gifts to Jesus each day to be used by Him, how much happier the world would be. If we took just a little more effort – not too much, as that would feel burdensome – with some of our daily tasks and moments of encounter with people, we might create something of beauty, to display the beauty of our God.

“A tabernacle was set up. In its first room were the lamp-stand and the table with its consecrated bread; this was called the Holy Place.” (Hebrews 9:2 NIV)

The First Room of the tabernacle was bare and contained little except the lamp and consecrated bread – yet this is where God visited. His presence, not elaborate furnishings, made it the Holy Place. Shouldn’t our lives be like that room? Words, bare of all artifice, plain and truthful, yet kind and never critical or harsh. Giving up a seat to someone who needs it more than we do. Going quickly to the door when the bell rings, so that the delivery man isn’t forced to wait long. Thoughtfulness in everyday living. Small things look beautiful in bare rooms, and God delights to be where little things are done in His name.

God, help me brighten someone’s life today.


‘Brighten the Corner Where You Are’ by Ina D. Ogdon, pub.1913


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