©Provincial Priory of Kent
2012 Church Service
March 25th 2012
Once again we meet in this lovely building to praise God, to renew our commitment to Him and to witness to our Knightly duties as Soldiers of the Cross.
As Masons we are told to practice out of the Lodge those lessons we learn in it. In our KT ritual this is emphasised when we are told to put on the whole armour of God. Have you thought what that really means?
On this special day it might do us all good to reflect on our own dedication to the causes for which we assemble together and to remind ourselves of the obligations to which our masonic membership demands; ‘By virtuous, amiable and discreet conduct to prove to the world the happy and beneficial effects of our Ancient Institution’; and as Christian Knights, to take up the Cross and follow Christ, who is the way the truth and the life; to spread His gospel of love, of hope and of peace.
In today’s first lesson from Chronicles our instructions are clear we have to make known his deeds, tell of His wonderful works and seek His presence continually; give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, His steadfast love endures for ever.
We are called to worship Him, to set an example by regular attendance at Church. Practising faith in one's God is appropriately ritualized and sacramentalized in the church. Regular attendance at Lodge is no faith substitute for regular attendance at church. I often wonder why men join religious orders and hardly ever attend Church!
If we merely dress up in knightly robes and do not attend to our important Christian duties then we are failing in our duties as Knight Templars. If we are to be true knights it is essential that we indeed do put on the whole armour of God.
When a candidate is initiated into Masonry he is charged to "make a most serious contemplation of the Volume of the Sacred Law, to regard it as the unerring standard of truth and justice" and he is further urged to "regulate his life and actions by the divine precepts it contains". Brethren, we cannot achieve that objective without constantly reading that volume; for we are informed that it will teach us "the important duties we owe to God, to our neighbour and to ourselves.
We are told the Sacred Volume will guide us to all truth, direct our steps in the paths of happiness, and point out to us the whole duty of man. We are also told to practise out of the Lodge those duties we have been taught in it. We may enjoy the ritual but if its true meaning and worth remains in the four walls of the Preceptory and others do not see the value of its teaching, then we are failing in one of the reasons for joining Masonry ‘to render ourselves more extensibly serviceable to our fellow creatures.’ Helping, by our example, to make the world a better place. Remember a man of words and not of deeds is like a garden full of weeds.
One of the things that Freemasonry teaches is that a member should be religious, actively following his own religion but also respecting the religion of others. Contrary to what many have stated Freemasonry is not a religion, nor is it a substitute for one. Every brother entering the Christian degrees in Masonry, based on the teaching and life of Jesus Christ or on the Crusades, is again reminded of his duty to God, his neighbour and his Church; to practise universal charity, to foster high moral standards, to build friendships, to serve the community and to develop values such as integrity, respect, self-discipline, discretion, virtue and responsibility; surely qualities which are desperately needed in the torn, divided, selfish and materialistic world in which we live today.
A good Mason keeps his priorities in order. Masonry helps and encourages a man to be a better church member, and a good church member usually makes a good Mason. Some of the most religious people I have ever known have been Masons; but for any person to allow Masonry to become his religion or to take the place of his church is a mistake and is not due to Masonic teaching but to someone's misinterpretation or misunderstanding.
Let us remember the words of the prophet Isaiah “Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near”. Constantly turn to that Holy Book, communicate with God in prayer, be regular in Church attendance then with His help, be men and women of action, seeking to make the world in which we live a better place.
In our second lesson the writer of the letter to Timothy says we should fight the good fight, and he spells out what that means. It means godliness by pursuing right thought and ways of living, demonstrating faith in God, endurance when things don't go exactly as we would wish them to go, and learning to love other people. As Christian Knights we are told to aim at righteousness, godliness, faith, hope, love, steadfastness and gentleness.
The writer urges his readers to fight the good fight of the faith, for that's the only path to eternal life. And he warns against the corroding power of wealth; ‘the love of money’ he says ‘is the root of all kinds of evil’, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith. Jesus also recognised the particular temptations faced by the wealthy when he said, "Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God”. Money itself is not evil, it can be used for the good of others but is often a handicap when centered on self.
Let us then rededicate ourselves to God’s service; so may we as Christians and Freemasons, let our light so shine in this secular society darkened by doubts, selfish behaviour and intolerance that people may learn about, get to know and trust God. God who is the source of hope, the God who simply loves us, who is continually knocking at the door of our heart, wanting to come in, to live with us and for us to live in Him so He may use us to further His kingdom of love and joy and peace and fight the evils of this world.
John Sylvester P.Gt. Registrar, Provincial Prelate