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©Provincial Priory of Kent

Annual Church Service
27th March 2011
Once rather special prayers were offered, fine weather was ensured for the 2011 Church Service at St Georges, Chatham Maritime, on March 27th.

This beautiful venue once again welcomed many Knights, their wives, children and indeed Grandchildren, for a gathering of true family thanksgiving.

The proceedings started with the processions of the various Christian Orders in Kent, all wearing their specific regalia.

We also welcomed the Provincial Priors of Essex and Hertfordshire, with their Sub-Priors, and the Vice-Chancellor of Essex, with his wife.

The sermon by V.E.Kt. John Sylvester is reproduced below, and the hymns were well known and rousing.

At the end of service, under an hour from the very first Procession in, the Recession was formed with all the distinguished guests, their wives, and the Officers of the Province and their wives retired to join everyone else at the afternoon tea and buffet. The truly magnificent spread, presented by our caterer, Carol McDermott was particularly enhanced by “Masonic Iced Cup Cakes”, and as you will see from the pictures below “Templar Tartlets”.

Kent KT Family Church Service Address 2011
V.E.Kt. J.E.K.Sylvester

The Church, from early days, has set aside the period of Lent as a time of personal discipline and devotion in preparation for Easter. Rightly understood, Lent is intended to be a means of spiritual renewal, of deeper fellowship with God - a springtime within the soul - a time for removing the weeds of sin and cultivating the tender shoots of forgiveness, of developing the love and word of God.

As a Christian order it might be appropriate to reflect not only on our Christian growth but also on our own dedication to the Knight Templars, to remind ourselves of the obligations to which our membership demands and renew our determination to be faithful soldiers of the Cross.

Before any business of the Preceptory is transacted the volume of the Sacred Law is opened, remember it is not just an ornament, for we were recommended in the charge after Initiation to "make a most serious contemplation of the Volume of the Sacred Law" - not merely to open it and leave it to gather dust as some mere object of symbolism. It is "the unerring standard of truth and justice" and we were charged to "regulate our life and actions by the divine precepts it contains".

Brethren, we cannot achieve that objective without 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. At the beginning of our meetings the Chaplain prays ‘direct us that our labours may be begun, continued and ended in love to Thee’, a reminder that we are in a room dedicated to God and are in His Presence, the Bible is then opened at the first Chapter of St John’s Gospel, ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God’ everything stems from and belongs to God. We should remember that every time we enter the Temple we enter a room dedicated to God.

In the first lesson Solomon reminds the Israelites not to forget the teachings of God, to keep His commandments and trust Him with all their heart. To seek His wisdom which is more precious than silver, gold or precious jewels. His ways are ways of pleasantness and peace. It is a call to us to take up our cross and follow Him, to stand and fight against the evils of this materialistic and sinful world.

In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus widened the whole concept of the neighbour. From being a friend, or a close acquaintance, Jesus enlarged the concept to include anyone who was in need, even an enemy. At face value, the story is straightforward. The priest and the Levite, members of the caring professions, people who ought to have shown concern, simply passed by. The humble Samaritan, the enemy, regarded by the Jews as not much better than a dog, took the trouble to stop and offer what help he could. And then went the extra mile by taking the injured man to hospital and paying for the man's treatment himself.

If we look at it more closely perhaps the priest and the Levite were afraid. Frightened of being mugged themselves, if the robbers were still in the vicinity. Or afraid the man was drunk or on drugs, and therefore unpredictable or violent. Or perhaps they simply didn't want to be held up maybe for days with all the bureaucratic red tape that goes along with witnessing or rescuing.

If we were in a really sleazy part of town around midnight, and saw a down-and-out with an empty bottle of spirits, lying in the gutter outside a pub, would we stop? Should we stop? If we saw someone being mugged by a large gang of teenage thugs, should we attempt to intervene? On the other hand, if we saw an elderly person trip over a paving stone, we’d have no hesitation in rushing to assist. Who is our neighbour?

In our ceremony we are reminded that, as the Cock crows to herald the morn, it remind us to ask for assistance to perform our daily duties, a call to pray to God each morning.

We are also told to put into practise in our daily lives those duties we have been taught in our Preceptories. We may enjoy the ritual but if its true meaning and worth remains in the four walls of the temple and others do not see the value of its teaching then we are failing in one of the reasons for joining Freemasonry ‘to render ourselves more extensibly serviceable to our fellow creatures.’ Helping by our example to make the world a better place.

I am firmly of the belief that if we are to be true Soldiers of the Cross then we must be seen to be so. We must be active members of the community, attend Church regularly, love and serve God and our neighbour.

So brethren, our religious duties are not an appendage to our ritual, they are fundamental to our profession, as Knights of this Order, of belief in God. Those Christian tenets should always be at the very heart of our motives and actions. It is by putting this teaching into practice in our daily lives we will be able to spread that ‘great light’ in the community in which we live and work .

Regular attendance at a Masonic meeting is no faith substitute for regular attendance at church or other place of worship. The major part of the lives we exhibit, as God-believing Masons, should be learned within these houses of worship. Masonic objectives, however, are serious and its members are ordinary individuals who aims are 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.

Let us then rededicate ourselves to God’s service; so we may, as Soldiers of the Cross 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, so He may use us to further His kingdom of love, joy and peace, raise the standard of chivalrous honour and preserve the honour and dignity of this order.