We cannot live - certainly we cannot live for long without some kind of relationship with the God who is the beginning and the end of all life, the God in whose image we are made, the God
for whom our hearts are
restless until they rest in Him.
And that is why as we
come to this Service of
Celebration and Thanksgiving I am so grateful for the fundamental belief that unites all Freemasons in a Supreme Being. We may come from different traditions of faith, but let this be our starting point
that the God in whom we live and move and have our being is the One in whom alone we
can find our direction, our meaning, our destiny.
But it is not enough to rest there. And if faith religious faith - is looked upon by so many people today with indifference, with scepticism, it is because all too often faith appears to have no cash value.
What does it mean in practice? Does it still have the power to convert, to transform, to give a new sense of identity, of purpose? I shall never forget some twenty years ago listening to a young African priest from Kenya, speaking in one of our English cathedrals about the phenomenal growth of the church in his country.
When he had finished speaking, someone asked him: 'Why is it that in your country the church is advancing by leaps and bounds, but here we seem to be running flat out in order to stay in the same place?'
He hesitated for a moment, and then he said: 'I think
that perhaps in my country people are not yet tired
I was always grateful for that answer, and I think I know what he meant. Again:
whatever our tradition of faith, it is all too easy for faith to become just that - a tradition, a culture, a convention.
We think we can take it for granted. We think we know what it means for us and for other people; but unless faith is renewed in every age, unless the wellsprings of faith are renewed in us, it becomes tired and all too easily disposable.
The only thing that has to happen for evil to triumph is for good people - good men, good women - to do nothing. Works that are not rooted in faith can so easily become an end in themselves.
But faith that does not issue in works is not faith.
Faith - like love - must overflow and give itself away. And that is why as we come to this Service of Celebration and Thanksgiving I am so grateful for the emphasis that I find in Freemasonry upon Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth.
Brotherly Love, because whether we acknowledge
it or not we are all deeply bound up in one another,
we are all profoundly interconnected. Every
man is my brother, and
my brother is every man. Relief, because life does not deal an equal hand to every one of us. Accident, tragedy, human failing - people will be touched by these things at any time. And there is a responsibility upon those of us who can help to ensure that those who are in need are properly assisted.
Truth, because at the end of the day what we are is deeply bound up with questions of integrity, of value. What are the things in which we believe?
What are the things for which we live and - yes - for which in some circumstances we are prepared to die? And for me - drawn as we are
from different traditions of faith - truth is to be found not in books, not in ideas, not even in rituals, but in a person - in people - in whom we dare to believe we see the ultimate truth about God and man.
Some one will say, "You have faith and I have works". Show
me your faith apart from your
works, and I by my works will show you my faith".
Freemasonry in the Community Week speaks of your attempts to share with the wider public the meaning of Freemasonry and the part that it tries to play in community life.
I wish you well in that endeavour. You have an ancient history. Yes, there will be perceptions that need to be corrected; misunderstandings - at times wilful
- that need to
be better informed.
But if faith and works can be the main thrust of what you have to say, then you cannot fail to make a contribution an all-important contribution to the life of society today.
There has never been a
time when we need more urgently men and women of
faith, and men and women who are known not just by what they believe but also by what they do.
May God enrich and renew you as you go forward in the work to which you have put your hand.
African Masons set the pace
Overseas District Grand Lodges also took part in Freemasonry in the
In Sierra Leone, the Irish and Scottish Constitution
Masons joined in the celebrations.
There was a Masonic
evening at the British Council Hall in Freetown, a sponsored walk in aid of charity, a Grand Thanksgiving Service at Wesley Methodist Church and a visit to the King George VI Home for
The walk took place through a well-travelled and popular route through the major streets of Freetown, with the Masonic participants in T-shirts with the square and compasses on them.
The District Grand Master, Dr. R.N.F. Cummings, led the church service with K.A.B. Ferguson, Grand Inspector of Irish Lodges in Sierra Leone and Canon V.J.
Hastings-Spaine, Depute District Grand Master, Scottish Constitution, also in attendance.
Contributions were made to the rebuilding of Holy Trinity Church in
Freetown and a mosque in Wellington, both destroyed during the civil conflict.
Web site created by Mark Griffin