Brothers, I have two themes for this coming year, Brotherhood and Generational Wisdom. At the onset of our initiation into masonry, we were all given a challenge: “The design of the masonic institution is to make its votaries wiser, better and consequently happier. We receive none knowingly into our ranks who are not moral and upright before God, or of good repute before the world. Such persons when associated together will naturally seek each other’s welfare and happiness equally with their own. That they may do so upon a common platform and become not weary . . . You have been elected by the members of this lodge, by your own voluntary petition to become united with us in this good and great work. . . . Are you willing to take such an obligation as all masons have done before you . . .?” Many become linked with our fraternity, but far less truly unite or stay united with us. If I may, I would like to pose a couple of reasons why I believe this happens.
They were never connected. The initiatory process goes beyond the ceremony itself. In fact, for many of us, the ceremonies are just a blurry mess of mass information. The true connection comes from the mentoring process itself. Arguments can be made on both sides as to the necessity of doing the memory work. I have heard them both. I have seen the benefit of both, however, the one truth I have seen is that those brothers who never really connected with the lodge, failed to connect with anyone in the lodge. They either did not have a mentor, had a mentor that was ill equipped, or had a mentor that was more focused on the work rather than the relationship. Good mentors, not only provides a good foundation for masonry, but also plants the seed of brotherly love.
Some have become weary in well doing. Unfortunately, like so many institutions in this country, we fall under the old adage, “10% of the people doing 90% of the work.” Some members who early on enjoyed the fellowship and gleaned wisdom from our ancient institution just plain grew tired of “holding it all together”. Respect must be given to those few men who have put in the extra effort over the years to keep this lodge alive. Right now, we have a good lodge. Brothers who visit our lodge, like what they see. We have a good core of participants. We do have a sense of brotherhood. But are we a healthy lodge? We can answer this question by evaluating 4 areas of our lodge:
In degree work, are we self-sufficient?
Are we amply manned during fundraising events?
Is our building well maintained?
How far will we go to help our brothers and their families in need?
The stronger we are in these four areas, the stronger we are as a lodge. The Grand Architect has given each of us two gifts. The gift of faith, that He is always present and able, and the gift of talent. Some have more talent than others, but he has given each of us talent not only to improve our way of life but to help those around us. Imagine what we could do if 90% of our members used their talents 10% of the time to benefit the lodge. King Solomon’s Temple was not created by a few men, but by many men glorifying their God, by using their talents to create something bigger than themselves. One perfected stone at a time. One perfect ornament at a time. What gift do you have to offer; what are you willing to learn to make our lodge a pillar within the community of Rossville. A pillar that is square and true. A pillar that proclaims the greatness of deity and the humanity of man. A pillar that will produce moral and upright men for generations to come. 3. Lastly, they find no value in attendance. Let’s face it. What we are asking every member of our lodge to do, is to take time away from their families, their businesses, their rest, their recreation, and their communities to invest time with us. What are we giving them in return? Are we giving them wisdom to contrive, strength to endure and beauty to adorn? Are we making them wiser, better and consequently happier? Are the activities of the lodge making them better men? Does the lodge as a whole represent a pillar in the community? Is there a true sense of brotherhood? Why should they come to stated meetings if it is all about the business? Why should they come to degree work if it is all about the memory work? Why should they work the fish fries or breakfasts if they don’t believe in the value of the institution? Freemasonry is about passing on wisdom. As a lodge we need to take every opportunity to educate our members, both new and old, to the truths that freemasonry allegorically and emblematically represent. Teach the value of a good foundation. The value of making a positive influence in the world. The value of living life as the greatest creative creature God has ever created for the betterment of mankind. That the true value of a man is not found here on earth, but in that sacred place where we all must travel alone. Masonry has stood the test of time because it is based on a foundation as old as mankind itself. Even though the lessons of freemasonry are grounded and illustrated in the building of King Solomon’s Temple, the foundational cornerstone is much more ancient. It was laid when a father first taught his sons how to hunt, forage, trade, provide, and protect, as well as trust in God through all things. The reason freemasonry has persevered for hundreds of years is because its foundational cornerstone is the passing down of wisdom from one generation to the next. Unite with me my brothers in this good and great work, seek the wisdom found in the three great lights of masonry, seek to glorify God through your talents and embrace the power and love of brotherhood.