Brethren all, ’tis the season to be merry! Yes, we try to think that – but there is always the “bah, humbug” brigade that dampens your enthusiasm for the Christmas period. It is understandable to be less than enthusiastic about the world in which we find ourselves, for everywhere we look there is conflict. We thought that all our troubles would be far away (in the words of the Beatles!) after the pandemic. The service of commemoration we held in Lincoln in April of this year to remember those we had lost in the pandemic was a prayerful and valued tribute to those whom we wanted to remember for their suffering and that of their families. We thought that life would improve quickly, and in many ways it has – yet there are still many problems to face.
An ageing population worries about the health of its citizens, but the facilities and staff that are needed to support them are at present not very available. Many young people have come through the pandemic in a worrying state of mental health and need support. There are financial worries about the future affordability for families of the basics in life. So it might seem as if “bah humbug” is the correct response to Christmas this year, when so many will have little of the enjoyment associated with this festival.
However, the Masonic organisation through MCF and many Provincial and local initiatives has made great strides in supporting all of these categories of people, whether they are abroad following a major disaster, or at home needing day to day help. We should be proud of what our charitable efforts as individuals have achieved through our regular contributions to charity. We make a difference in what we do in our day to day lives!
To return to Advent, Sunday 27th November was the first Sunday in Advent. Within the church the colours of the period changed from the green of Trinity to the purple of Advent, and then later they will be white for Christmas itself. The colour changes symbolise hope during which time candles are lit each Sunday culminating in the final one on Christmas Day commemorating the birth of the Christ child.
Advent and Christmas is a time of hope and joy within the liturgical calendar. We know the story so very well since childhood, and yet it never seems stale – we are part of the story, for as we recount it we are actors within it too. It is a magical time still for many adults but especially for children and if life is not all that it is hoped for, then the turn of the year hopefully will be the turning of a page leading to brighter days ahead.
Finally, let us not identify with “bah humbug”, but instead be positive for the future and remember that the great Architect looks upon us as His own. Let us not be dragged into the arguments we see in the press about whether we believe or not, for it is fundamental to our nature to believe in something Great beyond ourselves, and to deny this truth is not what Masonry identifies with. Therefore let us offer a prayer to the great Architect – for those without faith and who have nothing to hope for, for those who we have lost that the Great Architect may keep them in His special care, for our own special needs, and that we may be protected from anxiety. SMIB.
Brian E Roberts, Provincial Grand Chaplain