A virtual service for the Feast of St. John the Baptist
We have managed another first for the Province - we held our first Provincial virtual service on Wednesday 24th June to mark the Feast of St John the Baptist, a “red letter day” not just for the United Orders but also in commemorating the anniversary of the foundation of Grand Lodge. The Order of Service is still available, so please click here to view a copy.
You can also still view and download the service here: Service of the Feast of St. John the Baptist.
There is also a rousing performance by the London Provincial Knight's Templar Home Choir!
A message for Pentecost 2020
John 14:18 - "I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you." (NRSV)
Just what were the feelings of the disciples on the evening of the first Good Friday and through to first seeing their risen Lord? It is possible the description of 'despair and tribulation' must almost be considered euphemistic! All their hopes were dashed. They had thought, indeed were convinced, that the Messiah, in the person of Jesus, who would redeem Israel, had been revealed to them. Their dreams and hopes lay shattered in the dust. Surely, they must have been filled with terror as they huddled together behind the locked doors of the upper room, fearful as to when and how soon after the Sabbath the Jewish authorities would come looking for them. After all, with the crucifixion of Jesus, they had, as they thought, destroyed the head of this threatening movement, why not get rid of the rest of the body? Would they, the disciples, soon be following their leader to Calvary?
Then came the miracle of that first Easter Day. The women, less fearful of, and at risk of, mortal danger, ventured out to complete the task of properly cleansing their Lords body only to find Him no longer in the tomb but risen from the dead and we read of that account as recorded in the Gospel of John with the encounter between our Lord and Mary Magdalen. Mary rushes off to tell the disciples the good news and Peter and John are bold enough to leave the security of the upper room to verify the truth of the empty tomb. Then what a thrill that evening, when gathered behind locked doors, Jesus suddenly appears in their midst with the greeting, “Peace be with you.” How, not just glad, but overjoyed they must have been: Jesus is alive and back with them once more they were filled with HOPE.
Over the next forty days He reveals Himself to more and more of His followers in a phase that may be described as one of reconciliation. A period for His followers to become reconciled to the fact that He had died yet was alive, albeit in a different form, able to materialise and disappear at will. Reconciled to the fact that as God incarnate the redemption that He had brought to Israel was one of LOVE not of military might as traditionally perceived as the role of a messiah. Reconciliation with the sceptics and those with doubts as in the person of Thomas. Above all reconciliation with cowards and traitors in the person of Peter (the one who had denied Him three times) on the shore of Lake Galilee, after having demonstrated His bounteous generosity by once more filling the nets to bursting as He had done once before. Then a final good-bye to His closest disciples and evaporation into a cloud at the Ascension from the Mount of Olives.
The next ten days the disciples spent in prayer and in breaking and eating bread together as Jesus had commanded they should do in remembrance of Him yet seemingly without any other sense of purpose. Then, one morning, perhaps as they were finishing breakfast, there was the sound of a mighty wind, which was heard outside, lights danced above their heads and they were clearly filled with a feeling of euphoria. In this state of excitement they knew what they had to do. They had to tell the world the Good News of the risen Christ. In their excitement, they must have gabbled, or spoken in tongues, as
described in the Act of the Apostles. Such was their enthusiasm that those who heard were able to grasp the meaning, even if they did think that they must be drunk! In a way, they were intoxicated, not with wine, but with the Holy Spirit.
What parallel may be drawn between the gamut of emotions experienced by those first disciples and those to which we are now exposed with the pandemic of Covid-19 is for each individual to say, but it bring us back to the text 'I will not leave you orphaned.' The modern translation, rather than saying 'leave you comfortless', is more subtle and nuanced. Princes William and Harry have been very open about the emotionally devastating effect the death of their mother has had upon them as children and as they have grown up. A loving parent offers much more than just comfort. They can offer stability, advice, reassurance and support. Importantly you don't have to be a child to be an orphan. There are a number of our members who have lost a parent during these last trying weeks and others who have died themselves leaving their children orphaned.
Through belief in God as revealed in Jesus, our Heavenly Captain, we too can have the strength of His Holy Spirit living and working though us. Good News that we as Christian Masonic Knights need to proclaim loud and clear by our words and actions in unity with all other Christians with whom, in remembrance of Him, we break and eat bread and drink wine together.
With the blessings of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit and knightly love we greet you all in the bonds of our Order.
A special message on Easter Day 12th April 2020
1 “I lift my eyes up to the hills - from where will my help come?
2 “My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”
Alleluia, Christ is risen!
Easter is the highlight and premier festival of the whole Christian family that is the Church of God. The day on which, looking up at the empty Cross and down into the empty tomb, we celebrate that beacon of hope given, not only to the faithful but also to all mankind, that by the Resurrection of God Himself in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, we can look forward, beyond mortal death, to an eternal life of love and felicity in His spiritual presence. However, just as there can be no Easter without the joyous celebration of Christmas, nor can there be Easter without the horror, grief and despondency of Good Friday and Holy Saturday. It all seems too relevant to Easter 2020.
There can be little doubt that, at this most difficult time, the like of which, with the exception of war time, has not been experienced since the great flu pandemics of 1918 and 1922, there is a pervading feeling of uncertainty and insecurity. There are some amongst our Order who have already fallen victim to infection or succumbed to this frightful virus, or whose relative or relatives have been so afflicted: for the rest of us there is the uncertainty – might we be the next to fall victim? For those of us, or with close, greatly loved, relatives who are working on the front line in healthcare, it is particularly worrying and distressing. We all must be in empathy with the psalmist in searching for a place of refuge and sanctuary. However, it isn't to be found in the hills or anywhere else in material terms: it cannot be found in the bottle or by burying one’s head in the sand of self-indulgence or of saying “it couldn't possibly happen to me” because it very well might! It won’t go away just because we ignore it! It is indiscriminate, as the Prince of Wales and Prime Minister can testify.
So what can we do? Above all, keep faith: give ourselves in complete trust to that in which we believe and help will come from the Lord to give us the strength and fortitude to cope with whatever might befall us. As Christian Pilgrims and Knights who have been clothed in the whole armour of God, let us not shed one piece as we face the tribulations of life. Above all continue to cling to those truly Christian virtues of Faith, Hope and LOVE. This Easter we will not be able to unite physically with our fellow Christians in public worship
and partake of the Holy Sacrament together but we can join together virtually through many of the streamed services and be assured of God’s spiritual presence with and in us, for if we offer ourselves to Him, He will be with us. When we join in the intercessions and pray for the world, let us each remember our fellow knights, feeling fully assured that our hope of meeting again in Christ's name will be fulfilled.
Our blessings and knightly love to you all in the Bonds of our Order.
1 Happy are those who consider the poor; the Lord delivers them in the day of trouble.
2 The Lord protects them and keeps them alive; they are called happy in the land. You do not give them up to the will of their enemies.
3 The Lord sustains them on their sickbed; in their illness you heal all their infirmities.
A special message on Palm Sunday
21 When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, just say this, ‘The Lord needs them.’ And he will send them immediately.” 4 This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying,
5 “Tell the daughter of Zion, Look, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; 7 they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
10 When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?” 11 The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”
It is not a long ride from Bethphage to Jerusalem. But it is a bit of an uphill climb, albeit a short one as those who were on the KT pilgrimage in January will recall. At the top of the hill, you get a marvellous view right over the Kidron valley to the city walls and into the city itself. Straight ahead, you could see the massive walls of the Temple on their colossal foundations. The building had taken years to put up and wasn't finished yet. It looked as if it would last for ever. It was meant to. Yet it would be destroyed within a few years of being finished. You could see the market stalls even from here, the meat sellers and the cloth merchants, the potters and the leather goods all huddled together. Just beyond the Temple was one of the great palaces that the Roman Governor sometimes used. There were others to the east of the city. Behind the Temple were the huge water pools of Bethesda. With all the sacrifices at the Temple, all that blood and mess you needed plenty of water to keep the place clean! People would go there to wash and, sometimes, to be healed. From up here on the hill it was all a magnificent sight. A place to be proud of. God's city for God's own people. A place for a king.
And today a king would be visiting it. It would be quite an occasion, with the crowds out cheering and shouting. A day lots of people would never forget. It's a day we're remembering today. A king's day. So let's have a king. We'll have to make sure everyone knows you are a king. So let's give you a crown and just for a moment you can even sit on a throne. A king shouldn't stand up for too long. Nor should a king have to walk into the city. He should ride in, in style. Do it properly. A king should have the biggest horse in the
country a king's horse. Only this king was different. He didn't have a throne. He didn't even have a crown. And he certainly didn't have a horse. When he decided to ride into the city he chose not a horse but a DONKEY.
It's not much fun being a donkey. People make fun of you. They think you're stupid but you're not. Just quiet and thoughtful and like to take things gently and a steady pace. Let's have a donkey. When Jesus came to Jerusalem he rode a donkey and how he was cheered. They called him king even though he wasn't on a great horse. He was on a little donkey. Jesus was a humble king. And the humble donkey was feeling very proud. To have been chosen by the king, by a king who values ordinary and humble creatures like donkeys, ordinary humble folk like all of us. This king is not a swank he had no crown, no posh clothes, no great palace. But for the moment they all cheered him.
Later on in the week things would be very different. He would get a crown but not a splendid one instead it would be a crown made of thorns put on him by soldiers making fun of him. But he never stopped being a king. With a crown of thorns and nailed to a cross, he was the greatest king of all, the loving, humble king. And what about the donkey? He has never been forgotten. Always remembered , just for being himself, doing what he could, giving the king a ride into Jerusalem.
Today if you see a donkey, a proper one, and you look at his back, you will see a mark there across his shoulders and down his back. It makes a cross. Donkeys carry the mark of the king who was crucified. And every baptised person bears that mark. You can't see that mark but, when we follow Jesus the King, his mark is manifest by the kind of people we are; for the mark of the crucified King is the mark of love and of kindness, of unselfishness and goodness. King Jesus asked an ordinary donkey to help him, to serve him by carrying him into Jerusalem. He calls us to serve him. And we who bear the mark of Jesus are in the service of the King.
Many of you have gone the extra mile this week to care for those who are most vulnerable. All of you have shown compassion and empathy for those around you. You bear the mark of the King and we pray that you bear it with pride – may God bless you all!
A message from the Provincial Prelate
and the Chaplain to the Bodyguard
We have been reflecting on Psalm 16. It begins, “Keep me safe, O God, for in you I take refuge”. There have been many words spoken and written over the past couple of weeks regarding the circumstances in which we find ourselves as families, communities, nations and as a global community. A great deal of very useful, helpful and necessary advice has been issued and we need to act on that for the sake of ourselves but also for the sake of others.
We believe the words of Psalm 16:1 are also useful, helpful and necessary and we need to act on these words too, for our own sake and for the sake of others.
As you know, the Masonic meetings, which form the core of our fraternity, have been suspended for the next four months. We can no longer meet up or gather physically in one place to perform or practise our ritual, to enjoy friendship and fellowship with each other. This does not mean however that we cannot continue to be brother knights together. It does not mean that we cease to have purpose as part of a worldwide fraternity.
Love your neighbour as yourself. These words of Jesus (found in Mark 12:31) coupled with the command to Love God are, says Jesus, the greatest commandment. In all of the choices we make, in all of the ways we behave, in all of the situations we find ourselves in, especially in these uncertain and unknown times, these words are there to guide us. As the family of the Provincial Priory of London, we want to love, support and encourage each other through the coming weeks. We also want to extend that love, support and encouragement to those around us: our family, friends, neighbours and, particularly, the vulnerable in our society.
Please be assured that we will be praying for each of you over the coming weeks and, please, do not hesitate to contact us using the details below – we will do everything we can to support and assist you.