R W ProvGM, Ladies, Gentlemen and Brethren,
I feel very honoured to be invited to address you on this special day for the Broxbourne Lodges of Mark Master Masons and Royal Ark Mariners, and I express my thanks to the members for their kind invitation to share in this significant milestone in the already long history of both Lodges.
The Broxbourne Lodge of MMM was consecrated on 28th April 1891 and has enjoyed uninterrupted existence for more than 125 years, whilst the Broxbourne Lodge of RAM was consecrated on 7th December 1920 and is thus approaching it’s Centenary.
I do not think that any of us need reminding of how quickly time passes: in this year 2017 we reflect sadly but with gratitude on the many horrors and sacrifices of WW1 100 years ago; on a happier note we celebrate the 300th Anniversary of the formation of the UGLE, but foremost in our minds in attending today is the Dedication of Banners for both the Broxbourne Lodges. It is not often that Freemasonry is associated with the concept of ‘2 for the price of 1’ or even with ‘BOGOF’ but what we do know is that these Banners will adorn future gatherings of the 2 Lodges and become tangible and valued additions to their respective histories.
Banners have been paraded with pride from the earliest times. In addition to display in our own individual Lodges, we in Hertfordshire display the various Banners of our Lodges at the Annual Meeting of the Provincial Grand Lodge of MMM in July, but the use of Banners is not of course confined to us as Freemasons. Many church organisations – in particular MU and Youth Groups, sporting organisations and Trade Unions have proudly paraded banners over many decades, perhaps as a rallying point or as a form of advertising their identity, but always as a symbol of pride and encouragement.
In the Prayers just read, we remind ourselves that God commanded his people to set up their ensigns as tokens of love and care, and that Banners should ever remind us of our unity one with another and of our loyalty to those who rule over us.
In the ceremony of being Passed to the Second Degree in the Craft we are warned to make the most of our time and talents, encouraged to study and to learn, to encourage industry and reward merit and to strive to excel in what is good and great – but also to be caring for others and to view their interests as inseparable from our own. I borrow these words from the Charge after Passing, an alternative piece of Ritual not regularly delivered in our ceremonies.
The ceremony of Advancement to the Mark Degree is a further extension of that – indeed in some Constitutions, the Mark Degree as we know it is incorporated in the 2nd Degree ceremony. An important message of the Mark Degree is surely that it encourages us to work hard at all that is good and not to be discouraged if things don’t go right first time. How wrong it is to dismiss a man’s work as useless rubbish just because it does not conform to predetermined plans and designs – that useless rubbish turned out to be the vital stone required and without which the building could not be completed. So just because it’s different – ‘it’s not in accordance with my plans’ – do not reject it. We all bring our different qualities and talents to life and we should indeed be tolerant and respectful of all who work diligently, live creditably and act honourably by all men.
The Royal Ark Mariner Degree has existed for well over 200 years and its teachings are based on the relevant Chapters of the Book of Genesis which contains the Lord’s instructions to Noah to build an Ark by which mankind could be saved. It contains some powerful moral and spiritual messages – ‘do unto others as you would that they should do to you’ features prominently, whilst ‘they that hold the most exalted offices in life have the greatest opportunity to do good, but those in less exalted stations in life will be equally distinguished if they prove themselves to be useful members of society’ thus encouraging us all to live our lives to the highest standards irrespective of our status.
Brethren of the Broxbourne Mark and RAM Lodges, may you range under your respective Banners in thankfulness to your founders and with gratitude for all that the Lodges have achieved in their long and distinguished history. May you range under your Banners looking forward with renewed hope and enthusiasm, proud to be members of our Mark and RAM Orders, proud of what we are, what we do and what we stand for. Above all, may you range under your Banners in thankfulness to the Great Overseer and Supreme Commander of the Universe for his many blessings our enjoyment of these Orders continues to bring, and to which we are all so proud to belong.
VW Bro Allan Atkinson
11th March 2017