It is our Masonic honor and priviledge to celebrate the consecrated lives of two eminent fore-bearers to whom freemasonry is dedicated.
Saint John the evangelist’s day is December 27, and that of Saint John the Baptist is June 24, which we are pleased to observe today.
It is our Masonic tradition to assemble on these two special days and renew our ties to strengthen the fraternal bonds that bind the brothers of the present to the principles, and tenets of our past.
In 1717, four Masonic lodges, which had been meeting “from time immemorial,” met and consecrated the first grand lodge. it was the first public and formally acknowledged organization of freemasons, and at the time represented only lodges in the city of London.
As the fraternity grew and the craft strengthened in numbers, the higher or advanced degrees of the Scottish rite and York rite were introduced, and the three original craft degrees received the name of “St. John’s Masonry,” in honor of St. John the Baptist. there is much to be learned from St. John the Baptist, and the influence that he brought to freemasonry. Today, let us concentrate on the word “unity.”
Unity is a word that we all have heard before. but one that we have been avoiding and not daring to talk about.
Certainly not one that we have dared practice in our daily fraternal activities, unity is the word.
Brethren if you are a Master Mason, please stand.
Well, if we all agree that we are master masons, we have unity right here --- right now! But we forget about it in our daily living. we live out our differences, disagreements and conflicts. This is not a satisfactory practice for masons.
The challenges and opportunities of our rapidly shrinking Masonic community calls for immediate action on behalf of all Master Masons working together in unity to stem this outgoing tide.
Two years ago, the valley of Lake Worth and the valley of Orlando, opened their doors to the Grand York rites bodies to use their buildings to put on their degrees. The beginning of things to come in the future. Last month, on May 12th, Azan Shrine in Melbourne opened its doors to Harbor City Lodge #318, so they could have a 1 day Master Mason degree, raising 31 brothers to the sublime degree.
Azan Shrine provided breakfast and lunch to everybody free of charge. The York rite bodies provided the costumes to be used for the second section of the master mason degree.
These are three proven examples of the roads leading to achieving unity, which are by forgiving, forgetting, and living in harmony.
What should you and i do? We must refocus on agreements. We can disagree without being disagreeable. without being foolish or naïve, we can declare our unity as masons and continue to work together for a better Masonic world.
We learned to forgive as a child early in our life, as we grew up and played with other children, if their actions hurt us physically or emotionally, we didn’t hold an inner anger, we forgave them and forgot what it was that upset us and got on with playing again.
Forgiving is a virtue that frees up a man’s soul, forgetting frees up your mind. The practice of these two virtues will enable us to live in a harmonious Masonic world and as a result we will have unity.
Sounds simple doesn’t it? Our task today, as we celebrate Saint John the Baptist's day, must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion, to embrace all entities of the Masonic world, not only York rite and Scottish rite. We must include the shrine, Grotto, the Eastern Star, the Amaranth, and our particular lodges. We must not forget our three youth groups, Job’s Daughters, Rainbow for girls, and De Molay.
We must build on the unity of purpose, that purpose being freemasonry!
There lies before us, if we choose, a renewed opportunity if we truly join together and work in unity.
We will have a resurgence of attendance at our stated meetings and social activities. We must work together and speak well of each other, treat one another with respect, that sounds like something elementary --- something one should learn at an early age --- hard to believe we have many lodges with internal friction and problems that are caused because of the lack of respect for our fellow man and because of false feelings of superiority, driving members away with their haughty attitudes.
Do you know why anyone would come to lodge if they were treated badly or spoken down to? This happens in our lodges, among grown men who should have learned better behavior long ago. How can we invite new members into a lodge riddled with hard feelings. We need to look into our hearts, we need to make sure we are good men, each of us.
We need to be worthy of our membership. We need to get along!
The movement toward unity has already been started, do you want to be a builder and join with us, or do you want to be a demolition expert and destroy what has been accomplished?
If you want to be a demolition expert, we don’t need you.
Brethren, we must work together and speak well of each other, or shall we, instead, choose to continue on the path of declining memberships because we cannot forget our differences and our narrow attitude. We must appeal as masons to masons; remember, you are a quality person who belongs to the greatest and most prestigious fraternity that encompasses the whole world. Forget the past, the bitterness, the wrong that might have been done, the words that might have been said. it is our own actions which can hinder the growth of our fraternity.
Brethren: on this Saint Johns day, join with the builders, those dedicated masons who have united to build a greater Masonic fraternity. United we will all prosper and with the unity in all branches of freemasonry our fraternity will grow and continue to be the most prestigious fraternity and available for future generations to enjoy.
My brothers the choice is yours --- will you leave here today as a builder?