Compliments of Brother Neil Neddermeyer who writes Cinosam.
FREEMASONRY AND CHRISTMAS
The observance of Christmas doesn't seem to bring satisfaction to some people. On one hand, many say it's too religious, and thus don't want Christmas trees in public buildings and nativity scenes within a shepherd's-crook length of government lawns. On the other hand, many say it's not religious enough; it's too commercial. They've been saying it for years-it's the central theme behind the charming animated cartoon A Charlie Brown Christmas which was made some 40 years ago.
Setting that aside, what does Christmas mean to the Freemason?
Certainly Freemasonry is not a religion, Christian or otherwise. It leaves the determination on spiritual matters to each individual Mason, so long as he believes in the Almighty Creator. But there are certain messages from the story of Christmas that are applicable to all Masons, not just those who celebrate a certain birth on December 25th.
Many Christians feel God gave his greatest gift to mankind, and that Gift's birth is marked on Christmas Day. And the spirit of giving is also outlined in our Masonic ceremonies. The new Entered Apprentice is reminded in the northeast corner of charity, and to practice it whenever possible. There's the monetary charity of that portion of our ceremony. And there's another kind. The one referred to in the Charge in the same degree which admonishes "to relieve his necessities, soothe his afflictions, and do to him as you would that he, under similar circumstances, should do until you." In other words, the Golden Rule, from the Sermon on the Mount.
Christmas is a time of faith for our Christian brethren. But all Masons are reminded in the different degrees of the principle of faith. In the explanation of the First Degree Tracing Board, we hear "How ready and willing ought we to be to adore the Almighty Creator." Therefore, let this time of year serve as a reminder to all Masons to practice their faith, whatever it may be.
Faith and Charity are names of principal staves or rounds on the Ladder you see every meeting on that Tracing Board. But there is another round, and that is Hope in Salvation. While Salvation has a particular connotation to those who believe in the story of the virgin birth, the concept of some kind of reward for following Masonic principles during our lives winds its way through the various degrees, as those of you familiar with the working tools explanations of the Second and Third Degrees well know.
So let this season of the year remind all Masons, no matter what their religious beliefs, to follow those universal tenets of the Craft-faith, hope and charity. Doing so should bring satisfaction to you at Christmas-time.
Jim Bennie, PDDGM
Southern Cross No. 44, Vancouver B.C.