I thought I would start off the new year by sharing a nice message from Ill. George P. Weister, Grand Chaplain, Grand Lodge of Indiana. It appeared in the October 2011 Indiana Freemason, and I especially liked Bro. George’s idea of “semi-Masons.” It is reprinted here with the kind permission of the Grand Lodge of Indiana.
In my first parish, I had the pleasure of having a retired seminary professor in my congregation. While I was there he wrote his last book, The Abingdon Handbook of the Bible. He was a distinguished New Testament scholar and I took him to several ministerial meetings where he spoke on the Book of Revelation. Life came full circle this summer when a friend gave me a book that a scholar friend of hers wrote on the Book of Revelation.
He describes something that I have long been aware of but in terms that I don’t believe I ever heard before. He suggests that the letters to “the Churches” were written to “semi-Christians,” that is to sects who lived in ways incompatible with the Christian faith.” (H. D. Kreilkamp, Come, Lord Jesus!)
How about that! A semi-Christian is one who professes to be a Christian, but really doesn’t live up to being what a Christian believes. Now I’m not referring to the person who tries to do right but fails, but to the one who chooses to pervert what he knows is true to fit his own desires If you are not a Christian, I expect you can find this “semi-” principle at work in your religion as well.
I suppose it’s understandable that the concept caught my attention because of the obvious temptation is for us to be semi-Masons, that is to go through the three degrees to become Master Masons, but not to go any further in studying or living by the tenets of Freemasonry.
When raised a Master Mason, many a man is presented a Bible and encouraged “to diligently study therein …” and “faithfully direct his steps through life by the light he there shall find and as he there shall find it.” If we take seriously the lessons of our Craft, we live all of our lives by those principles, not simply during the hours we are in a tiled Lodge.
On numerous occasions I’ve had the pleasure of visiting with Brothers who showed me the Bible they received years before when they were raised, and it is sitting on a table near their chair where they could study it often. Frequently a well-worn lodge Monitor was also present that had been also often referred to.
At the Vespers Service of the Supreme Council, NMJ, in Chicago this past August, the Grand Prior, the Rev. Karl D. Schimimpf, 33°, penned the following Prayer of Confession:
Forgive us O God, for everything that spoils our witness to the good lessons of our fraternity when we deny with our lives what we say with our lips. Forgive us for the difference between our creed and our conduct, our profession and our practice, for the times when we make it easier for people to criticize our Craft. Strengthen us in these days together that our delight might be in your statutes to the end that we may go from here to live more nearly as we ought. With new vision and courage may we nurture that form of living which will receive your blessing. Amen. So mote it be.
I plan to change just a word or two and use it when called upon to pray at the opening of Lodge.