Chaplain 2007

Chaplain’s Messages  Mad River Lodge #77

Chaplain’s Message  January 2007  by Rick Rayfield

Wise men We?

Epiphany is the twelve day period after Christmas. It marks the travels of the magi to visit the infant Jesus, ending on Twelfth Night,  now January 6th.  Why are foreign wise men such a prominent part of the story of a religion which focuses on the birth of God’s presence on earth as a human? Yes, they are a contrast to the kind of “king” that Jesus becomes. Actually most translations of the “three kings” are usually “wise men”.  Either way, the rich and powerful and the wise will seek far and wide to find truth, beyond their own everyday existence, beyond their borders, beyond their own cultures.

As brother Masons we bring to our personal trestleboards different beliefs and backgrounds.  We share the foundation of a belief in the Grand Architect of the Universe- in many ways, but a common foundation.  We share an appreciation that wise men still seek beyond their limited lives. We seek to discover the designs upon the Great Trestleboard.  Such searching is always rewarded with enlightenment.  The discovery of more light is commonly called an epiphany.  Wise men we?  Following the light, searching for the Word?  So Mote it be.

Chaplain’s Message May-June 2007  by Rick Rayfield

“May the God of love and peace delight to dwell with and bless you.”

The above phrase concludes the Charge at Closing for the Lodge.   At our May meeting, I had a 1904 Monitor in my hands, and used this Charge in place of a Closing Prayer.   Oops? In that beat-up old Monitor, the opening prayer has been cut out, taped back in, and then lost. I mistook the Charge at Closing for an alternative Closing Prayer, and used it. Can a Charge be a Prayer? I have had years of poor success at prayer, always feeling the words inadequate – whether mine or from someone more talented.     Many forms of prayer are familiar to us – naming, praise and adoration, thanks, requests, blessing, and more. I never felt like I got the hang of getting those pieces together artfully.

I read recently that prayer in simply good thinking. The rules for good thinking are quite liberal, and we all share those regularly. Any good thinking can be akin to prayer, and any good prayer is akin to good thinking. When I snap my seatbelt on and wish for a safe trip, I am praying. When I look at the stars in wonder and try to recall their names with various memory metaphors, I am praying. When I think about which of many sports I should encourage in my kid, I am praying. When I consider how I can end a disagreement with a brother or my wife, I am praying.   Whenever I am thinking as best I can, talking to myself about the designs upon the Grand Trestleboard, I am praying. And when we have these thoughts together, we are praying. So the thoughts in our Charge at Closing became a prayer. Not by the book, but in the book. So mote it be.

Chaplain’s Message September 2007  by Rick Rayfield

Back to Abraham

Jews, Christians, and Muslims share a monotheist belief in the same one true and everlasting God, though they call him by different names.  The Jews have several names for God – some of which they decline to speak out loud or write, the most obvious starting with J. Christians have a three sided way of looking at God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Muslims have the name Allah, or Merciful One, among others. All three religions trace their history, and relation to God, back to Abraham.

All three religions share one ancient text as sacred, called the Old Testament by Christians, or the Hebrew Bible by all. Christianity adds the New Testament, and Islam adds the Koran.  Any of these sacred texts are acceptable on a Masonic altar.  We use the Christian bible in most of our Vermont lodges, with ribbons marking the scripture readings used in the three degrees- Red for EA, White for FC, and Blue for MM.

We are in the habit of reciting the Lord’s Prayer after the Opening Prayer in our Monitor as we open the lodge.  This was thought to be favoring our Christian brothers, and for several years recently, our Grand Master asked us not to use the Lord’s Prayer in our openings. It’s back now, and should not be viewed as too prejudicial.  Jesus actually recommended the Lord’s Prayer, but it is pieced together from several old Jewish prayers. After all, Jesus was a Jewish rabbi, and early Christians were at first all Jewish.

Do you think we have any brothers who believe in One True and Everlasting God but who are not Jewish, Christian, or Muslim? As Masons we do not claim Truth as a possession, but as a pursuit, to guide our lives.

Chaplain’s Message November 2007  by Rick Rayfield

The Light ever returns.

   “ There is a temple in the heart of man where all may worship.”   Despite our religious differences, no one seems to disagree about Thanksgiving.  At a dark time of year, we have created a sacred day strewn with what we value most- family, food, relaxation, and appreciation.  It is a mid-week Sabbath, one that we offer, instead of the weekly day of rest commanded on us.  Some of us even lay down our weapons on that day, while others pick up weapons…. to carve turkey and pies.

For some of us November is a rush of labor to prepare for winter- building, firewood, harvest, and the day at Thanksgiving is welcome at the end of the month.  For others, the autumnal work is done (or set aside) in October- those cleaver Canadians with Thanksgiving in October.  Some of us enjoy a good portion of November in the woods, communing with that “temple in the heart of man where all may worship”.    For many religions, November and December with increasing darkness signal the end of the World, with Christmas, Hanukah, and Solstice celebrations marking the return of the Light in various ways.  In that sense Thanksgiving celebrates the closure of not just harvest, but a full year of Life, knowing that even as some Light has diminished, it will always return.

As we walk on the red and orange leaves that carpet our world at the end of the year, and ponder those trees that are evergreen and those that are not, and prepare to give thanks with our families and friends, we remind ourselves that the Light ever returns.  From the Temple in our hearts, we can Masonically bring Light forth at any time by our actions that repair harmony among brothers, that bring help and peace to our community, that teach our children, that restoreth our souls.