At the beginning of St. John’s gospel in verse 5, we read “the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has never overcome it”. In the book of Genesis light is the first thing that God creates. At Christmastime, Christians proclaim the light that is coming into our world, and other faiths also have festivals of light at this time – Hannukah and Diwali.
Light is also one of the great symbols of freemasonry – we have three great lights which we teach, and our ceremonies talk of moving from darkness into light. The greatest of our three great lights is the Bible itself – it is considered that it pours forth light from the east across the lodge. In freemasonry masonically speaking light means knowledge. A new member is asked what is the wish of his heart, and his answer is “light.”
We seek light because we seek knowledge, but we also seek light because we seek God, the Great Architect. By following light we follow the guidance laid out as the will of God in the volume of the sacred law and prove ourselves fit to walk in the way of light with him who is the light of the world.
Above the tomb of St Bede in Durham cathedral is the Latin phrase “Christus est stella matutina” – “Christ is the morning star” – and we are told to lift our eyes to that bright morning star whose rising brings peace and salvation to the faithful and obedient of the human race.
In our world today light often seems so distant – our world seems cold and hopeless
as COVID recedes in this country, we are overcome by fears of energy prices, food shortages, war in Ukraine, and people struggling to make ends meet. This indeed is darkness for them. We as Freemasons and as followers of God are called to bring light into the dark corners of the world, to bring hope to those places where there is little hope, to bring love and joy to those people who fear for the future.
So, as we stand together at the end of another year let us remember that God is light, and the mission of Freemasonry is to bring light into the darkness of this world, to let the dim spark within us meet and blend with the light of God, the Alpha and Omega the first and the last, in whom there is no darkness. This indeed is the light that lights everyman that comes into the world.
King George VI in his 1939 Christmas broadcast that first December of the Second World War quoted these lines by Minnie Louise Haskins: I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.” And he replied: “Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.” So, I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night. And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.
So, in these strange times and at the season of light, as we wait for the Light of the World, our message to you this Christmas is this –
May God bless you for all the wonderful work you do in your communities. Go and be a light to those around you, shine with love hope and charity on those you meet. Be the light to those who have none this Christmas, and you will find that light burns brighter because of your contribution. So be a light in the darkness this Christmas as our neighbours worry about heat and food, as we pray about war and refugees, be a light to those around you and you will find that hope.
You will find that love, but most of all, you will find the Light of the World, God with us, Emmanuel.
May we wish you all every blessing and happiness to you and those you love this Christmas time
Provincial Grand Chaplain
Rev Jon Whalley
Assistant Provincial Grand Chaplain