FOREWORD E Comp The Reverend Timothy L’Estrange Deputy Metropolitan Grand Superintendent
Video by Ian Bozic.
As I write this, we are in the thick of annual meeting season in London. March commenced with the annual meeting of Metropolitan Grand Lodge and ended with the annual meeting of Metropolitan Grand Chapter. Both events were full of joy and celebration, with some surprises too. Let me offer a big “thank you” to everyone who came along and joined in these two important occasions for Metropolitan Freemasonry, and let me also offer a huge “well done” to all those who were invested, either as the active officers of Metropolitan Grand Chapter or Grand Lodge for the year ahead or with well-deserved London honours.
The people who received appointments or promotions this year represent a hugely diverse body, from different Chapters and Lodges, from many backgrounds, and with a variety of occupations; we represent a rich variety – we are far from homogeneous. However, there is something that all the recipients have in common – each has received their promotion or appointment because of what they have given to Freemasonry in the capital and what they will continue to contribute in the future.
Nobody receives London honours simply for the number of years they have clocked up. We look hard at each member’s service, and we seek to reward genuine commitment. Of course, that makes our congratulations to the recipients all the more genuine and heartfelt.
But I have a question. The recipients have each given something valuable to London Freemasonry through their meritorious service, but what has Freemasonry given to them? Indeed, what has Freemasonry given to you?!
Now, this may seem back to front. We are often told that we shouldn’t be thinking about what life can give to us but rather about what we can give to it! Freemasonry is a bit different, though, because it has to be a two-way street. Each of us must be ready to contribute to our Lodge, our Chapter, and the wider body of Freemasonry. But we must each be searching also for what the organisation can give back to us, otherwise we are wasting our membership. Freemasonry promotes self-awareness, self-motivation, and the growth of our confidence and ability. If we advance properly through this progressive science, we should grow at every stage.
The specific benefits will vary, but there are a number of things that should have a positive impact on each one of us. Not everyone comes from a background of public speaking, and many initiates’ thank you speech on their night of initiation is the very first they have ever made anywhere. Over time we learn to be confident and capable orators, even with little or no notice, in Lodge or out of it. We have learnt a life skill!
There are such skills to be learned in so many other fields too. How many principal sojourners knew they had such dramatic skills before they joined our fraternity and took centre stage?! So many professional or domestic events run with added flair and panache because they are organised by someone who has learnt skill and confidence as a deacon or a DC. And in serving as master of the Lodge, I think most of us surprise ourselves in terms of our ability to lead and our mastery of ritual – it is hard work, but there are few thrills like that of sitting down after delivering a meaningful charge or tracing board, or ceremony. Even our social skills will be enhanced by our masonic membership because, in this fraternity, we will meet people from every walk of life, and we will meet them all as Brothers. What a rare and wonderful gift this is. What an invaluable life lesson. To be led out of the confines of the narrow path and into the experience of a rich variety of diverse humanity, and to call each one a friend and Brother.
So I end by returning again to those recipients of London honours at our annual meetings in March. Many were people we call “Leading Lights”, the Brethren and Companions whose membership helps drive their Lodge and brings palpable benefits for the entire membership. These are people who have given generously to Freemasonry but also drawn richly from it. Our honours recipients are people who have genuinely contributed to the life of London Freemasonry in a huge range of positive and important ways, but they are also people who have understood that the fraternity contributes back to the improvement of their lives by encouraging them to grow in confidence and ability, and to fulfil the potential we can all uncover through proper motivation.
To be part of this fraternity – to be part of London Freemasonry – is a great privilege and asset. I encourage you to rejoice in your membership and to let Freemasonry bring you all its many gifts and benefits as you and I together seek that self-improvement that allows us to advance daily. If we engage with our Craft in these ways, building strong foundations in ourselves, the benefits will be felt by ourselves, by our families, and by the whole community. We shall indeed be part of a truly thriving membership, a coherent organisation, and fully engaged in our communities – the very pillars of the strategy now carrying us forward to a bright future together as Freemasons in London.
Deputy Metropolitan Grand Superintendent
This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 51 April 2023 edition.
Arena Magazine is the official magazine of the London Freemasons – Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London.
Read more articles in the Arena Issue 51 here.