Carl J. Sanders, 33, Grand Cross
The God envisioned by Masonry is big enough to sustain
this vast physical world, conquer evil, and give comfort and strength for
the journeys of life.
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. Genesis 1:1
Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the wide God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen. Jude 24-25
Dr. Jack D. Heacock, the Pastor of the First United Methodist Church in Austin, Texas, called attention to truth in advertising before offering the following invocation at a governors’ meeting in Austin. He prefaced his prayer with these words:
“Governor Clements, Republican governors of America, and distinguished guests, before I invoke the presence of God today, I believe it would be proper to level with you about the nature of the God we are asking to be present, considering liability laws and truth in advertising in its concern to protect the consumer. The God we address is the mighty Yahweh who took on the Pharaoh on behalf of the Hebrew slaves, and won. He is the one who took on Herod the Great on behalf of a little Jewish baby, and won. He is the God of justice who becomes enraged when power is abused at any time or in any place in history. This God pays a very special attention to the little people of the world, and delights in humbling the proud and mighty. With this bit of truth in advertising in mind, let us pray.”
This historical anecdote sets the tone of my message as we begin the 1997 Biennial Session of The Supreme Council, 33, Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Southern Jurisdiction.
First, let’s remember the cover of the May 1997 issue of the Scottish Rite Journal. It pictured a colorful mural commissioned by the Grand Lodge of Texas and titled “Legends of Freemasonry.” It shows 16 men--legends in their own right--each a Mason without apology, each leaving a legacy of patriotism, brotherhood, and charity, each living according to solid moral values and sound standards of ethical behavior. Among the great Masons pictured are George Washington, Sam Houston, Theodore Roosevelt, Charles Lindberg, Will Rogers, Harry S. Truman, Douglas McArthur, Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, John “The Duke” Wayne, and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin.
Much can and should be said about each of these men and the other heroic Brothers featured in this mural. But it is not men only that hold our attention in this painting. Rather, it is the symbol of Freemasonry that stands out larger and above the men themselves--the Compasses, the Square and, in the center, the large capital letter “G”.
Sitting in a Masonic Lodge recently and admiring that same symbol in stained glass with beautiful illumination, I asked a 50-year Mason what that “G” stood for only to hear the reply, “I really don’t know.” This answer stunned me, for certainly every Mason should know the significance of this most central of Masonic symbols.
As I understand it, it stands for God. And certain things about it must not be forgotten. The “G” is not a small letter “g” but a large capital “G” standing out with boldness.
The “G” is in the center of the Masonic Tools, the Square and Compasses, symbolizes the fact that God is at the heart of this great Fraternity. Masonry, of course, is not a religion, but every Freemason believes in God, the Master Architect of life and all creation.
The “G” is at the center of our Craft, and should it be taken away, the Fraternity and its symbols would, I believe, fall apart.
The big “G” symbolizes a big God, a God big enough to create and sustain this vast physical universe. I am not an astronomer nor a government statistician, so I am appalled by size. The concept of trillions of miles leaves me a little groggy, so I have to whittle the universe down to my size. If this world were the size of a period at the end of a sentence, 1/50th of an inch, and all the universe were shrunk in like proportion, the sun would be 19 and a half feet away from the Earth, the nearest star 1,005 miles away, and the furthest star still 81 billion miles away.
But don’t get lost in size. It is the orderliness, the dependability, the regularity of it--tides and seasons coming and going, the sun rising and setting, the eclipses of the sun and the cosmic movement of millions and billions of heavenly bodies fulfilling their regular cycles. This universe is a gigantic mechanism built to operate on a split-second schedule and in harmony with all its parts.
A question. Have you ever seen a mechanism invent itself?
Have you ever seen a mechanism come about by accident?
Clearly, there is a Divine Mind that conceived the universe, a Divine Hand that put it together and shaped its every aspect. You can call that Mind, that Hand, anything you like. I choose to call it God. And don’t forget that the God we believe in as Masons is with a capital “G”. My God--our God--is big enough to create and sustain this vast physical universe.
How big is your God?
Our God in Freemasonry is big enough to conquer evil. Yes, God took on Pharaoh, the mightiest ruler of his day, on behalf of a little child called Moses and the people of God caught in slavery. And He won.
Yes, God took on Caesar Augustus who decreed that all the world should register for taxation, and a little child named Jesus won.
Yes, God took on Napoleon who brought Europe to its knees leaving destruction, death, and havoc. And God won.
This is God’s world, not the devil’s. When the smoke of battle has vanished and time moves relentlessly on, God’s Will is right with the world. God has not turned His world over to anyone. There are those would-be rulers who believe they can control and direct the world. God has the last word. My God is big enough to conquer evil. How big is your God?
My God is big enough to give comfort and strength for the journeys of life. Charles Albert Tindley wrote a hymn, “When the storms of life are raging, stand by me!” The storms of disappointment, loneliness, and sorrow rage for each of us. There are no exceptions.
Consider the story of a black minister who could neither read or write. Then, when he married at age 18, he was taught to read by his wife. In 1885, he was ordained by the Methodist Episcopal Church. Reverend Tindley’s biographer, Ralph H. Jones, points out “his ministry in the post-slavery era was somewhat difficult because of the sometimes ill-concealed contempt of some whites and because of the absence of self-pride in some blacks still struggling to rid themselves of the negative attitude produced by three centuries of enslavement.”
Tindley ignored these attitudes as best he could and devoted himself, instead, to fulfilling his pastoral duties to his very best ability. He went on to became one of the greatest pulpit orators in the United States and was known in his time as the “Prince of Preachers.” Yet jealousy, discrimination, disappointment, and loneliness remained his lot in life as he labored to build a small church in Philadelphia into a great cathedral with over 7,000 members. Even then, storms raged around him. Still, he had one great strength, a God big enough to stand by him and give him courage and comfort in his journey through life.
My God is big enough to create and sustain the universe.
My God is big enough to conquer evil.
My God is big enough to give strength and comfort when the storms of life are raging.
How big is your God?