The Send Off
GRAND SESSION OF PRINCE HALL ARKANSAS
FEBRUARY 28, 2010
I checked out of the motel and dressed in my travel clothes and then I checked in to Grand Lodge at 8:30 Sunday morning for a send off worship service. The Grand Session of the MWPHGL of Arkansas started with a worship service and ended with one. God is in charge and Prince Hall Arkansas recognizes that.
A young guest preacher Reverend Coleman delivered a sermon based on Exodus. We learn from scripture that God parted the Red Sea so that the Israelites could cross over on dry land. Yet Pharaoh and his hosts who pursued Moses and his band were deluged by the sea. The Israelites were praising God that day yet three days later they were thirsty and without water. When they found a pond of water on the third day and it was bitter and undrinkable they complained to God and bad mouthed Him.
Reverend Coleman asked us all how we handle our bitter moments. He told us that in every adversity there was a lesson to be learned. What we should be doing, said Reverend Coleman, is thanking and praising God not only in the joyous occasions of our lives but also in the distressful, sorrowful moments of our lives.
A final goodbye from Grand Worthy Matron Winnie Ruth Johnson and a hug from Grand Master Cleveland K. Wilson and I hit the road for Texas.
But this brings to mind some final observations of how this experience like my experience with the MWPHGL of Texas differs from my experience with Mainstream Masonry.
Mainstream Masonry could learn a thing or two from Prince Hall. There is room in Freemasonry for the closeness that is fostered when leaders and member are not afraid or prohibited by protocol from expressing their emotions in all matters, in their love for God and in their love for one another.
Mainstream Masonry it seems must always follow a set pattern, a pre-laid out plan of practice, procedure and decorum. Decorum becomes what is prim and proper and suffers no deviation. The script has been written and no adlibs are allowed.
Prince Hall Masonry is much more free flowing while still following established rules of order. It allows for deviation from the script and the expression of feelings that comes from the enthusiasm and excitement of gathering together in Brotherhood. It allows for the interjection of humor, of explanation in the middle of ritual and the binding together with the addition of many prayers and much song.
This more open, more expressive style of Masonry is a sharp contrast with the Masonry of the stiff upper lip, of seriousness and solemnity always and the insistence of no deviation from the script.
Ultimately the choice is what moves your heart. I have decided that stodgy Masonry is not my cup of tea!