Grand Lodge Oration
Given in Grand Lodge Session
January 28, 2012
Freemasonry and The Urantia Book
Theodis W. “Ted” Brown, Junior
Grand Orator MMXI
Ancient Free and
Accepted Masons of Colorado
Most Worshipful Grand Master, Right Worshipful Deputy Grand Master, Right Worshipful Grand Wardens, Right Worshipful and Worshipful Grand Brethren, Distinguished Visitors, Worshipful Masters and Brethren all – welcome to the 150th Grand Oration.
Most Worshipful Grand Master John, thank you! When you decided and informed me of your intent to appoint me as your Grand Orator, I could hardly comprehend the joy I felt, the sheer exhilaration I experienced when I realized the great honor you were bestowing upon me. I knew full well that you could have appointed another and more eloquent member of our fraternity to serve in this capacity for such an august occasion as our Sesquicentennial, our 150th year since the creation of our Grand Lodge. I will always appreciate you and M. W. Brother Charlie Johnson for the confidence, the trust you placed in me. Thank you.
When I presented my Oration last January, I mentioned that M. W. Bro. Henry Pelham Holmes Bromwell, P. G. M. of AF&AM of Illinois, had served this Grand Lodge as Grand Orator in 1877. I’ve since reviewed the record and the correct year is 1875, the year my Lodge, Idaho Springs # 26, was Chartered.
I refer to M. W. Bromwell on this occasion, Most Worshipful, because of the title of this Oration, “The Ascent of the Soul; Freemasonry, and, the Urantia Book.” M. W. Bromwell prepared the “Masonic Burial Service”, now known as the “Masonic Funeral Service”, for this Grand Lodge. This “Service”, I submit, is the final scene of the portrayal by Freemasonry of a Brother’s “Ascent”, a process which began, and ended, with “three distinct knocks.” I also assert that we, although having memorized the words, may fail to comprehend their import, their ultimate significance. We have a tendency to rush through the funeral presentation and thereby preclude those attending the service, Masons and non-Masons, from understanding why and what we, as a fraternity believe and teach our brethren. Therefore, Most Worshipful, without preaching, but appealing to those Worshipful Masters who are required to perform this “imperative yet melancholy duty”, I present this Oration and my understanding of ‘The Process”; the Ascent of the Soul, as exemplified by this Grand Jurisdiction and more fully revealed in The Urantia Book.
When the candidate gives the knocks, he represents “the Soul”, lost, in darkness and seeking Light, meaning, Truth, Beauty and Goodness, the primary attributes of the Grand Architect of the Universe (GAOTU). He, the candidate (and, also, those who prepared him), answer certain questions put by the one who responds to the knocks on the Preparation Room door. He is required to patiently wait. Report is given; more questions asked by “The Master”, who, if satisfied, permits admission.
After the candidate’s reception; after prayer; and, after one other question, the most significant, is propounded and properly answered, he who originally answered the knocks, though the same individual, now morphs, and becomes “The Conductor.” So, briefly, begins the “Pilgrim’s Progress”, the Ascent of the Soul.
When completed, the candidate, now “Brother”, has traversed seventeen (17) gates, always safely guided by the ever-present “Conductor”, who is his absolute assurance of safety and success, provided the newly made Brother perseveres. The “Master” has imparted certain information that only he can give, having aided the newly made Master Mason by a powerful “grip.” The Brother has arrived! His place in “The Lodge” is secured.
Long ago, Most Worshipful Grand Master, there occurred “The Apostasy” when he, known as “Prince of this world,” assigned to assist the people of this world attain our Creator, decided to exalt himself above his, and our, Creator. Those who had been chosen to function as his staff were required to choose – loyalty to the unseen Creator, or to the “Prince.”
When the choices of the staff were finally made, the majority chose the evil-one. “The sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose”. (Gen. 6:2) These Rebels became known by various names, such as, Nephilim, giants, fallen angles, “mighty men of renown”, and ultimately, the Sons of Darkness.
Those who chose to remain loyal to the Creator, ultimately known as the Sons of Light, had to distance themselves from those who rebelled in order to further, as best they could, the Creator’s plans. The Rebels did what they could to thwart the Loyalist.
The Loyalist continued their efforts to aid mankind; to “maintain the light of truth”, some of it pertaining to what happens to the soul after death. The Mystery Schools, which were established much later, perpetuated the “legends” as passed to them by and through the Loyalist.
These “Mystery Schools”, having rituals exemplifying the “truths” received from their predecessors, are, in my opinion, the conduit through which we, Freemasons, ultimately received our ritual. Freemasonry is, in all probability, the largest organization today, perhaps ever, which exemplifies this great process, whereby the soul makes its way to the “First Source and Center”, also known as The GAOTU.
The day finally arrives when the Brother comes to “the end of his earthly labors.” The Funeral Service is commenced. The Master of the Lodge gives the Preamble; he, or the Chaplin gives the prayer and the Secretary reads the Memorial roll. The Master makes a last pronouncement and begins with “The Farewell Honors.”
The Master now bares witness of the Brother’s ascent. He looks up, raises his arms, and states, “His Spirit ascends to God who gave it.”
He now looks straight ahead, crosses his hands over his breast, left over right, and says “His memory we cherish in our hearts.”
Then, holding his hands forward, palms up, he continues, “His body we consign to the earth (tomb) (elements).”
Next, the Master Deposits the Lambskin; then, he Deposits the Evergreen, and, after the Committal Prayer, the Master performs “The Grand Funeral Honors of Masonry.”
The Master looks up and symbolically observes the Brother standing before the door of the Celestial Lodge above. He raises his arms, and now, functioning as “The Grand Tiler”, claps three times, which represent the final “three distinct knocks”, he witnesses the door open, observes as the Brother enters and the door slowly close.
The Master, with his arms still raised, states, “The will of God.” He now looks straight ahead, crosses his hands over his breast, left over right, and says, “Is accomplished.” Now he brings his hands down and places them on his thighs and finishes the Grand Funeral Honors by saying, “So mote it be.” And, lastly, “This concludes the Funeral Service.”
The “Worshipful Master” has heard the first “Three Distinct Knocks” and has now attested to the Brother’s character by providing the final “Three Distinct Knocks.” The Master has symbolically witnessed the entire “Ascent of the Soul”, the progress of the Brother from the first Gate “admission into a Lodge of Masons”, through the 18th Gate – the passing from Time to Eternity and the continued perfecting of a faithful Son of God.
The Authors of The Urantia Book, published in 1955, claim it to be “The Fifth Epochal Revelation of God to Man.” I first began reading the 2,097 pages two days after my 42nd birthday, thirty years ago. I’ve studied it ever since. In fact, The Book led directly to my decision to become a Mason. It was from its pages that I first became aware of the great truth of the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man.
In September, 1990, I read an entry in “10,000 Famous Freemasons”, by Brother William R. Denslow, on President, and Master Mason, Brother William Howard Taft. The entry reads, in part, as follows: “On February 18, 1909, he was made a Mason “at sight”… On this occasion he said “I am glad to be here, and to be a Mason; it does me good to feel the thrill that comes from recognizing on all hands the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man…”” The moment I read these words, Grand Master, I determined to be a Mason. Little did I realize that I would become an Ancient Free and Accepted Mason.
In our third degree lecture, this statement occurs: “It (referring to the Great Light in Masonry), points beyond the tomb, to that breaking light of a resurrection morn…” The Urantia Book, Most Worshipful, narrates what actually occurs on that “resurrection morn” and beyond – all the way to the attainment of the Grand Architect of the Universe. I implore you, Most Worshipful Grand Master and Brethren all, please, read and study this book.
Our Founding Brothers in 1861 embarked on creating this Grand Lodge confident of its growth and, most importantly, its relevance. Their success was realized, and on the occasion of our Centennial Year in 1961, we began with 47,098 members. Thirty years later, in 1991, the year I became a Mason, we had 24,037. We began our Sesquicentennial Year, in 2011 with 10,357 members. Today, one year later, we have about 9,862. Our membership has declined about 37,236 Master Masons in the last fifty years!
The question before us, Most Worshipful Grand Master, is this: Do we have the confidence in our beliefs, and, in the relevancy of our Grand Lodge to sustain this Fraternity for the next one-hundred and fifty years?
If the answer is “no,” perhaps we should call this our “Last Grand Lodge Annual Communication,” turn out the lights, go home and prepare to watch another Super Bowl.
If the answer is a resounding “YES”, however, then it is time we acquired the attitude of our Grand Lodge founders and begin anew growing our beloved fraternity with the same vigorous and indomitable spirit that they had 150 years ago!
In 2017 it will be three hundred years since that fateful meeting at the Goose and Gridiron when the four lodges met and agreed to establish a Grand Lodge. The United Grand Lodge of England will probably celebrate its Tercentennial in 2017. Their website indicates they have about 250,000 members in 8,000 lodges. That averages about 31 members per lodge. We have about 9,862 members in 131 lodges, an average of about 75 members per lodge. These numbers are not sufficient to sustain either Grand Lodge.
We must commence this year just as our Founding Brothers did in 1861. We MUST have the certainty of success and the conviction of the relevancy of our institution and our teachings for the betterment of ourselves and those who follow us in our lodges, our municipalities, our Nation and our world, by our continued exemplification of the “Ascent of the Soul”, and our indispensible service to the Supreme Architect of the Universe in spreading that most profound and enlightening “Absolute Truth”, of the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man.
Thank you, Most Worshipful Grand Master.
Theodis W. “Ted” Brown, Jr.
Grand Orator, 2011 – 2012
January 28, 2012