The Supreme Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of England

Province of Sussex

   
 

Oration by

E. Comp. Glyn R Goddard, PAGSoj., Third Provincial Grand Principal

at a Special Meeting of

King Harold Chapter No.8630

to Dedicate the Chapter Banner

6th May 2009

Companions, we are gathered today, to dedicate the Banner of the Chapter.
As we are all probably aware, banners, standards or ensigns have long been used by a variety of
organisations, to establish identity and be a focus for all who range there under.
There are so many examples of this in history:- armies following their banner into battle and rally
around it when needing to regroup; trade unions and benevolent institutions marched behind their
banners as a mark of solidarity and commitment; youth organisations, such as the Scouts, Guides
and Boy’s Brigade who parade them to identify the respective units of their organisation; religious
groups where they are used in acts of worship, as a focus for their belief.

In Masonry banners have always been an integral part of the furnishing and equipment of Masonic
units. In the Craft; Lodges, Provinces, Districts and of course Grand Lodge all have felt it
necessary to have their own banner to mark its identity within the fraternity, but in the Royal Arch
banners and ensigns have an additional, very significant and important purpose.

Whilst individual Chapters have, only fairly recently, introduced a banner specific to their Chapter,
the splendid colours and pageantry of the Royal Arch could not be created without, the four
Principal banners and twelve ensigns.

As we all know they represent the four divisions of the army of Israel, and the twelve tribes that
Jacob instigated shortly before his death. We are, or should be, fully aware of the symbolical
significance of the four Principal banners; representing, intelligence & understanding, strength &
power, patience & assiduity and the promptness & celerity that the will of the True and Living God
Most High is executed. The twelve tribes rallied around these four Principal banners when they
gathered together at the Tabernacle – thus obeying the command given to Moses at Mount Sinai.
It is thought that they gathered in a square formation, with an equal number of tribes on each side.
Here they gathered before offering up their praises to the Most High.
For us as Royal Arch Masons, this should remind us to rally in equality behind those principles
depicted by the four Principal banners. Being armed with the faith in our God, and ever wishing to
praise him for favours already received, to be prepared to face the world with strength, to patiently,
and with the care of others foremost in our minds, bring to all, an understanding and awareness of
the values for which we stand, ever bearing in mind that the Most High will reward or punish
according to our actions.

Shortly this Chapter will have an extra banner to parade and rally behind. The design of your
banner centres on your Chapter logo or badge. The surround is the circle, that emblem of eternity
and also of God, without beginning or ending, reminding us of the great hereafter. Then there are
the interlaced triangles, often referred to as the Seal of Solomon or Shield of David, and although
often considered a "Jewish" symbol, is in fact used by many of the world’s major religions, since
amongst other things, it refers to our twofold nature – spiritual and material. In Royal Arch Masonry
the interlaced triangles also summarise the six lights and are an integral part of the jewel of the
Order, which in itself forms the various number of angles that refer the five Platonic Bodies.

Dominating the centre of the logo or badge is the image of King Harold, in full armour, armed
and ready to enter into battle to protect and defend his land. It is an image which should motivate us all
to be ready and prepared to engage in the battles against the evils of this world, and endeavour to
bring to all mankind the important principles and virtues for which we stand. If we look at the
component parts of his battle dress and refer to St Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians Chapter 6 (and
although that book of the V S L comes from the New Testament, it contains a message for all
faiths), there are important images to remind us of the task we face. He bears on his left arm a
shield – the Shield of Faith, which symbolises both our need to have faith in our God in all that we
do and the faith that our God will sustain and protect us. He wears a helmet – the Helmet of
Salvation, to remind us that if we practice in our lives those truly Masonic virtues we can hope to
receive salvation from our God and dwell in the mansions of Eternal Bliss and Glory. And in his
right hand he holds a sword – the Sword of the Spirit, an emblem of the "spirit" or loving care of our
God which will protect us, if we put our trust in Him. What a vibrant and pertinent message this
image of King Harold portrays.

Although missing from the image of King Harold, but so well associated with him, is an arrow. We
are all familiar with history and how an arrow hit King Harold in his eye. And even though this was
to be fatal, the arrow itself reminds us of our duties here upon earth. Because, as the arrow, shot
by the skilful archer speeds straight to its destined mark, so should we pursue a straight and
undeviating line of conduct, so as to fulfill the reasons that out God has placed us here on this
earth. Equally, like Cupid, we should be sending out the message of love to all, and the hope to
bring peace and harmony wherever it is needed.

Companions all, and Companions of King Harold Chapter in particular, let this occasion be the
foundation of a renewed commitment to further the principles of the Royal Arch. I offer the
following as an image to consider; King Harold Chapter as an individual Chapter represents, the
Holy Lodge; Provincial Grand Chapter encompassing all the Chapters in Sussex, represents the
Sacred Lodge; the Royal Arch as a whole represents the Grand or Royal Lodge; and since we no
longer have the need for physical structures, because our own hearts should be where the Temple
of the True and Living God Most High dwells, let us all as individuals, be a representation of a
Fraternal Lodge dedicated to the Glory of God, Peace on Earth, and Goodwill to all men.

In conclusion, I return to the banner, and the inspiration it should engender.
King Harold Chapter, you will now have a focal point to rally to, and work behind.
Your banner will be a constant reminder of;
the aims and virtues of Freemasonry from the image of a battle clad King Harold
and the banner itself, will now to be at the forefront of your Chapter, therefore a sign of the way
ahead.

The musical "Les Misérables", I believe, offers some very interesting and inspiring words. For
those unfamiliar with this "wonderful" musical work (I accept that I am biased), they come from a
scene where the "minority" are being called together, to promulgate their message to those who do
not display the principals of human tolerance. Gathering behind a flag, or banner, selected to
denominate their cause, they sing:

"Will you join in our crusade, who will be strong and stand by me?
Beyond the barricade, is there a world you long to see,….

Will you give all you can give, so that our banner may advance,
Some will fall and some will live, will you stand up and take your chance? …

For the wretched of the earth, there is a flame that never dies,
Even the darkest night will end, and the sun arise.
They will live again in freedom, in the garden of the Lord….

Will you join in our crusade, who will be strong and stand by me?
Somewhere beyond the barricade, is there a world you long to see?
Do you hear the people sing, say, to you hear the distant drums?
It is the future that they bring, when tomorrow comes.
"

Companions, let us all join in that crusade to bring Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth to the world.

May the True and Living God Most High, watch over you all, bless you and, in due time, welcome
you to His Eternal Mansion of Everlasting Bliss and Glory.


© Glyn R Goddard. 06.05.2009

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