The gathering of Masons of Ormskirk and Bootle Group, together with their families and friends, heralded the start of the festive season. Also present for the first time were residents and staff from Tithebarn Residential Home. The carol service for the brethren and companions was once again held at the picturesque Lathom Park Chapel of St John the Divine to celebrate the advent of Christmas.
As all good Christmas stories should contain the arrival of three wise men, this year was no exception for joining the members was Assistant Provincial Grand Master Robert Wright with his wife Tina, Past Deputy Provincial Grand Master Howard Jones with his wife Pat and Ormskirk and Bootle Group Chairman Frank Umbers with his wife Cathy.
The Reverend Canon Michael Smout, warmly welcomed everyone to the chapel. The Christmas story was explained by the reading of nine lessons, presented at intervals throughout the service, accompanied by many traditional Christmas carols sung with enthusiasm by the congregation.
The lessons were read in turn by Robert Wright (representing the Province of West Lancashire), Mrs Barbara Rouse (representing the Litherland Ladies Club), Stephen Brereton joint vice chairman of the group (representing Craft Masons), John Marsden joint vice chairman of the group (representing Royal Arch Masons), Mrs Brenda Hewitt (representing the Ormskirk Ladies Group), 14 year old Andrew Lennon (representing the families of the group), Don Fraser (representing masters and principals of the group), Frank Umbers and by Reverend Canon Michael Smout.
Commencing his address to the congregation, Michael Smout highlighted the over commercialisation of Christmas with the advent of trees and festive lights appearing in homes throughout the land early in November and the rush for people to buy as many Christmas presents as they can; and then only to find on 26 December that Easter eggs festoon the local supermarket.
He went on to compare this to the parable of the three golfers who came together to play a round at their local golf course. The first golfer ‘Moses’ tees off and his ball ends up in the pond, this was no problem to him as he stretched out his arms, the waters parted thus allowing him to drive his ball onto the green. The second golfer ‘Jesus’ teed off with the same end results but again this was not a problem for he walked on the surface of the water and was able to drive his ball on to the green. It was then the turn of the third golfer, a very old and wise man who also drove his ball towards the pond, but just as it was about to disappear below the water a large fish jumped up and caught the ball in its mouth and as it was about to enter the water once more a large eagle swooped down catching the fish in its talons and carrying it up into the sky only to be frightened by a terrifying clap of thunder which in turn made the bird drop the fish which in turn dropped the ball which dully landed on the green and rolled into the hole. Jesus turned to the old man and said: “Father if you don’t stop showing off we won’t invite you to play again.” The message was clear that we must remember at this time of the year those less fortunate than ourselves in the world and hope for peace and harmony for the future.
The collection on the day was divided between Tithebarn Residential Home and Lathom Park Chapel. This year the service was organised by Stephen Brereton ably assisted by group secretary Malcolm Alexander. The order of service books were compiled by Stephen and printed by the group treasurer Stewart Cranage. The service was made extra special by the accompaniment on the chapel organ by Ray Massey, a member of Eureka Lodge No 3763, who filled the ancient building with musical festive cheer.
Following the service the congregation enjoyed mince pies and a glass of sherry, served by ladies from the chapel with the assistance of senior members of the group. All those who attended would undoubtedly have felt that the festive season had begun in a very fitting and enjoyable way bringing a warm glow to the message of Christmas.