Rev. Tommy Rigmaiden, FPS, FPC (H-Life)
Honorable Rev. Tommy Rigmaiden, President Emeritus and Past Master of the Lux e Tenebris Research Chapter, composed and presented at the 2016 annual session of the Phylaxis Society a dynamic manuscript, which delineates the significance of the word: "Brother."
Lux e Tenebris Research Chapter Annual Paper (2016)
My dear brethren, I greet thee yet on another occasion that the Almighty has seen fit to bless us with. I have toil now with you for some 16 plus years as your Master of Lux e Tenebris Research Chapter of the Phylaxis Society. This is my second realm at the helm of the chapter as I have served many years ago for three years prior to 2000 when I once again accepted the gavel. Many who were with us during those years of defining glory are no longer among us and have crossed over to the other side of the deep blue ark of heaven.
This year research paper is one of great simplicity, yet, with a wealth of significant meaning. It is my sincere wish that you find something within its message that adds another look at hope and inspiration as an important factor in our daily lives.
The term “brother”, was used in the Ancient Near East to denote some one of equal rank or status. The word stands in contrast to “father” and “son”, which indicate superior and inferior status respectively. In biblical laws referring to social justice, the poor are called “your brother” and even your “poor brother.” For example, in the book of Deuteronomy 15:11 it is stated; “for the poor will never cease from the land; therefore I command you, saying, you shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land.” (NKJV)
The lesson learned here is that a brother’s attitude toward the poor should be a reflections of their gratitude for God’s gifts to them. While poverty exist, it is the duty of all mankind to help bear its burden. With brotherly love and relief the sting of poverty has been and continue to be addressed in the world.
There is a message of love, caring, and unity surrounding the responsibility of the title “Brother”. We learned just how important and powerful are the words in Psalm 133rd which states; “behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down on the beard, the beard of Aaron, running down on the edge of his garments.” (Thomas Nelson Complete Study Bible – 1997 NKJV)
The term “good and pleasant” may be interpreted as “great delight” or “good pleasure.” There is a sense of serene wonder in these words describing the unity of God’s people. Priests were anointed with a fragrant oil as a symbol of God’s blessing on their holy office. All Holy Royal Arch High Priest understand this statement. Psalm 133rd states that the oil was in such large quantity that it flows from the head to the beard, to the garment of Aaron, who represented the Priest of God. When God’s people live together in unity, they experience God’s blessing.
The Book of Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 states; “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up.” (NKJV)
From the beginning of time, God’s plan was very clear that it was not good that man should be alone. Throughout the bible which is our “rule and guide” the Creator of all speaks about His people who accomplishes more together than they do alone. There is a divine plan that suggest that God did not create us to be independent individuals, working only for the achievement of their own selfish goals.
The clearer picture on this subject would be that the success of everybody depends upon our inter-dependency. Having said this there is a firm sense in which we have no choice but to be family members of the human race, we are born into a social life, trained within it, and in it we must exist. No one lives unto themselves. But there is a moral conscience that suggest that we are to cultivate fellowship with mankind.
Why? Two have a good reward for their labor. When two are together he who falls may be lifted up, if alone they may be left to perish. There is also a saying; that every household is proof that there is a spirit of mutual dependence whenever the will of our Great Creator of mankind is honored and obeyed. When two place themselves shoulder to shoulder they can withstand more than one who is standing by themselves. “In other words, Companions,” a threefold cord is not easily broken.
In a charge delivered to the brethren of African Lodge on the 25th of June, 1792, by the Right Worshipful Master Prince Hall; we find words in contrast to the book of Ecclesiastes that I shall now share with you in this research paper titled the “Significance in the Word: Brother.” On page 55 of Dr. Charles H. Wesley’s book titled Prince Hall Life and Legacy, our Founder Prince Hall states the following:
The next thing is love and benevolence to all the family of mankind, as God’s make and creation, therefore we ought to love them all, for love or hatred is of the whole kind, for if I love a man for the sake of the image of God which is on him, I must love all, for He made all, and upholds all, and we are dependent upon Him for all we do enjoy and expect to enjoy in this world and that which is to come. Therefore he will help and assist all his fellow-men in distress, let them be of what color or nation they may, yea even our very enemies, much more a brother mason.
Another thing a mason ought to observe, is that he should lend his helping hand to a brother in distress, and relieve him; this we may do in various ways – for we may sometimes help him to a cup of cold water, and it may be better to him than a cup of wine. Good advice may be sometimes better than feeding his body, helping him to some lawful employments better than giving him money; so defending his case and standing by him when wrongfully accused, may be better than clothing him; better to save a brother’s house when on fire, than to give him one.
Brethren, I have shared with you today a few examples of what it means to be called a “brother” and the duties it require. Sometimes the road gets tough and the tough gets going. I have been blessed to see those among us now as well as those long past obtain their wages as true brethren. I have come to refer to them as “Tall Cedar.” Those among us that have truly toiled throughout their many years in life will one day perish in good faith. However, they may not be present in our sight, but they will be an imprint in our minds for a lifetime to remember and reflect upon.
So, my final words are, sail my brethren, sail on until we get on board of that train which will cross over the deep blue ark of heaven is my prayer.
But let us be mindful of what our founder Prince Hall stated in his Charge to African Lodge No. 459, about “love.” in depth “love” states the following in Thomas Nelson Complete Study Bible on P. 1933:
Love suffers for a long time. Our modern “throw-away” society encourages us to get rid of people in our lives who are difficult to get along with, whether they are friends, family, or acquaintances. Yet this attitude runs in complete contrast to the love described by Paul. True love puts up with people who would be easier to give up on.
Love does not envy. If our love is directed toward others, we will rejoice in the blessings they receive rather than desiring those blessings for ourselves. Fundamentally, the selfless love that God calls us to does not involve pride or glory. It does not parade itself and is not puffed up. In fact, true love does not seek its own.
If we truly love others, we will set aside our own plans, agendas, and entitlements for the good of another. Love is not provoked. That is, love is not easily angered or over-sensitive. When we truly love others, we are careful not to be touchy concerning other people’s words or actions. Finally, love endures all things. Love accepts any hardship or rejection, and continues unabated to build up and encourage.
1. Gabriel Barkay, “A Bowl with the Hebrew Inscription- Your Poor Brother”Titled, The World’s Oldest Poor Box, published by Biblical ArchaeologyReview, Pages 48-50.
2. The Nelson Study Bible – Complete Study Bible, New King James VersionThomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville. P. 1933.
3. Dr. Charles H. Wesley’s book – Prince Hall Life and Legacy second editionUnited Supreme Council – ASSR (PHA) published 1983. P.55
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rev. Tommy Rigmaiden was born May 10, 1953 in DeRidder, Louisiana. He is the second oldest of eight children.
As a 1971 graduate of DeRidder High School he enjoyed playing football and was a member of a soul band as a bass guitarist. He enlisted into the military one week after completing high school. He is a decorated U.S. Army and U.S. Naval Reserves veteran. He served for more than three years as the only African-American Leading Petty Officer of a Detachment of Navy Seabees in a five state area. Rigmaiden, went on to retire as a senior specialist and holds the title of Activity Lieutenant for the U.S. Department of Justice under the Federal Bureau of Prisons. He is currently a field training health officer for the Tarrant County Sheriff Office Confinement Bureau where he works with special management inmates.
Rigmaiden’s higher education began with general studies at Northwestern State University. He received a professional degree in marketing from Louisiana State University at Alexandria sponsored by the Life Underwriter’s Training Council. He is a graduate of both federal and county law enforcement academies. He has completed Seminary Studies through the Southern Baptist Extension Program and went on to attend as a Master Student with Loyola University of New Orleans in theological writing and reflections, including Old and New Testament studies. He is also an associate minister at Friendshipwest Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas.
His Masonic credentials are many; he is currently listed as a member of the Pride of Marksville Lodge No. 89 of the MWPHGL of Louisiana and its Jurisdictions. Before moving to Texas he served as Grand Historian of all three York Rite bodies of the Jurisdiction of Louisiana. He was elected to serve and served as Right Grand Eminent Commander of the Pelican Grand Commandery of Knights Templar in the State of Louisiana in 1998-1999. He was the first curator of the Phylaxis Society and served in that position for four years. He would go on to serve as the Executive Secretary for eight years, 1st Vice President for three years, and President of the Phylaxis Society for three years. He has also served as served as Director/Master of Lux e Tenebris Research Chapter since 2000 and he is the founder of York Rite Institute. He is a chartered member of Chi Rho Fraternity and serves as it’s second in command as Grand Noble Perfect. He is the second African-American Prince Hall Mason to be inducted into the Masonic Fraternal Order of the Blue-Forget-me-Not
He is both an honorary and active fellow of the Phylaxis Society and one of two honorary life members of the Society. He is also an honorary fellow of the Phyllis Chapter where he holds a Certificate of Literature and is author of a long list of Masonic articles. He was inducted into the “Harry A. Williamson Hall of Fame” of the Phylaxis Society in 2012.
Please find enclosed a PDF version of this article in the Phylaxis Magazine: