December 28, 2021
We soon will be celebrating both the Burning Bowl and White Stone Ceremonies at Unity of Roanoke Valley, and I think it is an excellent time to reflect on their power and importance in our spiritual lives.
The Burning Bowl Ceremony will be held on New Year’s Eve (Friday, December 31st at 7:00 pm). Last year, because of COVID-19 restrictions, we celebrated our Burning Bowl Ceremony as a parking lot service.
You know, I am beginning to have fond memories of URV’s parking lot services. They remind me of the old saying, “Light a candle, and don’t curse the darkness.” To paraphrase that old saying, “Hold a parking lot service of the mind, with your internal Sessions Band, and don’t let the pandemic get you down.” That is what the URV community did for the most part, and I think we should be very proud of how we zoomed through the worst of the pandemic.
However, I am so glad that the Burning Bowl and White Stone Ceremonies will be held in our sanctuary while following CDC safety guidelines and the Governor’s executive orders this year. The White Stone Ceremony will be held on Sunday, January 2nd, during the 11:00 am in-person service and the YouTube service.
To borrow and slightly alter a line from Eckhart Tolle, I believe that both the Burning Bowl and White Stone Ceremonies contain the “power of wow!” I genuinely think they are some of the most important additions the Unity movement has made to the liturgy. Several non-Unity ministers and rabbis have asked me for suggestions about adding these two powerful services to their liturgy and worship cycles.
Metaphysically, Christmas is the time of the rebirth of the Christ within each of us. Yes, that Divine Spark is always there. It does not die. But there may be times when we die to it. We can be oblivious of it. There may be times when we forget that it is there. Or we may be so centered on other things of the ego that the light of the Christ within appears to be very dim. Christmas can be a time when we shake off and clean away the dust and muck that we have allowed to accumulate on our Divine Spark.
We can become very much like Zacchaeus in the Bible (Luke 19: 1-11). Zacchaeus was a short, balding man with a Napoleon complex. Jesus was going through Jericho, and everybody wanted to see him. But Zacchaeus was so short that he had to climb up a tree to see the itinerant rabbi from Galilee.
Jesus looked up at Zacchaeus in his tree and said, “Come down because I am going to spend the night in your house.” Some of the Pharisees and others in Jericho started grumbling, “What kind of holy man could this Jesus be if he’s going to spend the night in the house of this corrupt and brutal tax collector?”
While Jesus was at Zacchaeus’ house, he didn’t berate or condemn the tax collector. He didn’t tell him to change his ways or that he would go to hell. So what did Jesus do? Well, he just let the Christ light shine. And what happened? In the presence of the most high, the Christ within Zacchaeus was reborn!
So what did Zacchaeus do? He turned to Jesus and said, “Master, I want to clean up my act! I want to do X, Y, and Z – not to mention P, D, and Q.” Jesus gave Zacchaeus a warm thumbs up.
We can be like Zacchaeus when the Christ within us is reborn. Many of us will want to clean up our act and get rid of things that no longer serve us. That is the beauty of the Burning Bowl Ceremony. We can first write down what is holding us back, and we can then symbolically burn this paper and release its contents. Next, we write a letter to our Higher Power that, like Zacchaeus, contains a vision of where we want to be. This is the first part of the “power of wow.”
The Gospel of Luke doesn’t go into this, but I would be willing to bet – if I were a betting person – that a few days after Jesus left Jericho, Zacchaeus ran into a few real-world problems. Despite his best efforts, he soon discovered that his ego was not strong enough to accomplish “X, Y, and Z, not to mention P, D, and Q.” Yes, he wanted to clean up his act, but it would not be easy. While facing these trials and tribulations, Zacchaeus discovered something fundamental, I believe. He truly learned that while Jesus the man would not always be in Jericho, the Christ within him – the Holy Spirit – would always be there, particularly when the chips seemed to be down.
This is where the White Stone Ceremony comes in. In the Book of Revelation (2:17), we are told that we will be given a white stone. On this white stone will be written a new name, a word, a key, a source of Divine power that will see us through. It will give us the strength and wisdom to get our metaphysical football into the end zone.
I have experienced this and seen this repeatedly happen at White Stone Ceremonies. I have known people who have carried around their white stone in a pocket or purse. My daughter Rachel and I have put some of our white stones down on our family altar at home. As the old song says, “It is in every one of us to be wise.” This is the second part of the “power of wow.”
I hope you will take advantage of the Burning Bowl and White Stone Ceremonies. May you experience both parts of the “power of wow.” Remember, X, Y, and Z can happen in your life – not to mention P, D, and Q!