GO FORWARD IN FAITH
I participated in several Burning Bowl Ceremonies during the transition between 2018 and the New Year, 2019. Two at local Unity Centers, and one during a live-stream service. I also took advantage of the opportunity to do one through Unity headquarters in Unity Village.
What is a Burning Bowl Ceremony? From Unity.org
“The burning bowl ceremony is a fire ceremony that helps us release old unwanted conditions or events in our lives. It allows us to let go of the old that no longer serves us and make way for the new. It clears the way for new beginnings.”
A burning Bowl ceremony gives us the opportunity to name what needs to be released and subsequently letting it go. According to Mark Hicks of TruthUnity.net, “the burning process is a transforming process and transformation is extremely important for metaphysical Christians.”
The core of the ritual is about a shift in consciousness, being still, becoming aware, letting it go-then standing in faith for what is next. There is surrender, an acknowledgment that this problem is more than we can handle on our own. We let go and let God, we “Golden Key” the situation by turning it over.
The Burning Bowl is an alternative to making New Years Resolutions. It is common knowledge that New Years' resolutions tend to be short-lived. According to a news report, January 12 is the date that spells doom for New Years' resolutions. Most people have already given up by then.
Of particular interest to me is Mark Hicks of TruthUnity.net relates the burning bowl to the Emancipation Proclamation that freed the slaves.
He calls it Unity’s Emancipation Proclamation.
THE BIBLICAL FOUNDATION IS LUKE 4:16-21
In Luke 4:16-21 Jesus enters the Synagogue and reads a passage from Hebrew scripture that defines his mission: preaching the good news, releasing captives, restoring sight to the blind, freeing the oppressed and proclaiming a "year of the Lord." This mission applies to both our internal state of mind as well as it applies to external states of well-being as revealed in Jesus' concluding statement "today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."
Here is the passage from the ASV Bible:
And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and he entered, as his custom was, into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up to read. (4:17) And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Isaiah. And he opened the book, and found the place where it was written,
"(4:18)The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, Because he anointed me to preach good tidings to the poor: He hath sent me to proclaim release to the captives, And to restoring sight to the blind, To set at liberty them that are bruised, (4:19) To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.
(4:20) And he closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down: and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fastened on him. (4:21) And he began to say unto them, To-day hath this scripture been fulfilled in your ears."
This passage marks the start of Jesus' ministry and Jesus proclaims an "acceptable year of the Lord." We hold the Burning Bowl at the beginning of our new year and affirm that the coming year will be just, whole, and prosperous.
THE THEOLOGICAL FOUNDATION IS RELEASE AND WHOLENESS
More important is the central focus of this passage on "release and wholeness." The Good News begins with freedom—from captivity and oppression—and it makes way for wholeness—restoration of sight to we who are blind and restoration of Broken Relationships. We, too, place at the center of our spiritual transformation the release of that which oppresses and captures us—greed, grudges and grandeur—and we are to find ourselves restored and made whole to fully express our highest good.
It just may be that release and wholeness is the subtle, simple foundation of all spiritual growth. Mark Hicks states that he knows that of all the wisdom in Catherine Ponder's Dynamic Laws of Prosperity, the following affirmation comes to mind time and again:
"I fully and freely forgive. I loose and let go. I let go and let God's love do it's perfect work in me, through me, for me. I let go and let God's love do its perfect work in the conscious, subconscious and superconscious activities of my mind, body, and affairs. I give thanks that peace, health, plenty and happiness now reign supreme in me and in my world."
This portion of Unity's Emancipation Proclamation caused me to read both the Dynamics Laws of Prosperity and the Prospering Power of Love.
THE HISTORICAL FOUNDATION IS WATCH NIGHT
Watch night, called Freedom's Eve, is a Christian religious service held on New Year's Eve and associated, in many African-American churches, with a celebration and remembrance of the Emancipation Proclamation (enacted January 1, 1863), which freed slaves in the Confederate states during the American Civil War.
The most powerful moment of Watch Night occurred the evening of December 31, 1862, when Americans of African descent—slave and free—held vigil for Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation which took effect in rebellion states the next day, on January 1, 1863.
Hicks proposes that the reason Watch Night is typically held on New Year's Eve is due to the impact of Freedom's Eve in 1862. He states that it may be the reason why Rev. Ruth Moseley chose Isaiah 61, which was quoted by Jesus in Luke 4, as the vision statement for the Unity Urban Ministerial School. I am a graduate of the Unity Urban Ministerial School.
WATCH NIGHT AND THE BURNING BOWL
Watch Night is not the Burning Bowl. But they both occur on the eve of the new year. Both services celebrate release and wholeness. Both draw from two millennia of western and Christian tradition.
That Unity and African-American churches are the primary expressions of religious practice on New Year's Eve contain a valuable lesson, at least for Unity. Release is not just about forgiveness. It is not simply choosing to turn from greed, grudges, and glorification. "Release, at least as it was envisioned and taught by Jesus, is much closer to what African Americans envisioned in 1862—the release from the unimaginable, the release from the unbearable, the release from that which puts us in total despair."
The mistake we most likely make when writing down that which no longer serves us is thinking too small, with too little imagination and faith. The words of Isaiah, the testimony of Jesus and the experience of African- Americans call us not to let go of what we can imagine letting go, but rather to let go of that for which we see no way forward for release and wholeness.
Why did I participate in so many of these ceremonies? Simple. After each one, more “stuff” came up that I felt the need to release.
I wanted to make sure that I had a clean slate to enter into the New Year.
I want to move forward in Faith.
In keeping with that is a poem in the January-February edition of the Daily Word:
Pat Wade Nicholson
I am learning:
To let go, thinking I am in control.
To see the beauty in hope and change.
To feel the joy of surrender and faith.
To enjoy a life with less distractions.
To know silence is essential to growth.
Above all else, to know the love of God
is behind all things.
There are three impediments or obstacles to going forth in Faith:
The Burning Bowl goes a long way in eliminating unforgiveness. Unforgiveness is the antithesis of Faith because we aren’t trusting God to bring about the highest and best for us. Furthermore, it is difficult to go forward with excess baggage built up through years of unforgiveness. Releasing allows us to clear the way for our good.
EDGING GOD OUT
Thinking that we can do it all by ourselves. Doing it all by ourselves is akin to being a one-armed paper hanger.
FALSE EVIDENCE APPEARING REAL
Also related to EGO. Fear can stop us in our tracks.
Another related question is
Where do you place your Faith?
Sandra Campbell, a colleague from the Urban Ministerial School in her writing about Faith on the first day of Christmas, says that
In testing our faith, "It is important to note where we are focusing our attention, spending our time and money, setting our expectations, and what we are talking about, wishing for, wanting to see happen, and centering our lives around. The answer to those questions will tell you where your faith is."
The power of Faith is the power of attraction. For whatever is happening in our lives, we must set our intentions on what we want but do not yet realize.
Brings to mind the definition of faith from Hebrews 11:1
“Now Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
A Course in Miracles states: If you knew who walked beside on the path that you have chosen, fear would be impossible.
Go Forward in Faith and have a Happy New Year!
Special thanks to Mark Hicks and TruthUnity.org