"I will change your name." Confidence, joyfulness, faithfulness, friend of God. What is a name? Why do we choose the white stone ceremony as the beginning of our new year?
In the time of the Roman empire, if you were released from prison, you were given a white stone. You were to carry this stone wherever you went. Everybody knew that if you had a white stone with you, you had a clean slate also. You were free to begin anew. Carrying the stone gave you all the benefits of Roman citizenship, which was very important because that meant the Roman army protected you, which was no small thing. Today, in Unity, we use this symbol as a way to release ourselves and free ourselves from whatever personal prison or walls that we've created for ourselves.
In the Burning Bowl ceremony last week, we let go of the walls. We let go of the limitations. We let go of our prison of thought. I invite you to just sit in the space without filling it up. In our humanness, we tend to create vacuums, then we want to hurry up and fill them in. We move on to the next thing, whatever that is. Patience is a virtue that serves us well when we take time to cultivate and just be. Be the spirit of the universe, be confident, be faithful, be one with the divine, whatever that looks like for you. The divine God, Allah, spirit, divine mind, that's only a word, a name that we've given it so that we can conceptualize the energy of Truth.
Today, with this stone, we have an opportunity to start the new year fresh. We have the opportunity to set an intention for the rest of the year. I'm not talking about resolutions, because we're not making a list. That's not what the white stone is about. You can make your resolutions. You can choose what the white stone is about. That one word, maybe two is going to represent you and your truth this year. What do we want to see expressed through us? What experiences do we want to engage in during 2021?
Normally what happens when you come through the church doors, you're given a white stone. Of course, 2020 was a little different. It's been way different than most years. Hopefully, you were able either to get one of the special packets with a white stone. If you didn't receive one, take time right now to get a piece of paper and something to write with, because the concept's the same. It doesn't really matter what we write on. The act of writing it down helps us to imprint it in our brain.
What matters is that we connect with the divine and seek the guidance of spirit for the expression of ourselves in 2021. That is imprinted in our hearts. That's the important part for us. I don't know about you guys, but in my human self, I might forget what it is 300 days from now. I might forget what that expression that I wanted to create in 2021 might look like. This is my reminder because it may not happen today, or tomorrow. It may take 300 days before the expression actually happens. That's okay because we have to grow and change in order to accept the new name.
We're going to have a meditation in a little bit, and that meditation is to help us connect with our divine essence - that higher self divine mind consciousness. You have to invite spirit in. You have to ask for guidance. Nobody can do that for you. It's your choice. You choose to accept the word or the words that are going to represent you in 2021, which may be a new spiritual identity for you this year.
Revelation 2:17 says, "Let anyone who has an inner ear listen to what spirit is saying to the churches. To everyone who conquers or who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden mana, I will give a white stone. On the white stone is written a new name that no one knows, except the one who receives it. The word is sacred for you and the sharing is your choice."
If you haven't already taken your stone into your hand, I'm going to invite you to do that now. Remember that this stone represents a clean slate, a fresh beginning. No matter what happened in 2020, it is in the past, because God tells us and spirit tells us, "I make all things new." This is a reminder not to let your ego drive you, but to let the connection with the divine be your inspiration, to allow yourself the opportunity to grow with ease and grace in 2021.
You are asked not to judge the word. Don't question what pops into your mind, because you may not understand the name, the phrase, which was given to you, but at some point during the year, it will become obvious. I can attest to that one because through the years I've had some words where it's like, "What am I supposed to do with that one?" I had no clue what was coming in through me, but when I reflected and looked at the word, it was like a light bulb went off. "Oh, I get it now." So be open and receptive to whatever is. Look at your stone. See the beauty in it, the newness, because that's the beauty of you, the newness of you. This is only a reminder of being renewed, revitalized, and redeemed.
The stone and the word are a symbol of our spiritual growth where we cancel out the old and accept the new. It is that mana or spiritual food that is ours for the asking. We have to ask. We have to ask to be nourished. We have to ask to be whole. That's the energy that we receive from the mana. That energy is required for us to reach a higher state of consciousness, a purified state of consciousness.
We gain knowledge and wisdom through our new name, a deeper understanding of where it might lead us. That wisdom may lead us to a new spiritual name, a new nature of our being as the I Am. So think of it as I Am, whatever the word is that comes to you.
We know that anything we believe and conceive can be done. In Revelations, John talks about people getting a new name. Anyone who has an ear listened to what spirit was saying. So listen, not with the outer ear, but with the soul, to that still small voice as it whispers the word into our hearts, through our prayers and meditations.
We begin to settle in, knowing that we've been walking in the wilderness, as Moses did. The mana has been giving to us each and every day, we only have to go and collect it. That's all we still have to do: go and collect that which is ours. We have to surrender to it. Then the promises will be fulfilled. We have to first strive for the kingdom, that vitality of life, the energy of spirit. Then we have to accept the new nature, the freedom from bondage.
Now I invite you to become still and consciously invite spirit into you - the Holy Spirit - into your heart and mind. What is it you're yearning for today? A new way of being? A new career path? A new quality of living? What is spirit asking of you? Why are you here? Give yourself permission to let go of your ego and to be present with the divine.
Take a breath if you haven't already. I invite you to write your word on your stone. Affirm the new substance of who you are: your new I Am, the new name that has been written on your stone. This name was given to you directly by spirit. No one else has intervened. No one else is aware. It is your freedom. Freedom to be who you came here to be, to be the true you. Know that when we overcome this bondage, things change, and change is good.
Don't begin to create that fear, that anxiety, just let it go and be.
We have examples in the Bible where people's names changed. Saul's name changed from Saul to Paul. He went from prosecuting Christians to helping them. He became the reason Christianity survived today. His trips to spread Christianity changed the face of the earth from tepal, which means enlightened one. Abraham became Abraham because he grew in spiritual awareness. Sarai became Sarah. The change in a name always signifies a change in our consciousness.
Every name represented quality in a person that their inner spirit guided them to their new name. It refers to that higher realization of your "I Am," because we come to realize an awareness of ourselves as spirit. It's very important in this day and age for each of us to take on a new identity, a new consciousness. The world is calling for change. We start as individuals. We change that aspect of ourselves, allowing the spirit to grow. We allow that which is written on our heart to expand to our family, to our friends, to this community and beyond to the world.
If you don't know it already, this community is changing and shifting in consciousness. The board has created a new strategic plan and your new name may be part of that new plan. I invite you to join us as we shift and change the consciousness of this community, expanding our love, expanding that which we truly are. We are the healers in the community. Join us in becoming that which we know we are ready for, and expressing it through love, through acts of healing, through serving in a bigger way. It is a new day, a new dawn. We are each being asked to step up and to step out boldly, to live Unity out loud for this community to become the most vibrant community of spiritual action in Louisville and in the world. We now have as many people outside of Louisville participating in our services as we do people in Louisville. We've already changed and grown whether we knew it or not. 2020 was a tough year. We made a lot of good decisions and changes, and those opportunities for growth have expanded who we are.
As long as we always remember who we are, through prayer and meditation, by utilizing our tools of affirmations and denials, and by remembering I Am this year, there are unlimited possibilities for each of us as individuals and for this community to be manifested in 2021. We open ourselves to those unlimited possibilities. That unlimited potential. The "Yes, I am able," and "Yes I can." Say yes to the divine and step in. I encourage you to consciously. Invite the activity into your life each and every day. Take on the essence of who you are. Be fully engaged and fully activated in this day.
Every day, I love you. I bless you. I behold the living Christ in you so it is.