Mid Week Faith Lift
January 15, 2014
White Stone Ceremony
Rev. Deb Hill-Davis
Adapted from Rev. Jude Denning Campbell
If you were not with us in person this past Sunday, I invite you to participate in this ceremony on your own. If you are not able to obtain a white stone, use an index card or some other way to record your new name. It is a meaningful experience to open to Spirit to receive Divine Guidance and direction for this New Year. We begin with a story….
There was once a thief who used to hang around the diamond district to see who was purchasing gems so that he could pickpocket them. One day, a well-known diamond merchant bought the largest, most beautiful stone, and the thief followed him onto a train. During their 3-day journey, the thief tried to pick the merchant’s pocket to obtain the diamond; yet, at the end of their journey, he hadn’t been able to find this rare, precious jewel.
Frustrated, he finally confronted the merchant and confessed, “I’ve used all the skills of my art. How did you hide it from me?”
“Well,” said the merchant, “I saw you watching and suspected your intention, so I hid the diamond in a place you’d be least likely to look … your own pocket!”
The treasure you seek is closer than you imagine; it is in the heart, in the core of your being, in the awareness that is right here. This, of course, is our second Unity principle, that Spark of Divinity within each one of us! As we begin this New Year, what treasure are you seeking?
A new year, for a lot of us is a time to reflect on our lives and to make commitments to change things that aren’t working and to aspire to do things that we know will benefit us. But the truth is that the New Year is a great time of new possibilities, new beginnings, new dreams, but sometimes we go looking for things that won’t ever fulfill us. We look for things – things satisfy us momentarily, things that aren’t for our soul’s fulfillment.
It is essential that we look within. Whenever I catch myself looking outside myself for validation or for proof of my own worthiness or for someone else’s treasure, I have to remind myself to look within! Find my own worth right here, in the diamond in my own nature, my divine identity. It is interesting that diamonds are stones, the hardest stones. And in that ‘hardening’ process, the diamond is able to let light shine through it and actually magnify that light. What would I do if I recognized and lived from that diamond center that is Oneness?
At the start of a new year, we have the opportunity to be open to being wholehearted in our lives, to recommit to who we truly are.
The Sufi Mystic Rumi said,
“Blessed is anyone who knows who he or she really is and builds a place to live there.”
This is what we do today. Diving into our Divine identity, excavating a guiding word or name so that we can live more into who we truly are. We are continuing a beloved Unity ritual called the White Stone ceremony. We’re going to turn our attention to having a change of heart, to creating a space to listen, to hear Spirit speak to us, listening to what Spirit is calling us to express, to give us a new sense of who we truly are and what we are meant to express and give life to in the new year.
The White Stone Ceremony evolved from the book of Revelation 2:17, which reads:
“Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. To everyone who conquers, who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give a white stone, and on the white stone is written a new name that no one knows except the one who receives it.” (NRSV)
There are three words that particularly interest me in that scripture: Churches, everyone and anyone. Anyone who has an ear – Everyone who conquers, who overcomes and the churches, which represent our consciousness, are all significant for us.
Anyone and everyone has the power to change our lives, to receive a new name. We are all connected to God. Every single person has to power to have a change of heart and to be changed at depth. So every one of us has access but we must do some things. It says anyone who has an ear, listen – and then it says we must overcome.
There is Spirit residing in each one of us that knows, right? We’ve all experienced that inner voice of Spirit, that inner voice of wisdom, but do we listen? Haven’t we all made a decision that we knew wasn’t the right one? Ever make a decision without consulting your soul, or listening to God? We are called to listen – more than we are called to talk. What’s that old saying? We are given two ears and one mouth, because we should listen twice as much as we talk. Listening to Spirit is an essential part of changing our lives.
Scripture goes on to say, “To everyone who conquers, who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna.” To everyone who conquers what – their limiting thoughts and beliefs in their consciousness. Everyone who is willing to move forward through all challenges in faith will receive the manna. To everyone who is willing to discover more, to learn more, to deepen their connection with Spirit to, to deepen their connection with life. God gave manna to the Israelites as they waited to enter the Promised Land, and they could not hoard it. It was given and received in faith every day.
When we do these two things, when we listen and we are willing to overcome, the writer tells us, we will be blessed with three things. We will receive manna – our daily bread, which means we will receive spiritual substance and nourishment. We will receive all that we need to move forward, to live magnificent lives. We will receive guidance, we will meet the right people, we will have all the resources provided for us when we need them. But we must listen and we must have a spirit that is willing to overcome and move forward to discover more, the diamond that we are. And not only will we get manna, our daily blessings, but we will receive a white stone.
The source of the white stone is from the time of Jesus. When a prisoner was released from prison, he was given a white stone to symbolize his freedom and to prove that he had indeed been released; he had paid his debt. As long as he had his white stone, he was assured of his freedom. That person was free from bondage, free from any restriction.
When we listen, when we are willing to overcome, we are not only given all the resources we need, our manna, we receive and even greater gift, spiritual freedom: our freedom to know that we are made to be love, to be peace, to be One. Please affirm; I am made to be love, to be peace, to be One.
And the writer of the scripture goes on to say we will receive a new name, which will be written on the white stone.
Stories in Scripture are replete with meaningful names. Moses name means to draw out. That was the essence of Moses. He was drawn out of the river by the Pharaoh’s daughter and then he was called to draw the children of Israel out bondage in Egypt. Our name is the essence of who we are.
When we say we pray in the name and nature of Jesus the Christ, we are praying from the essence of Christ Consciousness. The consciousness that Jesus embodied, we are claiming in his name.
There are many instances of name changes in both the Hebrew and Christian Scripture. When there was a change in someone’s name, there was a change in consciousness, which the new name reflected. After Jacob wrestled all night with the angel, his name was no longer Jacob; it became Israel, which means to strive with God, to struggle or wrestle with God. Remember Saul of Tarsus, who persecuted the followers of Jesus, until when he was struck down on the road to Damascus with a vision of Jesus who spoke to him and said, “Why are you persecuting me?” And his name was changed to Paul. Paul means to lessen; to lessen the personal will so that more of God can be expressed. Names powerfully describe the nature of who we are and the qualities we are to express in our lives.
In the white stone ceremony what we are actually doing in this process is allowing Spirit to give us a new name, a new thought a new idea, a symbol, a theme, for this coming year. We can dramatically change and reshape our lives by what we call ourselves. By going within, listening for the still small voice for that new sense of direction, that quality, that nature that Spirit is calling us to step up into.
When the biblical figures names were changed – they showed up in life in new way because something was calling them deeper to express more of who they were. Likewise, today Spirit is calling us to rise up out of whatever may be holding us back to fully commit to expressing all that we are.
Ask yourself these questions:
Am I willing to listen to my inner guidance that will give me information, a theme, a name, an idea that will forward my evolution of consciousness in the coming year?
Am I willing to allow myself to experience new possibilities and a new deepening of who I truly am?
Am I willing to know that this is the year that the deepest desires of my heart really can manifest?
The scripture says only he who receives it knows this new name. This is between you and God. No one else can create your connection to Spirit. It is your responsibility. And you will receive this knowledge, as you are open and receptive to receiving. “My heart is open to receive Divine guidance, Divine blessing. My heart is open.” (Repeat affirmation)
That is the meaning of the White Stone Ceremony. The white stone represents freedom, setting us personally and emotionally and spiritually free. The white stones that were given to you are white stones from the Holy Land. It is upon these stones that you will write the name you receive from Spirit today. The White Stone and the new name that we receive are our diamonds.
Blessing the Stones: We bless these stones as symbolically representing our willingness to open our consciousness and align with divine spirit. We are willing to release to divine transformation all that does not serve us, and we are willing to transform our minds to rise in consciousness and vibration and to transform our lives into joyous expressions of Spirit. Amen
Now I invite you to hold the stones in your hands as we go into meditation. We’re going to prepare for a time of reflection and prayer to listen to Spirit. God is calling us all higher. We’re going to listen for the new name, the new spiritual identity. And we’re going to write our new name on the stone. Because the truth is something is calling us deeper.
Hear me in Your Heart (Meditation)
Get very comfortable, close your eyes, and breathe. Breathe. Breathe. You are totally relaxed and resting. You can now close the gap between what you know to be the Truth and what you expect to manifest in your life. Expect your desires to manifest. Expect manifestation. You are worth it. God is standing by to give you all that you are open to receive.
The old has passed away. It has served its purpose. And, without judgment, you recognize that every event, circumstance, relationship, opportunity, possibility, every challenge, every encounter, every-thing in your life has brought you to this place in time. Everything has had an influence, and you are now at a turning point of being set free from anything that might bind you. You are set free to enter into the best year of your life.
Listen to what your Divine Identity is telling you to write on your white stone. What are you hearing or feeling or knowing? What are your intentions? What if it were Spirit writing on your white stone? What is it that Spirit will write? Ask, right now. Ask what would be the most helpful name, or what would be the most helpful word to take into this New Year? If the word doesn’t make sense to you, just stay with it. God will reveal everything in its time.” Stay with it.
Let’s take a moment to go into the silence, to truly listen. (Silence)
Slowly, very slowly, bring your attention back to the present and to this room. Slowly. And when you are ready, write on your white stone your new name or your new intention for this New Year.
As you hold your white stone from the Holy Land, know that it is a very personal word or important name that you have written on your stone, and in the center of your heart. Affirm this with me silently: I am transformed at depth, I am transformed at depth, I am transformed at depth.
I invite you to put your stone somewhere where you can see it daily and you can remember the diamond you truly are and that you are truly free.
And so it is. Amen