My first burning bowl ceremony
Many people tell me that the Unity’s Burning Bowl ceremony is one of the most meaningful services they go to all year. I had been to many Burning Bowl ceremonies, but let me tell you about the first Burning Bowl ceremony I conducted as a minister.
Unity of Columbia in Missouri asked me to lead the Burning Bowl ceremony at both their 9 and 11 am services. They had a very nice bowl. The music was great at the 9 am service, and I explained the meaning of the ceremony. It is a time where we release what is no longer serving us. I asked them to center, pray, and meditate on what is holding them back from being all that they can possibly be. Rev. Dr. Paul Hasselbeck, one of Unity’s leading metaphysicians, says that our goal should be to become “the best Christs we can be.”
Then I asked them to write down on paper what they wanted to release and let go of. Following that I asked them to come forward and drop their papers in the burning bowl. But that was not the end of the service. I then asked them to go back to their seats and write a short note to Spirit about how they wanted to grow in the new year. We would collect these sealed letters, and then in about the middle of the year we would mail these letters back to them. It is a fantastic experience to get these letters in mid-year and reflect on them.
The first service worked like a charm– no problems. But then came the 11 am service. I don’t fully understand why, but the actual burning bowl did not behave itself during the second service. The flames started to get very high. Somebody tried to put the fire out with water, but that didn’t work. Nobody could find a fire extinguisher. It looked very serious. At last a fire extinguisher was located and the burning bowl was put out.
Well, we all took a deep breath. I said to the congregation, “Who says there is no fire and brimstone in Unity!” When I got back to Unity Village, people asked me how the Unity of Columbia Burning Bowl ceremonies went. I said to them, “They were real barn burners.”
I believe there are some very important things we can learn from a Burning Bowl Ceremony (with or without a fire extinguisher) including:
- We are not destined to have to hold on to things that are no longer serving us. We can get rid of them. It may not be easy but we can release them.
- Charles Fillmore, the co-founder of the Unity movement wrote about the 12 Powers that we all have. One of these powers is the power of Elimination. It is a very important power! We need to use it and exercise this power in our lives.
- We can call on this power of Elimination any time during the year. We do not need a Burning Bowl Ceremony to do it! But it does help to do it as a congregation. (Remember Jesus saying, “Where two or more are gathered…”)
So, I suggest that we use this time to journal on what is holding us back from being “the best Christs we can be.” May this be a time of real spiritual growth for you.