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Understanding the Book of Revelation


Unity would say that you have twelve powers, twelve gifts, twelve core spiritual capacities, if you will.


Now, for me, I admit that I have favorites. Of those twelve powers, I quite love imagination (or that capacity to envision a possibility which isn’t yet in form), renunciation or elimination (or that capacity to release attachments to those patterns, beliefs, limitations, energies, habits which no longer support the possibility you might envision for your life) and faith (or and that capacity to embody that possibility, to believe that possibility; to hold that possibility as a current reality – not in a fantasy-day-dream-sort-of-way, but in a try-it-on-and-energetically-get-used-to-it-sort of way.


That which you are “used to” in mind (I might say that which you are “comfortable with” in mind) is more easily realized and sustained in form.


Unity would suggest that your power of faith is in intact. So, the question for you to entertain isn’t from where you might secure more faith, but to entertain how you might better use or direct the faith already at work in your life. In considering faith, the conversation isn’t one of quantity. It’s one of quality.


The Book of Revelation offers, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.”


Now, let’s start by unpacking Revelation a bit, shall we? For if you’re like most people, your knowledge of Revelation is a sloppy amalgamation of various Hollywood movies leaving you to speculate about what might be found on the scalps of ill-behaved children at your local super center.


Consider that the book we call Revelation is an apocalyptic text written in an era of staggering oppression by a cruel and unjust empire. “Apocalyptic” has come to mean relating to the end of the world, but the word “revelation” is the translation of the Greek word “apocalypse” which means “to uncover.”


This book pointedly identifies that cruel and unjust empire in what would have been a highly symbolic language, well understood by its target audience. It foretells of the fiery end to that cruel and unjust empire and to the emergence of a new Jerusalem – a new city of light.


To be specific, Revelation is an apocalyptic text about the fall of Nero and Rome (the sixes pointing to Nero’s name and the seven-headed monster pointing to Rome’s hills, right?) and to the rise of a new and better way of being.


And that’s what this apocalypse is. It’s about the fall of an old way of being and the rise of a new way of being. That’s the context for today’s scripture: a context speaking to the fall of an old way of being and the rise of a new way of being.


Now, white stones were quarried in the vicinity of Bethlehem. And such a stone has a long and rich history dating back centuries.


For example, it was a white stone that was used in elections. As you might imagine, a person voting was given both a white stone and a black stone. And if the person voting cast the white stone, it signaled approval. If the person voting cast the black stone, it signaled rejection.


So, perhaps it can be said that the white stone serves as a symbol of approval or worthiness.


And yet it was such a white stone, inscribed with a host’s name, which was given as a gift to an honored guest. In this case, the white stone granted the honored guest the authority to order servants or to purchase items at will. Think of it as something of a vintage VISA or an antiquated AMEX; a dated Discover; or medieval MASTERCARD, maybe. I’ll stop now.

So, perhaps it can be said that the white stone serves as a symbol of authority or abundance.


And yet in ancient Greek tradition, when an individual was acquitted of a past misdeed, it was a white stone which the judge offered the acquitted. And from that moment forward, the acquitted individual would display that stone as proof of his freedom from his past.

How beautiful is that?


So, perhaps it can be said that the white stone serves as a symbol of freedom or innocence.


And in ancient Roman custom, it was a white stone which was awarded to the victor of an athletic game. And the white stone displayed the victor’s name and served as his ticket to a special awards banquet.


So, perhaps it can be said that the white stone serves as a symbol of accomplishment or overcoming.


And then again, the building materials used during the time in which the author wrote Revelation included white marble. And the front of the temple of the city cited in today’s text boasted white marble pillars engraved with the names of people believed to have been healed by God.


So, perhaps it can be said that the white stone serves as a symbol of wholeness or transformation.


So, if you’re like me, maybe you can find some peace in the idea that whether the author was promising approval or worthiness, authority or abundance, freedom or innocence; that whether the author was promising accomplishment or overcoming, wholeness or transformation – he was promising something pretty good!


“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.”


If you’re like me, you would prefer to just jump directly to the promise of that white stone. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200.00. You would prefer to just jump directly to whatever new life that white stone represents without navigating the rigors of whatever new mind that white stone requires.


And it’s understandable, really. Don’t be too hard on yourself. We’ve become a quick-fix, instant-gratification society. We want the problem, the outworking and the resolution conveniently confined to a 30-minute segment just like Ward and June, just like George and Weezie and yes, just like Sophia, Blanche, Dorothy and Rose (may our beloved Betty White press on in power and peace).


And yet the order set forth in this formula for creativity and self-discovery is inspiration, overcoming, support, and from that, new life.


And it begins, “He who has an ear.” In other words, it begins not with an outer hearing, but with a spiritual receptivity.


The order set forth in this formula for creativity and self-discovery implies that that which would appear in your world of form starts with an idea. Some would say that everything which we see in the world of form is the manifestation (the outworking) of idea.


And it’s one thing to have the idea for sustained sufficiency; it’s one thing to have the idea for vibrant health; it’s one thing to have the idea for soulful partnership but it’s quite another to begin to embody that idea; to begin to embrace that idea; to begin to initiate that process of overcoming of everything in consciousness which would keep you rooted in the only life you’ve ever known.


This is why I say so often that it’s one thing to speak a prayer. It’s quite another thing to become a prayer. And yet it’s only as we do exactly that – it’s only as we give ourselves to change that change gives itself to us.


You see, while we love to say, “Why isn’t this prayer being answered?” we would usually do better to ask, “How am I not becoming this prayer?”


And the order goes on to say that it’s as you embody and embrace an idea and that it’s as you initiate that process of overcoming of everything in consciousness which would keep you rooted in the only life you’ve ever known, that the same hidden manna that was provided Moses and the Hebrews as they embarked upon their journey from the stuck state of Egypt toward a promised land yet unseen that seemingly-miraculous resources will begin to pour forth.


It’s a process mirrored in the wisdom of that timeless quote, “The moment one definitely commits oneself, Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no person could have dreamt would have come his/her/their way.”


And the order concludes by promising that you will receive your white stone with your new name. The order concludes by promising new life.


So, in a very real sense, I think we’ve had it quite backward for a number of years. After all, it seems pretty clear to me that the white stone isn’t where we start. It’s where we finish. The white stone is revealed only by embarking upon something of a spiritual journey.


So, this process is one in which we declare our willingness to embark upon such a journey; one in which we declare our willingness to obey what the Spirit says – even if it’s risky, even if no one around us will get it. I heard a great quote this week: “Those who dance always appear crazy to those who can’t hear the music.”


This ceremony is one in which we declare our willingness to set out for those promised lands yet unseen; those lands of milk and honey which, at least at this time, can be known only in the realms of intuition and faith and deep, spiritual knowing.


This process is one in which we declare our willingness to obey the life/harmony/wisdom that resides within each of us, trusting that we, too, will receive our portion of that hidden manna - that divine sustenance (that divine support) – and that in the end, we will be made new.


The scripture seems to imply that it’s through holding an idea and practicing obedience that we reveal divine sustenance and unfold new life. “He who has an ear, let him obey what the Spirit says.”


So, what would the very highest of me dream today? It’s a great question.


What would the very highest of me dream today?

Never mind that it’s dangerous. That’s the stuff of soul growth.

What would the very highest part of me dream today?

Never mind that it’s unlikely. That’s the stuff of soul growth.

What would the very highest of me dream today?

Never mind that it’s unpopular. That’s the stuff of soul growth.

What would the very highest of me dream today?

Never mind that the land is yet unseen. That’s the stuff of soul growth.

What would the very highest of me dream today?


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