Daily Archives: January 3, 2010

Have You Seen “UP Time”? Use the Burning Bowl

The Burning Bowl


I felt this video  packed a powerful message. Whoever put that speech together really put some thought into it.

Today is the  Burning Bowl Ceremony at church. I had never heard of it before I joined my present church. Lutherans, Cumberland-Presbyterians, Methodists, Disciples of Christ, and Congregationalists never had a burning bowl ceremony. I don’t know about anyone else. Those are just the denominations I tried some time before finding my present church home.

Anyone can perform a burning bowl ceremony. It doesn’t have to happen in a church. Our church does the burning bowl on the Sunday closest to New Year’s Day. Other use it as a part of a New Year’s Eve service.

The burning bowl ceremony is a cleansing ritual. The fire represents  a spiritual purifying element that consumes the old in order to create space for the new.

As we enter the sanctuary we are given two sheets of paper. On one we write those things that are in our lives that we wish to release, stuff that doesn’t serve us any more. The list is not easy to make. We have to review our lives and admit those things that are not helpful.

Do you want to release an old relationship? Do you feel jealous of someone? Do you harbor resentments? Do you drink too much, smoke too much, eat too much? Honestly, are you stingy and a hoarder? Do you hold yourself back and not give your full effort? If it is negative, now is the time to release it. What do you want to sweep out of your life? What attitudes and beliefs really keep you from what could be the best in your life?  It is a time to be totally honest.

On the other paper, we list those things that we wish to call into our lives. When we release the old, we create a vacuum into which we wish to fill with things beneficial to us. It can be anything physical, spiritual, or mental. Do you wish to feel your life is full of abundance and prosperity? Do you wish to become more loving and giving? If you have a relationship that is not yet dead, do you wish to have those skills which will strengthen it again?

That wishes  list we take home with us and put in a place where we can refer to it from time to time to mark our progress. I usually put mine on the refrigerator at eye level. Others put it in an envelope and have a friend mail it back to them three to six months later.

When it is time for the ceremony, the minister lights the very large brass bowl. One pew at a time we bring the list of “stuff” which we want out of our lives up to the bowl and drop it into the flames. We turn and don’t look back as the paper burns. It can be a very cathartic experience. It is a very popular event so it takes quite a while for everyone to line up single file to drop their papers into the bowl. There will be over 400 people in church.

What does the Up time have to do with the burning bowl? She lists a lot of things that can be improved in anyone’s life. You can possibly identify with some of the things she lists. Be honest. Traditionally, New Year’s is the time to be out with the old, in with the new. We symbolize the old year with an old, old man. We symbolize the new with a baby. This ceremony is a way to spiritually rid ourselves of the old and begin anew again. It can be a very powerful experience.

One thing I have come to realize is that things will happen in God’s time, not mine. I have attended four ceremonies in the past five years. Several years I have put the same thing on my desires list. I really have not noticed any immediate or startling change, but looking back to where I was five years ago, I have come a long way in my beliefs, behavior, and attitudes. I have released much of the old and incorporated much of the new.

What is it that you wish to change in your life? What kind of “ups” do you wish to incorporate into your daily living? I’d like to add something to her list. When you are really feeling down, look up. God is always with you. Have faith, hope, love, and practice charity in 2010. As far as the New Year, burn it up! Namaste. Attic Annie

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