33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 34 No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the LORD. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
In this verse Jeremiah is relating a vision of God’s new covenant with His people. Ultimately, what sealed the covenant was Jesus arriving and spreading his consciousness of love, oneness, and the presence of God within.
This new covenant is comprised of three vital components. First, the law is internal. The original law was broken by the people of that time as easily as the stones on which they were written. God’s laws remained external, never being fully internalized as basic principles for living. In those days the Hebrews considered the heart as the seat of life and strength, the home of the personal life; it was our attitudes, intentions, conscience, understanding, the source of our thoughts, and entire emotional nature.
In Ezekiel 36:26-27 the prophet heard Yahweh saying, “I will give you a new heart with new and right desires, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony heart of sin and give you a new, obedient heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so you will obey my laws and do whatever I command.” This is where God’s law has been written, on our hearts.
Second, we have direct knowledge of God. Jeremiah 31:34 states –"No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other 'Know the Lord,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest." This is why I say that every child of God has Christ within them. Christ is our direct connection to God, our divine conduit to Spirit. Every soul has an intimate personal knowledge of God, and to know Him is to love Him and do His Will, and His will is to love all. To know God is to obey God, Jeremiah 22:15-16 tells us –
“Your father, Josiah, also had plenty to eat and drink. But he was just and right in all his dealings. That is why God blessed him. He gave justice and help to the poor and needy, and everything went well for him. Isn’t that what it means to know me?” says the Lord.
The third important part of God’s new covenant is that we are forgiven. “I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." We want that; we want to know that we are forgiven of the dumb, unproductive, and hurtful things we have thought, done, or spoken. God doesn’t forget His lost sheep, His promises, or His laws, but he does forget and forgive our wrongs. Under God’s new covenant, we do not have to carry around emotional baggage and guilt.
Today we will engage in a two-part symbolic ritual called the Burning Bowl and a Letter to God. It is a spiritual and psychological combination of two ideas: the releasing or burning away of the unneeded and unproductive aspects that hold us back and pull us down, and then gathering to us those elements that elevate us and make us more in tune with God.
This process aids in aligning our minds, hearts, awareness, and intentions with God, so that we are made new. What we were before is replaced by something fresh and different. We abandon our old ways of being, thinking, behaving, speaking, reacting, and expecting. A more pertinent set of inner directives drives us: a set that is more Spirit-ordered, Christ-guided, positive, effective, and uniquely designed for us so that God can express more freely into Creation through us.
For those that are listening or watching this recorded service, I encourage you to take part in this valuable exercise as well. Pause the audio or video as needed.
In a moment we will begin the first part of this exercise: to write down the things in our lives that we would like to release. Let us remember that the past has no control over us other than what we give it. What’s done is done; what’s gone is gone, and we are forgiven. We focus on what we can affect, and that is what we are thinking and doing right now.
So, let us write down all the dross that is on our hearts and minds, and then those papers will be burned – a symbolic release and discard of what is not working for us.
Meditation/Song: I Let Go
Beloved God, today we release what we don’t want. We ask that You remove those things within us that we have missed. We let go and let You do Your work in this sacred experience. In this, we are healed and renewed, and acknowledge that we are forgiven. We open our hearts to love, and are blessed with peace, joy, and harmony. We release these obstacles so that we can more easily follow Your directives placed in our minds and written on our hearts. Amen.
[Burning Bowl Ceremony]
As you place your paper into the flame, say a silent prayer of “I release you and let you go. You have no power over me.”
[After everyone has finished burning]
By releasing the past, we have created a spiritual vacuum, a place for new thoughts and attitudes, new ideas, conditions, relationships, and experiences to enter. The negative energy is released, and we now reinvest that energy into positive, affirmative, and rewarding thoughts and ideas.
After a moment of reflection let us write down our vision of what we want this year to bring as a letter to God. I encourage you to look at the various parts of your lives: Faith, Family, Friends and relationships, Finances and work-related, Health and Fitness, Education and learning, attitudes, philosophies, emotions, and reactions; service to others and the community.
Whatever it is you want to see materialize in your life this year write it down in the form of a ‘Thank You’ to God. Do not judge it if you’ve tried an idea in the past and it has not manifested; perhaps you are now ready to receive the gift. Write it and thank God for it as many times as it takes. The past has no power over you and Spirit loves to give second chances… unlimited chances.
This is not a race to be first, so when you finish, please do not disturb those around you. Put your letter it in the envelope, address it to you with your return address, and seal it. They will be mailed back to you at the end of 2023, so write clearly, with a complete address. Place your Letter to God in the collection basket today or the next time you are in church. The letters will be prayed over throughout the year and then returned to you at the end of the year. If you are watching the video, mail your self-addressed sealed envelope to me. Address it to: Patrick Jolly, Letter to God, 2500 Brentwood Drive, Carson City, NV 89701.
Another option is to set your letter aside and give it a brief prayer when you think of it; something like “Thank You God for this or something better.” Then open the Letter at the end of 2023. Now let us write our letters to God.
Beloved God, we envision the good that we want to draw to us, and we thank you for those things. But God, You know that our human ability to envision and dream is limited. So, please bring to us all of Your good, all that You know we can use, enjoy, benefit from, and need. Thank You, God!