I bring a message of hope for us failures. It comes from the second chapter of the Book of Revelation [2:17]: Hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; to him that overcometh will I give… a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he [or she] that receiveth it. This white stone is a token of acquittal. In ancient courts you’d vote to acquit the defendant by casting a white stone into a pot, or vote to condemn by casting a black stone into another pot. So to get a white stone from God means that God finds us innocent.
It came to me this morning that God’s gift to us of a new name means that the old name has been replaced. We all have portfolios of accomplishments we’re proud of, but we also drag around this shameful baggage of things we wish we hadn’t done – the hearts I’ve broken, the things I grabbed for myself with the result that someone else had to do without them, the hurtful things I said that can now never be unsaid. But both this portfolio of accomplishments and this criminal record of sleazy acts accrue to us under our old name. So after God has given us the new name, all these things belong to nobody. They’ve become history, and history has now been completely erased; there is only now.
And with this new name comes a restoration of our original nature, as God created us: which is to say, in God’s own likeness. And as John wrote, possibly the same John as wrote the Book of Revelation, God is love [1 John 4:8, 4:16]. So what can this new name mean, except that we return to our original nature and purpose, which is to be channels of divine love? To which I say Hallelujah, and Amen.
Vocal ministry given at Fifteenth Street Meeting, 11/7/2010