burn away the things you carry

I know few people who enjoy the process of moving. Simply stated, it is a pain. I have moved many times over the years and while the reasons for moving were generally positive, life enhancing, and faith building, tossing stuff out, giving things away, boxing up dishes and books, sending out change of address labels, among all the other details, is an arduous process. It has become clear to me over the years that moving is much easier by cleaning out things no longer needed in order to lighten the load of what we carry forward.

I have learned, whether moving or not, I simply feel better not having a lot of stuff. Stuff is cumbersome, weighty, and adds little joy to life.

This week we celebrate Good Friday, the day Jesus was crucified and died on the cross. For years at the Chapel we have had a tradition we follow for each Good Friday service. Upon entering the sanctuary, people who attend immediately notice a heavy, large, wooden cross on the floor below the altar. It is there to remind us of Jesus’ crucifixion and forgiveness, but it is placed front and center for another important reason.

Toward the end of the service, we invite all in attendance to write down sources of regret, guilt, sadness, fear, or experiences they wish to no longer carry around. Each person is invited to place the paper on which they have written on nails on the cross. At the end of the service, the pieces of paper are collected, not read, placed in a secure place, and held until early Easter morning. On Easter morning, the pieces of paper are placed in a fire pit, burned, and released to God.

Whether or not you are able to attend in person, I invite you this Good Friday to get a piece of paper and write down the “stuff” you are carrying around that is weighing you down or holding you back from moving forward. It might be a source of profound regret, guilt, fear, or simply a heavy feeling of letting yourself or another down. Whatever it is, right it down.

On Easter morning, if you can safely do so, light the piece of paper on fire and let it turn to ash, knowing that God has lifted your burden off of you. As Jesus was raised from the dead on Easter, imagine Easter morning being the time to allow God to bring you new life, renewal, and refreshment as God removes whatever you have been carrying around from you.

Jesus died and was raised to new life to release us to live lives grounded in love, forgiveness, and selflessness. Intentionally handing our stuff over to Jesus is not only what Jesus invites us to do, but precisely is what enables us to move about freely in life with joy, whether or not that involves a change of address.