Sets You Free

“…sets you free…”


“If the Son sets you free, then you will be really free.” (John 8:36)

Some call it “Shrove Tuesday”, others “Pancake Day,” and others “the last day of Mardi Gras.”  As for me, its “Toasty Tuesday.”  That’s because each year on the day before Ash Wednesday I get my blackened metal bucket and wad up inside it all the leftover dried palm branches from the previous Palm Sunday celebration.  Then I thoroughly douse it with some charcoal lighter fluid, then add a little more, and then add a little more, and then add a little more… (you get the picture).  I stand back a respectful distance, light the match, toss it into the bucket… and WHOOSH…

I love to watch the flames soar into the air, like hands reaching out to heaven.  In only a matter of moments the palm limbs that once graced a tree and added to its beauty, limbs that might have provided shade to a passer-by, limbs that eventually helped tell the story of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, are now nothing more than ashes at the bottom of my sooty bucket.  Each year my “Toasty Tuesday” celebration helps remind me of the precious nature of this gift of life, and also reminds me of the need for endings and freedom – the need for moving on.

As the branches burn I’m reminded that another year has passed since my last celebration.  In that year many things have come to pass – some joyful, some sorrowful, some edifying, and some hurtful. When we hurt we need to know there is hope for release and freedom.  When we rejoice with success we need to know there is hope for future success. There comes a time to “move on” if we are to avoid getting stuck in either the pain of the hurtful, or the potential stagnation of the joyful.  For me my “Toasty Tuesday” celebrations remind me of just that.

For those of us who are Christians, Lent provides us the preparation time necessary to move on.  The ashes we use today, Ash Wednesday, remind us that for all our joys and all our failures we are children of the loving God who provides the way to move on through the love shown in Jesus Christ.  I pray that God’s Spirit will confront me with the need and show me the way to keep moving on so I can be part of the world’s transformation by God’s grace.

Blessings and Peace,
Pastor, Sand Hill United Methodist Church
Boaz, West Virginia

Help save lives! For more information on my new book, “A Relentless Hope: Surviving the Storm of Teen Depression,” visit

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~ by revgenelson on March 9, 2011.

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