Good morning, friends! Raise your hands if you like stars. I love stars. My daughter and I love watching shows about space. We enjoy wondering about how the universe was created. Recently, we watched a show about stars, mostly super novas. When stars run out of fuel they do some pretty amazing things. Gravity starts to pull it together and the energy makes it pull apart. As that happens, heavier and heavier atoms are created. And the star explodes. Did you know that almost all of the atoms in the universe were created in stars! It took billions and billions of years to make oxygen, carbon, gold, iron and all sorts of other elements that make up the earth. Those stars change energy into the building blocks of the universe. Everything we are made of came from stars! A famous scientist named Carl Sagan once said we are made of star stuff. (read more about the mind boggling process of atom creation here) Amazing!!
A star exploding is a pretty big change. Just about everything changes. Living things grow. Some of you are growing very fast! Soon parents will pull out the spring clothes and see if anything still fits. Even rocks change as they are worn down by wind and water. Friendships change as we make new friends and drift away from others. We can also change on the inside. We learn new things and think about things in new ways. When we follow Jesus, we are changed on the inside, for sure! Jesus helps us be more loving, forgiving, kind and helpful to everyone. God’s love grows and grows within us.
This is a palm leaf (show a recently cut palm branch). Do you remember waving palms last year on Palm Sunday? Did you ever wonder what happened to them when we were done with them? We dry them in Mr. Rory’s office all year long. They change; they get all dried up and then they look like this (show a dried up palm). After they have dried for a whole year, Mr. Rory burns them. Then they change into ashes and they look like this (show the ash container with ashes). This Wednesday, which is called Ash Wednesday, I hope you will come back to see for yourself what happens with the ashes. Pastor David will put them on your forehead in a cross shape. And he will say, “remember, you are dust.” And we will think about times we have made mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. We will look around and see that everyone has ashes on their forehead. We will see that we are all part of God’s family.
The ashes on our forehead remind us that we make mistakes; we are normal. But even though we make mistakes, God loves us. That is something that does not change. When we put the ashes on our foreheads we show people that we are changing on the inside. Love is growing inside of us and changing us.
Gracious and Holy God, Thank you for loving us. Help us to remember that you are with us as we go through all kinds of changes: as our bodies grow, as our friendships change, as our hearts grow with love. Help us to remember that it is ok not to be perfect. All people make mistakes. All people are loved by you. Amen.