As I write this reflection, my two kittens are busy playing on the drying rack for my clothes. They are two little balls of fur; spinning, clawing, and jumping on my drying rack like its their personal jungle gym. My shirts, jeans, and other pieces of clothing are no longer clothes; they are cat toys. Every few minutes, I pick each one off the rack only to watch as they jump back on. This cycle is part of the game and it's a game my kittens will do nothing to break. 

The ashes we're using tonight are not brand new. They are part of their own cycle. Last March, on Palm Sunday, we marked the beginning of Holy Week by celebrating Jesus' final journey into Jerusalem. We welcome him into the city by waving palm branches in the sky. After the service, we saved the palms, tied them in a bundle, and hid them in a storage room. For the last year, they've sat undisturbed, slowly drying out. Yesterday, I took the bundle to our outdoor barbecue. I shared a prayer and burned those palms to ash. 

The ashes used tonight show us how our worship is connected to a wider story. When we gather together to share Jesus' story and live in God's promises, we are  participating in something that is more than  one time event. We are connected to God's story. And God's story covers the past and the future. By being part of God's creation, we are included in God's story cycle. Tonight, when the ashes are placed on our forehead, we will hear words reminding us of that story. We'll hear words of promise, connecting God's spirit of creation to the reality of our mortality. And we'll remember that, through Jesus, we're always with God, no matter where our life cycle takes us.