Overview of the Workshops:
Art: Children will create decorated tiles using alcohol inks.
Photography: Children will participate in an outdoor scavenger hunt taking photographs of God's creation.
Computers: Children will explore the story using Awesome Bible Stories software.
Video: Children will watch the “Story of Creation” (The Great Bible Discovery Series.)
Music & Movement: Children will retell the story using scarves and dramatic movement.
Cooking: [Not posted] - Children will create Creation Snack Bags. (based on Seven Days of Creation Snack (Idea 1),by Cklassen - posted September 09, 2003 link)
Genesis 1-2 (NIV Adventure Bible), "In the Beginning" and "God's Wonderful Creation" page 13-17 (The Picture Bible)
Memory Verse: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1
Theme: God created the world and everything in it. We can learn about the character of God through the story of creation.
- “Books of the Old Testament,” Books of the Bible, Custom CD, Troy and Genie Nilsson.
- “Books of the New Testament,” Books of the Bible, Custom CD, Troy and Genie Nilsson.
- “In the Beginning (Genesis 1:1),” Scripture Rock, Troy and Genie Nilsson, 1997.
- “God of Wonders,” Offerings II, Third Day, 2003.
- “The Heavens,” Fortunate Recipient, Alan Root, 2002.
- “From the Rising of the Sun,” Light the Fire, Chris Hughes.
- “How Great is our God,” Arriving, Chris Tomlin, 2004.
- “This is my Father’s World,” Kickin’ it Old School, Go Fish, 2010.
- Children will recognize that Genesis means beginning and that it is the first book in the Bible.
- Children will locate the story of Creation in their Bibles.
- Children will recognize that God created the world and everything in it.
- Children will describe ways we can take care of God’s creation.
- Children will explain that God declared his creations “good.”
- Children will describe what God is like: creative, all-powerful, eternal, loving.
- Older Children will explore some of the common questions about evolution and creation.
- Children will memorize Genesis 1:1.
People have always pondered the mystery of Creation. Why do I exist? What is the meaning of life? How did the universe come into being? Children are especially full of questions. Why is the sky blue? Why did God make giraffes? And a KEY question that nearly every child asks at some point.... If God made everything, who made God? (Here’s a good answer for that question: “Nobody. That’s who God is – the One who started it all, the One who made you and me and everything! God just is. He has always been. He always will be.
We all have questions. We don’t always have answers. Questions will be a big part of this rotation. When teaching children, it may be tempting to try to explain away the wonders and mysteries of Creation or to give simple, pat answers…. Accept that we won’t have answers to all of our questions, for God is bigger than we and God’s ways are not our ways. Embrace the mystery! Celebrate the wonder!
What is Genesis? Is it history? Does it give an accurate account of the earliest age of the universe? It is myth? Is this simply a symbolic story with little correspondence to real people, places and events? Perhaps we can best understand Genesis as writing of a different genre entirely: “theological, kerygmatic narrative,” written for people with a definite theological purpose – to help understand who God is, how God relates to his created order and how we are to relate to God and the created order; and also a kerygmatic purpose: to proclaim (preach or announce) what the community of faith understands about God.
Today, creation is a hot-button topic with school boards, scientists, educators and people of faith often pitted against each other. It’s impossible to study this topic without providing at least some information about these differing views. Some of this information is included in this background information. If you want to explore more, see the resource list. Many Christians experience a personal crisis of faith when their childhood beliefs come face to face with the teachings in high school or college science classes. It’s important to explore some of the current thinking about creation and evolution because discussion about it is so prevalent today. All people of faith (children and adults) need to be informed about issues so they can come to grips with what they believe and then articulate clearly and intelligently those beliefs. That being said, the primary purpose of Genesis is theological, not scientific. The emphasis of this rotation will not be on the evolution/creation controversy, nor the process by which God created. Rather it will be on the meaning behind the Genesis story…. and an exploration of who God is – powerful, mighty, creative and good, one sovereign, pre-existing Creator God.
The word genesis comes from the Greek word geneosus meaning “birth, genealogy or history of origins.” The Hebrew word bereshith means “in the beginning” and is also the title of the book in Hebrew. The Hebrew word bara means create and it refers only to the activity of God, not human activity. So, Genesis, the first book of the Bible, is clearly a book about beginnings, recounting the beginning of: the world, human history, family, civilization and salvation. Genesis sets the stage for the entire Bible. It is the beginning of the story of God’s purpose and plan for his creation. It reveals the person and nature of God (Creator, Sovereign, Sustainer, Judge, Redeemer) the value and dignity of human beings (made in God’s image, saved by grace, used by God in the world), the tragedy and consequences of sin (the fall, separation from God, judgment) and the promise and assurance of salvation (covenant, forgiveness, promised Messiah)
Genesis 1-11 is referred to as primeval or pre-historical narrative. The location of Eden is believed to be in Mesopotamia, possibly in southern Iraq between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. Eden has two possible meanings (perhaps both!): paradise/delight and a plain. The ancient Babylonian writing, the Enuma Elish describes creation resulting from a battle between gods and goddesses. Other ancient writings have some parallels with the Genesis text. The Gilgamesh Epic tells a flood story similar to the story of Noah. Mari tablets date back to the patriarchal times. These relics show that freedom of travel and similar names (particularly Abram, Jacob and Job) were common. The Nuzi tablets are post-patriarchal and describe customs such as inheritance laws, social contracts and legal provisions. Most ancient peoples believed that the sun, moon, stars and the giant sea creatures were gods. Genesis clearly declares that all of these creations are under God’s control.
Ancient Greeks believed in an endless cycle of cosmology. The earth and universe were born in fire, then slowly cooled to shape the world. Then the cycle was repeated every 10,000 years or so. In contrast to this belief, the Bible affirms that God is eternal; He has always existed and that there was a definite beginning to the world.
Themes in Genesis
The creation accounts in Genesis teach us about God.
- God is eternal – he has always existed. Before everything, there was God.
- God is in control -- God spoke and the universe came into being. God created all that is, seen and unseen. There was a definite beginning to the world. Before God spoke, the earth was formless and dark, a sort of cosmic emptiness.
- God is separate and distinct from his created order. This differs from Pantheism where God and the universe are one, where God is everything and everything is God.
- God is a personal God. He communicates. He is Sustainer as well as Creator. This contrasts with Deism, a belief system in which God creates, but then steps away and does not remain personally involved. (God does not wind up the world like a clock, set it in motion and then watch it wind down)
- God pays attention to detail. Think of the complexity and diversity of creation!
- God created humans in God’s image. We are the special objects of God’s love. We are heirs to all God has made. We are the center of his purpose, made to reflect God’s goodness, wisdom and love.
- God is purposeful. We live in a complex and ordered universe. There is purpose to our lives, as well.
- God’s creation is good. This differs from Gnosticism where only the spiritual component of life is good and the material and physical world is bad. Everything God made is good, therefore God himself must be VERY good!
- God created us to be stewards of the earth. We are responsible for caring for the earth, the plants, animals, air and water.
The book of Genesis summarizes the basic issues of life. God created us in his own image. Sin brings death and suffering. God judges sin and delivers the faithful. In Genesis God reveals his purposes:
- Redemption – God has a plan to save us.
- Regal – God is sovereign and will establish his kingdom.
- Revelation – God reveals himself through his Word and his relationship with the faithful.
In teaching the Creation story, it’s helpful to adopt the attitude of the Psalmist who looks at the world with an attitude of awe and reverence. Lawrence O. Richards writes, “Creation is a mirror, placed to reflect our thoughts and our worship back to the Person whose image Creation enables us to see.” The Old and New Testaments both give witness to God. Psalm 19 says, “the heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” In Romans 1:19-20, Paul writes that Creation gives a compelling witness to the existence of God so that “no one is without excuse.”
Genesis 1 account of Creation:
Day One – Light and dark (day and night)
Day Two – Sky separated from the waters
Day Three – Seas and dry land, plants and trees
Day Four – Sun, moon, stars
Day Five – Fish, sea creatures, birds
Day Six – Animals, man and woman
Day Seven – God rested
Did God really create the entire universe in six 24-hour days? People believe differently about the actual time and process of creation. Some of the most prevalent theories are listed and described below:
- Gap Theory – There is a gap between the earliest Creation of order and beauty, ruined by Satan’s fall (Gap adherents believe this is the time when prehistoric man lived). Genesis 1 describes a reconstruction of the world.
- Indefinite Age Theory – The use of the word “day” is figurative rather than literal.
- Intermittent Day Theory – Each 24-hour day introduces a new creative period for God.
- Day-Age Theory – The “days” referred to in Genesis refer to indefinite periods of time roughly equal to geological ages.
- Literal Creation Theory – Sometimes this is referred to as the “Young Earth” belief. Creation took place in six literal 24-hour days a few thousand years ago. Fossils and other records were also created during this time.
- Revelatory Day Theory – The days mentioned in Genesis were literal days in Moses’ life. God revealed the story of Creation to Moses during those seven days.
- Literary Device Theory – Use of the word “days” was a way to organize the material as it was written. Jews believe the Creation account is poetry and a statement of faith. The symbol of seven days demonstrates God’s progressive creativity and careful order. They are reminders for us to order our lives as God has ordered the universe.
- Myth Theory – The story of Creation is not historical, but symbolic. It contains theological truths but not historical truths.
And what about the Sabbath?
On the seventh day, God rested from his work. He blessed the seventh day and declared it holy. In the biblical calendar, a new day begins at sunset and ends at sunset. This understanding stems from Genesis where the days of creation are described as “and the evening and the morning were the ___ day.” But it’s difficult to pinpoint an exact moment in time when “sunset” has come. In Jewish homes, Sabbath preparations begin so that there is sufficient time for completion by the beginning of sunset. The Sabbath ends at the end of sunset the next day, creating a Sabbath day of about 25 hours.
The Ten Commandments command us to preserve the Sabbath as a day of rest. For Jewish people the Sabbath is celebrated on Saturday. Why did it move to Sunday?
In 321A.D. Emperor Constantine declared that Sunday was to be a day of rest throughout the Roman Empire. Romans believed the god Saturn was evil. Saturday was named after him. The sun was considered the giver of life – what you need at the beginning of another week. So feasts were often held on that day. As Christianity spread across the Roman Empire, it became natural to celebrate the Lord’s Feast (communion) on Sunday. It was noted that Jesus was resurrected on Sunday (although this didn’t become a strong argument for Sunday worship until much later in Christian history). In 364 A.D. the Church Council of Laodicea ordered Christians to no longer observe the Sabbath on Saturday, to distance the Christian faith from the Jewish faith.
Genesis 2 describes the creation of man and woman in the image of God, the imago dei. Because we are created in God’s image we reflect God’s character. We have emotions, an awareness of morality, intellectual capability, an awareness of beauty and the capability to love. Being made in God’s image means we are special to him. It helps us understand our unique place in the world and just how valuable we are to God. It also implies responsibility: we must love others because all people are created in God’s image and beloved to him. The imago dei is key to understanding redemption. We are so valuable to God that he reaches out to save us.
Two Creation stories?
A careful reading of Genesis reveals two creation accounts. Critics will sometimes ask, “Which is true?”
Although some scholars believe the two creation stories may have been separate in origin, they function together and were placed together very early. The second creation story should not be read as a separate account, but rather as an expansion of the first. This is a common literary device used frequently in Hebrew writings. The first account gives background information; the second takes one feature, focuses in on it and highlights it.
Evolution, Creationism and Intelligent Design…
In the mid-1800’s Charles Darwin wrote The Origin of the Species, introducing the theory of evolution through natural selection. In the past 150 years, the controversy generated by evolutionary thought remains volatile. In recent years, the battle has raged in local school boards as school systems decide what will be taught in science classes across our nation.
There are two types of evolution that must be differentiated. Macro-evolution or Darwinian evolution is the general theory of evolution stating that “all living creatures are modified descendants of a common ancestor that lived long ago.” This is what most people think of when they hear the word evolution. Micro-evolution is the belief that within a single species, common ancestry occurs. This is almost universally accepted as fact and seldom debated.
In 2000, the General Conference of the United Methodist Church passed Resolution 337 directing the General Board of Discipleship to develop study materials for churches bringing all the theories of evolution and creation to churches in a manner that would encourage respectful dialogue. In the Beginning is a set of four small group discussion and study guides on four major views of creation.
A summary of the four positions and their key beliefs are listed below:
Biblical Creationists believe the Bible contains all the information needed to understand the world and how it was created. The Bible is the final authority when science and scripture disagree. Creation occurred in six literal 24-hour days. Fossil records and other disciplines used by scientists are flawed or were created as a test by God to determine faith. Key beliefs:
- The Bible is the inerrant Word of God.
- God is the author and creator of all that exists.
- The earth and life on earth are less than 10,000 years old.
- Human beings are created in God’s image and are not the result of evolutionary process.
Religious Rationalists do not mix religion and science. They acknowledge that there will always be more to learn about science and faith. Key beliefs: Science and religion are separate but equal inquiries into life.
- Science seeks facts, while religion seeks meaning.
- God cannot be proved or disproved.
- Science and religion both provide value in our lives
Scientific Theists believe that God is the ultimate source of all that exists. Scientific information will never replace God as the foundation. Big Bang, evolution and other scientific theories may be true, but if so, God set them in motion. Key beliefs:
- Science and religious faith are compatible.
- God is the creative energy behind all that exists.
- God is the ultimate origin behind all other origins.
- All natural laws are governed by the creative energy of God’s Spirit.
Evolution Scientists believe that Darwinian evolutionary theory is essentially proven and should be accepted as fact. Key beliefs:
- Science explains everything (or has the potential to explain everything).
- There is no need for God in the discussion of creation.
- There is no evidence for God.
- Natural laws and processes account fully for our world.
Intelligent Design is a relatively new position that has emerged. Some critics believe that this view is simply Biblical Creationism underneath a new disguise, but many believe it has more in common with the Scientific Theist viewpoint. Proponents of Intelligent Design do not dismiss scientific evidence, rather they believe that careful and thoughtful review of science increasingly points to the presence of a Creator (they do not necessarily identify the creator as God). Proponents of Intelligent Design believe the universe is governed by physical and spiritual laws. The physical laws point to a Creator. The spiritual laws show how we can know him personally. In the book, The Case for a Creator, Lee Strobel (graduate of Harvard law school, former atheist and legal journalist) interviews dozens of scientists and presents their conclusions. In the last 50 years, scientific discoveries in the fields of biochemistry, astronomy, cosmology and physics have convinced more and more scientists that the evidence supports faith as never before. Some of their quotes are noted below:
“The chain of events leading to man commenced suddenly and sharply at a definite moment in time in a flash of light and energy.” (Astronomer and former agnostic, Robert Jastrow).
“If the universe had not been made with the most exacting precision we would never have come into existence.” (John O’Keefe of NASA, Harvard educated astrophysicist)
“It may seem bizarre, but in my opinion, science offers a surer path to God than religion.” (Physicist Paul Davies)
“Science and religion…are friends, not foes, in the common quest for knowledge. Some people may find this surprising, for there’s a feeling throughout our society that religious belief is outmoded, or downright impossible, in a scientific age. I don’t agree.” (Physicist and theologian John Polkinghorne)
“Nothing we learn about the universe threatens our faith. It only enriches it.” (George Coyne, an astrophysicist and priest)
Prior to 2008, the United Methodist Church did not have an “official position” on evolution. However in 2008 at General Conference the following statement was passed:
160 F) Science and Technology —We recognize science as a legitimate interpretation of God’s natural world. We affirm the validity of the claims of science in describing the natural world and in determining what is scientific. We preclude science from making authoritative claims about theological issues and theology from making authoritative claims about scientific issues. We find that science’s descriptions of cosmological, geological, and biological evolution are not in conflict with theology. We recognize medical, technical, and scientific technologies as legitimate uses of God’s natural world when such use enhances human life and enables all of God’s children to develop their God-given creative potential without violating our ethical convictions about the relationship of humanity to the natural world. We reexamine our ethical convictions as our understanding of the natural world increases. We find that as science expands human understanding of the natural world, our understanding of the mysteries of God’s creation and word are enhanced.
In acknowledging the important roles of science and technology, however, we also believe that theological understandings of human experience are crucial to a full understanding of the place of humanity in the universe. Science and theology are complementary rather than mutually incompatible. We therefore encourage dialogue between the scientific and theological communities and seek the kind of participation that will enable humanity to sustain life on earth and, by God’s grace, increase the quality of our common lives together.
From The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church - 2008. Copyright 2008 by The United Methodist Publishing House. Used by permission.
WHEREAS, The United Methodist Church has for many years supported the separation of church and State (164C, Book of Discipline, 2004, p. 119);
Therefore, be it resolved, that the General Conference of The United Methodist Church go on record as opposing the introduction of any faith-based theories such as Creationism or Intelligent Design into the science curriculum of our public schools.
From The Book of Resolutions of The United Methodist Church — 2008. Copyright © 2008 by The United Methodist Publishing House. Used by permission.
As children learn the creation story, they will have an opportunity to examine who God is, learn about his character and explore how we come to know God better. During this rotation, we encourage you to engage in discussion and dialogue with the children (especially the older ones), about the information contained in these background notes and to share what you believe. Because this topic can be so divisive, it’s important to handle differences of opinion with respect and consideration. God reminds us that the wonders of Creation are beyond our grasp. The Bible doesn’t attempt to prove that God exists, it assumes this as fact and celebrates God’s creativity, grace and love while pointing us toward our own response.
- Bible Teacher’s Commentary, Lawrence O. Richards, Cook Communications Ministries, Colorado Springs, CO, 2002.
- River Community Church, RiverKidz lesson on Creation, 2003, posted on www.rotation.org.
- “Genesis 2 – Establishing the Sabbath,” an article by Neil MacQueen, posted on www.rotation.org, June 2003.
- Faith Quest Creation Rotation, Workshop Leader’s Bible Study, http://www.kirkofkildaire.org/quest/contents.html
- An Introduction to the Old Testament Pentateuch, Herbert Wolf, Moody Press, 1991.
New Dictionary of Theology, Ed. Sinclair B. Ferguson, David F. Wright, InterVarsity Press,1988.
- Life Application Bible and NIV Bible study notes.
- The Case for a Creator, Lee Strobel, Zondervan, 2004.
- In the Beginning, Dan R. Dick, General Board of Discipleship of the UMC, 2005.
- Christian Believer: Knowing God with Heart and Mind, Study Manual, J. Ellsworth Kalas, Abingdon Press, 1999.
- Disciple: Becoming Disciples Through Bible Study, Study Manual, Graded Press, 1987.
Invitation Bible Studies, Grades 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, Abingdon Press, 1989, 1996.