The Garden

Sunday School:  Session C

Questions to spur reflection from last week’s lesson:

– Look to Genesis 1:2.  What was there before there was light?  (In his bible studies in prisons, Bob Ekblad notes to the inmates that God spoke and brought the light.  The darkness and chaos, he remarks, did nothing to deserve the light.  God chose to bring it)

– Look to Genesis 1:26-27.  What does it mean to be created in the image of God?  (See what the catechism has to say about that here.)

– Look to Genesis 2:1-4.  What did God do on the seventh day?  Why?  (Ellen Davis comments on this:  “Appreciation and enjoyment of the creatures are the hallmark of God’s dominion and therefore the standard by which our own attempts to exercise dominion must be judged.”  Scripture, Culture, and Agriculture 65).

Hear the word:  This week’s text is Genesis 2:5-25 , Genesis 3:1-24

The Big Picture Story Bible (available in our parish library) offers a telling of Genesis 3 well suited for primary-school aged children.  Other illustrated books available to borrow include The Story of the Creation (Jane Ray), Wonderful Earth, The Wonderful World that God Made, and The Canticle of the Sun.

Overview:  We receive two quite different creation stories in Genesis.  The first, as I mentioned on the parish-wide blog, reads as a liturgical poem.  This second creation story depicts a more intimate scene:  God making humans from humus, breathing life into their bodies.  The garden of Genesis 2 is an idyllic place, with “every tree lovely to look at and good for food, and the tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil”(Gen. 2:9, Robert Alter).   Before you move on to Genesis 3, take time to pay attention to the beauty of this scene, the goodness of God’s provision.  Don’t forget that the tree of life, the beauty of this setting, appears again in Scripture here.

Genesis 3 introduces the reality of human sin.  Robert Alter translates Genesis 2:6 as follows:  “And the woman saw that the tree was good for eating and that it was lust to the eyes, and the tree was lovely to look at, and she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave to her man and he ate.”  It is striking that the forbidden fruit is lovely and delicious.  Also noteworthy, that just as God saw the goodness of the earth at creation (in Genesis 1), so here, Adam and Eve sight/seeing is changed once  they have eaten the fruit.

Learning Objectives:

(1.)  Children will identify God as the giver of the good gifts of creation.

(2.)  Children will explore the concept of free will and the fall as ongoing, and will articulate ways in which we misuse our freedom.
Sin is the seeking of our own will instead of the will of God, distorting our relationship with God, with other people, and with creation (BCP, p 848).

(3.) Children will  recognize how God continues to give us good gifts even though we sin.  (God is ready to restore our dignity — like the skin garments made to clothe Adam and Eve — although we still live with the consequences of our sin. )  God’s response to sin is justice tempered with mercy.

Respond to the word:

(a.)  Make a model, drawing, or painting of the garden with paper, modeling clay, or toys.  (Contact Wren ahead of time if you’d like her to make toy animals, plants, etc available).  Be sure to check out the painting that EYC students made of the creation story.  Be sure to reference other artistic depictions of the garden, such as this and this.

(b.)  Active games:  do a scavenger hunt, or play…

… King Elephant:  Remind the children of the verses in today’s story where Adam names the animals.  Everyone sits in a circle and each person decides what animal they will be and what hand signal they will use to reflect that animal.  (For example, someone could be a worm and wiggle their finger…)  One person is ‘King Elephant’, and their signal is holding their arms in front of their face like an elephant trunk. King Elephant is the “head” of the circle and there should be an empty chair or empty space between him/her and the next player, who is the back of the circle.  When play begins King Elephant starts. King Elephant makes his/her signal and then another player’s animal signal. That player then has to make their signal and another player’s animal signal. Play continues uninterrupted until someone goofs! The player who goofs goes to the back of the play circle and all other players move up.

(c.)  Role Play with Genesis 2 & 3.  Have kids volunteer for the following parts: narrator, Adam, two people to stretch out on the ground as a river, two “generic” trees, the tree of life and the tree of having the knowledge of good and evil. All the other kids will be birds or animals. Have volunteers stay in their seats until the narrator reads aloud the Bible passage.  Say, “listen and be ready to take your place in the garden as you hear your part in this Bible story.”

Have the narrator read aloud Genesis 2&3 (or parts thereof), pausing and cueing kids to perform their assigned parts. Afterward, ask: What do you think the Garden of Eden was like? What roles did God give Eve or Adam? Have you ever helped take care of a garden?  Why did Adam and Eve disobey God?

(d.)  Plant a Garden:  Genesis 2 describes the garden that God provided for humanity.  Work together to plant a small garden in a fruit crate.  (Ask Wren to provide supplies.)  Talk about how Adam and Eve’s life in the garden was before and after they ate the forbidden fruit.  Consider the roles that Adam and Eve have tending the garden after the fall.

(e.)  “Pass the Globe”:  (Use inflatable globes.)    Have students sit in a circle and pass ball in circle.  When each child receives the ball, have them say one thing that God created.  Take magazines and cut out pictures of things that God created to make a collage.

(f.)  Discussion/activity for older elementary:  explore how the story of Jesus compares to the creation story. How is Mary different from Eve?. How is Jesus like a new Adam? Contrast the tree in the garden with the tree of the cross, etc. The class might want to divide into 3 groups each tackling one of these ideas then come back together to discuss.

Conclude in prayer.

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