We will gather briefly in the commons right before our class to make sure that children know where they are going and who their teachers are (so parents recognize your face), and so they can get nametags. In the future, Church School will begin in your classrooms. Since this is our first week gathering for the year, take a bit of time at the start of your class to get to know one another. All of the children should (hopefully) be wearing nametags. Younger children may enjoy sharing their names by sitting in a circle and passing a ball to one another (whoever is holding the ball says their name and something about themself). Older children may like to get to know one another by playing a simple game such as repeating everyone’s name in the order they are given (the first person says their own name, the second person says the first persons and their own, etc.). Whatever you do, spend time getting to know one another. Building community, sharing friendship and fellowship is one of the main goals for our young people in Sunday School. Here are some more ice breaker ideas. The lesson below is shorter so that you have time to do this.
Since we are focusing on the whole narrative of Scripture this year, we begin this week “in the beginning.” Old Testament scholar Ellen Davis calls the dramatic start to the Story of God in Genesis 1, a “liturgical drama in poetic form.” In it the cosmos is shown to be one large temple, created and sustained by God. Genesis 1 has a unique (or art least unusal) quality; it invites us to see the world from God’s point of view, “God saw” and “it was good” are the repeated phrases that remind us of this. The function this account of creation, which is essentially a liturgical hymn or poetry, is to show that all of the world belongs to God, and is made for the worship of God because of who God is. It is important to note, as we explore this story that it is a story about who God is–God over all the earth, careful and artistic creator, the one who calls the physical stuff of creation good.
1. Children will describe the world as created by, loved by, and belonging to God.
2. Children will describe the physical stuff of creation as good.
Hear the Word:
This is one story that is great to read straight from the pages of Scripture (here in Genesis 1:1-25) because it has great rythmn and movement. If 25 verses seems like a lot, get your class to move as you tell the story. You may also want to begin with a shorter story to get everyone into the lesson. All of our children’s Bibles have this story. A quick telling in in the Children of God Storybook Bible beginning on page 8. Don’t focus on God making humans or resting on the Sabbath yet; we will do that story next week.
Respond to the Word
1.Make your Own Liturgical Drama: After reading the story to your class, act out each of the days as God makes it. You could begin with all of the lights off in your classroom and have someone read in a dramatic voice “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth[…] and God said let their be light” [turn the lights on]. For each day, children can move their bodies and make sounds like rushing water, tall trees, and large land and sea creatures. Ask them to share with you what it would have been like to watch the whole world unfold right before their very eyes. Wonder together about how each of the created things in the world–trees, flowers, hippos, whales, giraffes, and rain–worship God. How does the rain worship God?
2. Make Creation Cards: With your class, make a list of all of the things God creates and in what order (as given in Genesis 1). Using cardstock and art supplies, make a half-sheet sized card with images from each of the days of creation. Don’t send the cards home. Save the cards for next week so that you can add images from the final days of creation. If your students don’t finsh, they can continue to work on the days of creation next week. Older children (who are more efficient at cutting) might even like to make a set of number like this.
3. Collage: Use some of the old magazines in the supply closet to make a large poster of everything God made. You might label it “God made the world.” Your collage might include some great drawings as well as magazine clipplings.
4. Collect Creation: Take a walk outside with your class and collect some of the beautiful items God has made. Once you return to your class, you can lay all of the items out on the table and say a prayer thanking God for the goodness and abundance of creation (you can find a collect for creation in the Book of Common Prayer). Younger children may like to use the items (sticks, acorns, leaves, and flowers) in lieu of a paintbrush to make a piece of art. Older children may like to tape something from nature in their journal and reflect on a prompt such as “Why did God make the [acorn, leaf, etc.].”
Close with a feast (Cat cookies in your class) and Prayer
If you have time, you may like to use this time to start learning a prayer that you pray every week (such as the Lord’s Prayer) or you can close with a collect from the BCP. Let me know if you would like suggestions.