This week we finish our conversation on creation by taking a look at days 6 and 7.
In Genesis 1, On the 6th day, God creates living creatures of every kind (1:24-5), and humans (1:26-7). The humans are created in the image of God (the only thing created with such a designation) and with dominion over the creatures that have been previously made. Like God’s other creations, on days 1-5, God calls the creation good; indeed, very good! On day seven, when “the heavens and the earth [was] finished, and all their multitude,” God was finished, rested, and called the 7th day holy (2:3) because on the 7th day “God rested from all the work God had done in creation” (2:4).
In Genesis 2 we get quite a different account of creation, and in particular, God’s creating humans. This chapter begins by saying before the creation of plants and rain, the Lord God formed the human “from the dust of the ground” and God’s own breath, “the breath of life” (2:7). In what follows of this account, God creates other creatures in an attempt to provide a helper and community (2:18). From the same ground, the Lord forms the creatures of the world, bringing them to the human who in turn named each creature (2:20). But this is not enough. The Lord makes another human partner out of the human rib.
These are both interesting and beautiful accounts of creation and deserve time and attention. In the first account, there is emphasis on the good gift of God’s creation, and of course, the Sabbath–the holy day–the observation of which is a covenant distinctive for the people of Israel. Because of the Sabbath day, the people of Israel come to believe (and, I might add, we come to believe) that work and rest are both holy and dignified work. Indeed, so much of Israel’s ethical code rises from the claim that on the Sabbath, God rested from God’s work and hallowed the day of rest. Abraham Heschel claims that ancient rabbis believed that there was an act of creation on the Sabbath, for on the Sabbath God created rest (The Sabbath, 22).
For younger children, it may be easier to stick to the narrative in Genesis 1, especially since they already followed the first 5 days last week. Older children may be interested in talking about both of these stories together–the creation of each part of the world in a series of days (including the Sabbath), and the creation of the human in both accounts. You might ask them to share which of the stories they most enjoy or which they believe is the most true. Feel free to focus on one or both of these stories in your class.
1. Children will be able to share and describe the 6th and 7th days of creation.
2. Children will identify humans as one of the creatures created by God.
Hear the Word
Share one or both of these stories with the children in your class. Younger children may enjoy hearing the story from one of the children’s books mentioned last week. Older children will be able to read the story from one of the children’s Bibles on the shelves in your classroom. Especially if you are working on both stories, it is beneficial to have the Biblical text right in front of each child.
Respond to the Word (In addition to the activities below, you might want to consider revisiting one of the activities from last week)
1. Clay of the Earth and Breath of God: Spend some time working with clay (older children) or play doh (younger children). There is a box of terra cotta clay in the supply closets and a roll of brown paper to cover the tables. Remember that God formed humans from the clay of the earth. Think together about the ways that God lovingly formed each human and then made it alive by offering breath. Wonder together about why God used dust. When we are marked with the sign of the cross on ash Wednesday, we are reminded that we are dust and to dust we will return. Is there something important or good about coming from and returning to the earth.
2. Created in Gods image: Wonder together about what it means that we are created in the image of God. Throughout Christian history, there have been a lot of different answers. Some have said that we are like God in the sense that we are rational, others have stressed our capacity for love, or desire for community. Ask your students what it means to them that they and all the people of the world are created in the image of God. Does it make a difference for the way we might live our lives? how we treat others? what we believe about who God is? This may even make a great journal prompt.
3. All Seven Days: Use the white “prayer cube” boxes in the supply closet to make creation cubes. You can use this printable, or have the children in your class illustrate all of the sides with the things that God made on each day. Remember to number them.
4. Praising God Together: Young children may enjoy using the song “He’s Got the Whole World in his hands” filling in each verse with something that God made on each day of the week, “He’s got the bugs and the crawling things in his hands…” “He’s got the whales in the ocean in his hands…” When you get to the 6th day you can even modify the words “He made you and me brother with his hands, he made you and me sister with his hands, he made the whole world with his hands!”
5. Sabbath Rest: Why did God–the ruler of the universe–need or want to rest once God had created the world? What did it look like for God to rest? Did God sleep, observe creation, or something else? Share with one another why rest is important, especially after a long day of work (or play)? Make a list of things that are restful that we might do together on the Sabbath. Individually or as a class make a list of ways to enjoy Sabbath rest. Turn this into a poster to take home and share the story of the first Sabbath with parents.
6. Naming Animals Game: When God was looking for a companion for the man, God brought the animals to him and they were each named by him. Play a game with your class where each child is given an animal to act out. One child tries to name all of the animals in the room by determining which animal each child is imitating.
Close with a feast and prayer.