In Genesis 3, a crafty serpent questions God’s guidelines for life in the Garden of Eden. Eve and Adam, presumably compelled by the Serpents arguments, share a taste of fruit God has banned, and receive the consequences–exile from the garden, trial in working the ground, alienation in intimate relationships, pain in childbirth, and death–alientation from God, one another, and the earth.
This weeks theme, the Fall and Adam’s and Eve’s exile from the garden, is challenging. While the story of creation focused on how things were ordered, put together, and good, the fall introduces a kind of un-creating, falling apart, and the establishment of new divisions. Instead of loving and careful relationships, Genesis 3 describes the conditions of alienation, most profoundly, alientation from what God wants for creation.
Interestingly, as earth shattering as this saga is, and as important as it is for the story of salvation, the story we find in Genesis 3 is alluded rarely and only indirectly in what follows of the Hebrew Bible. Compare that to the multitude of times God reminds the people of Israel: “I am the Lord your God who brought you up out of the land of Epypt.” In other words, lest we think this story is too important, we are reminded by Scriptures own repetition that the Scripture is more often about what God is doing and has done–about God’s loving pursuit of us– and how God will make all things new. Indeed, in the stories after the exile from the garden, God is still very much present with creation.
1. Children will describe the events that precipitate what we come to call “the fall.”
2. Children will recognize that even when we are far from God, God goes with us.
Hearing the Word
With your class read Genesis 3: 1-7, 23
You can find some short dealings with the Fall in some of our children’s Bibles, but these stories tend to try and resolve all of the issues we encounter in the text. In reality, the Christian tradition has had a lot of ways of dealing with the sin of Adam and Eve–they disobey a direct command from God, the Fall is a loss of innocence. For this story, resist the urge to wrap it up. Share the story with your students straight from Scripure and find out what they think happened. Why are Adam and Eve sent from the Garden? Why did the serpent want Adam and Eve to eat from the tree (remember that it is only in later motifs that the serpent is associated with the devil)? What does God want for us and from us? Did Adam and Eve want the same thing that God wanted for them?
Respond to the Word
Many of our responses this week grapple with images or characters from the story. Remember that the goal isn’t the art project that students get at the end, but the process of working with and through the story, thinking about the images, and sharing thoughts. Making snakes is fun, but wondering together about what happened to God’s good creation because of the exchange between the snake, Eve, and Adam, is more important. It’s about the process, not the product.
1. The Drama of Sin in Dramatic Fashion: If you are in a class of readers, explore the story together with this script. Select students for each of the different characters. Then, reflect together on what happens in the story. Invite each of the children in your class to re-write the story in their own words. Share some of the different versions with the class. If you have time remaining, illustrate each of the stories with images that help explain what happened.
2. Material Storytelling: If you are in a class of non-readers, collect items to represent different images from the story (a stick for the tree of knowledge of good and evil, an apple for the fruit, a toy snake for the serpent) and put them in a paper bag. As you share the story, arrange the materials on the floor or in the middle of the table, so that the story creates a living scene. Afterwards, invite students to retell the story by moving and manipulating the materials.
3. Paper Spiral Snakes: Talk together about the snake that talks with Adam and Eve in the garden. What do we know about the snake from the story? What does it mean to be crafty and why did this snake want to question God’s command? While talking about the snake, draw intricate designs on a circle of paper (pre-cut the circles, you can use chalk, sketch, or water color papers) using markers, crayons, colored pencils, or watercolor paints. Then, cut your circle in a spiral so that it make a shape. Draw a face on the top piece.
4. Snakes Slither Together Game: Set up objects from the story on one side of the room (something representing the fruit, tree of life, tree of knowledge of good and evil, etc.). Then, select one child to be the “snake” and stand in the middle of the room, pivoting on one foot. Each person gets one chance to try to collect all of the materials one at a time without getting tagged by the snake. If the person is tagged before they collect all of the items, they have to link arms with the snake and try to tag they next competitor together. The game is over once all items are collected (in which case the humans “win”) or all the players have been tagged and are linked up in one big snake (in which case the snakes “win”).
5. Imagine there’s No Sin. It’s easy if you try.: As a class, imagine what creation would be like with no sin. If nothing ever fell apart, what would life and the world be like? Create a mural together with artistic depictions of what creation would be like with none of the consequence of sin. At the end of the year, we will talk about how Christians believe that God is one day going to make all things new again. Is this image of creation without the fall similar to or different from the kingdom that God will usher in at the end of all things?
Share a Feast and Close in Prayer