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Bible passage: Genesis 1:1-2:4
Background: This is the first of four sessions dealing with the opening chapters of Genesis. Taken literally there are inconsistencies within the text, and when you try to compare these chapters with scientific data there are more contradictions. Yet, trying to fit these stories within a scientific framework only limits their scope and message. Try to engage with the passage rather than external issues. If we consider the Bible to be important, what is in the Bible must be important. So what important things are these ‘prehistory’ passages conveying to our young people?
Start by inviting the group to share what they have been doing during the past seven days. As they share, ask them specifically if they managed to achieve what they set out to do. Did they do what they had said they would do? Explain that today you will be looking at what happens when God sets about speaking.
You will need: small Lego sets (make sure you have all the parts and the instructions for each one)
Hand out the sets to the group and let them make the models. Depending on how much time you have available, first attempt to make the models without the instructions or even an image showing what the model should be. Once you have finished, have a brief discussion about what is needed to make something, for example an idea, a plan, instructions, materials and someone to make it.
You will need: a candle (real or battery-operated)
Ask the group to sit comfortably. Dim or turn off the lights, then light a candle. Make sure you have enough light to read the following highlights from today’s Bible passage (from the NIV). Read out loud, but leave space between each line:
In the beginning God…
“Let there be light!”
“Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.”
“Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.”
“Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.”
“Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.”
“Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.”
“Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.”
“Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.”
“Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
“Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
“I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground – everything that has the breath of life in it – I give every green plant for food.”
Turn the lights back on and ask someone to read the whole passage from Genesis 1:1 to 2:4.
Encourage discussion around the passage using the following questions:
- Did God have all the components you listed in ‘Intro activity’?
- Why is day seven mentioned? Why does God need a rest?
- What happens when God speaks?
- What is this opening chapter of Genesis all about?
You will need: magazines; large sheets of paper; art materials
Make a creation collage on either one large piece of paper or seven smaller sheets. Using images from the magazines and your art materials, create a mixed-media representation of each day. Show clearly, as a visual representation, what is made or created on each of the days.
Once complete, arrange them with day one and day four next to each other at the top. Underneath, place days two and five, and under those place days three and six.
For day seven, explain that God rested because everything was complete and finished. What images could represent that? How would they rest and relax if they had nothing left to do?
As they are making the images, encourage discussion on the following topics. What happened on each of the seven days? Can the group see any relationships between the days? Explain that days four, five and six directly relate to one, two and three, providing a wonderful symmetry. The completeness and wholeness and wonder of creation can be seen if we step back and see it as a whole.
You will need: collages from ‘Creative response’
Put the day-seven collage in the middle and arrange the others around it. Make sure everyone can see the collage and use it as an inspiration to pray. Encourage the group to pray silently or out loud, if they are comfortable doing so, thanking God for the heavens and the earth he created, and for what was created on each of the days.
Take photos of the collage and keep them on a mobile phone, using them as a prompt to pray and thank God throughout the week.
Throughout this, and the next three sessions, encourage the young people to ask questions about these early chapters in Genesis. Although you don’t want to get into a scientific debate in these sessions make it clear that if the young people are concerned or interested in an aspect, you will follow it up at a later time.
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