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Bible passage: Genesis 3
Background: This story marks a seismic shift from God’s original world, which was very good, to the world we know today, in which bad things happen. The aim of this session is to share this ancient story simply, while encouraging the children to actively engage with and wonder about it. It focuses on a fundamental of faith – obedience to God – so it’s a good place for children to practise making connections between the Bible’s stories of fallen humanity and the choices they make in their own lives.
Welcome the children as they arrive and introduce the idea of “If I ruled the world…” What would they do or say if they were in charge of everything? What rules might they make?
You will need: a single exotic fruit (such as a pomegranate or persimmon), which children will be unlikely to recognise; some bowls of familiar fruit such as grapes, strawberries and orange segments
Display the bowls of fruit with the mystery fruit in the middle. Ask the children which one fruit they would choose to eat, and wonder together about how the mystery fruit might taste. Might it be more delicious than anything else on the table, or might it present a nasty surprise? Who would choose it? Discuss their choices, then introduce and cut open the exotic fruit. Ask everyone to save the fruit they have chosen to eat for during the story.
You will need: a large sheet of paper; pens; copies of Genesis 3 divided into four separate readings with these titles: ‘The first choice’ (verses 1-6), ‘The first consequence’ (verse 7), ‘The next choice’ (verses 8-13) and ‘The ultimate consequence’ (verses 14-24)
The aim is to explore this story step by step as you create a decision tree (search online for examples of this) to show Adam and Eve’s choices and the consequences of these decisions. Spread the paper out in front of the children and tell this story:
Our story begins with the first people, Adam and Eve, in their perfect Garden of Eden. At the top of the page, write “ADAM + EVE + GARDEN”.
God gave them everything they needed and said: “It’s all yours! You can eat fruit from any of these trees.” But he gave them one rule: “Do not eat the fruit from this one tree – the tree of the knowledge of good and evil – or you will die.” So what choices did Adam and Eve have at this point? Invite suggestions and draw the first two decision branches: “Eat the fruit” and “Don’t eat the fruit” (the children may also add other original ideas). Discuss possible reasons for choosing either, eg “I wonder what it tastes like?”, “God says we mustn’t” or “We’ll die”. Hand out and read ‘The first choice’ (verses 1-6) together, then discuss further reasons for eating the fruit from Eve’s point of view. Hand out and read ‘The first consequence’ (verse 7) together and add the next branch from “Eat the fruit”, for example “Gained knowledge” (use a phrase the children agree on).
They have broken the first rule in the history of the world! What choices do Adam and Eve have now? Invite suggestions and draw the next decision branches: “Try to cover up what they’ve done” and “Own up and say sorry” (the children may add other ideas). Discuss Adam and Eve’s reasons for choosing one of these options. Identify what they did next by reading together ‘The next choice’ (verses 8-13). Draw the next branch from “Try to cover up” and label it “Blame each other”. Hand out and read together ‘The ultimate consequence’ (verses 14-24), then add the next branches: “Punished” and “Banished” (again, use the children’s choice of words). Look back together at the decision tree illustrating Adam and Eve’s choices and the consequences of these decisions. What might have happened if Adam and Eve had not eaten the forbidden fruit? What might have happened if they’d owned up and said sorry?
Ask the children these questions, making sure everyone has the chance to contribute:
- What questions would you like to ask God about this story?
- Christians sometimes call this story ‘the fall’, because it’s about how human beings ‘fell’ from a perfect way of being. Whose fault do you think the fall was? What rules has God given us?
- I wonder why God gave Adam and Eve (and us) the ability to choose.
- Have you ever faced a hard decision? How did you decide?
You will need: Lego or Playmobil
Ask the children to create a scene from today’s story. As they do so, chat together about where they would physically place themselves in the scene. If they think they would be in the Garden of Eden, whereabouts would they like to be and why?
You will need: a whiteboard; some whiteboard pens; a dry cloth
At the top of the board, draw a simple decision tree with “My choice” at the top with two branches labelled “My way” and “God’s way”.
Invite everyone to pause for a moment and think about a time when they did something wrong; when they chose to go their own way instead of God’s way. Encourage everyone to say sorry to God by coming forward to write “Sorry” on the whiteboard under the “My way” branch. Go on to say this prayer:
God, we are truly sorry for the things we have done wrong. May you forgive us and help us to do things your way from now on. Amen.
Pause, then say: “God is always ready to forgive our wrongdoing and give us a fresh start, like this.” Invite the youngest member of the group to wipe off all the ‘sorry’ statements, leaving the simple decision tree.
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