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CREATION

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Ancient of Days
blakeancient.jpg
by William Blake


OVERVIEW



TOPIC/STORY:

The introductory tale of how God created order from watery chaos.



DATE:

January, Lectionary Year A



WORKSHOPS & ACTIVITIES:



ARTS – make a horizontal creation mobile from balloons or paper lanterns.



BEATBOX – create a rhythm routine based on key elements of the story



STORYTELLING – devise a telling of the story using construction paper symbols



KITCHEN – 7 Days Fruit Salad



MUSIC – Teach and sing the hymn, 'All things bright and beautiful,' found in most hymnals.



COMPUTER – Create a creation composition using Garage Band



SOURCE TEXT



Genesis 1 - 2.3


READ THIS.



KEY VERSES:



Gen. 1: 1
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." (King James Version)




After story time in church, all will meet in central Sunday school area for gathering time, brief review, then to scheduled workshops.




BACKGROUND NOTES & OTHER NEAT INFO

TWO CREATION STORIES.

The Creation story appears first in the book of Genesis, the first book of the Hebrew Bible, with its unforgettable line, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth..." (New King James Version). It was written later than Adam and Eve, and emphasizes the structure and order of creation.

The story of first humans Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden is the second of the two creation stories. Although the Eden story appears second, it is thought to be older, dating from around the 10th century BCE. It emphasizes vitality and growth.


NEITHER CREATION STORY ACTUALLY CAME FIRST.

In the introduction to this material in her book, Stories Seldom Told, Lois Wilson has quite a concise helpful overview for getting one's bearings on the creation stories. Wilson writes: "The first three chapters of Genesis were not the first Bible stories to be written... These creation stories were actually written after the Exodus event, to provide a background, a wide canvas, for the subsequent stories of Israel and her people and their destiny."


NEAT POINTS OF NOTE IN THIS 1ST CREATION STORY.

* Hebrew text for our familiar opening phrase is rendered as simply "in beginning, beresheth". (from Biblical and Classical Myths, Frye and MacPherson. Toronto: U of T Press, 2004, p. 133.)

* on the second day, God creates an upper and a lower ocean, one body of water below the sky and one above the dome (NRSV) of the sky.

* the creative mode God uses for building the world is a verbal one: 'Then God said, "Let there be light"' (Gen. 1.1, NRSV).

* Day seems to run from evening to morning: 'And there was evening and there was morning, the first day' (1.5)

* God creates light on the first day. Yet the 'two great lights' that rule day and night (NRSV) don't appear until the fourth day.

* God creates 'humankind' on Day 6; 'male and female he created them' (1. 27). Apparently guys and gals are formed at the same time in this account.

* The whole process of making creation takes six days: "And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done" (Gen. 2.2.).


SHOULD WE BE CONCERNED ABOUT THE SCIENTIFIC INCONSISTENCIES IN THIS CREATION ACCOUNT? CAN THIS CREATION ACCOUNT AS SIMPLY A STORY STILL HAVE HEIGHTENED SIGNIFICANCE FOR US?


AWAKENING CONSCIOUSNESS.

Canadian writer and scholar Northrop Frye explains in Biblical and Classical Myths: "the first chapter of Genesis, the later or Priestly account of Creation, seems to think in terms of a cosmos emerging from chaos, and as being associated with an awakening of consciousness that seems to be symbolized in the emphasis on the metaphor of days of a week" (p. 143).


LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS.

Frye also develops an interesting line of reasoning for why emphasis on the moon/evening makes sense: "A tribe of desert wanderers would find that the sun was a killer, and that the moon was a friendly guide on their night journeys... In the Gospel of John, the Word of God is spoken of as a light shining in the darkness [1:5], and of course a light shining in darkness suggests the moon, or a bright star like the star of Bethlehem, rather than the sun" (p. 138).


WHERE THE SPIRIT LIVES

In fact, this Genesis account seems to bend over backwards to present a counter-natural view of the formation of the world. That makes sense if what's being described is the formation of the domain of the spirit.

Here are some thoughts on this topic also from Frye: "This means Jesus' emphasis on the Father has a great deal to do with this sense of an order higher than that of time and with the sense of urgency about waking up into this order above time and above the area of mother nature. That's what Christianity calls Resurrection" (p. 140).


GOOD RULE OF THUMB FOR APPROACHING THE CREATION STORY.

Once again, let's close our discussion on the luminous opening lines of the Bible with these introductory notes on Genesis in the New Oxford Annotated Bible:

"Because of the mythic and legendary character of much material in Genesis, it is less often used now than it once was as a reliable source of historical information. Yet, perhaps partly as a result of its long process of formation, the book of Genesis has proven its ability to speak to people of varying cultures and times. It is not just a story about things happening in a bygone age. It is a crystallization of Israel's most fervent beliefs and hopes as expressed in genealogy and vivid narrative."


TERRIFIC ART.

How about this iconic piece by William Blake called 'Ancient of Days'.


ENDURING MUSIC.

For a fresh, wholesome, new-buds-on-the-twigs kind of sound, who can improve on Aaron Copland's 'Appalachian Spring' (1944).

Click here and follow the links for a Real Audio sample of this piece of classic Americana.

(For a more majestic, 'let there be light' kind of sound, there's always Copland's 'Theme for the Common Man!')


TERRIFIC POETRY.

More from Canadian poet AM Klein. Here are the opening paragraphs from 'Stance of the Amidah' (1948) in Klein's Selected Poems. Note a poet's emphasis on the 'meta-linguistic' element in the Creation story in para 3:

O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall declare thy praise:
God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, who hast bound to the patriarchs their posterity and hast made thyself manifest in the longings of men and hast condescended to bestow upon history a shadow of the shadows of they radiance;
Who with a single word hast made the world, hanging before us the heavens like an unrolled scroll, and the earth old manuscript, and the murmurous sea, each, all-allusive to thy glory, so that from them we might conjecture and surmise and almost know thee...

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION

1. When did God create the heavens and the earth [In the beginning...]

2. How did God create the world [painting, singing, sculpting, spot-welding...?]

3. How many days did it take?

4. What happened on the seventh day. Do you think protecting some resting time is more or less important to people now than it was in the 'olden days?'

5. Which came first, day or night?

6. Which light came first?

7. Can you name some other Bible verses or places in the Bible where there's a special kind of light in the darkness?

8. Where do humans come into the picture in this story. How does this version compare to the Garden of Eden version starting in Gen. 2?

9. Do you enjoy this description of Creation?

10. Does it make you feel like something appropriately grand has been made?

11. Do you find you can still enjoy the language in it even if it doesn't appear to be scientifically consistent?

WORKSHOPS




Please find below suggested workshops for this unit. For each one, when you are in real time with the children:

1. Quickly review or recap the story with them before starting activity. Each week, see how much more detail each group of kids can supply on the story they've been studying.

2. Link or explain your activity to the current story.

Arts - Make horizontal creation mobiles.

Why --will help children put days of creation in order and retain by memory.

Materials: balloons, construction paper, markers, yarn, glue or tape.

What to do.


The idea here is to make a string of 7 balloons (being the cheapest, fastest globe shaped object I could think of!) or paper lanterns (ie, Let there be light Lanterns!) to represent each of the days of creation.

It might work to split students into teams. Brainstorm a list of key images that go with each day. Have the children cover the balloon or lantern for each day with variations of this image.

Tie finished balloons along a string and mount overhead in classroom area if you wish. Or I don't see annything wrong with a flower bouquet bunch of 7 balloons. All in the spirit of creativity, of course! Lanterns can be strung along handles.

Lanterns could be map of the world black and white printouts that kids embellish with images. Then do the old fold down in half, cut slashes, bend around and staple into tube thing.

If kids want to take theirs home, that's cool. Maybe work up a teacher's special edition that some can help you finish and can stay in the class!

Kitchen - 7 Days Fruit Salad

Why - a fun way to remember what happened on each of 7 days.

Here's a suggested list of fruit that 'kind' of represent the 7 days. Feel free to brainstorm and come up with your own list of fruits.

Day 1. Let there be light/light in the darkness -- Blackberries.

Day 2. Seas and water -- Watermelon

Day 3. Fruit and trees -- Apple

Day 4. Stars and sun -- Star fruit

Day 5. Creatures, birds and fish -- Kiwi fruit

Day 6. Humans -- Mango. (For those like me whose feminist side bristles a little at this, have fun with the kids by creating new names for the fruit like, Hu-mango, or Man-go and Wo-mango, Boy-go and Girl-go.)

Day 7. Rest. How about strawberries. They seem to be resting under a shady canopy of leaves when you go out to pick them in the field!

Music - Teach and sing the hymn, All things Bright and Beautiful.

Found in most hymnals.

Storytelling - Tell the creation story your way, using props.

Prepare ahead 1 key image from each of 7 days. Cut or tear from coloured piece of contruction paper.

Divide the class into groups. One group for each day would be good. Or each group could do 2 days. Give corresponding image/cutouts to each group.

Groups will go away and practice how to tell about their day(s) using the prop.

Give 5 -10 mins. Call group together. Jump in with group 1 and go with the flow.

Sometimes people like to run thru the whole thing again, once they see how it was going to come together. Don't forget to 'do again!'

Beat Box

Why: use sound effects and action to reinforce key plot points of this bible story.

How it works.

**This concept is borrowed from the Beat Team segment in the children’s show 4 Square on Treehouse TV. If you have a PC, you can view a clip online. Go to Treehousetv.com and follow the links. We Mac users would appear to be out of luck on this one!

Divide class into 4 groups or parts.

Brainstorm 4 different parts to produce together like a round.

Have groups practice separately. Then try each other's parts. Then come in in sequence like a round.

Take your Beat Box to another, perhaps younger class. Or share during worship at children's story time.

Usually Beat Box has 4 parts. But let's try 7 parts for a 7 days. It'll be noisy, but Creation was a big event.

Day 1. Say, Let there be light. Make rise and shine arm motions.

Day 2. Say, Lots of water, lots of water. Make wave motions.

Day 3. Say, Apple, pear, plums, cherries...Apple, pear, plum, cherry... Make plucking fruit motions.

Day 4. Say, Stars and moon, stars and moon. Make jumping jack for star, form skinny crescent shape for moon.

Day 5. Make various animal and bird sounds and actions....

Day 6. Say, Then the people, pleased to meet you. Form pairs and exaggerated shake hand motion.

Day 7. Say, ZZZZZZZ....zzzzzzzzz. Put hands together like pillow and rest head on them, make snoring noise.

Computer - Musical creation composition using Garage Band.

Why -- to attempt to express the grandeur of the creation event through music.

We looked above at Aaron Copeland's piece. There's Dvorak's New World Symphony.

Listen to movements from these piece. Then have the children try to create a movement of their own.

What instrumentation would they choose? Fast or slow. Lots of bass or flutes. Piano or guitar style. How do you express resting in music anyway.

This exercise will be too advanced for small children. It might work for them to draw their favourite first day (whether with animals or trees or stars and moon) using a simple Art, Paint or Draw program with stamps or something -- starting with a blank page just the way God did!

Review, Activities from Creation 1

* Arts/salt dough earthscapes

* Game/Days of Creation game (with rc cars and bottles to knock down)

* Kitchen/Sunrise Biscuits

* Computer/Awesome Bible Stories computer game

Creation 2 Rotation © January 2008, LD McKenzie

........................................

All original text 2004 - 2014, LD McKenzie

For a brief site ed's bio, click here:

BIO

Components of these lesson sets may be used for non-profit educational purposes, citing this author and site.

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