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Creation: Taking Care of God's World

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Flex (Multi-Age)Year 2Unit 1Session 3
3

Creation: Taking Care of God's World

Scripture
Focus
God created people special and gave them the world to care for.
Faith Nurture Goals
  • Thank and praise God for the remarkable way God created people.
  • Describe the work God gave people to do.
  • Commit to caring for God's world.

Leader Reflection

Preparing to Tell God's Story

The first question many people ask about Genesis 2 is how it fits with Genesis 1. It seems like a new creation story centered on humans. Many scholars across the theological spectrum believe that Genesis 2 is a different story, not a continuation of chapter 1, and that together both stories offer a complete understanding of the meaning of creation. This story continues on into chapter 3.

The chapter can be divided into four scenes. The first is of God forming the first human (*adamah* is the Hebrew word for human being) out of the ground. Like a potter making clay, the creator lovingly sculpts a human being out of the dirt, and then breathes into him the breath of life. (The Hebrew word for breath, *ruach*, is the same word for spirit.) This picture tells us two things. First, we are dust; that is, we are made of the same stuff as every other created thing. Second, God gave us spiritual life, to know and love him, very much like being made in God's image in chapter 1.

The second scene reveals a beautiful garden, with its abundant rivers, wildlife, and verdant plant life, into which God places the human creature he has created. In the middle of the garden are two special trees: the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. There is a boundary in the garden---good, thriving human life has divinely-set boundaries. We will see what happens as a result in the next session.

In the third scene, God gives Adam an unusual task. God brings all the wild animals and birds to Adam to name them. This means that Adam was to notice the special characteristics of each animal and bird and name them accordingly. By naming them, defining them, Adam exercises the "dominion" we discussed in chapter 1. He is "over" the animal kingdom and has responsibility for their care and thriving.

In the final scene we are surprised to find that something is missing in this paradise. Adam is lonely. What? God is not enough? The animals and creatures do not fully occupy him? The Genesis 1 creation story tells us that God created humankind as male and female. Humans were created to reproduce, but they were also created to be social creatures.

We assume that every other creature had sexual characteristics and the ability to reproduce. But Adam is lonely. This says some important things. One is that sex and the differentiation of genders are more than means of reproduction. We are not male and female merely so we can reproduce. We are meant for each other as companions.

God creates the women out of Adam's rib, Adam's own DNA, so to speak. She is called a "suitable helper." That doesn't mean woman is some kind of servant, but a partner, a friend, someone with whom to share his life. (God is also called a "helper" in the Bible.)

When God brings Eve to Adam, he cries out, "This is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. . . ." The writer of Genesis adds a commentary: "For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh." Again, human companionship and human sexuality are one.

Steps

Step 1 Breathe

Use this time to focus your attention on God.

Do this with me: calm your head, heart, and hands as you slowly breathe in . . . and out. (Demonstrate a few deep "in and out breaths" with eyes closed.)

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