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Our laity are valuable, vital members of our congregations, Conference, and connection. They are called to make disciples in a world desperately in need of hope. Laity serve as Sunday school teachers, children’s ministers, as musicians, they offer hospitality, and so much more. Thank you to Denise Rooks, a lay member of Harper’s Chapel UMC, for writing this Sunday school lesson.
God Created Plants and Animals
Fall Quarter: God’s World and God’s People
Unit 1: God Created the World
Sunday school lesson for the week of September 9, 2018
By Denise Rooks
Lesson Scripture: Genesis 1: 14-25
God said, “Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night. They will mark events, sacred seasons, days, and years.” (Genesis 1:14)
To contemplate the goodness and the order of God’s creation
From a young age, I have enjoyed hearing and reading Charles Weldon Johnson’s colorful poem, “The Creation.” He penned it so beautifully that I saw a clear picture of how God created the world. He painted beautiful imagery of a mighty God at work, like Michelangelo creating a masterpiece. I especially relished how Johnson explained the making of the sun and the moon. Paraphrasing, he said that God created the sun by rolling the light in his hands and flinging it out to the sky, and then God took the leftover light and made the moon.
As skilled as Charles Weldon Johnson was at figuratively writing about the beauty of creation, God our father, the master artist, made it beautiful literally. God created a masterpiece full of beautiful colors, shining lights that sparkle at night, and never-ending waters that flow.
We go to museums to see works of art, to theaters to see artists portray art, and some of us use art to decorate our bodies, but at any given moment we could step outside and see the beautiful art God supplies free of charge. There’s nothing like sitting outside and getting to see God’s masterpiece in action.
When God created the earth and supplied it with plants and animals, He was thinking of His next creation, man. God had us on his mind as He spoke the world into existence. He knew we would need an ordered universe, so He gave great thought and time creating what we would need. Our Adult Bible Study Series writer says, “… the six days God devoted to creation were interrelated, harmonious, and orderly in their implementation.” The writer understands, “… the first three days were days of preparation, on which God readied the important constituent parts to return later,” and after resting the third day, God became more specific with his creation. He allowed the light to become distinguished from the darkness (verses 14-18).
Since we know God is light (1 John 1:5), there’s no doubt God didn’t need a distinction from day and night for His benefit, but God knew the living organisms he was creating would need that distinction. God rested on the fourth day, knowing it was good. His plan for the vegetation he created earlier would now begin the process of photosynthesis, making their own food, and from that food, animals would get their energy supply. With the vegetation in place, God allowed time for oxygen to move across the land then he rested knowing what He would do next.
On the fifth day, God called some of the creatures forth! (Verses 20-23) He was putting some depth to his masterpiece, his perfect design. He called for the sea creatures to fill the waters, then called the birds to fly across the sky. After God called his first creatures forth, I imagine he took a step back, like a painter admiring the work that has been done so far. Because he liked it, God blessed them. That blessing came with an edict. This great master told His creations to go forth throughout the land and the sea, but he didn’t just want them going without a purpose. Our great God gave His creatures purpose: He wanted them to be fertile and multiply. The creatures were part of his methodical plan; He needed the waters and the earth to fill up. God had already prepared their food and their air, so he just needed them to show up. God made a variety of creatures: He has animals that fly, and animals that swim. He has animals with two legs, and animals with no legs. The masterpiece is getting colorful!
God was indeed meticulous with his work. Everything he created was orderly yet wonderfully made. He has spoken many living things into existence, but he isn’t through yet.
On the sixth day, our great God called for the livestock, so he called forth the beasts of land. The animals would help establish a system of giving back to the earth, spreading fertilizer to nourish the vegetation and breathing out carbon dioxide that the vegetation would use to help produce the oxygen that all the beasts would need to inhale. Our great God had created a delicate system that scientists called a food chain and food web where all living things rely on each other to survive, and without vegetation all would perish. Now the master planner, our God, says this is good, but He knows He’s not through yet.
These three days we have explored in Genesis 1:14-25 have been more days of preparation for God to work on the earth. Great artists know you can’t rush the process. If a sculptor tries to hurry through his work, he or she can damage the foundational work and have to start the process all over again. God didn’t rush His creation, but instead our master builder took his time and enjoyed the process. He took the time to make sure he was doing it correctly. In our lives we tend to do the opposite. When we’re working and everything is going well, we don’t often stop when it’s good. We keep going when sometimes we should stop, relax, and enjoy the process.
Charles Weldon Johnson may have used words to give us a picture of how the creation occurred and many artists have drawn pictures of different landscapes depicting creation and pieces of our beautiful earth, but only God spoke his masterpiece into existence. He spoke and the day and night were established. He called the creatures of the land, sea, and air and they knew their place. He gave them purpose.
When is the last time we stepped out of our building and admired God’s handiwork? There is nothing more calming than watching God’s creatures at work on this earth. If we were to step outside we might see the worker bees going through their routine of looking for pollen and nectar, the ants marching in an organized way disposing of unwanted things, fish swimming about finding food, or the birds building nests for their babies.
Denise Rooks is a lay member of Harper's Chapel United Methodist Church in Baxley. She’s a member of the Advocacy Discipleship team and the Multicultural Task Force.
- What’s stopping you from enjoying God’s created earth? If you feel overworked or overwhelmed with the busyness of life, go for a leisurely stroll in a park or sit on your back porch and see how many birds you see. Don’t let work get in the way of noticing God’s handiwork.
- Read Charles Weldon Johnson’s poem, “The Creation” and act it out! Allow your voice to inflect with the words.
- Notice the people in your circle. Perhaps they need a place to go for a quiet moment. Can you provide a still moment where they can go, or arrange to meet them somewhere, so you can all have a moment of stillness to reflect on the goodness and majesty of God?
- Arrange for your church to go on a simple outing to a park or nature trail. Don’t plan to make food. Stop and pick up food to go. This will ensure everyone can enjoy the trip and focus on the wonders God created.