Tuesday, May 31, 2016

In the Beginning: Genesis 1.1-2

In the beginning God made a space (the universe) for all that God loved.

Make space in your life for the God who loved you enough to make you by doing the following fun stuff.

1.  Read Genesis 1.1-2.

2.  Print this finger labyrinth.  Draw on it some of the things in your life that God made.  Trace your finger through the labyrinth.  As you move your finger slowly through the labyrinth imagine God making one of the things you drew on your paper.  As you move your finger out of the labyrinth imagine God making you.




3.  Watch this video (through 1:45).

4.  Answer the 2 of the following questions in the comment section.  Each answer must be 3 complete sentences.

  • How does it change your life to know that God made you and then said, "It is good."?  What do you think God saw in you that is good?
  • Summarize Genesis 1.1-2.  What are the two most important parts about this passage for you?  Does it matter to you whether or not God literally made the world in 7 days?
  • Is it important to you that God rested on the last day?  How does the fact that God made space for rest after creating the world make a difference in your daily life?
  • Is God still creating in the world today?  Are people called to help God create?  
5.  Ask one question you have about the reading in the comment section.  Or address one question someone else has in the comment section.

Comment by clicking the comment button at the bottom of the post.  Comment as a "name/url".  Enter your first name and last initial in the name box.  Complete step 4 and 5 above in the comment section then click "Publish."  Your comments will appear after they have been approved by one of the pastors. 

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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

In the Garden: Genesis 2.4-25



After making the world, God made a beautiful garden for a space, a home, for the creatures that God loved.

Make space in your life for the God who loved you enough to make you by doing the following fun stuff.

1.  Read Genesis 2.4-25.

2.  Find a garden and spend at least 15 minutes in it. Write down what you see, smell, taste, touch, and hear.  Gardens are a unique space where human creativity and natural diversity overlap.  Beauty, food production, wildlife all come together in a garden.  What is the garden you are in for?  Who designed it?  Why?  Are forests undisturbed by humans gardens?

3. This passage was originally written in Hebrew.  In Hebrew, the word for soil (adamah) is very similar to the name of the first human (Adam).  Adam is literally a soil man, mud man.  In English, we have this too. Humus is the basic organic stuff in all soil, and we get the words human, humanity, and humility from the same root.  Humans are humus!

4. Watch the garden grow!



5.  Answer the following questions in the comment section.
  • What is special about a garden?  What are gardens for?  Why does life begin in a garden?  How do gardens make you feel?
  • Jesus' grave is in a garden.  Revelation describes the City of God as having a garden at its center.  What is unique about gardens that gives them such prominence in the Bible?
  • What does it mean to you to be a humus-being?
6.  Ask one question you have about the reading in the comment section.  Or address one question someone else has in the comment section.

Comment by clicking the comment button at the bottom of the post.  Comment as a "name/url".  Enter your first name and last initial in the name box.  Complete step 4 and 5 above in the comment section then click "Publish."  Your comments will appear after they have been approved by one of the pastors. 

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Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Fall (or Out of the Garden): Genesis 3


Poor snakes!  They get a bad rap.  But actually a snake like the one above can be a good neighbor if you have a house or garage or barn.  A black snake will definitely keep the mice population down for you. That's a good part of creation.  But the snake/serpent in the Bible story this week doesn't make out too well. Neither do the man and the woman that God created.  In fact, things go from bad to worse.  Read it for yourself in Genesis 3 here and see what you think.

You might even want to watch this part (1:15-3:15) of the video again.

Look at all the relationships that are now messed up!  The man and woman decide not to trust God's warning about the tree and they decide to try out the fruit for themselves.  Oops!  What happens?  Suddenly the man and woman stop trusting one another---feeling ashamed and uncomfortable in each other's presence.  Broken relationships. Then for the first time they start hiding from God.  Broken relationships again.  And when God finds them and starts asking what happened, they start blaming someone else:  the man blames the woman and the woman blames the serpent. More breaking relationships.  The humans even have to get out of the garden, and the good creation is not such a safe place for them anymore.

Do the following activity with your parents: If your family gets a newspaper, scan the headlines of a newspaper.  Or watch the evening news with your parents.  Or have your parents go with you to an online news site. Do you see fighting?  Hungry people?  Pollution?  First comment: name three situations your family found in the news where there are broken relationships between people or with the global environment (creation).

But God isn't finished yet.  And throughout the rest of the Bible, we'll see what God is going to do about these broken relationships.  For now, here is a sneak preview of what's to come.  Jesus is the Son being talked about in this Bible verse.  Second comment:  Have you heard this verse before? (yes/no).  What do you think Christ did to bring us life? (one sentence)  Name a part of worship that reminds you that God fixes relationships and say why. (1-2 sentences).







Friday, March 25, 2016

The Flood: Genesis 6.1-8.22


Update: Watch Pastor Ben talk about the flood at Wednesday Nite Live here.

A long time ago God was sad - grieved even by the actions of the people in the world God had made.  God decided the only thing to do to intervene was to start over with a new space for good things to grow.  God decided that Noah and his family would be the roots of those good things.  

1.  Read about Noah and his family's journey from a world a destruction to a world of new growth on the ark here.

2.  Interview a family or friend.  Ask them to describe how it makes them feel that God flooded the earth.  Ask them how it makes them feel that God has promised not to do this again.  Ask them how it makes them feel that people are still sinful in the world today even after the flood.

3.  Answer the 2 of the following questions in the comment section.  Each answer must be 3 complete sentences.

  • What was the most surprising part about the flood story for you?  What was the saddest part?  What was the happiest part?
  • What was it like to interview a family member or friend?  What was the most interesting thing they said?
  • We sometimes talk about baptism as a passage on Noah's ark.  Baptism is like Noah's ark in that it is a passage from sinfulness to new life.  What does the Noah's ark story teach you about baptism?
  • Did you notice that humans are as sinful after the flood as they are before (see verse 8.21 -  for the inclination of the human heart is evil from youth).  What does it mean to you that God has decided to continue loving humanity despite our continued sinfulness?


4.  Ask one question you have about the reading in the comment section.  Or address one question someone else has in the comment section.

Comment by clicking the comment button at the bottom of the post.  Comment as a "name/url".  Enter your first name and last initial in the name box.  Complete step 3 and 4 above in the comment section then click "Publish."  Your comments will appear after they have been approved by one of the pastors.

photo credit: Al_HikesAZ via photopin cc

Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Tower of Babel: Genesis 11


Build the tallest tower that you can out of legos, duplos, blocks, or some other material.  Take a picture with the tower next to a yardstick, and post it on the blog, so we can judge which one is tallest!

After reading the story in the below links, answer three out of the four following questions to learn more about a famous tower in Genesis 11.

Read the story of the Tower of Babel, through the end of verse 9.

Maybe the story will make more sense in this version

1) How did it feel to read the story in Spanish?  Was it confusing or disconcerting or did you understand enough to make some sense of it?

2) What was the people's goal in building the tower?  How do we still try to take over heaven today? When do we pretend to be God?

3) What are the difficulties and blessings of having so many languages on the earth?  Research other places in Scripture where language plays an important role.  Ask some folks if they know when in Scripture the curse of Babel (the confusing of languages).  If you can't find the answer, read this.

4) Find a hymn in another language on youtube and post a link to it in your response.



photo credit: Unhalfbricking via photopin cc</>


Here is Trey's tower

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Two Promises on a Starry Night: Genesis 12.1-3



Have you ever packed your bags and gone on a trip without your parents?  Maybe to camp, or on a school trip, or to spend time with relatives?  Were you nervous?  Excited?  Did you get homesick? Perhaps your whole family packed up their stuff and moved to a new place, a new town even.  You may have watched your bed go on a moving van or a U-Haul truck.

Abram was about the age of your grandparents when God told him and his wife Sarah to do something.  Read about here in Genesis 12:1-3.   So they and their servants packed up all their things---their tents, their cooking pots, their clothes, and their gold and silver.  They gathered all their grazing sheep, goats and other animals (and there were a lot of them!) and headed off to the new land God was going to show them.  What do you think---were they excited?  Nervous? Sad at leaving their friends?  Wondering what God had in mind?  However they felt, they were surely headed into an adventure of trusting God.

Along the way to help them not be afraid, God gave Abram two important promises.  God promised that Abram and Sarah's many descendants would inherit this new land that they were going to.  But that raised a problem:  Abram and Sarah had already been married a long time and they still did not have any children. So God gave Abram a promise and showed him something.  Read about it here.

Remember that Abram lived at a time when there were no electric lights at night and no air pollution. Look at this short film taken by a photographer in Spain.  Although the land in the Middle East where Abram was is very different, pay special attention to the night skies in the film.  Imagine you are Abram and God is showing you the stars.  My guess is that it looked a lot like night sky in this film called The Mountain.

After seeing that night sky, would you trust God's promise to you?

The second promise God made to Abraham was where his new land would be.  It is approximately where the nation of Israel is now.  God made that promise or "covenant" by means of an ancient ritual, a strange custom used for very, very serious promises.  Read about that ritual and promise here.

Children and land, that's what God promises Abram.  Oh, and also God is going to give Abram a name change before next week.  His new name, when we continue the story, will be Abraham---a big name for someone who is trying to trust God for two big promises.

God has made promises to us.  As baptized children of God, as followers of Jesus Christ, we have been promised things by God too.  Ask your parents and other adults you know if  they can name some promises God has given us?  Post three promises in the comment section.  Are there tangible things that we can touch, particularly in our worship service, that help remind us of God's promises?


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Making Space for the One They Had Always Hoped For: Genesis 18.1-15, Genesis 22.1-18


Last week we heard that God made a space in Abraham and Sarah's life and filled it with hope.  Now we get to hear about how that promise if fulfilled.  Read Genesis 18.1-15,  The story of Abraham and Sarah is a story of a real life relationship with God.  It is filled with hope, trust, doubt, and disbelief.  Have you ever felt unsure about something God was telling you?  Have you ever questioned God or something someone told you about God?  I'm sure you have because as humans we all struggle to hear God speaking in our lives, to understand God's words, and to live them out.  


Make a list of things you have doubts about.  Include things like doubts about your family, school, friends, yourself, and even God.  Hold that list in your hands and pray the following prayer.  God, I give you my doubts and trust that you love me and will be with me as I struggle with disbelief.  Amen.  
The next part of Abraham and Sarah's story is a little scary.  This is the part of the story that may make us doubt God and question why God would threaten to do such a terrible thing to a young child.  Read Genesis 22.1-18.  

This passage from Brian McLaren's book We Make the Road by Walking sheds some light on the reading.  "The dominate theory of God in Abraham and Sarah's day taught that the gracious God who gives human life would also demand human life as a sacrifice.  So when Abraham believed God was commanding him to kill Isaac, he was being faithful to a traditional model of how God and life worked.  We might wish that Abraham had argued over this theory. ... It was commonplace in the ancient world for a man to lead his son up a mountain to be sacrificed...It was extraordinary for a man to come down the mountain with his son still alive."  

Answer the 2 of the following questions in the comment section.  Each answer must be 3 complete sentences.
  • How does it make you feel to know that other people - even people in the Bible have had doubts about God's promises?
  • Sarah laughed at God she thought God's promise was so ridiculous.  Can you imagine God promising something to you that you would laugh at?  What would that be?  Is there something you feel called to do that you are scared God would laugh about?
  • How do you feel that God asked Abraham to be willing to kill the child he had been promised?  How do you feel that Abraham was willing to do it? 
  • How do you feel that God intervened with the normal practice to sacrifice human life - even though God asked Abraham to do it?
Ask one question you have about the reading in the comment section.  Or address one question someone else has in the comment section.

Comment by clicking the comment button at the bottom of the post.  Comment as a "name/url".  Enter your first name and last initial in the name box.  Type your responses in the comment section then click "Publish."  Your comments will appear after they have been approved by one of the pastors.



photo credit: Matthieu Luna via photopin