Planting Sunday: Good Beginning

September 2018 Post-Pentecost Worship Planning Series

Fifteenth Sunday After Pentecost 2018, Year B

In thinking about this sermon as the first in the series, consider relationships between God and non-human creation, God and humans, and non-human creation and humans. To understand Scripture, we need to understand God’s relationships. Knowledge comes from having a foundation of knowing God’s word.

Season of Creation: A Group Study

Season of Creation: A Group Study is a five-week companion study based on the worship series “Season of Creation” developed by the worship team at Discipleship Ministries. Each lesson uses the same Scriptures and themes as the previous Sunday’s worship service.

This is a sample lesson from the guide book. Paperback copies may be purchased from Amazon, or the PDF download is available for free from our site. Learn more and purchase or download here »

STARTERS (10 minutes)

Lesson 1—Planting: Good Beginnings

What is your connection to nature?

  • I love to hike in the woods or near the seashore to restore my soul.
  • I have a green thumb; I love to garden and to grow houseplants.
  • I enjoy watching TV shows and movies about the beauty of all creation.
  • My pet helps me appreciate all creatures.
  • I try to live in a way that has a positive impact on creation by recycling, driving a hybrid car or electric car, and using solar power.
  • I eat a plant-based diet.
  • Other

Discuss with one or two people; then share with the whole group:

How often do you acknowledge the beauty of God’s creation?

In what tangible ways do you embrace the idea that you are part of a bigger connection to all creation?

In the Know (15 minutes)

Read the article below. If your group has more than seven members, divide into groups of four to discuss the following:

Let’s admit it, we have a love—hate relationship with nature. On the one hand, we long for the idealized picture of the Garden of Eden where Adam and Eve and God lived in relationship with one another. The garden flourished with flowers, trees, rivers, and beautiful meadows. Animals frolicked without fear, as they, too, were at peace with one another. Harmony reigned supreme as God, humans, creatures, and the creation itself were at peace.

This is a far cry from reality. One episode of Naked and Afraid, Discovery Channel’s breakout hit, is enough to dissuade you from jumping into the wilderness without a stich of clothing. Each episode starts with two strangers, a man and woman being taken to a remote area of the world where they take off their clothes and embark into a hostile environment. Their first goal is to make clothes, not to cover themselves, but to put on some covering to protect themselves from the hordes of insects that are eagerly waiting to eat them alive.

When it comes down to it, the vast majority of people who are able to afford it are perfectly content to live in a bubble of comfort at 72 degrees, free from the fear of the reality of the natural world. They like to keep nature at a distance.

It is in this context that we launch into a series on the Season of Creation. While we like the concept of nature, we humans are adept at keeping its worst aspects at bay. While we depend on all the resources that nature provides, we are very good at using the raw materials of the earth to create any number of items to keep us alive and flourishing.

Our activity comes at a cost. Pollution of the air, land, and water is seen throughout the world. Many of God’s most beautiful creatures are on endangered species lists. Poor zoning puts housing in locations that encroach on floodplains and forested mountains, putting people at risk of floods and fires. As a result, we live in tension with our desire for safety and the need to protect the natural world.

The story of creation is not just about us as humans; it has to do with all God’s creation. As humanity faces the challenges of the future, our understanding of God and our relationship to the creation story inform our choices about how we live our daily lives.

Share your thoughts about your relationship to God’s creation.

  1. What is your biggest concern about the way humanity is impacting the creation?
  2. How do you balance your desire for safety and comfort with how the modern lifestyle impacts the natural world?

Reflection on the Bible (20 minutes)

Ask a member to read aloud the following passage from Song of Solomon 2:8-13. Ask another person to read the Background.

The voice of my beloved! Look, he comes, leaping upon the mountains, bounding over the hills.

My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag.
Look, there he stands behind our wall, gazing in at the windows, looking through the lattice.

My beloved speaks and says to me: “Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away; for now the winter is past, the rain is over and gone.

The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.
The fig tree puts forth its figs, and the vines are in blossom;
they give forth fragrance. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.” (Song of Solomon 2:8-13)


As we look at this passage, we see three themes that remind of us of our connection to creation. First, there is longing. This longing is seen in the opening words, “The voice of my beloved.” Each of us, regardless of our station in life, desires for someone to call us “beloved.” Whether it is the voice of a parent calling out to a child, or a friend calling out in a greeting, or a loved one welcoming us home, each us of has the desire to be known. There is a reason for this: it’s the way we were designed. Genesis 2:18 says, “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.’” Fundamentally, at our core, we humans were created to be in relationship. When relationships are absent, we feel cast away. When we feel loneliness, we long.

Second, our environment shapes our understanding of ourselves. For these two lovers, the allusions to nature abound. Mountains, gazelles, flowers, turtledove, fig trees, vines, fragrance— all capture a time and place where people were deeply connected to the land. From our vantage point, we see this passage painting a mystical picture of people tied to the creation. These words— for the first hearers of them —captured the essence of the reality of life as an agrarian people.

On the other hand, the beloved of today may be driving a brand new car, posting Instagram photos of a beloved on a smartphone, listening to a soundtrack streamed through earbuds, and wearing a fragrance sold by a popular celebrity. How we interact with our environment says a lot about who we are.

The Song of Solomon passage paints a picture of one-to-one intimacy. The challenge for us today is to determine how much our technology either enhances or distracts us from true connections to others and to God.

Third, there is joy in loving. “Arise...and come away.” When we are truly loved by those around us, we find joy. Again, at our essence, we have the God-given capacity for infinite joy — the joy in being known completely and loved fully by God.

Questions for Discussion:

Divide into small groups to discuss the Scripture passage.

  1. What does this passage say about the importance of relationships?
  2. How do you experience longing and joy?
  3. How does your physical environment enhance or distract from true relationships?

Making It Personal (10 minutes)

It may be helpful to ask ourselves how we can love the Creator without loving the creation, and how we can love our neighbors (current neighbors and future generations of neighbors) without seeking to protect our neighbors’ food supply, air supply, and water supply. We cannot give lip service to caring for creation. We have to care for creation as a response to loving God, and we must do it with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength; and we must include love toward neighbor. In Genesis 2:15, God gives his first command to humanity: to tend and keep the garden. Caretaking is the root of stewardship. Humanity was placed in the midst of God’s creation and given the command of stewardship — to rule over creation wisely. It is important to have a strong beginning, as it acts as a foundation for everything that is to follow.

  • How do your relationships with others influence your relationship to the natural world?
  • What does the concept of stewardship say to you about your responsibility for tending and keeping the garden?

Close in Prayer (5 minutes)

In This Series...

September 2, 2018 — Planning Notes September 9, 2018 — Planning Notes Seventeenth Sunday After Pentecost 2018 — Planning Notes Eighteenth Sunday After Pentecost 2018 — Planning Notes Nineteenth Sunday After Pentecost 2018 — Planning Notes