Season of Creation 2018 Worship Series, week 3 — SKY SUNDAY
September 16, 2018
Small Groups: From Worship To Discipleship
Fellowship—Snacks or a Meal (10 minutes with snacks; longer obviously if there is a meal)
Gathering time (5-10 minutes) In pairs or groups of three, discuss: “What in God’s creation are you most thankful for today?”
Group Dialogue (Approximately 30 minutes)
Opening Question: How have you experienced creation testifying to God’s majesty?
Read: Psalm 19 and Genesis 1
- Divide the group into six groups, with each group taking on one of the six days of creation in Genesis 1. (If there are not enough for groups, assign one or two people for each day.) Have each group read the passage for its assigned day and then draw or color on a blank sheet of paper what occurs on that day of creation. Have each group or person read the Scripture for that day from Genesis 1 and display the drawing or image of that day. After every group has presented, compare days 1 and 4, 2 and 5, 3 and 6. (Notice the appearance of light and darkness on day 1 and the sun and the moon to rule the light and darkness on day 4. How is there light without the sun?) Discuss the similarities that are present between these particular days. Discuss the words and phrases that are repeated in Genesis 1. What does the symmetry between the first three days and the second three days suggest about the message of Genesis 1? (see below)
- How does God exercise dominion in creation [with care, pride, and joy]? What might that mean for how we, created in God’s image, exercise dominion? (See below.)
- (R) Where is the line between stewardship or exercising dominion and exploitation?
- How do we balance the common good and respect for creation and economic advancements?
This psalm reveals two gifts: creation (verses 1-6) and God’s Law (verses 7-10). God setting the sun in place (verse 4) is more than a statement about God’s abilities. Nearby religions worshiped the sun as a god, but the writer of this psalm asserts God’s power and status over foreign idols.
Genesis 1. The structure and symmetry of Genesis 1 points to its poetry. Too often, taking the Bible seriously is equated with reading the Bible literally. Instead, taking the Bible seriously should mean reading the Bible for what it is saying and not about the issues or questions we bring to it. Thus, while Genesis 1 is often brought into heated discussion about creation versus evolution, this passage is primarily about the God of creation, not about how God created. Taking seriously the poetry revealed by the symmetry and repetition, this creation story reveals God’s glory and majesty as the God over aspects of creation that other nearby religions worshiped (sun, moon, cattle, sea, etc.).
In the regions that the Israelites would have been well aware of, it was not unusual for kings to have statues or images of themselves placed in the far-reaching corners of their domain. These statues or images served as reminders and representatives of the king who reigned from a distant throne. Genesis 1’s claim that we are made in God’s image reminds us that we are God’s representatives on earth.
The word dominion often has connotations of power and “lording” it over something of lesser power. Interestingly, in Genesis 1, God exercises dominion over creation and gives humanity dominion. Our dominion should reflect God’s nature and character because we are made in the image of God. We have been given the privilege, dignity, and responsibility of stewarding God’s creation. Although Christians do not idolize creation, we are meant to be responsible stewards of God’s good creation.
Prayer (10 minutes)
Sending Forth (2 minutes) End by praying the following or similar prayer:
“Lord, forgive our selfish ways. Forgive us when we have thought only of our profit and selfish benefit without looking to the hurts and needs of others. Forgive us and, by the power of your Holy Spirit, free us to live content to find our joy and abundance in being called your servants. In Jesus’ name, we pray, Amen.”
Psalm 19 (NRSV)
1 The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. 2 Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge. 3 There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard; 4 yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In the heavens he has set a tent for the sun, 5 which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy, and like a strong man runs its course with joy. 6 Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them; and nothing is hid from its heat. 7 The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the decrees of the LORD are sure, making wise the simple; 8 the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is clear, enlightening the eyes; 9 the fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever; the ordinances of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. 10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey, and drippings of the honeycomb. 11 Moreover by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. 12 But who can detect their errors? Clear me from hidden faults. 13 Keep back your servant also from the insolent; do not let them have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
Introduction to Psalm 19
This psalm combines two themes: God shows and tells God’s glory in the sky every day and night. But the way we can have a relationship with God is through God’s law or teachings that speak to us personally and guide us in spiritual life and joy.
Our verses for today are Psalm 19, verses 8 and 9: “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the decrees of the LORD are sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is clear, enlightening the eyes.”
Let’s think about what this means.
Several words are used for God’s teachings: God’s law, decrees, precepts, and commandments. All of these words describe God’s word. God’s teachings are good for us and the world. To revive is to make more alive, to become energized. God’s word enlivens our soul. Many gifts come from God’s law: wisdom and understanding. We realize the way we should go. To rejoice is to feel joy and happiness in our heart. We celebrate and share God’s goodness! To enlighten is to bring light, like dawn shining. God’s word opens our eyes to see clearly who God is, who we are, and the good things that God calls us to do.
Can you think of some ways that your family can rejoice in God’s word and share it together?
(Suggestions may include “Read the Bible,” or “Sing Christian songs,” or “Talk about a devotion,” or “Do a craft or project.” Affirm the responses. Add others as you feel led.)
These are good ways to celebrate God’s word.
Dear God, Thank you for your life-giving word that brings us wisdom and joy! You help us to draw closer to you. Please help us to keep listening to you and your Son, Jesus. Thank you for your Holy Spirit who helps us receive your word. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.