Respect for the Web of LifeSuggested ages: Lower and Upper Elementary age.Time needed: 45-60 minutesTeacher Reflection and Subject BackgroundScripture: Psalm 104 T he Earth and all that is in it belong to God. venience, more money, more power. Some occur as a There is not one aspect of Creation that result of ignorance on the part of us all by disregarding is outside of the realm of divine magnifi- how our choices affect other organisms with whom we cence. Sun, moon, water, land, animals, share this space.plants, and people were all declared by God to be good The holiness of God is in all of Creation. We justworks (Genesis 1), each one serving to sustain the have to see it. When we pay attention and take time towhole of Creation. Streams flow so that animals have look at this great sight or that one, we create the pos-water to drink. Trees provide habitat for birds. Plants sibility of communing with God in such a way that wegrow as a provision of food for people and animals. come close enough to the mystery to stand back in rev-The moon marks the seasons and the sun distinguishes erence and awe. To be able to move through life seeingnight from day. Therefore, “the earth is satisfied with the holiness in all living beings and then proclaimingthe fruit of [God’s] work” (Ps. 104:13) because God gratitude for their intrinsic value will lead us to rightestablished the whole of Creation as a balanced com- relationships with them. We will encounter earth, air,munity of species and ecosystems. water, plants, animals, and other people with an atti- This ordered harmony can be upset, however, by tude of mindfulness for it all, not just ourselves. Ourchanges to the natural world. Many changes occur actions, then, will reflect our respect.at the hands of human beings who desire more con-Summary of LessonDiscover: Encourage thoughtful consideration of Apply: Identify ways that human choices impact Cre-Creation using Psalm 104. ation. Determine ways we can serve as caretakers of the Earth.Study: Guide the group through an activity to fosterthe idea that all of creation is interwoven in a delicate Materials Needed: ball of yarn, name tags, markersbalance. or crayons. Carnivore: an animal that gets its energy from consuming animals.Herbivore: an animal that gets its energy from consuming plants. Omnivore: an animal that gets its energy from consuming plants and animals.
Opening Prayer 5 minutes Explain that one way, a very important way, that peo- ple can learn about their place in Creation is by listening this here on to what it says and to what God says through it. Listen- O Go d , e to be rivileg ing is a discipline. Listening to God and to what God It is a p Ear th, o am a z ing has created is a spiritual discipline. It is a way in which planet yours s ion of e and y et we remain faithful to our relationship with God. Tell the A creat n ravag e ca group that one way to develop this discipline is to use the That f ir forest, renew a n as rain practice of walking a labyrinth. Explain how to walk the fall dow ces. ter can pla labyrinth (refer to the introduction to this series). Then And wa the dr y and n ourish all of read Psalm 104 again, slowly and contemplatively. Ask t this b w is it tha e live c an the children to meditate on (or think about) this scrip- And ho which w ees and on rock up he tr ture as they walk. Remind them, if necessary, that this is oil for t nd pr ovide s grain a a time of listening. , and the s fuel for grasses h ser ve a f r ui t s w hic Study 15-20 minutes for us? anim als and creatio n is To further encourage the children’s thoughts of an inter- ster y of your The ma o d. connected web of Creation, do the following activity asure, G anks bey ond me h with the group. It is not necessary for the facilitator of y say “T r lives s simpl y ou So let u this activity to be an expert in science; the “success” of And ma to You.” . this activity is in the leader’s ability to help the children be ratitude ref le ct our g realize that people are only one part of God’s Creation. Amen. Give the definition of an ecosystem (a system made up of a community of animals, plants, and bacteria interrelated together with its physical and chemicalDiscover 15 minutes environment). Have the children create a list of livingIntroduce the topic of Creation. Ask the group to name things that exist in the chosen ecosystem. Make sureaspects of creation that are not man-made (i.e. sun, the list is visible to the group and that it includes vari-plants, animals, people), and write their responses on ous types of herbivores, carnivores, and plants, as wella large sheet of paper to post on the wall. Read Psalm as things like sunlight, rain, and mountains. Assign104. Which of their answers were listed in this account each child an item from the list and ask them to writeof Creation? Add any to the list that were not previ- the name of their part of Creation and illustrate it on aously mentioned, but were identified in the scripture. name tag. Have them put on their tags.Discuss how the various parts of Creation are interre- Have the group stand in a circle and choose one per-lated. For example, talk about how the water provides son to stand in the middle. Give that child the balldrink for animals and nourishes the trees which in turn of yarn and ask that individual to declare her “name”provide homes for the birds. Ask how humans fit into (what she represents in the ecosystem) and then namethe Creation picture. What do verses 14 and 23 say another aspect of the ecosystem upon which sheabout people’s place in Creation? depends for survival. For example, a bird may depend
on a worm or fresh water, while corn might depend on way which honors the natural ecosystems? How doesthe sun or soil and soil may depend on clean water and human activity positively and negatively affect the foodnutrients. The child then tosses the ball of yarn to that chain and the web of life? What can human beings dochild that represents that part of Creation, holding on to prevent the extinction of organisms? What is mostto the end of the string. Repeat the process until each important for a species’ survival? Why should we careperson is holding a piece of the yarn. Once the yarn whether other species survive or not?comes to either water or the sun, the individual playingthat part should then toss the yarn to an organism she Conclusion 5 minutessupports. Some people may get the ball of yarn more Have the kids remove their shoes as a show of respectthan once. for the holiness of the gathered group and for God, Once each person is holding a piece of the yarn, stand or sit in a circle, and repeat after the leader theinvite the group to look at the web as a whole. Remind following prayer line by line.the students that it represents interdependence. Thenstate a man-made change in the environment such aspolluted waterways or deforestation. Any individual Creator God, w e realize thatrepresenting an organism potentially overcome by that we are but on e strand of anchange drops the piece of yarn and exits the circle or intricately wove n braid. Help usits down. Any organism relying on the affected organ- to honor all yo s ur world by doism will also be influenced and should drop the yarn. our par t to sust ing ain it.Eventually nearly all organisms are affected. Invite the For the gif t of the sun, land,group to reflect on the web now. water, and air, we give you For younger kids, if time permits, you can use the thanks, O Godattached Activity Page as a drawing and coloring exer- For the gif t of all plants andcise. For this activity you will need pencils and/or cray- we give you th trees, anks, O Godons. Instruct the children to draw or color in the faces For the gif t of all animals, wof the different types of animals: omnivore, herbivore, you thanks, O e give Go dand carnivore. For the gif t of all people, we you thanks, O give Go d.Apply 5-10 minutes May we honor You as our CreFacilitate a discussion about what happens when there by treating all ator these gif ts witis a change in the ecosystem? Are the various aspects of kindness. hCreation still able to depend on each other in the ways And may we b e nourished bwhich God refers in Psalm 104 when changes occur? dependence o y our n the mysteriesWhat responsibility do people have to care for the cre- their holiness. ofated world and not harm it? How do people work to Amen.“bring forth food from the earth” (Ps. 104:14) in a