Yesterday's Sunday school class was the second one on Genesis. When the teacher started a week ago she and a co-teacher talked about Education For Ministry (EFM) which is where they got their training. The Episcopal church seems to support this schooling and from all accounts is seems pretty good. I don't know a lot about it but when I am done with my present schooling I may look into it more.
Sunday's lesson covered the first 3 chapters of Genesis which is the creation story. I had fun with that. The teacher talked about there being two creations stories in Genesis. I think there might be three. The reason I think that is because back in the 80's, when I studied Genesis before, some people liked to take the words in the first two sentences and say that there was an entire story possible in the gap between them. The NRS Bible, which is the approved Episcopal version, edited out the potential gap in time. The NIV left it in. The way the play with words goes is that the first sentences declares, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." The next sentence starts with the word "Now" which can be taken as either a literary styling or a way of implying that there was a gap between the time that God created the world and the time that the story teller is talking about. Lots of people who like their stories filled with mystery loved that potential gap in time. It gave rise to the idea that perhaps the world had been created, destroyed and now was perhaps being recreated. What fun! So we talked about that a bit in class. Since there isn't a way of discovering whether the writer meant the "Now" as a styling or otherwise we can't really solve this one. Possibly better read people will have an answer to the current view on that question.
Then we talked about the idea of whether Eve or Adam was responsible for man's fall from grace. Remember that Eve was the first to eat the apple? Well you can argue that she was deceived having never heard the instructions of God first hand and that Adam had known full well what he doing and had decided to do it anyways. And we wondered about that. Knowing that you might fall from grace is it possible that Adam just couldn't bear to be apart from Eve? Was that why he did as she asked? We also looked at the decision that Eve made and how she saw the tree of knowledge. It was good for food, attractive to the eye, and it gave knowledge. So she made a God like decision instead of following God's instruction. That too has tons of implications in it. I wish I was better at remembering the things that were said in that classroom. It was intriguing and we all enjoyed the discussions these topics generated.
At the end of the class the teacher asked us what in the creation stories we saw as God...she wanted 3 responses. We gave her creative, sustaining, and breath as in breath of life and creation. Then she asked us what was needed from God in that story or what were his actions, again 3 responses, and we gave her forgiveness, guidance, and connections. Finally she asked what we wanted to take with us from this story and our responses were: do your work, creation restored, and live as you designed us and made us to be. Then she used our responses to make a prayer. In it we named/described God, asked for something and gave it purpose. It went something like this:
Creative, sustaining God, you are our breath of life.
We ask your forgiveness, guidance and connection
To help us do your work, restore your creation, and
Live as you designed us and made us to be.
In Jesus name, Amen.
Everyone of us felt that was a really beautiful way to pray and wanted to take the method home with us. I think we will be watching this teacher closely to determine how to build such a meaningful prayer so that we can enrich our own prayer lives.