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Session 1 Leader’s Guide

Lent 2021 | First United Methodist Church of Rockwall

Serving God, Saving the Planet: A Call to Care for Creation and Your Soul 

Session 1— “The Call to Care For Creation”

Introductions (10 min): Overview of class from Katie, then individual introductions: Name, Favorite Hobby, Why You Are Interested In This Class

Opening Prayer (2 min)

Scripture (Read in video): Genesis 1: 20-22, 26-31

“And God said, “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky.” So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth…Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth. So God created humankindin his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth. God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food. And it was so. God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

Video (11 min)

Group Discussion (10 min): 

Breakout Room Discussion (15 min):

  1. Why do you think the creation story begins with light? Can you recall an experience when light made you feel closer to God—through an inspiring sunrise, rainbow, light coming through the clouds or sunset? Describe the scene and what it taught you about God?
  2. Jesus is a beacon for all of us as “the light of the world.” He’s a model of how to live, how to conduct our everyday life. What does it mean to become a “child of the light?” What actions are “light” and what actions are “dark” in terms of caring for creation?
  3. God gave humans dominion over the earth. The author provides the Hebrew meaning of the word dominion: “higher on the root of a plant.” How does that definition help you to understand how to treat that which is under human domain?
  4. Look at Sleeth’s story of his patient Sally again (p.29-30). Dying canaries warned coal miners of problems with the air. What warnings do we have that creation is suffering? What examples of environmental changes have you witnessed in your lifetime? 
  5. The author describes the lifestyle changes his family made in response to their conviction to take better care of the earth. What emotions are evoked in you when you imagine yourself making such a choice? Why do you feel that way?
  6. The Talmud states, “Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly now, love mercy now, walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.” The key to stop being overwhelmed by the amount of work to be done is to simply take the first step. What will be your first step?

Social Principles Overview (5 mins): Outline an overview of the UMC’s Social Principles and The Natural World.

The Natural World Project (7 min):

UMC Social Principle: The Natural World

All creation is the Lord’s, and we are responsible for the ways in which we use and abuse it. Water, air, soil, minerals, energy resources, plants, animal life, and space are to be valued and conserved because they are God’s creation and not solely because they are useful to human beings. God has granted us stewardship of creation. We should meet these stewardship duties through acts of loving care and respect. Economic, political, social, and technological developments have increased our human numbers, and lengthened and enriched our lives. However, these developments have led to regional defoliation, dramatic extinction of species, massive human suffering, overpopulation, and misuse and overconsumption of natural and nonrenewable resources, particularly by industrialized societies. This continued course of action jeopardizes the natural heritage that God has entrusted to all generations. Therefore, let us recognize the responsibility of the church and its members to place a high priority on changes in economic, political, social, and technological lifestyles to support a more ecologically equitable and sustainable world leading to a higher quality of life for all of God’s creation.

Specific issue: Global Climate Stewardship

We acknowledge the global impact of humanity’s disregard for God’s creation. Rampant industrialization and the corresponding increase in the use of fossil fuels have led to a buildup of pollutants in the earth’s atmosphere. These “greenhouse gas” emissions threaten to alter dramatically the earth’s climate for generations to come with severe environmental, economic, and social implications. The adverse impacts of global climate change disproportionately affect individuals and nations least responsible for the emissions. We therefore support efforts of all governments to require mandatory reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and call on individuals, congregations, businesses, industries, and communities to reduce their emissions.

Scripture Basis: Genesis 1:26-31

Other Scriptures:

Reason/Rational:

Our Experience:

Our definition of Wesleyan thought and/or biblical justice concerning climate stewardship:

Closing Thought, Prayer Requests, Closing Prayer (6 min): “People who are grateful for God’s abundant gifts, people of faith who are not afraid to be held accountable for care of his creation, will save it” (p.28).

Closing Prayer: Creator God, when there was once nothingness, you hovered over and danced upon the waters of creation. You created all life, and you called it very good. As you created humanity, you invited us to be stewards over all creation.  Oh God, help us to live into this great calling. As we continue to learn more about your good creation, help us to do our part to care for it in ways that honor you. As a part of creation, help us to care for our own souls well, too.  May your great love for creation be seen through us—children of your light. Amen.