Look at any Sunday School room, and you will likely see symbols of the Christian faith, such as crosses, stories of Jesus’ teachings in various formats, maybe even pictures of eucharistic bread and baptismal water. But a huge part of our faith – the belief in God the Creator – is often missing from our Christian formation programs.
Creation is a continuing process, not just something that happened way back in the first few chapters of Genesis. All of life is in a continuous state of transformation. As humans we are a part of our world and interact with it constantly.
We are not just stewards of our environment; we are players in the environment. Nature affects us, and we affect nature. As Christians, we believe that God the Creator made all of nature and the marvelous processes of life around us.
But are we teaching the concept of God as Creator in our Christian formation programs? Where do children and youth see visible signs and symbols of God the Creator? How do we incorporate stewardship of our environment in our teachings?
An easy first step towards bringing the concept of God as Creator to people is updating the furnishings in Sunday School rooms. Are these rooms full of objects and materials created solely by people? Do we illustrate our respect for God’s creations by including them in our spaces?
As a Christian educator, one of my favorite tasks in preparing for weekly lessons was the early Sunday morning process of putting out flowers and water for young children to use in their Catechesis of the Good Shepherd atrium. The time spent in quiet, fairly mindless labor helped me to spiritually prepare myself to minister to the children.
Before we started any of the lessons, children would arrange flowers in small vases and put them on the prayer table. Others would water and prune plants that lived in pots around the room. Time with plants calmed the children, preparing them to listen attentively to lessons themselves.
Adding plants and flowers to a Sunday School room is an easy way to introduce to children a sense of awe and wonder in God’s creation. Even the smallest flower is an object of beauty more delicate and well-designed than anything we could create ourselves.
Plants not only supply life-giving oxygen, but also make us more in tune with the natural world. If we bring plants and flowers into our Sunday School rooms—a relatively inexpensive undertaking—we can set an example of care and appreciation of the natural world for our children. We can also illustrate the continuing work of God in creation in our world, bringing to life the scripture and theology of Genesis.
Cynthia Coe (@CynthiaCoe) is Environmental Stewardship Fellow of The Episcopal Church, an active member of Forma, and former Director of Children’s Ministries at Church of the Ascension, Knoxville.