In the Beginning: Why We Start Every Year with Creation
By: Esther Powell, 5th Grade Unit Teacher
Why does every class begin every year at Cambridge with a return to the Creation story in Genesis?
1. We Are A Christ-Centered School
We begin with Creation because we are a Christ-centered school. As we re-read the Creation account, we affirm our belief that Christ was in God at Creation. Christ is not an after thought of God because of man’s fall into sin. In Colossians 1:15-17 we read,
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.For by him all things were created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:15)
The Apostle John writes,
In the beginning as the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him and without him was not anything made that was made. (John 1:1-3)
2. Creation is a Celebration
A second reason for beginning with creation is to celebrate and rejoice over it. We tend to think very little about what must have been going on in this pre-historic time, as Creation unfolded—untainted by sin—before the eyes of the heavenly beings.
As a result we turn the story into a proof text for the origin of sin, and the beginning of evil. However, Lady Wisdom, in Proverbs 8, speaks about the creation as a time of great rejoicing and celebration, at which she was present.
…I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always, rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the children of man.” (vv. 30-31)
One of the amazing aspects of the Job story is that God begins His response to Job with questions which probe His understanding of creation. His questions raise the vision of a “heavenly barn raising.”
In Job 38:4-7 we read,
Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? …when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
C. S. Lewis captured this spirit of celebration, in his allegorical description of the Creation in The Magician’s Nephew.
In the darkness, something was happening at last. A voice had begun to sing…Its lower notes were deep enough to be the voice of the earth herself. There were no words. There was hardly even a tune. But it was, beyond comparison, the most beautiful noise he had ever heard. . . . the voice was suddenly joined by other voices; more voices than you could possibly count. They were in harmony with it, but far higher up the scale; cold, tingling, silvery voices…
3. Creation Reminds Us of the Effects of Sin
While celebration fills our study of creation, we cannot avoid the tragic truth that sin entered God’s good creation through humankind’s disobedience. The most tragic lines ever penned are found in Genesis 3:8-10,
And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ And he said, ‘I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.
The sense of this tragedy is found, not only in the stories of the Western world, but in the anecdotes, proverbs, religions, philosophies of every culture for all time. We identify with humankind’s search for an explanation. But, as a Christ-centered school, we believe that the Genesis story is not just one story among many, but that it is the one true story. While it is not exhaustive in its explanation, it is true in its description.
While we admit that a great tragedy occurred, we also discover in the Genesis account the first subtle hint of a promise of redemption.
I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between our offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel. (Genesis 3:15)
We believe that the redemption we have in Christ is the same redemption that will one day restore all of creation from the curse. Paul writes,
For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves who have the first fruits oft Spirit groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” (Romans in 8:19-23)
4. All Stories Are Rooted in Creation
Every subject we study has its roots in creation, from history to science, social studies, the arts and literature. While we know that all of these domains have been marred by the Fall, they have not been destroyed. While celebrating we do not ignore the effects of sin. While noting the effects of sin, we do not lose hope, nor neglect our responsibility. As such, our study of creation provides the basis for four overarching questions related to everything we read and do. These questions are:
What is the good, beautiful, and true?
What is evil, ugly and false?
What is humankind’s responsibility and how should they carry it out?
How does the outcome reflect God’s original intent and design?
These are not perfect questions but they reflect the whole of creation: its goodness, its brokenness, our place in it, and the hope that we have in Christ’s redemptive power. These four are the tip of the iceberg, with myriad more waiting to be surfaced through discussion and reading; through experiment and application.
While never neglecting Genesis 1-3, as students move into older grades, the specific activities and additional readings fit the maturity of the students. Their understanding of these four questions is reflected in classroom discussions and in practical application.