Justice Journey 2021 || February || Module 1 || God’s Diverse Creation

The following adapts and excerpts “Justice Journey for Kids” — a curriculum created by the Evangelical Covenant Church (available at: covchurch.org/justicejourney) — to be used as part of FirstPresKids Worship@Home while FirstPres Hayward continues to gather virtually. Any excerpts are in italics.

Each month of this 8-module curriculum will focus on a main theme that will be explored here, on an accompanying YouTube playlist and supported by our weekly Sunday 10am #FPKLIVE gatherings as well as monthly Storytime and StudioTime gatherings. Click here for more info.

Illustration, diverse children interacting over a stained-glass crown motif with text Justice Journey God’s Diverse Creation
Text: FirstPresKids Justice Journey 2021: February; Theme: God’s Diverse Creation; Focus: Creation is diverse , good + made on purpose! Weekly Lessons: Creation, Diversity, The Church + Diversity, The Kingdom of Heaven + Diversity

Justice Journey, Part I: God Created Us Diverse, Good and On Purpose!

This video has been created to be used with the weekly virtual lesson plans below. It is a Biblically based anti-racist and social justice curriculum that has eight learning modules. This video will cover one module and its themes. You can watch the video all at once or pause between scenes and use parts of the video with each lesson.

Week 1: Creation

God purposefully created a diverse world and called it good.

  • Diversity: Variety, difference. God made a variety of people, plants, animals, and planets and called them good.

Genesis 1:1–24

  • What kinds of things did God make in Genesis 1?
  • What does diversity mean? What is biodiversity? Why is diversity important on earth?
  • How can you tell that God created diversity on purpose?

…scenes from nature…

…or one of 108 animals from this playlist of animals drawing tutorials:

God thank you for all you created. We know you created the entire earth — everything living and moving, everything still and quiet — on purpose. Whether it is alive or not, whether it is beautiful or strange, you are in it and it is good. Help us to remember the goodness of all creation and how it is tied to you and how we are tied to each other regardless of our differences — whether tiny rock or humungous whale; sun soaked plant or hungry human. We belong to each other and we belong to you. Amen.

Week 2: Diversity

We are created in God’s image. We are diverse. All diversity is a reflection of God.

  • Diversity: Variety, difference. God made a variety of people, plants, animals, and planets and called them good.

Genesis 1:26–27

  • How did you get your name? What is your favorite food?
  • In what ways are we similar? In what ways are we different?
  • How do the people in the video look to you? How were they different? What do you think those different things tell us about God’s image?
  • What does it mean to be made in God’s image?
  • How were the people in the video like you/your family/your friends? What do you think those same things tell us about God’s image? Why did God make us both different and the same?
  • No one knows what the first people looked like, but the variety of people in the world clearly shows God’s plan for creation. Diversity is a gift from God. Why did God create us so diversely? What is the gift?
  • Pick a leader to ask questions about favorite things, places you’ve been, family traditions, what you’re wearing, your physical features, etc. and play “Stand Up, Sit Down” to see the ways we are similar, we are different and all uniquely made!
  • Watch this video on our unique identity and follow the prompts/ideas to help figure out your values and celebrate your (and everyone’s!) unique diversity!

God you love each of us and you purposely made all of us different. Thank you God for the way you made diversity in creation and among us. Help us to speak up and be a friend to everyone, not just those who look and act like us. Help us to be kind to one another, learn from each other and see your reflection in each other — whether Black, brown or white; male, female or non-binary; baby, child or adult; Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist or other believers — you created us in your image. Help us to remember that you are not only a man or white or human, you are a woman, Black, a child, you are the air, the sea, a rock, a hummingbird, you are just as diverse as all you created. Amen.

Week 3: The Church + Diversity

All are welcomed by Jesus into the church.

  • Diversity: Variety, difference. God made a variety of people, plants, animals, and planets and called them good.

Acts 2:1–12

  • Pentecost was a Jewish spring harvest festival, but now we use the word Pentecost to remember when Jesus’ disciples received the Holy Spirit. God loves us so much that just as God breathed the breath of life into us, God now also breathes the Holy Spirit into us. The Holy Spirit helps us to understand the Bible and directs us to love others and live for God. What did the Holy Spirit give the disciples to help them share Jesus’s love with others?
  • Pentecost is a really big story! Before this story, people had to go to one kind of place to worship God — the Temple. The priests leading the services spoke only one language, and only one kind of service happened there. If you didn’t speak that language, or didn’t understand that service, you couldn’t worship God with God’s people. But when God sent the Holy Spirit, God was doing something new. What was the new thing? What was God saying about the kinds of people God wanted in the church?
  • Pentecost is considered “the birth of the church” because it’s when God let every one know that the new plan for worship and relationship was for everyone. From there, people who worship God and Jesus began to gather wherever they were to celebrate what God had done through Jesus. Those groups were called churches — and they still are! How does your church gather and celebrate God and Jesus? Now, before the pandemic, possibly in the future? Is the church the people or the building? Can churches gather, can “church” happen anywhere, anytime? Give an example.
  • What are some ways the kids in the video experience God? Share about a time you experienced the Holy Spirit, God or Jesus. (Each story is different, because we are all different.)
  • What are some different ways we can worship God? What are ways from the videos that are the same and different about how people worship, spend time with or think about God?
  • Why is it good that God can be worshipped in so many ways?
  • Do you think God delights in the many ways people worship? Why?
  • Plan a Skype or FaceTime session with another church or religious community. Ask: Where are they located? What kind of place do they meet in? What language do they speak? What is their favorite part of worshipping together? What is their favorite story from their religious book?
  • Make a Holy Spirit blow painting with watercolors, a straw and your breath (method tutorial below) — reflect on the breath of the Holy Spirit that moves in you, the way that each painting is unique like us and the diversity of the church, and the way that the paint spreads like Jesus’s love!

God you love each of us and you purposely made all of us different. We know that sometimes one group of people think they are better than another group and work to keep themselves separate. But, that is not how you want churches to be. Thank you for the diversity in churches and the way you planned for the good news to spread to all the people. Help us to share the love of Jesus, by loving those who are different from us. Help us to notice and celebrate the ways we are all made differently — from our skin color to our unique interests and experiences to our special skills to the way we talk and act. The world is better, our lives our better, when we welcome, help and support each other — in our family, our churches, our schools, our communities — because you made us diverse and meant for us to share our gifts with one another. Amen.

Week 4: The Kingdom of Heaven + Diversity

Diversity demonstrates the goodness, creativity, and splendor of God.

  • Diversity: Variety, difference. God made a variety of people, plants, animals, and planets and called them good.
  • Prejudice: Not knowing a person but mistreating them and believing things about then because of the color of their skin, gender, or where they are from.
  • Racism: When one group of people believes they are better (superior) than others and uses their privilege to create laws and systems which work better for their racial group than for other racial groups. Racism can happen intentionally or unintentionally.

Revelation 7:9–10, 21:1–4, 22:1–5

  • What is the biggest celebration you have ever been a part of? Describe who was there, who was the guest of honor, what you did, what you ate, what you wore.
  • Remember that God started everything by creating the earth and people, and the people messed up? Ever since then, people have been divided by the things that should unite us. Instead of appreciating how God made everyone different, some people decided that our diversity was a bad thing. People have even gone to war, killed, and enslaved other humans because they thought the color of their skin made them better than others. Even more than that, people all over the world hurt each other with words and actions because they are afraid of how we are different. Two ways this commonly happens is racism or prejudice. Many people are sad and hurting, or angry and hateful, because of these sins. Do you think God is happy with that situation?
  • God is not part of racism or prejudice. Diversity was God’s own idea! God sent Jesus to help us return creation back to the goodness that God created. But, God’s plan doesn’t stop there. At the very end of the Bible, a man named John saw a wonderful dream from God and wrote it down in the book of Revelation where people of all countries and tribes and languages were all worshiping God together. They were wearing the same white clothes that reminded everyone of the way they followed Jesus. The only thing that was different about them was the way God had made them: individual and unique, diverse and special. But they were all following Jesus and praising God. And, the end of that, in Revelation 19:9, it says they were all invited to a feast. At the end of history, people of all countries and colors will sit down at a table together, at the same feast. The most important guest will be God. How can we start living like this now? Who could we invite to a feast that doesn’t look like us and whose traditions or life experience is different from us?
  • In the videos, who surrounded the table? Who should surround the table? Was any one missing? Would you like to attend a feast like the one in the first video?
  • God will end all fighting and war; there will be no more death or sadness or pain. Do you think there will be things like racism or prejudice there?
  • In Revelation 22:1–5, we hear about a creation, like where God made all people in the first place! And in verse 2, we read that the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations, which also means ethnicities. God will use us, our love, and the Gospel to heal the wounds racism and prejudice cause. We will all be one people — God’s people. Just as God made us all different in the beginning at creation, God will love and rule over all the different kinds of people at the end of time. Why do you think God showed John this dream? Why do you think God wants to throw a big feast? Do you think there are people who would not want to come? Why or why not?
  • If you threw a feast, what foods would you have? Who would you like to share a feast with and why?
  • Since we know God has invited everyone from every place on earth to God’s great feast, it seems silly to exclude people now. How can we be kind to people now, and treat everyone with respect, as if we were getting ready to sit down to a feast together?
  • What should we do when we see others being treated unfairly or unkindly because of their differences? As fellow future guests at the table, how can we stick up for them? How might we celebrate together now? What might we learn from each other?
  • Play the “Picnic Game” but instead think about the diversity of creation and the videos you’ve seen during this lesson and others and say “I’m going to a feast and I’m inviting someone who…” (has brown skin, has curly hair, eats goat, eats fish, etc.)
  • Use pieces torn from magazines, catalogs or any recycling (food packaging, junk mail) and create a collage — a whole new thing! — of a feast, of what you think God’s vision looks like or of a healed and whole earth like in this tutorial:

God you love each of us and you purposely made all of us different. Thank you God for the way you made diversity in creation and among us. Help us to speak up and be a friend to everyone, not just those who look and act like us. Help us to be kind to one another, learn from each other and see your reflection in each other. Help us to return to our goodness, to start living now as you intended and as John tells us will happen — as guests at a feast in your honor. Help us to respond in a loving way to others rather than mean or fearful ways because someone is different from us. Remind us not to wait, but to celebrate our differences here and now! Amen.

Written by Lauren Gibbs-Beadle @firstpreskidshayward Children’s Ministries @firstpreshayward | educator, creative, parent | she/her