A few weeks ago, as I was walking a group of children from worship to a children’s activity, a four-year-old asked a seemingly simple question: “Where is God?” One of the other children replied, “God is everywhere!” I agreed and we kept walking, but that answer wasn’t satisfactory to my young friend. He wanted specifics. Turning in circles, he said, “But I don’t see God!” This led to a teachable moment, one where we discussed all the places and spaces we come to know God. Overwhelmingly, the kids agreed that natural creation was the place where they most felt and understood God.
In this lesson, children will explore Psalm 98:1-9 to discover the intrinsic connection between God and the natural world. Then they will enact their own “song of praise” for the beauty and fragility of creation.
You will need
- A Bible
Greet the children as they arrive.
Ask the children to sit in a circle on the floor or around a table so that they can see one another.
- What are your favorite songs?
- Why do you like them?
- Why do you think people like to sing or listen to songs?
Share that music can connect us to feelings and experiences. Encourage the children to remember this idea as they read the Scripture passage together.
Exploring the passage
Say a prayer together.
Introduce the children to the text by sharing a bit about its form and context:
- The passage you’ll be reading is a psalm. If you have previously read psalms with the group, you can ask them to share what they remember about psalms. If psalms are new to the children, offer a brief definition.
- A psalm is an ancient poem that was often sung aloud. The Bible contains 150 of psalms that were used to worship God. Some psalms shared sadness or lament, some call on God for help, and others celebrate or praise God. Psalm 98 is a psalm of praise.
Read aloud Psalm 98:1-9.
- What is the writer of this psalm praising God for?
- Who praises God in this psalm? (both people and creation)
- Notice that nature praises God. How does the natural world celebrate God?
Relating the passage to our lives
Help the children connect the psalm to their own lives using one or more of the following activities. Before you begin the activity, note that all of God’s creation praises God in Psalm 98. We can also celebrate and praise God by appreciating and caring for creation.
- Nature walk: Take the children on a walk through a natural area where they are able to see a variety of plants and animals. Encourage them to walk quietly, noticing both the large and small examples of goodness in God’s creation. At the end of the walk, discuss what the children noticed. Offer a prayer of thanksgiving for the variety and abundance of creation.
- Caring for creation trash clean up: Walk around your church grounds or along the roadway near your church building collecting trash or debris left behind. Discuss how caring for creation is an act of praise for God. Offer a prayer for humans to be good stewards of God’s good creation.
- Write a new song: At the beginning of the psalm, the writer says, “sing to the Lord a new song.” Create a collaborative poem or song of praise for God’s good creation. Offer it to your congregation at a worship service or by creating an illustrated version that you post in the church building.