Let there be light

The theme for collective worship this morning at my church school was ‘God speaks the universe into being’ – it’s part of a series on how God speaks, which will last all term.

Exploring the creation story in schools is challenging: some of the science behind the origins of the universe is well beyond my non-scientific mind, and it’s not always easy to convey the nuances of ‘metaphorical truth’ as opposed to fact when looking at biblical accounts of (pre-historic) events.

There is a simple but profound beauty in the biblical account of God speaking the word ‘Light’ at the moment of creation, just as there is (to a non-expert like me) a simple but profound beauty to the notion of the universe starting with a Big Bang – a sudden explosion of the potential into the actual.

But how to explore this with a school full of 5 to 11 year olds when you have 20 minutes to do it?

It was at that point that I turned to music, and specifically to the opening chorus of Haydn’s epic choral work, The Creation.

I asked the children to imagine a speck of something tiny, so small that they can barely see it, and yet they know that it’s going to be something amazing. I then played them just a minute’s worth of Haydn, inviting them to enjoy the mystery and the potential, and then really to enjoy the Big Bang.

“And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
And God said, ‘Let there be light.’
And there was LIGHT!”

My reward? A school hall filled with faces that were full of awe – smiles, eyes like saucers. I tell them that when Genesis 1 was written down nobody knew about the Big Bang, but they somehow knew that life needed Light, and that there was a moment when everything came into being. And how people of faith believe that God has never stopped speaking light and life into his world.

My question to them?  “What makes you feel alive like that? What brings that kind of light and life into your world?”

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