Read an Excerpt
Hope for Creation GuidebookPart One
By Matthew Sleeth Nancy Sleeth Michael Colletto
ZondervanCopyright © 2010 Blessed Earth and Dot&Cross
All right reserved.
Chapter OneSession 1 Light
"In the beginning, God created the heaven and earth, and the earth was without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light. -Genesis 1:1-3 (NIV)
This was the beginning of the beginning-the moment when God chose to create a universe for His own glory. God speaks the first sentence of a love story that will include all creatures and all people throughout all the ages ... and it all begins with light.
Everyone we know and everything we see starts with God speaking light into existence. Scripture is full of references to light: light is used to represent God's goodness (Psalm 56:13), a guide (Psalm 43:3), and the truth (John 3). God Himself is light (1 John 1:5). So, it's not surprising that when God sends His only begotten Son, He is called the "Light of the World" who conquers all darkness. And we, as followers of Jesus, are called to be children of light (Ephesians 5) and the light of the world (Matthew 5).
In choosing to follow Christ, we become new people with new priorities. God changes our hearts ... and our behaviors change, too. It's not about following a list of rules; it's about following the lifestyle of Jesus.
Just before Jesus left this earth, He said, "Go into the world and preach the gospel to all the creatures, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I've commanded you." The very first commandment we were given in the Bible is recorded in Genesis 2:15. We were told to tend and care for this garden-the earth. We can't go out and make disciples while simultaneously destroying the water, the air, and the creatures that God loves. If we don't respect the world around us, we're missing a major part of what God commanded us to do.
It's time for the church, as children of the light, to take a leadership role in caring for the planet. And it will be good.
Reflections on Light
My first scientific encounter with light occurred in kindergarten. I can't recall my teacher's name, but I remember the experiment we conducted.
Our class filled two clay pots with dirt. We planted bean seeds in both pots and watered them. We then placed one pot in a closet and shut the door and put the other outside in a courtyard, in the sunshine.
After a number of days, both plants sent up shoots-and for a short while they resembled each other. Both grew on the energy stored within the planted seed. As the days passed, the plant in the sun began to change. It turned green and beautiful. The plant in the dark closet continued to grow for awhile, but it looked pale and spindly. It never produced any fruit or seeds of its own.
What I learned in kindergarten is that life runs on sunshine. Irrespective of whether it's you, me, or a tree, life on earth is dependent on the element of light.
When we give ourselves over to God, we step from darkness into a great light. The light is necessary for beauty, growth, and bearing fruit. We cannot supply the light on our own any more than the plant in the closet can make itself green. -Dr. Matthew Sleeth
Session Notes: Light
As you watch the first film session on Light, feel free to use the following page to jot down any notes, thoughts, and questions.
Hope Begins with a Changed Heart
 "And God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness." -Genesis 1:3-4 (NIV)
Why do you think the creation story begins with light?
 "When we behold the light and brightness of the sun, the golden edges of an evening cloud, or the beauteous rainbow, we behold the adumbrations of His glory and goodness, and in the blue sky, of His mildness and gentleness." -Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758), Reflections of God's Glory
Can you recall an experience when light made you feel closer to God-through an inspiring sunrise, rainbow, light sheeting through the clouds, or sunset? Describe the scene and what it taught you about God.
 Dr. Sleeth's wife, Nancy, asked him two questions that started him on his journey of spiritual and environmental discovery. It began with the question, "What's the biggest problem in the world today?" After some thought, Matthew answered, "The world is dying." In what sense is the world "dying"? Give examples.
 Dr. Sleeth's wife followed up with a second question: "If the world is dying, what are you going to do about it?" Dr. Sleeth didn't have an immediate answer to the second question, in part because the problem seemed so overwhelming. What is your initial reaction when you learn about overwhelming problems?
 Dr. Sleeth explains, "As the light of the world, Jesus is a beacon for all of us. He's a model of how to live, how to conduct our everyday life." In what sense is Jesus a model for our everyday choices?
 "Jesus asks us to become children of the light." -Dr. Matthew Sleeth
What does it mean to become a "child of the light"? What actions are "light" and what actions are "dark" in terms of caring for creation?
 A regular incandescent bulb wastes 90 percent of the energy it consumes producing heat instead of visible light. In what ways do we waste our energy and not produce the light that God wants us to?
Excerpted from Hope for Creation Guidebook by Matthew Sleeth Nancy Sleeth Michael Colletto Copyright © 2010 by Blessed Earth and Dot&Cross. Excerpted by permission.
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