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PYCLs: 1) WHAT IS SUBSTANCE? 2) FAITH AS A FOUNDATION 3) FAITH AND CALEB  4) FAITH AND THE THREE HEBREW MEN 5) FAITH AND THE CENTURION 6) VISIT THE STORY OF THE BENT-OVER WOMAN
P
ossible Younger Class Lesson ideas for the Christian Science Quarterly Bible Lesson on

 “Substance”
for March 13, 2022

by Kerry Jenkins, CS, of House Springs, MO
kerry.helen.jenkins@gmail.com • 314-406-0041


PYCL #1: WHAT IS SUBSTANCE?

We can bring some insight to this subject… Of course there are many citations, especially obvious in the first section of Science and Health, that answer this question with “God”, or a synonym of God. That’s a fine place to start, but we can’t leave it there. What does it mean that God is substance, that Life is substance, Truth, and so on?

Make a list together of qualities that are substantial. Discuss the fact that all things material erode eventually, though some take longer than others. Only qualities that come from God endure. If the children are older and they suggest that God’s qualities might not be so enduring when you look at the war going on in Ukraine, or more interpersonal challenges at home, you can think together about Mary Baker Eddy’s passage in Section 3, “A false sense of life, substance, and mind hides the divine possibilities, and conceals scientific demonstration.” (citation S12/325:32, italics added)

It’s this hiding and concealing that we need to remember.

A “false sense”, anything false, has to be uncovered, even if it appears to be tenacious at times. You can use an analogy such as this: hold up a sheet in front of one of the students (or in front of anything). Does holding the sheet up in front of someone make that person not there? Of course not! Because our material senses cannot see peace, safety, and so on, only means it is obscured from our sight. That makes it no less important that we discover the truth, of course! If we don’t tear away that sheet, or remove what obscures the truth, our friend might as well be gone, or our peace might as well have vanished!

While it may be a simple matter to remove the sheet, sometimes it’s harder to practice looking and finding those substantial qualities that tell us that God is present right where we are, even in the midst of something painful or ugly. But we can practice looking, noticing, each day, and then we get really good at recognizing when our material senses are obscuring our rightful view of God’s goodness.



PYCL #2: FAITH AS A FOUNDATION

Look together at the famous passage from Hebrews from our Responsive Reading. “…faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)

This builds on our discussion of substance nicely.

What is faith? Is it blind belief in something we can’t see?

Faith, I learned this week, is translated more as a ‘foundation’— a permanent, solid, stable, property to build on— than as a hopeful, or blind belief in something.

I like the next line in the above verse “For by it the elders obtained a good report.” (Hebrews 11:2)

This, to me, means that by a spiritual, faithful sense of things, we are able to see that “good report”, the goodness of God, no matter our circumstance. This can be demonstrated when we don’t feel well, or when we are having trouble at school, or home.
Can we trust everything that we see?
Is matter reliable while Spirit, God, is random goodness?

Share examples of how matter tends to lie to us. Talk about all the healing that has gone on over the years despite the claims of matter. You can get some statistics from the periodicals and then you can talk about all the healing done by Jesus, as well as other Bible people.

Material sense will always argue that what we see and experience materially is what is real.
Christian Science argues the opposite. I have not found it productive to try to talk children into this view. It is far better to focus on healing, particularly your own experiences, or theirs, rather than to get into what will inevitably feel like esoteric arguments about what is real, and what is not.


PYCL#3: FAITH AND CALEB

Now, look at the role of faith in the Bible stories contained in this week’s lesson. We first have the story of Caleb. You will need to give them the backstory here about how Caleb and Joshua were the only two of the original tribe who left Egypt, to have faith that they were adequate to the task of taking the Promised Land from the inhabitants. Everyone else felt that they would fail.

God’s promise to Caleb and Joshua was that they would be the only ones to see that Promised Land after forty years of wandering. You can pause here to talk about just this much: Does God really punish or deprive us when we are afraid or faithless? No! But when we are afraid or without faith, we tend not to see that there is abundant good for us.

Caleb was not loved or saved above his fellows, rather Caleb’s deep faith in God’s provision allowed him the vision to see this abundance and gave him not only a long vibrant life, but a portion of what was promised to the Children of Israel. You might say he had the vision to see this abundance where others perceived only lack.

Now you can point out that Caleb’s faith was a bedrock on which he could experience a life that was substantial. He perceived the spiritual facts behind the material view of things.

We can have that same sense of faith in the power of goodness and truth to provide us with abundance today. (And we should emphasize that this faith comes through a constant effort to see God’s presence around us!) This is the point of the story, not to tell us about some guy who lived a long time ago!
If we can understand, as Caleb did, the promise of God’s goodness for us, no matter the material picture, we will find ourselves living a richly substantial life.


PYCL#4: FAITH AND THE THREE HEBREW MEN

This sure seems like a good example of people having faith in God!
But there are a lot of things that we can talk about here.
Tell or read the story together.

What are we listening to that causes us to “fall down and worship” something…friends, fear of loneliness, fear of sickness? What “music” inspires fear in us, or would tempt us to forsake who we really know ourselves to be, in order to “fit in” or succeed at something?

None of us is going to be literally thrown into a furnace to be burned, so what is our “furnace”?
Is it ‘not fitting in’? Is it being lousy at a sport/instrument/school work of some kind? How can we find ourselves “walking through” that ‘furnace’ untouched? These are questions that the students can think about and answer, hopefully without any of our help. We shouldn’t try to come up with artificial ‘furnace’ scenarios for them.

It is also interesting to contemplate the role of envy in this story. Should we be aware of how that ugly lie would try to take our sense of joy, our sense of ‘being’? What can we do to combat envy? We can affirm that God gives good to all. As Warren Huff often tells us when we are tempted to feel envious: “Thank you God, that’s mine too!”

And we can affirm that what we have is from God, not our own special power or gift, and that it also belongs to all mankind. The story of the fiery furnace is also a great opportunity to challenge the fears we might have about our body and what it seems to tell us. Are we afraid of our body?

Do we “freak out” when something appears that doesn’t seem normal, or when we are feeling discomfort that we don’t understand?

These young men in this story represent a confidence in the spiritual nature of man’s identity. This identity is always safe and sound in God. This is the true substance of our being that cannot be burned, humiliated, left out, sick, or disordered.



PYCL#5: FAITH AND THE CENTURION

Here is another story that we can look to as an example of how a bedrock kind of faith gives us the opportunity to experience the abundance of health that God is always providing. In this story you can explain that a Centurion is a Roman commander of about a hundred soldiers. He was used to giving orders and having them followed. His men would have a certain amount of faith in him as their leader. So, he recognized this sort of authority in Jesus, as similar to his own. But he also recognized that Jesus’ authority was divine, not human. This gave him the faith to tell Jesus that he only needed to say the word and didn’t need to follow the Centurion to his home in order for the servant to be healed.

What can each of us learn from this story? What can we gain from listening to and obeying God’s authority?
Can you think together of examples where we can do this better?
Have some of your own that you have identified as places where you do, or want to, listen better and accept the authority of God/Mind’s direction.
Is there a difference between God’s authority and our mom’s or dad’s or teachers’?


PYCL #6: VISIT THE STORY OF THE BENT-OVER WOMAN

In this case we can see where the leader of the synagogue lost sight of the spiritual substance of law and focused on a surficial interpretation of church law. Talk about how Jesus was able to address the criticism—how he used the term “loose” to describe her freedom, just as they would have used that word to describe letting the livestock out of their stall to get a drink. How could the ruler of the synagogue say that an ox was more important than a “daughter of Abraham”? Jesus brought the substance of Truth into view for all that were present.

If you have small children, I like having them see what it would be like to walk while bent over. Would you bump into things? Would you ever see the pretty sky or trees? Talk about how the lies that we experience kind of ruin our view, or our understanding of what is true.

When we feel bent over, or weighed down, by shame, or fear, or sickness, sadness, or whatever would make us feel like we can’t see goodness, we can be sure that we need to look to the true substance of our being, to Christ, to find our freedom!

Matter and material life can sometimes seem pretty weighty if we aren’t careful to “look up” and recognize the beauty of God’s substance around us.

Have fun in Sunday School!

 

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