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PYCLs:  DON’T FORGET THAT PRACTICING C.S. IS SIMPLE, BUT NOT… (1)  ERROR IS THE ABSENCE OF SOMETHING, NOT… (2)  TELL OF THE TARES & WHEAT. (3)  DEMYSTIFY HEALING. (4)
WHERE DO WE LOOK FOR ANSWERS? (5)
Possible Younger Class Lesson ideas for the Christian Science Quarterly Bible Lesson on

“Ancient and Modern Necromancy, alias Mesmerism and Hypnotism, Denounced”
for Sunday, November 27, 2022

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


PYCL #1: DON’T FORGET THAT PRACTICING C.S. IS SIMPLE (BUT NOT ALWAYS EASY!).

Our Responsive Reading has some verses that remind us of some of the simpler truths of being a good Christian. “…whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap….Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile. Depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” (Gal. 6:7 Ps. 34:13,14)

Sometimes it’s helpful to just remind ourselves that being a Christian Scientist isn’t some “out there” thing. It is following Christ to the best of our ability, and listening to, and striving for obedience to the Scriptures such as the Psalms verses above. Break these verses down and discuss with the youngers what it means to “sow seed” both literally and figuratively.

Have the smallest ones try planting some seeds and talk about what we do to make them grow. Then talk about seeds of thought. How do we make the good grow in our consciousness? How do we weed out the bad? (We can discuss this more with the story of the tares and wheat later in the Bible lesson). How do we “depart from evil”? What are some examples from everyday life of  both “departing from evil” and of “doing good”?
What can we do to “seek peace and pursue it”? Use some examples of friendships or sibling relationships, or parental ones to illustrate how we can seek peace, etc.


PYCL #2: ERROR’s THE ABSENCE OF SOMETHING, NOT a NEGATIVE on a NUMBER LINE.

First you will need to explain animal magnetism. This is easy to bring into the modern age when you point out that it was discredited in Mary Baker Eddy’s day, and she acknowledged this, but today’s version of “animal magnetism” is anything false or ugly that would draw us in, or tempt us to think about, entertain or participate in.

Another interesting idea is to consider with older children, that the original claims of animal magnetism are pretty well described by our current understanding of brain chemicals that appear to regulate our growth, our moods, our health, and so on. These chemicals are “fluids” that appear to influence our behavior in ways that seem beyond our control. So even though the term is old fashioned, it has very current implications!

Once you have a working understanding of animal magnetism, show the children who are younger, a number line starting at zero. Then show them how it can go below zero with negative numbers. (Older children will know this already). Then look together at citation S4/102:1. Here we find that she states that “…in Science animal magnetism, mesmerism, or hypnotism is a mere negation…”. A negation, not a “negative”. It has no entity.
Another citation to look at is: “It is nothing, because it is the absence of something.” (cit. S14/186:11-22). Bring in flashlights and explain that when you turn them on the darkness disappears, it doesn’t run and hide somewhere. It has no power to resist the light! We don’t have “dark lights” or whatever you would call them, because darkness is the absence of light, not a thing of itself.


PYCL #3: TELL THE PARABLE OF THE TARES AND WHEAT.

Explain what a parable is. Then tell this one, or read from our Bible lesson or from a more contemporary translation. We adults think nothing of “thee, thou, plantest”, and so on, but for younger children this is not only difficult to read, but also to process. Explain to the youngers that this story is not about planting and harvesting, but about watching thought, our “field” of thought.
It is always easier if we don’t allow those sneaky “tare” thoughts in, in the first place, but if we do, as often happens, we can learn from this story, just how to respond! It teaches us that there is no true “mixing” of good and evil.
(You can use examples of unexpected mixing, such as opening a small bag of candies, or serving a cupful of 100% pure apple juice, and talk about how there can only be those things in the bottle/bag…we wouldn’t expect! Would we be surprised if a chicken nugget dropped out of an unopened brand new bag of skittles? How about cherry juice pouring out of the apple juice bottle?) These plants grew side by side, but one plant never “became” another! In the same way, no matter what we seem to be tempted to do, we are always the likeness of Good. We might appear differently for a time, but as we “mature”, become aware of our purity, we will see that we are always and only ever that “wheat”. Until we are clear on this fact, we should be wary of “ripping out the weeds” in our experience. Better to wait until it is a true demonstration of, recognition of, our pure selfhood.

The next part in this lesson is to understand how we can “be a law unto [our]selves…” (cit. S16/442:30). What does this mean? What is a “law”? You can talk to the little ones about the laws that govern our roads or towns, as an example. These are laws that are imposed on us by either the city, state, or country, (and that we have mostly agreed on as a society). But what is a “law unto yourself”?

And finally, I want to think about the question Mary Baker Eddy poses in citation S15/130:26-32 about whether we might be more astounded at the claims of evil rather than the claims of good. Ask the older students, about why we might be doubtful? What makes us think that evil is a power? If they are old enough to contemplate recent acts of violence in the news, you can ask the question: “why don’t we have a lot more of this” as easy as it would be to do?
Why do we mostly say hi to strangers or at least smile at them, as we pass? Why do most people behave with warmth when we are seeing them in person, often even on the road. While the examples that are challenging might seem more prominent, they are actually the exception to the rule, not the rule! Have we considered the overwhelming evidence that good is the rule? Our human, mortal minds, like the stimulus of the angry, aggressive, rude, outraged expressions, but the actuality is that most of us are polite, kind, warm, loving. It’s something to ponder!


PYCL #4: DON’T BE FOOLED TO THINK THERE’S SOME BIG MYSTERY ABOUT HEALING.

In Section 5 we have a story not often in the Bible lesson (citation B15/Acts 8:5-13).  Retell or read it together. Also read citation S24/145:20 about the lack of mystery in Christian healing. In the story from Acts we have Philip coming into town and healing people. This causes many to follow him in amazement. There is a man who has been there awhile before Philip who was apparently calling himself a sorcerer. He was telling everyone that he was powerful. What is the difference here?

Philip never told anyone he was powerful, he just did great healing work. His power was evident in his good works. This might be a good way to test power. Is good happening? In contrast, Simon gave “…out that himself was some great one…”. Yet one of the beautiful things about this story is that Simon saw Philip’s works and dropped his “sorcery” to follow Philip! I love that transformation.

Other methods of healing and often other religions, can seem shrouded in an exclusive air of mystery. Even in Jesus’ day, there were rituals about cleansing and purification, where you could go in the temple, who could go there, and so on. But healing as Jesus did it was open and based on universal principles of Love that are equally inclusive of and available to all. As we come to know God more clearly as Love, we start to feel the mystery fall away. It is error that seems complicated, or would want us to think that complication is necessary!


PYCL #5: WHERE ARE WE LOOKING FOR ANSWERS?

Another fun story to introduce to the children is found in citation B8/Daniel 2:1-5,10, 12, 16-19,22, 47. This is one that has familiar characters, Daniel and his Hebrew companions, as well as King Nebuchadnezzar. The king’s name alone was enough to entertain my class when we were very small. Help them see exactly what the king was asking for in this story.

The king was  was not simply asking to know the interpretation of his dream, but was also asking to know what the dream was! He couldn’t remember it and wanted these counselors to tell him what it was and what it meant! And if they couldn’t tell him in a certain period of time he was going to kill them all. Talk about a crazy request! But, Daniel knew who to look to for all answers, even to this king’s request.

Here are some questions we can ask of older children about this story.
What are we “seeking after”/looking for”?
“Who do we look to for answers?”
This “who” can also be a “what”.
Are we easily influenced by whatever contemporary popular answers are being shared about?
Do we run to friends or the internet for answers to health questions?
Can we take a few minutes to turn to Love to ask important questions about what to do/say?
I think we can be pleasantly surprised that our stillness and listening can yield some really good direction from Divine Consciousness!

Have a happy week in Sunday School as always!!

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