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]PSST: Be Always safe in, and defined by, God's love!]

Possible Sunday School Topics for the Christian Science Bible Lesson
"Man"
prepared by John Biggs, CS
Thank you for your support of Christian Science Sunday Schools worldwide! Whether you are a teacher, superintendent, parent, student, church member…your care for Sunday School is needed, and felt.
What is the child of God's creating? What is the student, the athlete, the intern, the professional, the parent, the veteran, the teacher, of God's creating? Are we defined by the vagaries of materiality and mortal sense testimony? Or are we safe in God, defined by His love, and capable of – and required to – treat ourselves and others like this was true? Let's see!
P.S.S.T. Golden Text – It can be tough to recognize that we are not self-made, but God-made. Why is that tough? Why do people so badly want to be the source of all the good in their lives? What is better – or is it better – to have and honor God as the true Source of all reality? The idea of being a sheep and God is Shepherd is a classic one throughout the Bible and reiterated often in Mary Baker Eddy's writings. What are some key things about that relationship that can shed light on our relation with God?
P.S.S.T. Responsive Reading – Do all angels only appear in a vision like this? Have you ever felt the presence of an angel? What message did you hear? Why is it so important to know that we are safe and protected in God's care? Why would that knowledge help you make decisions and assess your status? Have you ever felt just completely at a loss, and then felt that strengthening and reassuring sense of safety?
P.S.S.T. Section 1 – Bible citation B4 urges us to 'try' or test the 'spirits' that come. What does this mean? How do you 'test' the thoughts that come? Is there a way to know whether a thought is good and true, or a false concept, before we get too involved with that thought? What are the hallmarks of a true thought? If you've already accepted a lie and now want to be free of it, is that possible? Is each moment an opportunity to 'try the spirits'? What might a prayer look like, for better discernment of thoughts? Why would the correct discernment of thoughts be an important practice when considering the strength, status and safety of us all?
P.S.S.T. Section 2 – Bible citation B7 is a very familiar story, Daniel in the lion's den. Children often really enjoy this story, and when they are older sometimes (as with many familiar stories) it ceases to hold as much fascination. Let's really take a look at some foundational ideas here, so that whatever grade you teach or support, we can find some freshness. How might this story relate to your life today? What might the different characters be symbolic of? Who might be the king, the scheming princes, the lions in your life? How could Daniel be so sure of his safety? He specifically mentions his innocence: what role would innocence play in safety? What is innocence, exactly? Can it be lost? Innocence is often associated with the sheep symbol; what can we learn about innocence from the sheep / shepherd relationship?
P.S.S.T. Section 3 – The story of Ruth in Bible citations B11 and B12 is another familiar story. Preceded by the verse in citation B10, it seems clear that we are especially considering the relational aspect of man here. After all, it would be hard to do good if we only thought about ourselves. What are some key aspects of Ruth's character that would serve well as ideals and landmarks for us today? What were some key habits of thought that allowed others to successfully engage with her as well? Would the story of Ruth be possible without the community surrounding her? What are some crucial aspects of good, true community? How can you play a part in being a humble, effective community member? How can you be brave like Ruth, humble like Ruth, straightforward like Ruth? What are some other qualities you notice and admire about her?
P.S.S.T. Section 4 – In Bible citation B15, is there anything…well, odd you notice? Why would Jesus call someone over who can't see? Isn't that insensitive at best, and cruel at worst? And how about asking Bartimaeus what he wants? Wouldn't that be obvious? What could be some reasons behind this behavior? We know for certain that Jesus was neither insensitive, cruel, nor unaware. So what was he doing with these actions? Was it perhaps a part of the healing, to treat Bartimaeus as fully capable? Think of how Jesus treated others he healed: he asked a man who couldn't walk, to rise; a man with a withered hand to stretch out his hand…and here, a man who couldn't see, to 'come here.' And then, to be clear about what he wants. Bartimaeus probably didn't have a supremely happy life, but he may have been living a secure life – he could probably count on daily donations to keep him supplied. But those donations depended on him being blind. To ask to see, was also to ask to leave a life of material familiarity behind, and to boldly receive the truth of being that Jesus offered through his ministry. Spirit and the acceptance of our innate spirituality does not always mean material safety – think of Daniel in the lion's den from section 2, or the 23rd Psalm, "though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…" – yet, God's love and safety and definition of us all as spiritual and governed by Spirit is what truly keeps us safe, whole and free. Are we willing to let go of the ways we may be used to defining ourselves and others?
P.S.S.T. Section 5 – Don't waste your time. Be straightforward, be brave, be clear, be humble. These are the thematic 'in a nutshell' ideas I get from the Bible citations in this section. Bible citation B16 may be especially familiar to athletes. What is this idea of 'wait'? Are we being asked to sit around, tapping our toes, waiting for God to finally do something? Or we being asked to 'wait' as a waiter at a restaurant serves: constantly aware, putting those you serve ahead of yourself, watching for those you serve? And the Hebrew word here translated as 'wait,' qavah, includes a connotation of being collected or bound together – to bind or braid together. So waiting, then, is actively being conscious of your essential unity with God. Being aware of this unity, focused on serving Him, we then can truly run, truly fight, truly find mastery, as Paul describes in citation B16 – this allows us to follow what Mrs. Eddy describes in Science and Health citation S26.
Is all this worth it? What is the cost involved with waiting on God? Why might you not want to do this? What might try to prevent you from waiting on God? How can you persist when the waiting, the running, seems hard? Is it all about you, or can you get strength and safety in this waiting, from God, without already knowing everything? And is there a role that community can play in this, as well?
P.S.S.T. Section 6 – How do we really know each other? I often think about the difference between knowing about someone, and knowing someone. When you know about someone, what you know is essentially gossip: their physical stats, perhaps some things you have heard about their character from second or third hand sources. When you know someone, though, you know the substance of their character. You wouldn't think of them in terms of height and hair color and profession; you think of their qualities and of memories you have with them.
Bible citation B19 is urging us all to truly know each other, not just know about each other. By extension, it is fair to say we are encouraged to know ourselves, and to know God…not just know about ourselves and God. How can we do this? How can we break out of the gossip nature of knowing about people? How can we truly know others and ourselves – and therefore treat ourselves and others appropriately? Speaking of which, how WOULD you treat others if you really knew them? If we were all living in the kingdom of heaven (which citation B20 certainly intimates) then how would we treat each other?
Thanks again for your consideration, care and prayer for Sunday School!
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