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[PSST: Leave the Old for the New through Baptism and Sit at the Feet of Christ]
Possible Sunday School Topics for the Christian Science Bible Lesson – January 13, 2012
By: Heather K. Libbe, CS (heather.libbe@gmail.com; 419-343-7870)
Subject – SACRAMENT  

Happy New Year!
Hope it’s been a great year already, “leaving the old for the new” and “leaving all for Christ!” What wonderful blessings doing so brings, especially as we are obedient to God and follow Christ in all our ways.

Here are some thoughts and questions relating to this week’s Christian Science Bible Lesson. Wishing you a wonderfully fruitful time with your students! 

PSST: Golden Text (II Corinthians 13:14 (to 1st .))
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all.”

As you know, the Christian Trinity consists of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Interestingly enough, this Golden Text includes all three pieces. If students have had questions about talking with their friends about religion, the Trinity might be a great discussion topic for this week!

Mrs. Eddy mentions the Trinity, as part of the platform, Science & Health pg 331: “Life, Truth, and Love constitute the triune Person called God, — that is, the triply divine Principle, Love. They represent a trinity in unity, three in one, — the same in essence, though multi‐form in office: God the Father-Mother; Christ the spiritual idea of sonship; divine Science or the Holy Comforter. These three express in divine Science the threefold, essential nature of the infinite. They also indicate the divine Principle of scientific being, the intelligent relation of God to man and the universe.”

It may also be helpful to look at the Tenets, which are a great talking point when sharing with others!

PSST:  Responsive Reading (Micah 6:6-8; Jeremiah 7:21 (to ;), 22 I spake, 23)
Especially in reading books such as Leviticus, it’s interesting to see how much emphasis was placed on sacrifices in the Old Testament. But what a powerful alternative these passages give! It may be interesting to ask the students what type of sacrifices do they feel they have to make for God? What does it mean to “do justly,” “love mercy” and “walk humbly with thy God?” Isn’t this pretty simple directions?!? Are these things always easy to do? What might this look like in day-to-day experience? What is asked of us from the final citation from Jeremiah? How do we know what God sounds like? Do we make it a point to be obedient to God’s direction? (A practitioner recently shared with me that the best way we can express gratitude for clear angel messages is through obedience)

PSST: Section 1
Recently, I attended a Winter Weekend at one of the camps for Christian Scientist. The metaphysical theme was from Exodus 23:20: “Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared.” It was really neat to have the opportunity to exchange some ideas with other participants about angels specifically. I’ve always enjoyed thinking about how we have a legion of angels around us constantly, comforting, guarding and guiding. (Hymn #9) These angels are both Michael angels and Gabriel angels, speaking to us in the exact way that we need to hear!

One specific idea that was shared about this passage was that angels not only guide us to where we need to be, but also prepare that place for us. Similarly, I loved seeing the promise that a messenger will be sent to “prepare the way” in the citation from Malachi. (B1) What might this preparation look like?

Then, we get to study the idea of baptism in the story of Jesus being baptized by John the Baptist in Matthew. (B2) How does Mrs. Eddy define baptism? (S1) Again, in thinking about how one might talk with his friends about Christian Science, what are some differences between this spiritual sense of baptism and the ritual of baptism found in other Christian traditions? (Another helpful reference from Science & Health concerning baptism is found in her chapter called “Atonement & Eucharist” – “Our baptism is a purification from all error” (pg 35))

It is interesting to note that citizens of some countries are required to provide proof of baptism in order to "participate in certain public activities, such as voting and school attendance." Because some of the "important and specific meaning" that baptism has within the teachings of Christian Science, The Mother Church has created a statement of baptism explaining our daily practice of baptism. (To me, reading through this explanation really helped me better understand baptism) Going back to the Lesson, what might it look like be baptized with divine Science? (S2) Also, how do repentance, spiritual baptism and regeneration go hand-in-hand? (S3)

One of my favorite ideas from Science & Health was included in this section, namely “Willingness to become as a little child and to leave the old for the new, renders thought receptive of the advanced idea. Gladness to leave the false landmarks and joy to see them disappear, — this disposition helps to precipitate the ultimate harmony.” (S5) I just love the idea of childlikeness and how much healing it can bring! What does it look like to have the willingness of a little child? How does this bless us? (A practitioner once pointed out to me that it’s the willingness to leave the old for the new that helps us advance – sometimes we don’t even have to end up doing so if the old is a right idea) How do we work to leave the old for the new, especially when the old is so comfortable and familiar and we don’t know what the future will hold? How does a departure from “false landmarks” bring about harmony? How can we better pray about change and uncertainty and support others doing so? How does this connect to the idea of being childlike such as Jesus instructs in Matthew 18? Have you had any demonstrations where a sense of childlike trust, joy and receptivity has brought about healing?

Finally, the following question came to thought in thinking about the voice from heaven that said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (S2) – why can’t we hear this same message – that we are the beloved child of God – during our daily baptism?

PSST: Section 2
In diving a bit deeper into the story of Mary and Martha, what might it look like to sit at the feet of Jesus? (There’s a great December 19, 2011 Sentinel article, written by Mark Swinney, CSB, called Let's Have a Mary Christmas that gets at this question) What was the difference between Mary and Martha’s approach and which did the Christ commend? (It might be interesting to bring in the article called “Improve Your Time” from Miscellaneous Writings) What is the lesson here? What really was needed?

I’ve also enjoyed thinking about the word “duty” this week and what our duties are as Christian Scientists. (After all, Mrs. Eddy says, “Whatever it is your duty to do you can do without harm to yourself” (pg 385) The specific passage from Ecclesiastes that is included in the Lesson (B7) is one that Mrs. Eddy mentions in Science & Health. (S10) How does Mrs. Eddy interpret this passage? How might the concept of loving God and keeping His commandments (S10) tie into the idea of leaving all for Christ? (S9) What might this look like? How does this connect with the first commandment and the understanding that we are not a pendulum? (S8)

PSST:  Section 3
With the story of the Last Supper, what elements of this do we see in the traditional practices of communion? (communion taking the form of bread & wine served during services) What does Mrs. Eddy say about these practices? (S11) How does Mrs. Eddy connect the Passover with events in the Old Testament? What is the connection? What does bread symbolize? What does Mrs. Eddy say “our” bread is? (S12) How about the other elements of the Eucharist? What are some elements within other traditions that related to communion and the Eucharist? (It could be a neat exercise to have each student research a specific Christian Sect to see what they consider to be the Eucharist)

PSST:  Section 4
Besides the failure of the disciples to say awake, what went on in the garden of Gethsemane? (There’s a really great April 1945 Journal article by Lucy Hays Reynolds the called The Way of Gethsemane, which might be a good one to dive into with your students; it has definitely brought sparked a lot of healing and transformation for me) Why was it significant that Jesus had this Gethsemane experience right before he was crucified? What does it mean so watch and pray? Do your students think it would’ve been possible to stay awake with Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane? Can they recall any Gethsemane experiences that they’ve had?

How does Mrs. Eddy shed light on this story? (S16) What resulted because there was “no response to that human yearning” in the garden of Gethsemane? What does it mean to drink of Christ’s cup? (S18) What could that look like in today’s world? What might we encounter, according to Mrs. Eddy, if we drink of Christ’s cup? (S19) However, what reassurance does she give us? (God’s with us in doing so)

PSST:  Section 5
Oh, what it must’ve been like to see Jesus risen from the dead! What an extraordinary demonstration of the power of prayer and the effectiveness of Christian Science!

With the Bible story from John, what were the disciples facing? (John Kohler, CS of Brattleboro, VT painted an incredible tribute to John 21:6 in 1991 that really captures the abundance of fish the disciples caught in casting their nets on the right side – see attached; perhaps this may spark some creativity in students when they are reading the Bible Lesson) How can we relate the disciples’ experience to what we might be experiencing today? How could we “translate things into thoughts” with the idea of casting our nets on the right side? Has anyone been involved in a situation where they cast their net on the right side and experienced a lot of fruitage?

After they had caught all their fish, how do you think they knew it was Jesus? Imagine what an incredible experience that breakfast must’ve been! And, how sweet of Jesus to have it waiting for his disciples when they returned! What were the other two times that Jesus “shewed himself” to his disciples? (B14)

How did “his last spiritual breakfast with his disciples in the bright morning hours at the joyful meeting on the shore of the Galilean Sea” change his disciples? (S21) How might this type of occasion change you? What is it is that Mrs. Eddy says we, as Christian Scientists “commemorate?” How might we see this within our experience today?

On a separate note, I have a friend who has right at several of his doorways that say, “Go and do likewise.” This could be a really neat idea to expand upon with your Sunday school classes.

PSST:  Section 6 
What is the significance of AEneas’ healing? (B17) What did Peter say to AEneas that brought about his instantaneous healing? Do you feel like you are able to heal as Jesus and his disciples did? How might the citation from II Corinthians be a benediction for the work that we do? (B19) It’s interesting to note that in the past couple lessons, there has been an emphasis on Jesus’ understanding that he could “of his own self do nothing” (John 5:30), confident in his ability to going about our work.

How do we follow Jesus’ example? (You might want to check out TMCYouth’s Radical Acts for some ideas) Is this practical? What ways have you seen others following Jesus’ example? How might we lay our earthly all on the altar and leave all for Christ?  (S27) Might this be this doing justly, loving mercy and walking humbly with God? 

Hope you have a great class this week!

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