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[PSST: Claim immortality and act upon this fact of your being now! (1)]
Possible Sunday School Topics for the Christian Science Bible Lesson

for Sunday, November 8, 2017 on
“Mortals and Immortals”

by Aubrey McMullin, C.S., Godfrey, Illinois
(618) 578-9407 aubrey.mcmullin3@gmail.com

Thanks for your time in considering this week's Bible Lesson and being prepared to support your local Sunday School, as a teacher, superintendent, parent, church member, friend!

PSST Golden Text (GT) and Responsive Reading (RR): What kingdom are we inheriting from our Father?

The RR starts with the 1 John chapter 3 verses which are read every Sunday in Christian Science churches as a correlative scripture to “the scientific statement of being” (468). What is the importance of these passages?

In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy Eddy employed the concept of correlatives this way: "The statement that Truth is real necessarily includes the correlated statement, that error, Truth's unlikeness, is unreal" (p. 287-288). She stated the fact and then showed what we would naturally reason and conclude from that fact. What is the correlation that you see between "the scientific statement of being" and the passage in First John? The “scientific statement of being” states outright the absolute truth of being—that God is Spirit, and that each of us as His child is His spiritual image and likeness. The Scriptural passage from First John applies this truth in practical terms. While showing the immediacy of scientific truth, these correlative verses in First John instill hope in us that we will be able to accept the allness of Spirit, even if bit by bit. We feel encouraged that when we see God as He is, we will see ourselves in His likeness. And the passage concludes by saying that the very hope we feel in this regard will purify us until we finish the course. So, the way I understand the correlation between these two passages is that, "the scientific statement of being" states the purely spiritual facts, and the correlative verses in First John encourage and enable us to accept and live these spiritual truths about ourselves.

Since these passages are correlated and the passages from 1 John are in the RR this week, what can we determine about our likeness and our identity before even diving into the full lesson on mortals and immortals? What can we infer about our being? What kind of foundation for this lesson has been set for us?

PSST Section 1: How does Christian Science reveal immortality?

Each citation from the Bible in this first section declares God as the only creator. As we see this section identify man’s immortality, how do we identify our immortality daily? Do the surrounding material conditions alter the individuality and perfection of an original idea? How do these Biblical citations back up the fact that we were created immortal and remain immortal now and always?

Once immortality is revealed to us, how can we claim it and move forward with this fact of our being? Mary Baker Eddy provides us with many statements of our being and our immortality in her textbook, several of which are in this lesson and specifically in this section. How do we claim these statements as truths about our being? How can we demonstrate these statements as facts of our being? (SH2, SH3, SH4, SH5)

What do we understand about the “SCIENTIFIC TRANSLATION OF IMMORTAL MIND?” What does this translation tell us about God, Man, and Idea? How do we hold forever in consciousness, that man is, not shall be, perfect and immortal?

PSST Section 2: How is man’s true identity untouched by mortality?

The Prodigal Son parable is a well-known one that clearly speaks of God's saving love. To set the scene for this parable, imagine Jesus in a teaching setting with religious authorities and other skeptics lurking in the background. Jesus’ critics were muttering to themselves because Jesus was spending so much time with “sinners,” even going so far as to share meals with them. Suddenly Jesus started telling different parables, but with a running theme of things being lost. First he told of a shepherd with 100 sheep in his care, having lost one. Then he told of a woman who owned only 10 coins, one of which is lost. He used both of these stories to illustrate the celebration that occurs when someone genuinely asks for forgiveness: “ I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance” (Luke 15:7). Then, he launched into the story about the prodigal son.

What does prodigal actually mean? Does it mean “runaway” or “returning” like many have taught it to mean for so many years? The actual definition of prodigal is (n.) “one that expends money extravagantly or without necessity; one that is profuse or lavish; a waster; a spendthrift” (Webster’s 1828 Dictionary). This is a story of God’s love for His children, and it is also a story of true recognition of home and family. What habits are you holding on to that are helping your recognition of home, and what habits aren't helping? B6

Jesus taught by using similitudes and parables; how can we do the same? SH6

What does the “SCIENTIFIC TRANSLATION OF MORTAL MIND: first degree” have to do with this particular part of this parable? Why are we told the beginning of this parable, where the son chose to leave home and “adventure” out into the currents of mortal mind, and then given a correlative quote from Science and Health that outlines the first degree of thought? How are we moving out of this first degree kind of thinking that we are approached by every day?

PSST Section 3: How do we turn away from the mortal model of life?

As we continue with the Prodigal Son parable in this section, we read that the son realizes that his father’s servants were doing much better than he was at this point. He made up his mind to swallow his pride and go home – no longer as a son, but as one of his father’s hired men. He even practiced the speech he would give to convince his father to take him back. Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve felt the need to ask for forgiveness like this and hope that they accept you even though you’ve made mistakes? Have you ever been in the prodigal son’s position in this scenario? What about the father’s? Or the older brother’s?

How do we “emerge from this notion of material life as all-in-all… and look outward and upward?” SH13, 552:16-19.

How is the “SCIENTIFIC TRANSLATION OF MORTAL MIND: Second degree” demonstrated in this particular part of this parable? What is the correlation between this part of the story of the prodigal son and second degree thinking?

“What is the model before mortal mind? Is it imperfection, joy, sorrow, sin, suffering? Have you accepted the mortal model? Are you reproducing it?” SH17, 248:15-18 What model are you reproducing? Is it one of first, or second degree thinking? What about behavior? What does it mean to “gravitate Godward?” SH18, 265: 3-15 Does it have something to do with emerging from the first degree and into the second? What can we expect for a higher degree than the second?

PSST Section 4: How can we act on knowing that immortality is intact?

As we continue with the Prodigal Son parable even still, we are given the one line that the son returned to his father. What kind of courage would that take? Do you think he worried about how his father might react? Do you think he thought about his brother? Would you? This seems to be a section dedicated to the conscious decision to choose God, Father-Motherhood, above any other sense of direction. In Christian Science we learn that progress is normal and inevitable. Man is spiritual and eternally progressive. This doesn’t mean that man goes through any process or change from his original perfection, but that in order to truly rid oneself of human shackles (SH20, 256:1-5) one must awaken to his real selfhood. Why does this awakening— this laying aside of shackles—seem to be such a struggle? Why is it put off? Why is it resisted? Is it because the effect of these self-imposed bonds is considered the natural state of human experience?

Truly, our enslavement to such characteristics as pride, selfishness, hate, envy, self-will, and fear is the only bond that shackles us. What practical and liberating Christ-like qualities can permanently remove these enemies of progress? Perhaps purity, affection, meekness, faith, honesty, and love? The first step is to accept the fact that true progress is spiritual, and then honestly to desire this progress. Isn’t this what the prodigal son did when he decided to return to his father, even though it didn’t seem that his human situation was ideal anyway? Do circumstances make a difference in recognizing the power it takes and the power we obtain by turning to God? We must become willing to let go of our flimsy concepts of God and man and turn unreservedly to Principle, letting divine Science interpret the creator and His creation. “In proportion as the belief disappears that life and intelligence are in or of matter…” SH22, 279: 16-19

PSST Section 5: How does spiritual understanding reveal immortality?

As we wrap up the Prodigal Son parable, we read that the father looked up and saw the son “while he was still a long way off.” Was he keeping an eye down the road, watching and waiting and hoping, expecting his son to return? Filled with compassion, the father ran to meet his son. How often have you run to meet someone you knew might not feel worthy of your love? How often is it tempting to think, “they should be the one apologizing to me” or “they should be the one coming to me about this” rather than simply loving them? When the father got to his son, he threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son started his speech but didn’t even get a chance to finish it. The father sent for a robe, ring, and sandals, fitting his son with all the entitlements of a valued member of his family. A feast was even planned to celebrate his return.

Now, in this week’s lesson, the celebration is where the story comes to an end, but we all know that Jesus didn’t end the story with the celebration. He told of the older brother who felt betrayed and undervalued by his father’s reaction to his brother returning after being so wasteful and unkind in his actions. The father reasoned with his older son, but the big brother had a chip on his shoulder. The father tried reasoning with his older son gently, assuring him that he was always with him and everything that he had was his son’s as well. He also pointed out though, that the older son was missing the point. The celebration was not in reward for what the younger son had done while away, but because “he was lost and is found.” Jesus knew that many of the Pharisees and experts in the law that were there while he was telling this parable would relate to the feelings of the older brother. It’s not too hard to see the justification for celebrating when lost property is found, such as a sheep or a coin like in the other parables that Jesus told before this one. Such occasions are always good reasons to throw a big party! But when people are involved, for some reason we have an inner desire to see them “get what they’ve got coming.” God, represented by the father in Jesus’ parable, frequently has a different outlook on people. He celebrates the recovery of any “lost” person. When we are the prodigals, we tend to grasp for his mercy and hold on tight. When we see others receive God’s mercy and forgiveness, however, we may not be so quick to understand.

What a lesson on love simply loving and not needing a reason to do so! And what a wonderful illustration to show what our divine rights are and what kind of kingdom we are inheriting from our Father-Mother – a kingdom of love. What are your divine rights? How does your Father run to meet you daily? What moments have you had (as the prodigal, the father, or the older brother) that have shown you the importance of unconditional love – a love that knows no condition?

[Note how in the 23rd Psalm (B20) such unconditional love of our Shepherding Father forever keeps us from wanting as long as we "dwell in the house (consciousness) of Love forever". Make a fresh take your own by claiming affirmations as posted in the upper right of CedarS online Met and PSSTs..]

How is this part of the Prodigal Son parable an example of “third degree” thinking? SH25) How is it a clear demonstration of pure understanding? How do we “depart from material sense into the spiritual sense of being”? SH27, 41:6 How does understanding your oneness with God help you see others as being one with God too?

PSST Section 6: When do we become God’s immortal ideas?

We have ALWAYS been God’s immortal ideas! What does it mean to be between God’s shoulders? (B21, Deuteronomy 33:12) To me, it speaks of our unbreakable and secure oneness with God. Security that comes from God is not hazardous, but promotes freedom. No evil lurks in God’s presence. God, who is Love itself, loves each of us.

How are we “immortal evidence that Spirit is harmonious and eternal?” SH31, 29:30-32

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