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[PSST: Heed wake-up calls to healing—Be alert w/ gratitude—Strip off disguises!]
Metaphysical Application Ideas for the Christian Science Bible Lesson on

“Are Sin, Disease, and Death Real?”
for October 14, 2018

by Kerry Jenkins, CS of House Springs, MO (314) 406-0041

Pycl #1: Dreams (and nightmares) are great symbols to work with this week in Sunday School. Most children can easily relate to this idea. While dreaming, we often feel like what is happening is very real. Occasionally we find that we are kind of aware that we are dreaming, and even try to change things as we go along. Most often, however, we find we are just plain freed from the grip of a dream or nightmare by waking up!

How is this waking up like having a healing? What are we waking up to? In recent weeks we have been talking about reality and unreality—isn't this week's lesson with its call to wake up, telling us to wake up to spiritual reality? Isn't it telling us to not accept at face value all that we see? Certainly we can look at each of the Bible stories with this theme in mind.

How was Jesus waking the man from the dream of seeing himself as a sinner in the story of the palsied man? (B15) How about how Jesus awakened the man by the Pool of Bethesda from his nightmare of 38 years? (B17) And, finally, how did he awaken Lazarus from the dream of death in citation B21? If your class is of reading age, you could assign one or more students each of these stories to read and then have them share how the people were awakened, what they were awakened by, what was their dream, beyond just sin, disease or death? For example, the man by the pool might be said to have been experiencing the belief that he was dependent on others to help him for his health, that there was some material cure but it was unavailable to him, or that he was a victim of circumstances, rather than a beloved child of God, given dominion over matter.

All of these dreams are things that we can address with the awakened consciousness of man's God-given dominion. Doesn't the fact that we can experience healing, and that others have healed and experienced healing, show to us that sickness, sin, accident, death, must actually be dreams? Otherwise, where did those things "go" when we were healed? Like a dream from which we awaken, we realize that it was nothing, substance-less. We may be left with a silly story or memory, but we know it never was true!

Pycl #2: Speaking of dominion, I love that the passage from Genesis 2 (B11) was included in this week's lesson as it is illustrative of the fact that the belief of life in matter springs, in part from sleep. This is in contrast to the first section where we are told that everything God made was "very good". This statement is followed by the injunction to praise God for this goodness. How does praising God for goodness, for His "wonderful works" help us to wake up or to stay "awake" to this very good? If we are feeling the gratitude that naturally comes with praise, we are naturally more alert to seeing the true, spiritual goodness around us. Being alert is another kind of being awake. We could talk about this in Sunday School.

When we are driving, we are (hopefully) not sleeping. But one could be driving and not be fully alert. Just so, we can be going through our day "awake", but not alert to the suggestions of sin, sickness and death, and what and how they are represented to our human sense. What does it mean to be alert? What can we avoid when we are driving if we are alert and not just on "autopilot"? Sometimes it means we are aware when someone else is driving through a red light and we notice and stop in time, or when switching lanes we are led to check our mirrors a second time to catch someone approaching at a quicker pace. How is this similar to our day-to-day lives for those in our classes…since they aren't yet driving!

Can we be alert to suggestions that gossiping might be "fun"? Or that something might be contagious? Maybe we need to be alert to the false suggestion that we can feel unhappy, knowing that these thoughts are not from God.

Pycl #3: There might be something we can work with in citation S4. The idea that darkness is "…only the mortal sense of the absence of light…" in conjunction with "So sin and sorrow, disease and death, are the suppositional absence of Life, God, and flee as phantoms of error before truth and love." Absence here is the operative word. What does absence mean? Can God be absent? Do you have a small room with no windows somewhere in your church, like a utility closet, perhaps a bathroom that you can borrow for a small demonstration? If you all gather in such a space and turn off the light, then turn it on, you can experience the fact that darkness is really the "absence of light". (In other words, it isn't something that enters the room and overcomes light.) We know it isn't a substantial "thing," because with the light on, the darkness is gone, vanished. It doesn't "go" somewhere else, it disappears—much like the dream disappears when we awake.

We know that God is everywhere, that God is Good. This goes back to our Responsive Reading where it tells us "Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off? Can anyone hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord." The "God afar off" part sounds more to me like it is referring to how we feel when we are struggling with something like sin or sickness. The entire statement reaffirms that God is always at hand, never hidden from His creation. So, darkness/disease/fear/sadness, etc. is like this sense that God could be "gone" or "absent," when, in fact, that is not possible! So it is our "dream sense" that must be telling us this. Notice that following this part of the passage the author talks about false prophets, people who have encouraged others to "forget" God.

In what ways are we sometimes encouraged to do forget God? What about just what we see around us, what well-meaning friends or family tell us? Are these things that encourage us to think that God could ever be absent? How can we counteract the suggestion that God is absent, that darkness is substantial? What about using gratitude? Healing?

Pycl #4: October in the U.S isn't such a bad time to talk about disguises. Some of the children may already be thinking about Halloween. Check out citation S1. What is the disguise in this passage that "…God strips off…"?

Think about an activity that involves wearing some kind of disguise, even if it's something silly like fake mustaches or hats and such. The children may get a laugh out of it while also getting the picture that sickness is only a disguise that seems real. Can you share a healing that proves this true? It can be one of sickness, or maybe one that involves a person that you had trouble getting along with at one time, until you saw that your view of them was more like a "disguise" rather than who they truly were.

Pycl #5: I think citation B6 is telling us that mortal life is a dream/nightmare that scares us. What does it say in this section to address this? Don't we need to recognize who we really are as the lovely, 1st Genesis creation? Maybe this belongs with Pycl #4, but at any rate I like the way it speaks of the dream, and the fear it often inspires.

Pycl #6: The man with palsy in the third section is told by Jesus that he should be happy, that his sins are forgiven. I wonder if this man was especially a "sinner", or if Jesus was merely helping him, and others, see that the imprisoning belief that God made man subject to matter, was really a sinful belief—a belief that entirely "misses the mark" about man as God's reflection.

This is the "dream man vs. the real, harmonious, "very good" man. Mary Baker Eddy asks a powerful question in citation S11 about whether God could possibly create His opposite and then give it the ability to do and experience that which God does not do or experience. If man is reflection (“image and likeness” from Genesis 1), how can he do the opposite of God who he as man reflects? You can use a mirror to illustrate this fact!

Have a great week in Sunday School!

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