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[PSST: Occupy your Promised Land! Leave deterioration, immobility, ugliness, unkindness. (PSST RR, 1)]
Possible Sunday School Topics for the Christian Science Bible Lesson

for Sunday, March 12, 2017 on

“Substance”

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

PSST Subject – What is substance? What is Substance? What is the difference between the two … Is there a difference? Have a discussion with your students about what they think substance and Substance are and where true substance comes from. It seems that young adults are often faced today with substance typically relating to physical matter, perhaps in the form of “substance abuse” with drugs or alcohol but perhaps also when someone is referred to as a “person of substance.” In Christian Science, substance is entirely spiritual! How can this spiritual substance assist young adults today in understanding what true substance is and realizing the effective way that this understanding heals when one is faced with these other suggestions of substance?

PSST Golden Text & Responsive ReadingIs goodness merely a personal possession or is it an attribute of God? How do we witness and experience that God’s goodness “endureth continually” (or is forever and persistently in existence)? Have any of your students ever experienced witnessing God’s goodness when they didn’t expect it or maybe it surprised them? Can they share any stories from the Bible that show them this statement is accurate (maybe Moses, or Joseph, or Ruth, etc.)? How is this eternality of God’s goodness relevant today? What happens as we understand that God’s goodness is universal and eternal? How does this promise of God’s goodness change or unfold our thought about ourselves and others? Is this promise of infinite goodness the Promised Land that is written about in the Responsive Reading? How would your students describe the Promised Land? I recently read the story of Moses to a 7-year-old and we talked about what the Promised Land looked like for Moses and the children of Israel, and then we talked about what his Promised Land would look like today and now if God guided him to it. What would your Promised Land look like? Hopefully it would be a land full of God’s goodness and sufficiency and an infinite offer of peace and love for all! Have your students think about what their Promised Land would look like if they had to describe it to someone.

PSST Section 1 – What does it mean that God’s enduring goodness is the spiritual substance that lasts forever? What does it mean that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1)? It says that faith is substance, so what does that mean? How can something we cannot see be substantial? In this section, we read for the first time in this lesson (but not the only time!) that “Spirit is the only substance” (S1, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures p. 335:12 only). If Spirit, God, is the only substance, then what are the other things that are suggested substances in our lives and how do we correct the view or thought that they are substantial? If substance is God’s enduring goodness, then let’s really think about what we consider to be substantial. Everything that really exists is substantial, but the substance of real objects is spiritual, not material. God, Spirit, is the only real substance, and His creation consists only of ideas that reflect Him! These ideas are spiritual and are therefore substantial. What do your students think about that? Do they know anyone that maybe they question as a substantial individual? How can we see all of God’s children as substantial individuals? Because every one of God’s children reflects Spirit and are therefore spiritual. They are invariably good, healthy, whole, alive, beautiful, law-abiding, harmonious, loving. Because the true substance of things is never material, they do not deteriorate, disintegrate, become diseased, immobile, ugly, or unkind/unthoughtful. Real things and real people are conceptions of eternal Life and Love, so they never die.

PSST Section 2 – This section covers the suggestion that maybe spiritual supply can’t meet every human need, even though there are some times when we can see clearly that spiritual supply has met our need. How do we acknowledge that divine Love really does meet every human need? What do your students think of the story of the woman who Elisha works with and reveals the allness of God’s good supply to? Have they ever been in a situation where it seemed that supply was thin but turning completely to God brought out a spiritual supply that met the need completely? Are we trying to meet our needs with material things instead of gaining spiritual understanding, which provides us with the only true substance? How was Christ Jesus able to feed thousands of people with just five loaves of bread and two fishes? Do we ever find ourselves in situations where our desire is to satisfy our material needs? Have your students ever experienced a need being met spiritually and then never feeling like that need came up again? Have your students ever experienced finding a material solution to a need, but finding later that it was only a temporary solution? Again, we read in the lesson this week that “Spirit… is the only real substance” (S9, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures p. 468:21-22). What does this mean? Mary Baker Eddy wrote in Miscellaneous Writings, that “God gives you His spiritual ideas, and in turn, they give you daily supplies (Mis. 307). What does it mean that God gives us His spiritual ideas? How do they give us daily supplies? Do we gain a deeper sense of closeness and oneness to God as we expect this spiritual supply to be provided daily?

PSST Section 3 – How does God show us that the substance we reflect is always beautiful? Have your students ever struggled with self-image or had friends who thought lowly of themselves? Have they ever encountered unkind treatment of others in school or friend groups? What is the source of real beauty? How do we express this beauty and witness others expressing this real beauty as well? I love that Rick mentioned the reply that Paul Stark Seeley gave when asked how old he was – “That is none of my business.” It has been a favorite reply of mine for many years now, and have often thought to reply in a similar fashion when asked questions like: “how much do you weigh” or “What diet are you on” or “how much exercise do you get” or “what size do you wear.” Substance gives us strength, health, and energy – qualities of God, Spirit, Soul – and these belong to each of us by virtue of our coexistence with the all-encompassing God. What have your students learned about beauty as a quality of Soul, manifested by all of God’s ideas, from the least to the greatest, in their expressions of God’s infinitude? Mrs. Eddy states, “Beauty is a thing of life, which dwells forever in the eternal Mind and reflects the charms of His goodness in expression, form, outline, and color” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures p. 247). Is our identity expressed in a material body? Can anything outside the law of God make any conditions for man? “God is the lawmaker, but He is not the author of barbarous codes” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures p. 381). What have we witnessed this year about substantial beauty? We must have learned something new? Because “each succeeding year unfolds wisdom, beauty, and holiness” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures p. 246:25).

PSST Section 4 – What is our real treasure? There are several hymns that talk about God’s sent treasure that would be wonderful to explore more in Sunday School with your class! What are some treasures that we gain as we learn more about our spiritual substance? As the Bible states in Matthew, “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21). Where is your heart? Can the statement be moved around so that it says, “where your heart is, there will your treasure be also?” Explore where your heart really resides. Is it joyous in material belongings, or is it grateful in spiritual peace and sufficiency? If “man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Luke 12:15), then what does life consist of? Are we “rich toward God” (Luke 12:21)? What does it mean to be “rich toward God”? Why would spiritual “treasure” grow as you share it? What is valuable in our lives today? What about eternally? What is valuable in our lives today that we can say for certain will be valuable in our lives in 30 years? What lasts? What is only temporary? What makes someone rich? What are you investing in? Mrs. Eddy wrote in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, “cherish nothing which hinders our highest selfhood” (p. 68:6). What does this mean? What hinders our highest selfhood? She also says that “man walks in the direction towards which he looks, and where his treasure is, there will his heart be also” (p. 451:14). What does she mean that we will walk in the direction towards which we look? What direction are we looking? Where is our heart? And What are we investing in?

PSST Section 5 & 6 – I found that both sections 5 & 6 really focused on the foundation that healing provides for us, whether that is how substantial healing really is (from section 5) or how the substance of Church is healing (section 6). From the story of Peter and John giving the man all that they had which was spiritual, we can learn that turning away from a sense of materiality and turning to Truth and Love can bring healing out more in our daily lives. Look at the man who turned to Peter and John expecting to receive something from them; even though he probably expected money, his expectation still brought about healing and he didn’t just thank them but instead “leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God” (Acts 3:1-9)! We have no idea how the lame man viewed Church either before or after his healing, but we do know that before being healed he was outside the temple and afterward he entered, leaping and praising God. How are we viewing Church? Do we see it as a healing and welcoming spiritual foundation? Mrs. Eddy defined it for us in her textbook: “The structure of Truth and Love; whatever rests upon and proceeds from divine Principle” (p.583:12). What have your students gained in their understanding of healing from Church, per Mrs. Eddy’s definition, and how are they sharing that understanding with others? How are your students building on the same foundation that Jesus built on –- the spiritual foundation of Christ-healing?

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