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PYCLs — What is probation? Read and memorize a portion of Psalm 139.  “Light” thoughts help us navigate “wilderness” and “valleys”.
How do we find that kingdom within? Progress spiritually.
Three Bible s
tories show how wilderness and progress help us treasure the kingdom within us.
Possible Younger Class Lesson ideas for the Christian Science Quarterly Bible Lesson on

“Doctrine of Atonement”
for Sunday, April 16, 2023

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

PYCL #1: What is probation?

This is another big “theology” topic in our series of Bible lessons. It isn’t so important for the little ones to know that, but it can be helpful for the somewhat older students to understand why we might be studying this topic today. Why did Mary Baker Eddy choose this and how is it relevant today, especially if many of the children being raised in Christian Science don’t even know what these topics are?

Has this subject of probation after death lost its meaning in our age? After studying this Bible lesson it becomes clear that the idea of man being subject to a testing or waiting period before “moving on” to a “place” called heaven, or another place if we don’t make the grade, has many practical and healing applications today.
How often do we think we have to wait for good?
Do we fool ourselves into thinking that we must wait for the right awesome computer, car, teacher, school, job, girlfriend/boyfriend, place to live–essentially, are we waiting for joy and satisfaction?
Do we think we must wait to be happy until we have found the perfect thing in that list above? This idea of present good certainly is applicable to our lives today.

Define this subject for the slightly older children. In the context of this subject it simply is speaking of a testing or waiting period that follows our death during which supposedly, God decides if we are worthy of heaven. Now, notice our Golden Text this week that states: “…behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”
Who or what then, is the gatekeeper to this kingdom?
Who or what would supposedly be deciding whether we are worthy or able to enter that kingdom?

PYCL#2: Read and memorize a portion of Psalm 139.

This Psalm is so powerful and useful in daily life. Now that we have discussed, above, the fact that we cannot escape from a kingdom that actually is within each of us, this beautiful song reinforces that idea, explaining that indeed, there is nowhere we can go where Love is not there. If your class enjoys hymns you could learn hymn 599 together, a sweet tune that is set to some of the words of this Psalm.

[Warren:  HYMN 599 VERSION of Ps. 139 was sung by all six North American camps for Christian Scientists!
Thanks to the May 2020 of initiating and copyright coordinating efforts of Holly Huff Bruland, CedarS then Director of Operations (now CedarS Executive Director), all six of the North American camps for Christian Scientists came together to sing “Whither!” This happened when this Psalm was in the Christian Science Bible Lesson and we were all apart and unable (in early summer of 2020) to accept campers in person.  Holly arranged for all to sing their segments and send them in to Nathan Wood to edit together so that each camp could have the following Vimeo link to post to its social media and circulate as it saw fit:

And click for a  guitar version of it on YouTube as sung by Erin Williams for a sold-out CedarS CD.]

PYCL#3: “Light” thoughts help us navigate “wilderness” and “valleys”.

The wilderness theme is beautifully stitched throughout the Bible lesson from the Golden Text all the way to the end. You can see how it shows in not only Psalm 139, but in the excerpt in Section 1 of the 23rd Psalm as well (cit. B2/Ps.23:1,4,6).
Whatever the “valley” that we walk through, we are led, we are comforted, and we forever dwell in the “consciousness of [Love]…”. Help the younger ones understand the metaphor of “valley”, “wilderness” (which appears in Section 3 when the Children of Israel escape the Egyptian army through the wilderness of the Red Sea cit. B9/Ex 13:17,18; cit. B10/Ex 14:5,7,10,13-15,21,22)–Joseph (cit. B5/Gen. 45:4-8) certainly had his own “wilderness” experience in all those years of captivity.

These obvious appearances of such challenges in this lesson point to the idea that each day we are walking a path towards light and Good. We are looking to understand more about the spiritual nature of man and the universe. Sometimes this path gets pretty darned dark and obscure–like when we are angry or sad.

You can have the little ones think about walking through the woods at night and trying to find, and stay on, a narrow path.
What would they need to take with them so that they can keep on that path? Flashlights!
How can our thinking be like a light on our daily path? What do we need to do to bring that kind of “brightness” so that we know where we should go, what steps to take, and how to behave with people we are with?
Can they list some “light” qualities in thought?
Draw a big sun and have the “light thoughts” be the rays out of the sun.
Each student can take that home with them, or design it themselves if they can write.

PYCL#4: How do we find that kingdom within? Progress spiritually.

At the root of this lesson subject is always the idea of the necessity of progress. This is best explained with younger children in terms of things that matter to them.
What do they want to get better at, or do well at? The really littles probably won’t care about this!
But even just a bit older might have aspirations about a sport, instrument, school skill, or something like acting.
Perhaps we can help the students understand that everything we do is in the context of spiritual progress. If we want to be better at a sport, what do we need to do to get there and what spiritual qualities do these steps express. (persistence, diligence, hard work, curiosity, listening, observation, practice, and so on.)
Do they think that maybe if we express these qualities on a daily basis outside of our sport that it will actually help us develop our sport as well? Yes!!!
Because they are spiritual qualities, they are practical everywhere and transfer easily from one activity to the next.
These skills are spiritual qualities that lead us on our path-(that one that needs light)-of progress. Spiritual progress shines a light on the kingdom of God within us.
This means that while we progress, it is not with the sense of having to wait for a time when we have “become” pro. soccer players, for example, but we enjoy and relish every day of this growing awareness of our spiritual nature. This present enjoyment is highlighted in our final section this week (cit. B19/2Cor 6:1,2; cit. S27/158:24-25 and cit. S28/39:18-22).

PYCL#5: Stories, stories, stories!

This lesson is a treasure trove of Bible stories. Once we have an understanding of the themes like wilderness and progress and how they bring us closer to understanding the kingdom within us, we can tell and think through each story in this context.

Activity: Have the older children each read one of the stories to themselves and tell the class how that story can illustrate these themes.
What was the story of Lazarus showing us about probation?
There is no end point at which we can no longer grow and find more of God’s kingdom! There is no “blocking” of progress, not with matter, death, or a big old stone.
Did anything stop the Children of Israel at the Red Sea?
What about the story of Jesus telling Simon that “Satan has desired…to sift you as wheat…”?
Through prayer, Jesus explains that whatever wilderness obstacles Simon faces, he will be victorious, progress undeterred.

Have a wonderful week in Sunday School!







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