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Possible Younger Class Lessons for The Christian Science Bible Lesson on:

Probation After Death
for Sunday, April 26, 2015

by Kerry Jenkins, CS, House Springs, MO
kerry.helen.jenkins@gmail.com (314) 406-0041

It probably goes without saying that you may want to discuss what “probation” means here—what the theological roots for this subject are. Christian Science may not adhere to the traditional theological view of this subject. but Mrs. Eddy clearly felt it was worthy of study twice a year so it is worth understanding the background of this topic as well as how it is presented in the Bible lesson. I am not an expert, but I’ve been thinking about the traditional belief in probation as a trial period after we die, in which we are tested to see if our character, etc. is sufficiently “good” to “get into heaven”. (I apologize if that is an oversimplification!). If this is an accurate assessment, it is interesting to me that every time this subject comes up in our sermons, it focuses significantly on progress. It focuses on the idea that what is needed is continuous spiritual growth, ever deepening spiritual understanding of God. There is a sense that probation includes not a simple (albeit terrifying) period of waiting for judgment (period of passivity), but, rather, a powerful call for progressive discernment of God. It is this desire to understand God that alone brings true immortality, an understanding of Life as eternal, not in matter.

Okay, that’s the idea behind this subject, now how do we share that with young children?

Pycl #1: I like the idea of thinking together about ‘waiting’. What are we waiting for? Are we waiting for a sunny day? For the weekend? For the summer? For a particular party or event or game, etc.? What is happening when we think about something “in the future” too much? Do we miss the opportunity of the present? What are we supposed to do with our days, other than school, chores, practice etc.? Is there something bigger that we should structure our lives around? This lesson says “yes”! We should have understanding God at the top of our “list”, and then everything else will take its proper place. I like how this takes away the “Monday blues”, or a “good day/bad day” mentality. There is only God at the center of the day and everything else is a way to understand God better. Can we “fail” at that? Can we ever be “bad” at that? Only if the desire to understand God falls away, becomes less than a conscious endeavor. Ask the kids if they’ve ever been looking forward to something for a long time. What does that feel like? Do they ever feel like they are just waiting for the intervening time to disappear so they can get to that point? If each intervening day/hour/minute, belongs to God, then are we possibly missing something really and truly great that might happen now if we are actually conscious enough to be aware of it? Share an example from your experience that illustrates this. Another angle on this is that often the wished-for day ends up being something of a let-down in the end because we’ve built it up to be something that it really shouldn’t be. This is what happens when we think that our joy comes from matter.

Pycl #2: Building on this idea we can check out the Golden Text and talk about the satisfaction that comes from looking to God for our joy, our wisdom, our energy, our grace, our skill and so on. Maybe you could bring in a toy or a picture of a cool toy. Talk about how that might be really fun to get, to play with, etc. Would it be enough to make you happy forever? How long would you be happy with it? Maybe it’s a really great toy and you are happy for hours/days/weeks/even longer. But I promise you it won’t be forever. When we have a goal of looking to God for satisfaction and joy, it really does last forever. Does that mean we have to go around in some unrealistic, spiritual state of mind? No! See how many times the word “consciousness/conscious” is used in this lesson. Being conscious of the spiritual nature of reality, the goodness of God around you is as simple as appreciating beauty, sharing a smile or kind word, giving something to someone that needs something. These simple things are ways to deepen our understanding of God through acknowledging His presence in everything we do. Have the kids think of three things each that they can do any day, every day, to be conscious of God and develop this deeper awareness of His presence.

Pycl #3: Last week we mentioned the veil in the temple and what that symbolized. We could see in the Responsive Reading this week that it is God that is destroying any “covering” or “veil” that would keep knowledge of him obscure from mankind. So it’s cool to see here that God is working with us to reveal His presence and power. Clearly Jesus did a great job of helping us to understand God too. Why does this better understanding of God “swallow up death in victory”? Why is the understanding of God linked to destroying death? Give the kids time to think about this and answer in their own words, even to guess. Think about what real understanding brings: fearlessness, right? If we really truly understand God, the presence of all-powerful, all-good Love in our lives, would we ever doubt or fear? If we completely understood God would we be looking to matter in any way (sinning) for happiness, satisfaction, intelligence, etc.? If we never look to matter for anything, matter disappears in our consciousness (S11, S27, S28 to name a few). With the disappearance of matter, there can be no death.

Pycl #4: There really is no “alternative” living or light to be had. Citation B2 tells us that with God is the “fountain of life”. Eternity is expressed spiritually, obviously not through matter. So the only real life that there is comes from God, Spirit. We “…shall not want” (B4) when we look to God only. [See Warren’s PS.] Really we all want the same thing. I’ll bet you could ask the world over and people would agree that they want to be happy. They may disagree on the means to this end, but they would agree on wanting a satisfying life. Christian Science teaches us where to find that. When we find ourselves “cast down” or “disquieted” (B1) it is because we are looking into mortal consciousness, not into eternity—the divine consciousness of Love where we dwell forever (S6).

Pycl #5: The story of Solomon is fun because it illustrates the way that our right desires for spiritual things (understanding), bring everything that most people “want” materially. The thing is we won’t care so much about those other things if we are spiritually satisfied! In other words, it is a lot harder to take away our joy if it is firmly rooted in Spirit and things spiritual. It almost seems here, like if we are looking for say—immortality (or some other materially inspired goal), we will never find it. If we genuinely want to know God better—then we can have all the other stuff. Sort of like Jesus tells us “…all these things shall be added unto you.” (Luke 12:31). But material success and satisfaction is unattainable, only spiritual satisfaction can be gained! God is always giving us good things, if we are looking in the “right direction” we’ll see this and be able to enjoy them.

Pycl #6: Bring in some heavy weights, or things that are heavy. Have the kids carry them around (safely). Would it be easy to always be carrying these weights with us everywhere? Would we be able to run and jump and climb easily? It’s kind of cool to realize that in all this effort to progress, we are really being asked not to try to “climb faster”, or to “really work painfully hard” (these could be part of it, but not what God is asking). Really, the struggle is to drop our attachment to material goals, desires, loves… We are being asked to set down those heavy weights (B19). These weights represent sin, the enjoyment of matter, the missing of the mark that brings real joy. I like that idea… dropping something heavy and burdensome, rather than thinking in terms of endless “toil” to “become” more spiritual in our thinking.

Have a great Sunday!

[Warren’s PS: Click on a special 23rd Psalm Download is available in the upper right corner of CedarS Met webpage at http://www.cedarscamps.org/metaphysical/articles/2015/4/pad/ .]

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