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Pycl #1: Good thing we studied substance last week so we have a better sense of what is solid, real, substantial and lasting–and what is not! Maybe make a quick review of substance and what it is so that we can see where matter fits into things. This week's lesson helps us see that matter in the form of human position or power (Moses going to Pharaoh to get the Children of Israel released), blood, physics, time, or food, is not truly powerful. Matter in any form has no substance (as the children no doubt recognize from the Scientific Statement of Being) and is also present in citation S24. We might think that matter is something very present and even powerful. Go through each story this week together with an eye to how the seemingly solid nature of matter is being challenged in these Bible stories. Moses handles a serpent by the tail where it would have been easy to get bitten, leprosy disappears, poisoned stew is made edible, hemorrhaging is instantly healed, water walked on and travel takes place within ut passage of time. These are all stories that can be read or told together in the context of how the matter involved posed no barrier when it seems it should have. Why can we expect similar results? Do you have some current examples to share? Do they?
I love Pycl #2: What are they talking about in the Responsive Reading? You could explain it as a form of building a "god" to worship. Many people used to (some still do) worship a material representation of something in an effort to give their beliefs a material, visible object to see and pray to. Ask if anyone has problems with feeling like we can't "see" God? Can they understand why someone would want a representation? In this passage you can explain that it is referring to a well decorated tree–something like a Christmas tree. How can we see God without any matter involved, in what ways do we see God every day? We see God in the love that we share with our family and friends. We see God in any ways that we express obedience or joy or see those qualities in someone else. Maybe we see God in a cozy place in our home or a tidy bedroom? Come up with some ideas about how each of us can see God all around us with no matter involved. How would having a material representation of "God", (not there could be one!), limit our ability to see God's infinite nature? The R.R ends by declaring that God is a "true", "living" and "everlasting" God. Why are these qualities substantial and not at all material?
Pycl #3: Citation B4 tells us that we should "observe" God's law with our "whole heart". What do they think that means? What law are we talking about? One thing that matter seems to ask of us is a lot of compromise. We try to invite "enough" of Spirit into our lives to make us feel happy and whole, but we try to manage just a bit of what we "like" about matter. There is nothing wrong with enjoying life, with living with great vitality and joy in good activity–CedarS is a wonderful example of how much fun we can have while not living "in" matter. We don't have to agree with the suggestions that matter makes to us of limitations. We can wake up each day with our whole heart leaning toward God, Spirit. Whatever matter suggests to our thought we do not have to agree! Moses thought he wasn't up to the task of leading a nation out of slavery. But he was obedient with his whole heart and grabbed that serpent by its most dangerous body part.
Pycl #4: In B10 Elisha tells one of the men to put a "handful of meal" in the pot to make the stew they were cooking go from poisonous to safe. The kids could discuss what was in the "flour" that made the stew safe to eat. Was it some special food? If your class is old enough to enjoy Mrs. Eddy's article "Taking Offense", Mis 224, you could read part or all of it. I was struck by the paragraph that includes the idea that we should have a charity or love big enough to "neutralize what is bitter" in the world. This reminded me of this story in the lesson. You could talk together about how maybe the "pottage" could be the things we hold in our thought. What do we sometimes mistakenly "gather" and "shred" into that thought of ours that would poison our experiences with anger, or resentment or sadness? What kind of "meal" can we throw in to "neutralize" that poison? With the younger kids you could bring in a large pot and a wooden spoon and talk about what we let into our thinking that is material and poisonous to us. Have them "stir" the pot and pretend to throw in the kinds of things that might neutralize whatever they think of that needs to be elevated or healed. There are many obvious ideas: love for hate or dislike, patience for impatience–but see if you can dig more deeply for things that are sincere and heartfelt on their part. Check out S13 as part of this–"The material transformed with the ideal disappears…" This is a beautiful image, can the older kids grasp this? How does that material disappear?
Pycl #5: Blood seems to be one of those "essential" material components of life. So it is especially cool that we have the story of the woman with the "issue of blood" in this lesson. There seemed to be a lot of material barriers to her healing. She was "unclean" because of this issue and shouldn't, by Jewish law, be touching anybody, much less a religious leader! She was a woman too which was something of a barrier in those days. And material doctors had all tried and failed to heal her condition. It sort of seems like she "struck out" in material,baseball, terms. But she didn't let that stop her when she perceived that Jesus' message was one of healing for even her condition. How can we "reach" past the material arguments that come to us to prevent us from experiencing life to its fullest? Might we have accepted that we are too uncoordinated to play a sport well? Not smart enough for some subject at school? Aren't these arguments that would confine our sense of life to one limited by matter? S18 and S19 tell us first that it's mortal mind that forms all the conditions of the body, then that "Every function of the real man is governed by the divine Mind." (italics added) What is that 'real' man? How do we see that man in ourselves? Have the little kids read the story of this woman. Then have someone put on a robe or shawl with some tassels hanging from the hem or a shawl that is similar in some way to a prayer shawl that religious men would have worn. Talk about how this woman was reaching out for the healing love that Jesus shared. She had to struggle in this crowd to even get close enough to Jesus to touch his clothes. Have them act this out by reaching out a distance to touch that shawl or robe. Maybe she even ducked down low to get through the crowd, just as these children might, and reached low by people's legs to touch his garment. Does the crowd represent how matter thoughts "crowd out" the desire that is natural, for Spirit. Or maybe they make us afraid that we can't "reach" that Christ understanding? How can we be reaching every day for this Christ thought in our own lives? What kind of healing can we expect?
pycl #6: In section five we have the story of Jesus walking on the water and rescuing the disciples in their stormy travels. Here we overcome physics by walking on water, and we overcome the barriers of time when the boat arrives at the other side of the lake without taking any time to do so. What is the point of overcoming these two standardly accepted material laws? Why do you think they are part of the demonstrations that Jesus shared with us? It helps us to see more examples of the fact that nothing is impossible to God(S22). Have the littler children talk about these things. Have they thought about the unusual nature of these events? What are laws of matter and laws of Spirit? What's the difference between the two? Is there anything good at all in Mrs. Eddy's definition of Time? Should we ever want to have "more" time? What does Mrs. Eddy mean when she says that "Obedience to material law prevents full obedience to spiritual law,…" Think together of specific examples. Every age should be able to come up with specifics here that are appropriate to their experience. Discuss together how being obedient to material law would keep us from being obedient to laws of Spirit/God. For the youngest you could even have a dish tub of water and see what floats. Would a person float? If you stood in the water would your foot stand on top of the water? How did Jesus do this on the lake?
Hope you have a great Sunday!

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