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[PYCL: Demonstrate daily that God is present, loving, leading in good paths, blessing, not cursing! Come back from untrustworthiness! (1) Design a game with paths to follow. (2) Overcome mistakes! (4) Bury a character trait to experience resurrection! (5)]
Possible Younger Class Lessons for the Christian Science Bible Lesson on

"Probation after Death"

For April 23, 2017

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

Pycl #1: Have a short explanation of "probation" in the context of this lesson. It is a period of time where one's character or behavior is tested. This is an old theological subject that still seems to stick in people's thought today. As with each of Mrs. Eddy's topics, there are important reasons for their inclusion. Think together about what this one might mean for us today, even as Christian Scientists who may not have been raised with an awareness of such theological ideas. For one thing, and I'm not sure this is important to bring up with small kids, it is a belief that is "out there" and so must be handled by each of us as a suggestion. In other words, what are we doing each day, to combat false ideas about God? How are we living each day to demonstrate that God is present, loving, leading us in good paths, blessing and not cursing?

On another level we can share some thoughts on what it means for us to be "on probation". Have we ever done something that made an authority figure—parent or teacher or coach—doubt our trustworthiness? Maybe we told a lie that was later discovered? How do we "come back" from that? Well, we work hard to be trustworthy, to follow a truer "path", to demonstrate that we are truthful, reliable and so on. We can't just say we'll never lie again; we have to demonstrate this fact. At the same time, a parent or other adult, if they are seeing things Scientifically, will be doing their part to recognize that, in fact, we could never have been separated from Truth and that our inherent nature is honest, full of integrity and so on. This will speed the process for us to recognize this ourselves and help us to realize that the path God has shown, is the only one that is fulfilling, illuminated and even fun.

Pycl #2: Design a board game or a "to scale" game with paths to follow. The paths could have "stepping stones" that are labeled with qualities that describe righteousness. So on one "space" or "stepping stone" there might be something about purity. More than even just listing qualities, maybe you could have them each come up with a specific example from their lives of demonstrated purity of thought or action. Maybe it's "truthfulness" and they can tell you something that showed that quality when they "land" on that space or "stone". Have them design the game with you so that they come up with these qualities. There is so much in this lesson about paths of righteousness. Talk about paths first. Paths lead somewhere, at least ideally. They can think of this as a metaphor for progress—something that underlies a probationary period.

Pycl #3: Expanding on the path theme, have them think about the illumination of that path that is described in a few places in this lesson. Why would "light" be part of the scene? Maybe because when you have a light in the darkness it's almost impossible to ignore, or choose something else? We are drawn to light, especially in contrast to dark or bad. This is because it is natural for us to be Godlike! You could use flashlights with the younger crowd, letting them hold them and talk about how they work in the dark. They show us the best way to go forward (progress!). God, Good, is just like that light showing us the right way to express Him!

Pycl #4: Read the Lazarus story in Section 3. Why do we have this story for this subject? If the kingdom of God is "within" as Jesus tells, why did he share this story with people as an example? Was he saying that "…if you are selfish and bad during your mortal existence, then you'll experience bad things after death"? What does Mrs. Eddy tell us in the correlative passages in this section? She tells us what we "most need" for growth. How we need to "…work and pray" with "true motives". So maybe we have to ask the question: why do we want to progress, or do good? Is it because we don't want other's disapproval? We don't want to get in trouble? You can share together some ideas about what "motives" are, and what are good motives. One very clear example can be had with speed limits on the road. Even though this age isn't driving, try asking why we should follow the speed limits? Almost certainly, someone will say "because you might get a speeding ticket/you might get caught if you don't". But that's not really a pure motive, is it? How do we gain a purer sense of why we should do good? It's kind of interesting to contemplate! This section also makes it clear that the path is illuminated as we take steps toward God/Good. We can't just expect to have it be "easy" all the time. Because she tells us that progress comes through experience (S15) and sometimes that experience can be quite "sharp". That can be a whole extra conversation—don't we sometimes learn our most powerful lessons and move forward most, by making a mistake and overcoming that mistake?

Pycl #5: Since the Bible is relevant to each of us today, try reading the healing in Section 5 and ask about what we are doing each day to participate in resurrection? Citation B18 tells us that "…if we are risen with Christ" we will seek spiritual things ("things from above"). What does that mean? Is spiritual progress a kind of resurrection? Citation S27 mentions the "burial of matter" in order to gain a resurrection in spirit. What could she mean and how are we doing this? Can you have the younger ones pretend to bury something that is material in their thought. What happens to stuff when it is buried? (It will rot away, sometimes even just turn back into soil!) We are, however, burying a character trait or something like that, not a material "thing". How would "burying" this trait help us experience resurrection? Doesn't resurrection imply a natural original state to which we belong? In that way, we can see that it points to the fact that man was never material and sinning to begin with and never needs to be "tested" by a God for worthiness. Rather, as Jesus pointed out throughout his life, but especially in the story of the Prodigal, man is ever welcomed as the son of God!

Have a great Sunday!

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