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PYCL: Dramatize the Nehemiah story. Stop “building” with anger or meanness.
Show how one can progress easier from a point of guilt than of from shame.
(1, 2, 4)]
Possible Younger Class Lesson Ideas for Sunday School from
the Christian Science Quarterly Bible Lesson on:

for October 4, 2020

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

Pycl #1: Dramatize the Nehemiah story.
First, situate it in the context of this week's lesson—for the very young this will be a simple process of telling the story, talking about error as represented by the men opposing Nehemiah. For the older students you can dig a little deeper. These men lived in countries that surround Jerusalem on four sides. Does this seem symbolic? Are there ways that we sometimes–even often–feel like we are surrounded on all sides by error and the chatter of material sense that says: "I'm real, I'm important, pay attention to me." Of course you can talk to the younger ones about this without using terms like "symbolism". Once you have established the story, what it is about, some of the aspects that might not be included in this week's Bible lesson if needed for a dramatization (in particular, some of the lines and tactics that the four different men that are opposing Nehemiah's project use), then you are ready to "modernize" it and act it out.

Think about something good that one of the students would like to accomplish. This is their "wall". It should be something that takes some genuine effort and may not have a "final product", if that is hard to conceive of. Come up with some objections that mortal mind might offer to keep us from doing the good projects that we want to do. Write out these objections in "lines" that each actor can say when the "Nehemiah" you have chosen tells what they are going to "build". So, for example, let's say that a student decides that he or she has a goal of improving their time in running a mile. They have come up with a plan to do this that includes a certain training regimen, getting a good sleep, making sure they drink water during the day…etc. So what are the objections that mortal mind might put up? Maybe one would be: "I'm too tired/feeling punky", or "there's something more fun to do" today, I'll start this tomorrow. This might be labeled "procrastination". A second suggestion could be "I always forget my water bottle". This could be labeled something like "forgetful/unconscious". A third might be "I am too sore to work-out today". That could be labeled "pain". And maybe the fourth would be "I'll never get down to that time/I'm incapable". And maybe that would be labeled "discouragement". If you have enough students in your class so that one can be the "runner", and then four others would be "procrastination", "forgetfulness", "pain", and "discouragement". Each can write their own lines, or write them together. Come up with spiritual strategies that truly annihilate these arguments. What is fundamentally false/unreal about each of these arguments? What truth defeats them in a real way? Have examples of obstacles to your own spiritually based goals that have been defeated. How does/did God help? If we are not thinking of ourselves as "separate" from God, that is as "sinful" or subject to temptations like these when they come up, we can go a long way toward defeating them. So how might we develop some strategies for really building our understanding of our oneness with God/Love/Mind/Truth and so on? Be very specific!

Another idea is to bring in blocks and have the children build a wall with them. One is building while another is saying scary/nasty/false things and taking down each block the builder puts in place. This would represent how error will try to undo our good work. How can we properly oppose the one that is taking down our blocks?

Finally there is a good little "movie" about Nehemiah at the Mother Church website here: https://www.christianscience.com/youth/resources-lists/sunday-school-teachers-teaching-resources/nehemiah-and-the-wall-tr

Pycl #2: Stop “building” with anger or meanness. Discuss how bad actions or emotions that are acted upon, end up tearing down our good and never end up bringing us forward. Consider citation S18, SH p.354:26. How is sin a divided kingdom? Might this be also illustrated by building a wall and having another tear it down at the same time, only this time, the wall is something that is made of erroneous suggestions. If you put up a brick that says "I am so angry", and then you are mean to a friend/sibling because you are angry, it is going to lead where?

Discuss how bad actions or emotions that are acted upon, end up tearing down our good and never end up bringing us forward. In that sense they eventually destroy themselves because we are wired to want to do good, to want to progress. If something is self-destroying, that really does point to its unreality. Think about things that "last". They are spiritually substantial, in other words, real!

Pycl #3: Explore a flashlight beam being like the "line of demarcation between the real and unreal" (S6, Science and Health p.505:21-28) Have the children ever been on a walk in the dark? What was it like when they used a flashlight? Everything within the beam is clear, but there's a line where everything gets very dark and you can't really see anything past that beam. This could be described as a "line of demarcation" S6, Science and Health p.505:21-28.

This line "between the real and unreal" can be described in this analogy as like that flashlight beam in a dark room or on a dark walk in the woods with no light from street lamps.
Ask if the light illumining the area around you requires you to be "smart enough" to see within its beam?
Do you have to have a special ability to see what the light shines on? No, of course not!

This goes to what that passage points out, that understanding the difference between real and unreal is similar to walking with a good flashlight. The flashlight is like the wisdom, love, discernment, compassion and so on that Soul/Mind/Love etc. is expressing as us.

We don't have to "deserve" this discernment, or be "well enough educated/old enough" to have it. It is from God to each. If you have a dark room to demonstrate this activity, even over zoom, that might be fun! Everything that God's "light" shines on is real and good, everything that is "dark", confusing, painful, is not from God. There are limits to this analogy in terms of thinking that there is some field of existence "outside" God's goodness, but that may be okay if you are working with young children.

Pycl #4: Show how one can progress easier from a point of guilt than of from shame. I think it’d be worth talking about the difference between guilt and shame—at least for children that are a little older. In the story in Section 4 about the woman who is caught in adultery, Jesus clearly saw her in a different light than the men who brought her to Jesus to be stoned.
What was Jesus' goal in writing on the ground? What was his goal altogether?
What were the motives of the men who brought her to him (this is included in the story, but see if you can clarify for the students)? What should our goal be when we are facing sin in ourselves?
Should we condemn ourselves/others? What did Jesus do here? Did he condemn the men, the woman? Or did he condemn the sin and cause it to be seen for what it was in both the men and in the woman?

Shame is not productive. It says "I am a bad person", there is nowhere to go from there….
Guilt can be productive and progressive, it says "I made a mistake".
One identifies "self" with the error, one identifies the act as something that is evil and not so personally connected. From a point of guilt, we can progress, but if we feel we are personally bad we are not going to move ahead. See citation S17, SH 476:32-5.

Have a great week in Sunday School.

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