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[PYCL: Fight back against suggestions that would rob you! (3) Put candy in a rice bowl… (6)]
Possible Younger Class Lessons for the Christian Science Bible Lesson for

“Substance”

on March 13, 2016

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

Pycl #1: It is always good to begin with thinking about what substance really is, what is substantial. (I heartily recommend Rick's Met for this week on the CedarS' website as it really contains many ideas that will be useful in Sunday School—several of mine will certainly be offshoots of his wonderful work!) Of course, Mrs. Eddy's definition of substance is included in citation S1, but it is always great to have the kids put it in their own words. What makes something substantial? Come up with some specifics here. You could bring objects in or use what you already have in the room. Even a book can be a good example: is the book itself substance/substantial? Or are the ideas it contains substance/substantial?

Pycl #2: Reread the Responsive Reading together and substitute appropriately for the riches mentioned. In Bible days riches would have been crops and cattle. For kids it would perhaps be electronics of all sorts, video games, Legos, bicycles… ask the kids what things they love and use those things while reading. Let them know that substituting these things for the Bible words is not actually just a silly thing to do. The point is that these were the kinds of riches that mattered to the people then, and other things represent "riches" to children or to people today—cars, houses, etc. Reading to the end of this whole passage we find that Solomon sees that all these riches are "vanity". What does vanity mean? Why are all these cool things "vain"? Is there anything wrong with cool stuff?

Pycl #3: Having gone through Pycl #2, you can move on to the first section and especially citation B3. I actually own some sweaters that have moth holes in them and we have plenty of rusty things at home in various states of decay. If you have such junk around consider bringing it in and talking about how things can decay or be destroyed. I think you could connect these thoughts with citation B13 where Jesus shares a parable about the man who had a bumper crop and wanted to build a bigger barn to keep it in and then sit back and relax. When we accumulate wealth in order to feel secure, safe, wise, we are subject to the whims of material existence which change and can be lost or stolen. In this parable Jesus uses death as that which deprives the man of enjoying his wealth. But death could easily be symbolic of the kind of joy one could try to extract from living in matter. Other things that can steal our "wealth", besides an economic downturn, are unchallenged "thieves" such as envy, anger, sadness, laziness, disobedience, and so on. These are the "thieves" that Jesus refers to in citation B3, and Mrs. Eddy references in citation S12: "Sin breaks in upon them [sensual treasures], and carries off their fleeting joys." Take a minute to share this idea. Suppose you are home and someone you know comes over and just starts packing up your nicest things and carrying them out to their car/truck. He/she keeps at it until everything that you find valuable is in their car and trailer and they are driving off. You, meanwhile, just sit there on your lousy chair—that they don't, apparently, want to take—and do nothing to stop them—or even object? Does that sound like what you would do? NO!! You would tell them to stop, and if they didn't you'd get up and probably grab their hands and put things back where they belonged. You might even call the police and block their truck/car and trailer so they couldn't get out of your driveway! Now suppose that you have all the good that God has given to you and all His children. Suppose you have abundant joy, love, intelligence, skill, creativity, and all that you need—because, in fact, you do—along comes some event, chemical, person, and one, or all of these things tells you that you should be angry, jealous, sad, lonely, etc. Do you sit back and "take it"? Or do you systematically retrieve every tool that you have in your spiritual tool box and fight back against those suggestions. You argue against the suggestion that there are powers that can in some way take away your God-given right to experience joy, satisfaction, love, intelligence and so on. Just as the thief that came to your house might put up a fight and want to continue to take things that don't belong to them, so sadness, anger, etc. might try to suggest to you that you have no control or power over them. But this is not true, and as you rise up and use those tools that you have learned in Sunday School, you can expect that they rescue you from being subject to these nasty, sinful, thieves. We are certain that the things in our home belong to us. We are not confused by the "friend" that is taking them away; we affirm that they are ours! Likewise, we can do this for the spiritually substantial treasures that God gives to each of us, every single day.

Pycl #4: Not to spend too much time on this citation B3, but do you think Jesus told that parable to warn us that if we save up material treasure, worry about a fat retirement or savings account, that we might die before we can enjoy it? Is that the "moral" of this story? The kids might actually wonder about that so it may be a worthwhile question, or even ask them what they think Jesus is teaching in this story without saying anything about it. Think together about what it teaches about how we are being encouraged to live. You can then read citation B8 and talk about what Elijah did for this widow woman. As Rick asks in his Met this week—why didn't God send Elijah to a rich person? The answer lies in the blessing that Elijah stood to bestow on this woman. She was hungry for good. She was "at the gate" searching, it seems, for firewood, but we can see this as a search for divine inspiration, for God's tender care. The rich person in town may not have felt impelled to search… after all he had all that he thought he needed. This is the danger of material wealth. It can confuse us into thinking that we aren't in need of God's care, God's guidance, or that God is perhaps a secondary place to turn. If matter is "treating" us well, we don't as readily turn to Spirit. Humility helps us "see" Spirit, the substance of God's goodness. So this, in turn, leads us to Pycl #5 about seeing what is of substance.

Pycl #5: It's pretty interesting to think about how understanding true substance turns everything "upside down". We tend to think of material things around us as substance and things of Spirit as unseeable, untouchable, and therefore not-so-substantial. But really it is the other way around when you think about it, especially if you apply the "moth-rust-thief" test to whatever material thing you are talking about. In citations S24 and S25 Mrs. Eddy says some things that are worth contemplating—God's thoughts are substance. And, "Thought will finally be understood and seen in all form, substance, and color, but without material accompaniments." I've been thinking about that sentence all week. There is a lot there to contemplate. I don't even know if it's something to discuss with younger kids, but maybe see if they have an unusual insight into that passage. I sat Charlie, my 7-year-old, in my lap this morning and we talked a bit about substance and what we see and don't see. How can he tell that I love him—we could say that we see it because I feed him and take care of him. But we agreed that I could possibly do this and not love him all that much. So how does he know without a doubt that I love him? We agreed that even with hugs and stories and adventures that we have, he knows it because he just can feel it inside and is certain of it. That's his spiritual sense understanding substance, the substance that is Love. So maybe you can use some example like that with your class?

Pycl #6: I think we could do something with citation B23 and the idea of digging for treasure. The cool thing about this parable is that the man already knows that there is treasure in that field. It is not a gamble. That's how the substance of good is in the kingdom of heaven. It is a sure thing. Life is about living "substantially", living with the deep understanding of what is real and true. Ask them which field they would be tempted to dig in, one that they know contains a treasure chest full of riches, or one that they aren't sure about? (You can really take this a distance by also addressing the fact that you would never get discouraged in your search, you would be systematic and patient until you found what you knew all along was there! No need to get discouraged and give up if you are certain that good is there!) Everything around us tells us that we should "dig into" material life, succeed materially, get ahead, have more stuff, and so on. But that is an empty field, there is no substance there. As Mrs. Eddy says "What to material sense seems substance, becomes nothingness, as the sense dream vanishes and reality appears." (S15) A simple example for the youngest—bring two big mixing bowls with uncooked rice or something like that in them. Put a piece of wrapped candy in one bowl (hidden). Tell them which bowl has the candy… ask them which bowl they want to search for the candy in? Would anyone bother looking in the bowl with just rice? Material happiness is just like that bowl with just rice!

Have a great week in Sunday School.

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