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PYCL: Find your amazing identity markers! Put your feelings to the “I AM test!” (#1, 2)
Possible Younger Class Lesson ideas for the Christian Science Quarterly Bible Lesson on

“Spirit”
for July 26 thru Sunday, August 8, 2021

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

 Pycl #1: Find your true & amazing identity markers!  Spirit animates you, gives you identity & activity.
What does Spirit mean to the students? How is Spirit different from other synonyms? If there is no clear sense of Spirit, and there may not be, we can look through some of the ideas that are presented in this week’s Bible Lesson! The biggest overriding idea I get about Spirit in this lesson is that Spirit is what animates each of us, gives us identity and activity. While society might focus on a long list of human identity markers—Spirit will always be the most reliable and peaceful source for information about who we are.

Our physical senses are constantly seeking satisfaction. We all need to feel that we belong, and if we don’t feel belonging, we want to feel that we are at least of worth to society in some way. This search can only bring genuinely satisfying answers if we are willing to look to Spirit for our truest (and most amazing!) sense of identity.

I mention this passage in the CedarS Met for this week, but it would be a fun one to work with even with the youngest members of Sunday School. It is from My. p.165:16 “As an active member of one stupendous whole, goodness identifies man with universal good. Thus may each member of this church rise above the oft-repeated inquiry, “What am I?” to the scientific response: “I am able to impart truth, health, and happiness, and this is my rock of salvation, and my reason for existing.” (italics added) Explain to little ones what “impart” means. How can we impart truth? Is it just being honest and truthful? Or does it include being really pure in our thinking, not muddling our thinking and activity with so much human opinion, with judging other people, or allowing ourselves to be easily influenced to do or express things that are not from Spirit? What does it mean that we can “impart health”? This one might seem trickier! Health is also defined as harmony. So with that definition we can think in terms of how we can bring harmony to any situation. We can also think about how our thoughts and words can contribute to a healthy atmosphere wherever we go! Can we think more about how Spirit is expressed around us as freshness, as any of the qualities listed in our Golden Text this week? These qualities expressed are Spirit in our midst! And we can all think of ways that we can “impart happiness”! We can be helpful, unselfish, joyful, humorous, energetic, peaceful, kind and so on. Make some lists of these things that we can impart! How does doing any of these things help us understand better “who” we are? How do we feel when our focus is on imparting such things as these qualities? Can anyone share examples of how expressing these qualities brought them a deeper sense of joy? Perhaps a better sense of “self”? Spirit does not give us an identity that is hard to find or feel. Spirit is within each of us, is natural to us.

 

Pycl #2: Take any feeling you may encounter and put it to the “I AM test!”
Another way that identity is addressed in this lesson is in citation S3, where Mary Baker Eddy quotes “I AM THAT I AM” from when Moses had his interaction with God in the desert. We can take any feeling we may encounter and put it to the “I AM test”!

If we are feeling sad or angry, we ask ourselves if I AM can feel sad or angry. As the expressions of this I AM we are only welcoming, as legitimate, the true qualities that come from God. This does not mean that we aren’t challenged by other thoughts about ourselves! Certainly, we regularly feel things that are not sourced in Spirit. But knowing that they are not legitimate—that is, not from God/Spirit — gives us the right to prayerfully reject them and bring healing. We don’t do this by blandly denying that we can feel sad, but through a positive acknowledgement of all that is beautiful, good, pure, joyful, present, and visible to us.

As many point out, reversing negativity with positive affirmations  takes some effort! And we can all agree that nothing good is really achieved without such effort! On the other hand, the effort and drain on our energy, productivity, joy, peace, that we experience when we simply accept such emotions as God-given and unalterable, can be overwhelming! How much better is it to see such emotions as, while humanly common, entirely powerless to run our day!

We can pray through challenging emotions  when they arise. We can replace sadness with a recognition of Spirit’s presence. We can see and feel Spirit with us in the cool breeze, or the warmth of sun, we can recognize Spirit’s presence by the variety of birds that are flying about or singing, we can recognize Spirit’s presence by a simple insight that brings intelligence or helpfulness to bear in any circumstance. Come up with some more ways that we can recognize Spirit’s presence and replace feelings of sadness (or your choice of destructive emotions).

 

Pycl #3: Fill your thought with what you’re able to “impart”, so that you’re not an “empty vessel”… Another form of this search for “identity” is found in Section 6 in the story of the insane Gadarene in citation B18/Luke 8:27-35. As in each case where Jesus heals insanity in the Bible, the insane person tells him to “go away” or “leave him alone”. Ask if any of the children have ever felt that way when they were really angry or sad, for example—that they didn’t really want to be “cheered up”, or changed in any way. I’m pretty sure we have all felt that resistance when we are really ticked-off at someone! That’s because the human mind wants to stake out its own sense of “identity” separate from the one (I AM) Spirit.

The man in this Bible story didn’t know who he was if he wasn’t identified as the crazy guy. So, that’s a scary thing! That is why it is important to fill our consciousness with who we are, or what we are able to “impart”, so that we are not an “empty vessel” waiting to be filled with whatever emotion is expressed around us. I love using this idea to combat contagion. All that we can share is good, this is our identity. So this man found, after Jesus healed him, that he had an already complete identity that included peace, intelligence, and joy.

Pycl #4: Bring in a fan to show how the air can move our hair, or a scarf in front of the fan.
I love that we can feel Spirit. This feeling is not a physical touch, but much like the wind around us (Spirit is translated as breath or wind, at times), we can see its activity by what it moves around us. Bring in a fan and demonstrate how the air can move our hair, or a tissue or scarf you put in front of the fan.

Now discuss how the movement of the scarf/hair, etc. is caused by the way the fan moves the air. But we can’t see that air, only the manifestation of that moving air. Just so, Spirit moves man to express the qualities that are listed in our Golden Text and that show us how we are to behave, what we are to express! Give each child a chance to hold something in the fan made breeze and then state at least one quality of Spirit that they have within them and maybe one that they don’t see as readily and would like to see more of.

Pycl #5: Look at the long list of things that God, Spirit does in citation S11/340:16. Try breaking it down and putting “One infinite God, good” in front of each statement….”One infinite God, good, constitutes the brotherhood of man” One infinite God, good, ends wars”, and so on.

Discuss how your supreme love for God can help you experience the peace David did in the story in this third section from 1st Chron. 12:16-18/cit. B9. You may want to explain how David was being pursued by Saul and how David refused to harm Saul when he had opportunities, even though Saul was seeking to kill David. In what way does David’s supreme love for God help him to experience peace here? How can that work in our own life? If we love God “supremely” (what does supremely mean?), we are willing to give up our own human will or desire for how something has to go, in order to help promote peace with a friend or sibling. This is just one example! Consider that loving God supremely means that we are always seeking Spirit’s guidance in any activity. When we do that, would we ever be tempted to do something less than honest, kind, intelligent?

Have a great Sunday School class!!

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