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[PYCL: Focus on stories that best illustrate ONENESS. (1) Share healings! (3)]
Possible Younger Class Lessons for the Christian Science Bible Lesson on

Doctrine of Atonement
for April 22, 2018

by Kerry Jenkins, CS, House Springs, MO (314) 406-0041

Pycl #1: With the youngest children there probably is not a lot of profit in discussing the idea of what a doctrine is or what the word "atonement" means. I would focus on the ideas that emphasize how we are one with God, and how Jesus showed us this oneness. Which stories will illustrate this the best and why? So here are a couple of ideas to work with that might help us visualize this oneness:

One of the clearest illustrations of oneness, yet individuality, is using a straw or eye dropper and a glass of water. You can use the straw to grab a bit of water (dip it in, plug the top with your finger, then let it drop out one drop at a time by letting a tiny bit of air pass under your finger. You may want to practice, and only gather a small amount of water at a time so that you can make one "drop" fall at a time!) Each child can try this for themselves. Think about how, at any given time you can extract a drop of water, but once you drop it in the glass, it is one with the whole. Obviously this analogy has limitations, as do all mortal illustrations, but it is a helpful one. Check out Pulpit and Press p.4:3-17 and citation S18 for further help with this idea.

Pycl #2: What gets "between" us and God? When do we feel like we are "separated", like God is distant from us? Most often, that separation is felt when we are afraid, or doing something that is rooted in matter alone. We call this "sin", or, in old times when they were referring to shooting at a target with a bow and arrow, a sin was just "missing the mark". You might ask when do they feel closest to their mom and dad, "when you are doing something loving and good, or when you might have been disobedient or perhaps told a lie?" Did doing something disobedient or dishonest make your parent think any less of you, love you less? Of course not!

Most of us parents know who our children are, regardless of behavior, even when we sometimes get angry or frustrated (which, by the way, God never does!) This is how it is, only more so, with God/Love. He always knows our true and perfect identity, even when we are less sure! From this point, you can launch into a discussion of either the Prodigal, or the story of the man born blind, or both. Or you can look at the Golden Text and see how it states that there is only "…one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;" This is all that is "between" us, and he taught us that there is nothing between us and God-bestowed love, health, purity, goodness, and so on. Atonement is our discovery of this fact, the removal, each day, of material falsehoods about ourselves, that would misinform us of our oneness with God.

With the very young, you could set up an analogy about someone blocking you from getting to your mom or dad while they are waiting to give you a hug. Could you walk around that person, even if they are bigger? Could you ask someone else to help you remove that person from between you if you are too small (like asking someone to help you in Christian Science prayer right?!) There really is nothing that could keep you from knowing that your mom or dad loved you, even if you couldn't directly get a hug!! Acting this out with the pupils might be a useful illustration.

Pycl #3: "Atonement is the exemplification of man's unity with God,…" (S3) What does this demonstration of unity look like? Do you have an example to share? It is helpful for each to understand that the demonstration of our unity with God is healing. It is the action, the presence and power of Love in our lives. This is the real message of what Jesus did for us. So healing, healing, healing, is the best evidence of what atonement really means. After sharing an example or two, maybe they can think of some of their own.

Pycl #4: I think it's interesting that in Section 3—which has the story of the man born blind—citation S13 tells us that our belief in God stems from seeing God's healing action at work, and that what follows is "[rising] into newness of life with regeneration." This is how we participate in the atonement. Well, this section is about how heredity has no ability to separate us from Love. Isn't heredity a version of history? So newness and regeneration are the antidotes to suggestions of the "oldness" or "age" of history, genetic or otherwise.

We have to leave the "old" model, grounded in matter, and rise into the new spiritual one! In the new we are freed from the limitations, the constant missing of the "mark" that leads to death in matter. Instead we are experiencing constant regeneration! This is a daily activity. Ask the children what it would be like for them if every day was exactly the same? [like in Groundhog Day”, the movie] Would they learn anything new? Would they thrive and be happy? While sometimes it is challenging, even frustrating, to learn new things, we would never want to just repeat the exact same things either! The most challenging things often bring the greatest reward and joy. We must always be discovering something new about reality (as we've been learning for the last several weeks worth of Bible lessons). This constant learning brings us closer to God!

Pycl #5: Just in case someone found the drop of water analogy in Pycl #1 to de-emphasize our individuality too much, here are a couple of ideas to share. First citation B6 tells us that God calls us "by name", which means he knows each of us intimately and as individual identities! Second, Section 4 explains that a false sense of identity, which might be called "personality", is a hindrance to our unity with God. Just as Christie points out in her CedarS met this week each instrument is important in an orchestra, but none should be heard individually except as written.

While there are times when one might offer something more "soloistic", within the orchestra this must happen in just the right way, or one instrument's action would stand out in a way that detracts from the whole! For example, think of a violin section. Each instrument must play loudly enough to have a beautiful tone, but not so loud that someone in the audience can hear one of them individually. The same is true in a chorus of voices. No one voice should stand out—while each voice has its own qualities and tone color—blended together they have a beautiful oneness.

So, if we are too strong in our sense of self as separate from God ("I'm a really great basketball player/artist/student) we have then become responsible for our success in these endeavors and necessarily separated (in our understanding) from the goodness of God (as the Prodigal felt). In this way, this goodness becomes subject to injury/writer's block/limited intelligence, rather than realizing our innate, spiritually limitless good as we understand our unity with God!

Have a great week in Sunday School.

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