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[PYCL: Go for living waters vs. troubled waters! Forgive & be very nice to all!(#8)]
CedarS PYCLs–Possible Younger Class Lessons for:

Everlasting Punishment
The Christian Science Bible Lesson for November 3, 2013

by Kerry Jenkins, CS, House Springs, MO
(314) 406-0041
[bracketed inserts by Warren Huff]

[PYCL 1: Talk about what "everlasting" & punishment mean to them.]
You should probably talk about what "everlasting" means. And discuss what this subject is referring to.  Even the littlest ones know about "punishment".  I've mentioned this before, but punishment, I think, implies something bad to inflict on someone for a deed done.  There is no thought here of learning from a mistake or reforming thought or action.  Most enlightened child-rearing today tries to go beyond punishment to some kind of reformative action.  That doesn't mean that it isn't painful sometimes, to reform or correct an error or behavior.  But here, the question is, does God desire to punish His creation when they are behaving in a way that does not reflect His goodness and love?  To answer that question, it might be most effective to go straight to the stories included in this week's lesson! 

[PYCL 2: Look at the stories together for evidence of what God does for those who seek, even if they are "missing the mark"!:]
In section 2 you have Jesus talking to the "publicans and sinners" and you have the church men (Pharisees and Scribes) judging him for speaking to these "low lives".  Jesus responds to the church mens' murmurings by telling a parable, and he shares the story of the one lost sheep that the shepherd seeks to save, leaving the other 99, to go off and find the lost one. This parable points out the prevailing practice of the day among shepherds, so it is a perfect analogy for what Jesus was doing by preaching to these "sinners", the "lost sheep".  In section 4 you have the Samaritan woman at the well asking about the living water that Jesus told her of.  And in the fifth section you have the man by the pool waiting for a healing.  All these stories point to God's reformative love. In each case the Christ is advocating for (B6), defending these people that are looking for God, for healing, for peace, but perhaps missing the mark in some way in their lives. So you have perfect and potent examples here of what God does for those who are looking (and it's not punishment).  In each case though, the active ingredient, I think, is that those listening and receiving the Christ, truth, were looking, thirsting in some way, for that message.  We must also be looking for this, really thirsting for reformation and improvement.  Much the way last week's lesson emphasized the need for progress, so this lesson urges us to abandon any sin (missing the mark) that we may be entertaining in some way, in order to hasten our progress toward feeling those everlasting arms under us at all times (Golden Text, GT).

[PYCL 3: Try a "trust fall"!]
At CedarS and in many "team-building" exercises, a "trust fall" is included.  This can be done in a simpler form in a confined space like Sunday School by having the teacher stand behind a student just a few feet away, and tell them to fall backwards trying not to bend their knees as they do so. The teacher then catches them under the arms before they hit the floor. They have to tell you when they are about to go so you are ready, and this is part of the rules of playing the game, so have a simple sentence that they have to say like: "falling", and then they wait for you to say "ready" or "fall on".    If you feel your students are not too heavy for you, and they are old enough to understand what you are doing, you could use this exercise to illustrate the idea of God's everlasting arms being "underneath".  Of course, they will be helped to understand that this applies in a much broader way than just literally, but the little illustration will give them something to think about.  It's surprisingly challenging to just fall back and trust that someone will catch you even when you are a small person and the person catching you is large!  Is it sometimes this challenging to trust that God really is your "refuge"?   How do we demonstrate this trust each day?  What kinds of things do we do that show we sometimes are not exactly trusting God, but are rather trying to work things out "on our own"?  Here you could share personal experience. Have you ever had a time where you've proceeded with a project or activity thinking you already know what to do and not taking the time to pray quietly?  Have you then had to go back and do this prayer and found that the activity goes way more smoothly and with more inspiration than you ever thought possible?  Share such an experience. It's not always easy to really rely on God to inspire your every action.  But we suffer much less "punishment" when we do!

[PYCL 4: Everlasting punishment or everlasting love, mercy, etc.?]
You should probably point to all the places where everlasting and enduring are used in this lesson, especially in the G.T and Responsive Reading and the first section (but not exclusively).  It's cool to see (and you can ask your reading students to check this out, or highlight those passages), how the only way everlasting is used in this lesson, other than the title is in connection with mercy, truth, arms, love and so on. That must mean that the doctrinal idea of everlasting punishment, is not from God, but from mortal mind, and the stories of Jesus' love for man in this lesson bear this out.

[PYCL 5: "God is good."]
Tease the kids. Tell them you have a passage from SH that you want them to memorize.  Have them get ready to write it down and make a dramatic deal of it.  Then have them look at citation S1 and tell them that is their task. Sounds silly, but what more could they want than to really understand that statement!  If you understand that then you have reason to argue with anything that presents the opposite of a good God! Anything that tempts them to do other than good is not from God, so is powerless and erroneous.  Doesn't mean we won't have to be challenged, but God's goodness overcomes the challenge as we overcome the temptation to cave in to such challenges!  In other words, God's goodness supports and upholds our efforts to really see the allness of this goodness.

[PYCL 6: Sheep and good shepherd tryouts:]
Little kids love the idea of a shepherd carefully watching over sheep, keeping them safe and guiding them.  Think about illustrating the idea of this through Jesus' parable in the 2nd section. If you have a stuffed sheep that is big enough, perhaps they could pretend to gently herd it to "safety" as you discuss the nurturing and loving nature of God, the divine Shepherd.  I've mentioned before how a lovely Sunday School teacher that my oldest son had, always had a sheep, a cane (subs well for a shepherd's staff), and a little piece of white cloth and rope to put on their head as a shepherd's "hat".  She let them take turns "herding" the sheep and used it to illustrate many different stories that are told in the Bible, as well as an accompaniment to "Feed My Sheep".  I still have a framed photo of him in this outfit in a bedroom.  He loved to do this, not just because it was a bit more active, but also because he loved to show me how gentle he could be and how this is like the way God loves us.  It is great to have in the back of all of our thoughts, maybe the front, that God loves all His "sheep", and really embraces even those that are wandering off the "path".  We all need to know that even when we haven't done the right thing that we have a Christly advocate and a loving Father to help us move forward!

[PYCL 7: Plant a seed:]
It's not exactly a great time of year, but you could discuss more deeply B8 and then plant a seed that has a short germination period.  You could just plant it in a paper cup of soil and keep it at home during the week to bring back the following week.  This would be a jumping off point to discuss what it means that we "reap what we sow", the essential message in that passage.  Talk about what that points to. Then hold up the seed or seeds that you have brought. What kind are they? Do the kids think a certain plant will grow from them? If they are bean seeds, for example, would they expect a tomato plant to sprout next week?  What does this mean for our own lives. What do we want to "plant" in our experience?  What would we like to see as our "fruit"?  How do we get that fruit, whatever it is individually for each kid?  If we want to be a good musician, what must we do? (Or whatever your kids are into doing). What is the most important thing for us to nurture in our experience, no matter what we are interested in these days? If we nurture this most important thing, what will be the result in any field of endeavor?  Why?

[PYCL 8: Living water vs. troubled water: forgive or be very nice to someone!]
There are so many things that you can come up with to share in this lesson. But I wanted to share from the Sentinel, Kat Collins article about this week's lesson "The cleansing touch of living waters".   She mentions the difference between how the Samaritan woman is so enthusiastic about Jesus' living water. Her humility and joy at finding the Christ are so evident!  She "reserves"/holds back nothing in her enthusiasm to share her discovery (see citation S28 for the "no reservations" idea here).  This is in sharp contrast to the way that the man at the Pool of Bethesda greets Jesus' question about whether he'd like to be healed.  He is looking to the "troubled waters" of the pool for his healing, to superstition, instead of the living waters that come from the Christ.  Both the Samaritan woman and the man by the pool receive their healing, and I love this, that all sinners who are seeking are embraced in the Christ love.  But I couldn't pass up the beautiful thought about the living vs. troubled water in the two stories.  You can certainly talk about the symbolism of each and about the "cup of cold water" as well. When they are sharing this Christly cup, do they have to tell someone something about God? Can it be done through forgiving someone or being especially nice to someone who is left out?  This is a "refreshing" way to share the love of Christ with our neighbor.

Have a great Sunday!

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