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[PYCL: Never stop learning, even when grown up!]
CedarS PYCLs–Possible Younger Class Lessons for:

Probation After Death
The Christian Science Bible Lesson for October 27, 2013

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

[PYCL 1: Talk about being "on probation" while being open to infinite possibilities of Love.]
You will want to discuss what this subject means, even if the doctrinal explanation isn't so important to students, the idea of what happens after we "die" is often a question that even little ones think about…  some more openly than others.  Since this subject is really about progressing, there isn't a need to get deeply morbid with the little kids about it, you can talk about what it means to be "on probation", how does this apply to our lives daily?  Does God test us?  Is God checking on us and seeing if we do right or wrong and making judgments about us?  We need to check on these thoughts now and then because it's easy to slip into a very anthropomorphic view of God and think of Her as a big and all-powerful human-type being that keeps track of us.  How can we help each week to point in the direction of God as He is described in S&H, as Truth, Life, Love, etc.?  These are laws that surround us and uphold us as ideas of Spirit rather than beings separate from their Maker.  When God becomes a "super human" being, then She loses the real power and the ability to genuinely be present everywhere, to have a consciousness big enough to love and care for all of mankind, and we are limited to views of God that include only what we already know about mortal man.  We simply are not open to the enormity of the Divine and the infinite possibilities of Love. 

[PYCL 2:  Learn to always move forward.  Plan a "step by step" walk of being faithful.]
So what is this subject for?  Why do we need to learn about probation after death?  Because we must learn to always move forward, always progress.  Infinite Life is about infinite progress, not about eternal "time" – in fact there is no such thing as time mixed in with eternity.  One idea for illustrating the thought of progress is to plan a "step by step" walk through the church or around the Sunday School or outside, whatever does not cause distraction.  You could obtain some carpet remnants perhaps from a carpet store to act as "stepping stones".  Talk about how each stone represents a step forward, out of mortal, error-based thinking and into spiritual thinking about our life. Each step might represent something that we are endeavoring to be "faithful over" as the Golden Text and 2nd section talk about. You can decide what each step is to say and place a tag on each to identify it. You really don't have to have "steps" though, you can just discuss these ideas and then walk together and talk about each step you are taking.  Maybe some of the steps are "jumping" ones.  What does it mean to be "faithful over a few things"?  What do we get to "rule over" if we demonstrate this faithfulness?  For some of us, this faithfulness might represent our desire to have self-control and behave in a respectful way at school even when we are bored.  (This seems to be a challenge for some littler boys especially 🙂 What kind of results do we have from demanding this self-control?  Maybe we feel a greater sense of peace, a more powerful sense that we are not just a victim of our emotions?  Maybe we get more interesting opportunities or maybe our parents just get us a toy car if we promise not to misbehave at school… Whatever the thing we get to "rule over" it is a huge success to overcome whatever would keep us from growing and improving in our day-to-day lives. 

[PYCL 3: Don’t have a list-less improvement walk; 1)Don't get angry, 2) comfort others...]
If you need a list, look no further than the Responsive Reading (R.R.).  If you make it into a list you can see that the things that we are asked to do are: Don't get angry, comfort others, edify others, esteem those that do good, warn the unruly, comfort the "feebleminded", support the weak, be patient toward all, don't do evil for evil, always follow good, rejoice always, pray always, give thanks, prove "all things", hold to what is good.  This is a pretty encompassing list! The R.R. also encourages us to take joy in being "tempted" to do something that contradicts this list.  Why should we be joyful about being tempted to do the wrong thing?  Well, because if we aren't ever tempted to do the wrong thing, then how do we progress?  Progress comes from working to get better!  If we don't have any challenge in our lives, then we can't possibly progress.  Progress Spirit-ward always comes from opposing the temptations that matter presents to us. 

[PYCL 4: With the light of Love in your life, never stop learning, even when grown up!]
The 1st section talks about this path.  Understanding/light/lamp is life.  Think about this analogy together.  Why is understanding life, and wandering out of understanding "death"? (B3)  Maybe this is like enjoying just living in matter and not looking for God in everything we do?  If we live in matter, well then we die in matter.  But living in Spirit is forever and is real life.  I also like that citation B4 says not to "let go" of understanding.  That sounds to me like understanding is a "living", moving thing, growing and changing.  We can't just understand and then "poof" we are done.  We never stop learning, understanding more deeply.  Kids will like that this is the case, that we aren't all done when we are grown-up.  We aren't even "ahead" of them!  Isn't that growing understanding like life itself?  It never is "still", "dead", "inactive".  Think about how the sun makes things light and brings life to plants and to animals and people as well.  Isn't that kind of like the light that we get from God about our nature?  Can we survive and thrive and prosper, can we bless others if we don't have the light of Love in our lives?  If we are responsible for our "own" good all by ourselves, we might find the task of progress daunting.  But we have God's light feeding us all the time, just like the sun gives light to plants and everything else!

[PYCL 5: Be sure to ask what the talents parable means to the kids. Put qualities into action!]
The parable of the talents is a great one to tell in your own words.  The analogy may be obvious to you, but tell the story and be sure to ask what it means to the kids.  Make sure they understand what a parable is and why Jesus used them so often. This story has many aspects to look it; you don't have to cover them all this week.  Some ideas include the fact that we are all given good to bless those around us.  We are all required to "invest", to make that good productive.  We can't be content with the fact that we are getting by at school, that we are doing the minimum to be helpful.  We are given great strength, ingenuity, intelligence, love, tenderness, sensitivity, compassion, understanding…  If we aren't putting these qualities into action, no one knows they exist and we get nothing from these gifts; in fact, they wither within us and become less and less apparent to us.  It's a bit like if you never use your body, never move, never walk, your muscles eventually seem to become useless to you.  Not because they don't exist, just because you never use them. Another way to think about this story is to think of the way that fear can sometimes try to keep us from putting out there our qualities and sharing our good.  What if we struggle with shyness?  Should that keep us from expressing our intelligence or love?  Should we just bury those qualities year after year? What happens then when we are required to give a public presentation after many years of burying our gifts?  Are there other ways that fear would tempt us to "bury" something that God has given us? 

Mrs. Eddy offers encouragement in citation S10 by telling us to be persistent and to not let material opposition discourage us. We will receive a blessing as we overcome this "opposition".

[PYCL 6: Give them a rubber band and keep the tension from building up and snapping!]
Section 3 offers a chance to talk about how doing things that "bury" our "talents" ends up bringing us only disappointment (and ultimately death since we are looking in the wrong direction for life).  You might enjoy looking together at citation B12 and noticing that it says that the "wages" of sin is death (what are wages?).  But the "gift" of God is eternal life.  I love that we have to "earn" death through sin, through burying or hiding our good, but that God just gives us those "talents" to invest, we don't even have to ask for them!  Here’s a little exercise to illustrate some ideas in this section: Mrs. Eddy tells us in citation S15 that progress should be painless. That seems a little counterintuitive. Why does progress often seem to be painful?  Isn't it because we resist it rather than going along with it or running out in front?  What if you give them a rubber band?   Have them (one at a time) hold it tight and you pull on it.  If they stay there pulling back then you let go.  It snaps them.  If they move with you, the tension never builds; they go "forward", symbolic of that path of progress.  Resisting progress is a little like getting snapped by the rubber band.  (Obviously a three- or four-year-old might not appreciate this activity… So, be mindful of your audience; you don't want them telling mom and dad that their teacher gave them a rubber band welt.) 

[PYCL 7: Learn not to look to the body for proof of progress spirit-ward!]
It might be fun to combine sections 4 and 5 if you are inclined. What is our view of progress hinged on?  Is it based on a material trajectory of getting gradually smarter, better at a sport, or an instrument, etc.?  Maybe we need a more spiritual view of these endeavors as opportunities to grow in our understanding of God?  Does this progress end when we "die"?  Why, or why not?  The Lazarus story points to progress after the grave as does the experience of Jesus.  Did their bodies change?  Martha, one of Lazarus' sisters, had a view of progress that was based on the religious doctrine that we will all "rise again" at some point when Christ returns.  But Jesus says to her "I am the resurrection and the life"!  That Christ is here and now, always there to help us move forward.  I wonder if Thomas didn't believe that we progress after "death" and so couldn't believe that Jesus was really Jesus, unless he had proof that the body was the same one. Does this point to a need for us not to look to the body for proof of progress spirit-ward?  Think of all that Jesus proved of God's love and power before he was crucified, and yet all the disciples just went back to their former occupations, thinking that the whole "thing" was defeated, that the Christ power had "died" with Jesus.  This is how mortal mind can be kind of sneaky and trick us into believing that good can "die" or disappear from our sight.  This is the thought that needs "burial" (S25), rather than the spiritual qualities we are given and need to be "invested", proven.

[PYCL 8: Help pupils gain a racer’s viewpoint! Finish on a bright path lit by understanding!]
Section 6 is fun to think about from a "racer's" point of view. Most kids love a race.  Talk about what kind of race this is pointing to.  Why does it require patience?  Why is it the "race that is set before us"?  Should we wish we had someone else's "race" to run?  Or are we given the "talents" that are just right for us to "invest"?   Finally here, you can ask together the question posed in citation S28.  Nothing wrong with asking it just as it is.  Can you all answer this honestly and positively? If not, then what can we do about it?  Notice that the path gets "brighter and brighter unto the perfect day."  So we finish with that brilliant path that is lit by understanding and leads us to Life.

Hope this gives you some ideas to go with on Sunday! 

 

 

 

 

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