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PYCL Q&As: QUESTIONS: What is sacrament? Communion? Why the theme of meekness/humility? Why kneel in church?  How to dry foot-wash? (2)  Why is it so cool that the veil of the temple tore when Jesus gave his life on the cross? (3)
ACTIVITIES: A morning meal resurrection party. (4) A fun resistance experiment to illustrate the benefits of meekness. (5)


Possible Younger Class Lesson ideas for the Christian Science Quarterly Bible Lesson on

“SACRAMENT”
for Sunday, January 8, 2023

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


PYCL #1: WHAT IS SACRAMENT, WHAT IS COMMUNION?

It is always good to get a definition for these things when we arrive at this lesson. Sacraments can be described in traditional theology (and if your students are not familiar with other Christian religions, you might take the time to explain these rituals to them), as rituals that are used in church services to celebrate and remind us of God and of Christ Jesus. There are a number of these sacraments in the Catholic Church and maybe fewer in Protestant ones. But the one we are focusing on this week is the sacrament of the Eucharist, which is described in Section 3 this week (Luke 22:14,19,20,26/citation B8). Of course, we can get into a careful explanation of what the Eucharist symbolizes. A great explanation is found in citation S15/35:25, in which Eucharist, bread, and wine are all defined, as well as the cup.

Next we can get a working definition of communion. You can use a dictionary for this. There is a religious definition, but it is helpful, I think, to look at all the aspects of this word.
How is communion different from silent prayer, or even Christian Science treatment? There is one definition that I loved seeing this week that mentions that the word implies “communal”, meaning that it includes a community. This can lead to explaining why we might all kneel during the communion service at the end.  It might also lead to the question of why is this important to do as a Church? Why as a community?
Why not on our own? What are the advantages of doing it as a community?


PYCL #2: WHY THE THEME OF MEEKNESS/HUMILITY?
WHY DO WE KNEEL IN THE CHURCH SERVICE?
FREE FOOT WASHING!

Kneeling certainly symbolizes humility. With the very young you can explain humility to them, and have them kneel. When we kneel we are vulnerable, in a sense. (use a different word with the littles). We can’t jump up to “defend” ourselves. We are not poised to run. You can help the younger children understand that for an adult it is even harder to jump up from kneeling.

So, kneeling is a position where we are symbolically, at least, setting aside our own “ability” to take care of ourselves in that moment. With older children you can explain this without the demonstration. They may not know that we kneel in church on Sacrament Sunday. Should we, at least figuratively, kneel more often than twice a year in church?

In the same third section of the Bible lesson above, Jesus does a remarkable thing with/to his disciples. Read or tell the story in (cit. B9/John 13:3-5, 12-14, 34) about Jesus washing his disciples’ feet.
You can explain to the younger children how people in this part of the world wore sandals and that their feet were dusty, dirty, and that washing them would have been a yucky job.
Explain that in those days there were a lot of slaves. And that the job of washing a guests feet would have been that of a slave if the host gad one, not of someone like Jesus.
What was he teaching the disciples through this humble act?
How should we follow him?

You can continue this explanation of Jesus’ humility by showing how his willingness to submit to the horror of the crucifixion was one of the greatest acts of humility ever. Crucifixion was the most humiliating way of punishing an offender in its day. It was reserved for the most horrible of people in society. On top of that Jesus had to endure a bunch of other awful things on his way to crucifixion. One of the hardest things for him was surely that all those people who followed him for healing, stood there and jeered and shouted at him, and almost all of his closest disciples abandoned him.

Jesus did not have to do any of this humiliation and suffering. He could have walked away from this experience. But then we would not have his amazing example to follow. His teachings would have perished with his healing record. Instead he humbly prayed that his own desires/will be set aside for that of Love’s.

OPTIONAL ACTIVITY: With the youngest classes it can be fun to follow this discussion of what it means to be meek, to be humble, and how Jesus showed us humility, with some foot washing of their own. You can bring in a dish tub and some water in a bottle, and a towel. Each student can wash another’s feet. If you are in a smaller Sunday School you may be able to announce “free foot washing station”! for the other students in the Sunday School. It can be a truly “communal” activity!


PYCL #3: WHAT IS THE VEIL OF THE TEMPLE AND WHY IS IT SO COOL THAT IT TORE WHEN JESUS DIED ON THE CROSS?

In citation B11/Mark 15: 1,25,38,42,43,46,47 we have the story of what happened following the crucifixion and death of Jesus. It briefly tells us that the veil of the temple was torn in two from the top to the bottom. This veil separated the holiest part of the temple, where only the priest could enter, from the rest of the temple. It would have been where they would keep the Ark, when they had it. Explain the symbolism of how Jesus came to explain that God was Love, not a mysterious, angry, being that leaves man to suffer. Jesus took away the mystery of divine Love and revealed God as Father-Mother. This veil symbolizes the separation of man from God. It depicted a God who was  only available to some, those who were “good enough” (the priests) to commune with Love. Jesus destroyed that seeming barrier. Not only that, but the story states that it was torn from top to bottom, indicating that there was no human hand involved. Historical accounts tell us that the veil was huge. It was likely 60 feet tall and, by some accounts, as much as 3 inches thick. Bring some fabric for the children to attempt to tear. Make sure it’s not too light weight. You could use one of the towels you brought for foot washing! This is a fun illustration of how difficult it would be to tear such a curtain even if there were a bunch of people trying to do it. But in this case, there were certainly no people standing on a ladder trying to tear it from its top to its bottom!


PYCL #4: HAVE A MORNING MEAL RESURRECTION PARTY.

I doubt your students will appreciate fish for breakfast, but you could bring some other commemorative “meal” for them. What does it mean to celebrate resurrection in daily life? With the older kids you can discuss the idea  that we need to allow our human wants and desires to kind of “die away”, or be elevated by more spiritual motives first. Then we find ourselves “resurrected”, brought into a lively engagement with our day, each day. This kind of joyous living is one that doesn’t leave us feeling regret at the end of the day, but full satisfaction. That means that our joys and activities are ones that have a spiritual foundation, rather than merely human pleasure. In S25/35:10-14 Mary Baker Eddy describes this “morning meeting with our Lord in the dawn of a new light…” This idea of having good motives for our activities is portrayed in the same section when some of the disciples go back to their work as fishermen. They had already seen Jesus raised from the dead, but still were unsure of their role. They went back to what was familiar to them. But Jesus tells them, after a fruitless night of fishing, to cast their nets on the right side of the ship. When they bring it in, full of fish, it finally dawns on them that they are to truly become “…fishers of men…” as Jesus told them the first time he pulled them away from their nets at the beginning of his ministry.

Our daily experience with newness and resurrection promises that we will look for new ways to follow in the path of Jesus, healing and blessing everyone we are in contact with. So as you discuss this meeting with the disciples, read the story, or share it more fully, you can also choose to share some goldfish crackers to represent fish, or some bread and butter. You can discuss the symbolism of bread from this lesson, how it represents truth. Why would we “eat” truth? What does it mean to ingest, or take in, or digest, truth? How does this help us to celebrate that “morning meal” that we read about in citation B14/John 21: 1,3,4-6,9,12?
How do we “commemorate” it?
Can we commemorate it every day? List some ways together.


PYCL #5: DO A FUN RESISTANCE EXPERIMENT TO ILLUSTRATE THE BENEFITS OF MEEKNESS.

Bring in a shallow dish with an inch or so of water. Have some finely ground pepper on hand and a bar of soap. Have a fun chat about how humility and meekness are like wearing a pair of glasses that help us to see God’s hand, or activity in all that we do, and feel our oneness with Good. When we stop thinking that we are the one that has to be “smart”, “creative”, “funny”, “lovable” and so on, we can begin to relax and notice all the ways that God has given us all that we need to be who we are in the very best ways. These ways include all the infinite good and variety that is loveable, creative, intelligent and so on.

In our Responsive Reading ( Ps. 25:4-6,8-10 1 Peter 5:2, 4,5,6,10,11) in 1 Peter it tells us “…when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. …and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.” This idea that Good, or God, “resists” a belief in a separate identity that has existence apart from All, is what we are facing here. If God is All, then that’s all there is. We are not standing on our own, trying on our own to accomplish things, or live a good life, or any life! Allness does not know something “outside” of itself right?

You may be able to have some fun with this idea. Now, sprinkle some of that pepper on the surface of the water that is in your shallow dish. Cover the surface with the pepper. Dip your finger in the water and show how nothing really happens except that you get some pepper on your finger. Now get that finger soapy. Dip it again and watch how the pepper runs away from it. You can describe it in terms of the soap resisting the pepper, a useful analogy because soap can represent God’s purity, goodness, love or whatever. Pepper, or error cannot overcome that “goodness”. When we are humble we are one with God, when we think we are separate, we are like the pepper, running off to other parts (only in thought, of course).

We might feel like we are separate because we are thinking that we are responsible for our own success or failure. This is not a perfect analogy, of course, but it provides a fun visual and with some discussion it can be a useful way to help kids understand and remember that pride repels us from feeling our natural closeness to God.

Have a great week in Sunday School!

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