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[PYCL: Re-enact humility persuasion — as well as “dry-clean” foot-washing (PYCL 5)…]
CedarS PYCLs–Possible Younger Class Lessons for:

Sacrament”
The Christian Science Bible Lesson for July 14, 2013

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

[PYCL 1: Discuss how to make every promise with justice, mercy and humility.]
Sacrament can be simply defined as an agreement or covenant with God.  So you can start with making this clear with the kids.  What does a covenant that we make with God, or that He makes with us, look like?  Let's look at the Golden Text for some ideas that will help us work together to figure out how we can maybe make our own promise to God.  I see three main ideas: justice, mercy and humility.  Can you talk about these qualities?  Why might they be important in any promise you make?  What forms do these qualities take in our day to day lives? See if the kids can come up with some thoughts about each word, do they seem applicable to our lives today? How might we show mercy, for example?  Is forgiveness a kind of mercy?  Is tender care of someone that has taken a spill, even if we don't know them, a kind of mercy?  I'm sure you can come up with some thoughts on these things!  How are these three qualities essential to worship of God? (More on worship soon!)  Can our love for and worship of God come from any standpoint but a humble one?  If we feel we are personally responsible for the outcome of something, then where does God fit?  If we are worried about our performance in a soccer game, and we are only thinking of how we can play better, we aren't properly crediting God as the source for our skills; this is a form of pride!  Can we uphold an agreement if it is unjust?  Would God create an unjust covenant?  Would His promise to us be unmerciful?

[PYCL 2: Discuss how the Beatitudes embody ways we are to be doers, to love (worship) God.]
Once you've looked at these ideas, take a look at the Beatitudes in the Responsive Reading and see how they expand on these qualities.  It doesn't seem like a stretch to see how each of these Beatitudes contains at least one, if not more, of these qualities. One way to look at the Beatitudes, especially in light of this week's lesson is to see how they embody the ways in which we are asked to worship God.  Sacrament is always connected to worship.  How does each Beatitude help us to show our love for, and devotion to God?  Can you talk about the connection between worship and Sacrament?  When Protestant Christianity thinks of Sacrament they think of the main sacraments, namely, baptism, and communion (which commemorates the last supper in which Jesus shared the bread and wine).  These are traditional ceremonies that symbolize our devotion to and love for God and for Jesus and all the Christ spirit that he embodied.  The Beatitudes really keep the worshiper on the path of a “doer” and not talker.  They give us the practical steps that we must take to be genuinely devoted to God, a true worshiper!  We are called upon to put our understanding and faith and love for God to the test of humble obedience.  It will also be fun for the kids to see this different translation of the Beatitudes.  You can talk about how the Bible is translated and why we have different translations.

[PYCL 3: Discuss how Naaman had to dip himself in the healing waters of humility.]
Humility is the most prevalent quality highlighted in this week's lesson.  Not a section goes by without addressing this quality.  Perhaps you can make sure that it is thought over so that humility is not confused with just being self-effacing.  Can you be humble and have authority?  Is a president or king or queen also supposed to be humble?  You can look at the first two sections in tandem for some thoughts about humility.  You can condense the ideas in section 1 and talk about genuine and not material worship.  Then you have the story of Naaman in section 2, who is a great captain of the Syrian army.  He arrives with much pomp and splendor to ask Elisha for healing from the disfiguring, (humiliating), condition of leprosy.  Develop this story a little for the kids.  Help them see that Naaman, while clearly a decent man (his wife's maid, who was a captured Hebrew, thought well enough of him to suggest this course of healing!).  Upon Naaman's arrival, Elisha immediately sees that this difficulty is not a condition of matter, but of prideful thought.  He certainly discerned in the man the capacity for humility.  (At the urging of his Hebrew servant, this great military leader of a foreign country came for help to a man of a different religion than his own.)  And then Elisha asked him to do an act that would have seemed humiliating to this great leader.  He told him to go dip himself in the muddy waters of the River Jordan, not once or twice, but seven times!  On top of that, Elisha didn't even come to the door to give him this direction; he sent a servant with the message.  Why would that seem disrespectful to Naaman?  What does Naaman say when he leaves Elisha?  He was expecting a big, important “show”!  Is a showy ceremony how we usually feel God's presence?  You can certainly point out not only that it might have seemed “gross” to wash in Jordan, at least to Naaman, but also that the symbolic act of “dipping” is an act much like bowing, requiring that one be in a lowered position. This is different from having Elisha, say, pour water over his head or something more along those lines. How can we learn to dip [or baptize] ourselves into these healthy “waters” of humility?

[PYCL 4: Discuss how dropping E.G.O. (Edging God Out) brings us into healing & newness.]
We can learn a lot about this from the woman who follows Jesus and endures repeated refusal and even insult from Jesus himself!  This story is a hard one if we look at it from the standpoint of Jesus being perhaps less than loving.  But when we view it as an opportunity for this woman to show her utter love for her daughter with no regard to a personal sense of ego, we can learn a lot.  Ask the students if they would have been so persistent under these circumstances?  Or would they have slunk away and cried over how cruel this amazing man was?  Do we miss valuable opportunities for healing because we can't bear to find ourselves in an uncomfortable position?  Do we avoid approaching someone of a very different background or trying something that we don't have a natural talent for because we don't want to risk rejection or humiliation?  Most of us actually admire those who throw personal pride aside and willingly, and cheerfully, try something new and maybe even scary.  Maybe they even kind of make a fool of themselves and are able to laugh along with everyone!  This is a wonderful advantage of humility.  We really get great openings for healing when we are willing to dip down in those “waters” that are “foreign” to us, as Naaman finally did.  Many of us are especially uncomfortable trying something in front of peers that we are sure will judge us harshly for a lack of success.  This comes from a false sense of being separate from God.  We can see this as an opportunity to embrace not only the idea of the third Beatitude in which we are told that in humility we will receive what God has promised us, but also the fifth in which the merciful receive mercy.  We can practice merciful judgment, right judgment about our neighbors, our camp-mates, and anyone with whom we are working or playing.

[PYCL 5: Re-enact the little maid convincing her master Naaman to do the humble thing — as well as “dry-clean” foot-washing with basin, towel and “virtual water”.]
I think that the littlest children might enjoy some re-enacting. The story of Naaman would be a fun one to put into a “play”. It might give the little guys a chance to cement these ideas. You can read bits of the story while they play the roles of Naaman and some of his servants that work to convince him that it is worth it for him to do the humble thing, the simple thing, and be obedient to Elisha's request. Another story that depicts deep humility is the story of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet. This too, can be acted out after you discuss why Jesus would do this. It's also another chance to discuss the “gross” factor.  Like dipping in the River Jordan, washing someone’s feet in those days would be a very dirty business. They lived in a dry and hot land and wore sandals, so you can imagine how dirty their feet might become!  You can bring in a basin and act this out without even using water.  Just a towel and basin and you are set.  This activity is quite beautiful if the kids have some glimpse of how great a man Jesus was, and what an act of deep love and humility this represented.  This is not simply because feet are yucky and needed washing, but obviously you need to bring to light the reasons behind Jesus' act!  What was Jesus pointing out to his disciples by this act?  What does he say we all need to do?  We need to “wash one another's feet”!  Can you talk about what this means practically?  How is this a way of worshiping God?  Why would humbly loving others be a form of worship?

[PYCL 6: Discuss how be like Jesus by never consenting to becoming a victim to material law & how by casting our “nets” on the right side we are humbly worship in ways that can never become ritualized.]
The last two sections give us the chance to talk about how such humble goodness from God can sometimes look like it can be destroyed.  It looks like matter can destroy Spirit when you read about Jesus' crucifixion.  But section 7 reveals that spiritual good is eternal and cannot fall victim to matter or material law.  That, in fact, spiritual humility has great power!  You can talk to the kids about how even after his resurrection Jesus was emphasizing to his disciples the need to spiritualize their worship of God.  They can't just go back to “fishing”.  [See the cute reenactment of going back to fishing by a young cabin at CedarS at http://www.cedarscamps.org/videos/]  We can't just go around day to day living in matter.  They and we too, must “cast our nets on the right side”.  What does that mean?  (Don't assume they know more than the literal meaning [as reenacted by the girls’ cabin at camp].)  What are they going to do that day, or in the coming week, to cast their own “net” on the right side?  And how is this “casting” a form of humble worship?  This kind of worship can never become ritualized.  Each moment it asks us to think and apply what we know.  It always demands that our understanding of God be expanding!

I hope this gives you some fun ideas for this lesson. Have a great Sunday!

 

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