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[PYCL: Rightly see each challenge as an opportunity! (1) Obediently practice (build) your skills of listening, following, discerning! Let every flood just lift you higher! (4)]
Possible Younger Class Lessons for the Christian Science Bible Lesson on

for March 19, 2017

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

Pycl #1: I can't help but notice that the Responsive Reading (RR) is full of all the ways that God will preserve us from suggestions or suggested threats of matter. (From rising waters and rivers, from fire, wilderness…) But what strikes me as interesting is that the writer says "When". "When thou passest through the waters…when thou walkest through the fire…" As Christian Scientists we can get confused when we are confronted by illness or other challenges and think maybe we are doing something wrong. But this is not necessarily the case at all! We are not [always automatically] exempt from the suggestions of matter and its calamities. If we were, where would the healing come in? Obviously Jesus didn't escape challenge, horrific indeed. Mrs. Eddy's life had great challenges in it right up until close to her passing even. It is how we respond to these challenges, how we think of matter's so-called "power", that is important, not whether the challenge is presented to us. In each of the RR examples, we are given a "God response"— a way that God preserves us from being harmed by that suggestion of a power in matter. Even young children wonder why they get sick, or why a sickness might hang around for more time than it "should". So this is a salient point for them too. At the end of the RR God tells us He will "…pour out [His] spirit upon all flesh." This could be seen as Him helping us see right here and now, that God is power. This idea links the Golden Text with the RR, showing that in every suggestion of matter's power, God will reveal His goodness to man right here in our present understanding of things! To a child this means that when we feel ill (for example), God is there to lift us above that false sensation—there to help us feel His goodness and harmony.

I think that the children might enjoy some questions about this idea of challenge in our lives. Why do we have them? (Because there is a suggestion that matter is powerful and God only sometimes useful! See citation S4.) Calling a challenge an "opportunity" is not sugar-coating it. It points to the presence of a space in our consciousness to fill with what is spiritually true, to know that God is the only reality and power! And, when viewing a challenge as an opportunity, we get the chance to truly move forward and have healing. Healing is the evidence that spiritual reality is present and powerful—powerful over the suggestions of matter.

Pycl #2: Read citation B1 and explain what cisterns are. Find a cracked cup from home, or maybe a flower pot with a leak… Have them fill it from a pitcher, with water, holding it over a wash tub that you bring in. Ask them if about the soundness of this cup (or whatever) seems useful for containing water? You can have a little discussion about how we might be tempted to look to matter for support, meaning, joy, and so on. Maybe it will work for a little while (just like a cracked cup might hold water for a little while). But then just when you are feeling really low and you want a "drink", you'll look to that cup and the water will be gone! When you look to God ("…the fountain of living waters….") you have an endless supply of exactly what you need. (I'm dealing in imagery here for the sake of succinctness, you will need to go through it more clearly—how we might look to matter for joy, etc. with concrete examples.)

Pycl #3: Do the children know about science experiments? How do we go about proving certain facts to be facts? You can talk about this process or find a simple one to do in class, even something as simple as dropping a pencil on the floor and talking about gravity. I imagine that Mrs. Eddy's paragraph in citation S4 might be a bit much for the youngest crowd, but I know that almost any age can consider the subject of there being only one true power. (S5). And for most of us, the idea that God is good but let’s bad things happen all the time, just doesn't make any sense. Why would a good God just make people and leave them to destruction of all kinds, only rescuing now and then, with little explanation? So, how about making a chart with the kids. On one side of the paper we have "God=Good" underneath are the words "what comes from this?" On the other side of the sheet we have “Matter=undependable” and under that "what comes from this?" In each column you supply what comes to us from God vs. what comes to us from matter. You can start the list with something so they get the idea. This exercise is a great lead-in for the story of Noah in Section 2!

Pycl #4: In your plastic dish tub for the water in Pycl 2, you can float a "boat". This can be something representative, such as a cork, or a decent toy boat that doesn't fill with water and sink. Read the story or tell the story of Noah. This plays such a lovely role in the lesson on matter, illustrating the effortless way that we can be lifted above the claim that matter is destructive, or even that God is destructive! If we want to experience the safety and spiritual sense that Noah had, we must also practice listening and knowing that matter is not the power it claims to be. God provides an "ark" to each of us, at all times. We can all be obediently practicing (building) our skills of listening, following, discerning and so on. Then we are lifted above the "waters", matter's claims of evil, and power opposed to Good. ("…spiritual sense lifts human consciousness into eternal Truth." S9) Have each child try pouring water into the tub with the "boat" in it. What does the water do to the boat? Nothing! (Ideally) The boat just rises higher and higher on the surface. This is how our thought can be when we keep our consciousness in that "ark". Citation B9 points out that God blessed Noah … and said he should be fruitful/productive, etc. We might look here at the definition of Noah in Science & Health and notice that part of it reads "…knowledge of the nothingness of material things and of the immortality of all that is spiritual." (592) Our consciousness might be buoyed up by embracing the qualities of Noah. Make a list: good listener, humble, obedient, hard working, innocent, morally courageous. These qualities are blessed by God, bring fruitfulness or productivity, joy, and so on! Maybe send each child home with a cork or something very buoyant to remember these qualities by.

Pycl #5: Now, if you are feeling very ambitious this week, you could continue to use your wash tub for one more visual. Empty the water back into the pitcher. Pour a few cups of sand into the tub. Bring in some toy houses, you could use little “Monopoly” game houses and hotels if you have that game, or improvise. Set the sand on a slope for better effect. Set houses on the hillside and then read the parable in citation B12. What does this "rock" symbolize? 2Sam 22:47 "The Lord liveth; and blessed be my rock;…" is one of many places in the Bible where you can find "rock" being used metaphorically as the saving spirit of Christ. There's an awesome camp song based on this passage that is short and lively that we sing at CedarS now and again. Hopefully, you could teach that to the children as it includes great rhythm and hand motion. But the point here is that when we build our experience on the healing Christ, on the integrity, truth, love, and power of Christ, we are building on a solid foundation that matter cannot impress and destroy. But… if we build on the changing and fluid foundation of matter, represented in the wash tub as sand, we have disaster. Because guess what happens when the rain comes? (—when matter gets challenging?) Have the kids try pouring water above the houses or house to see what happens as it rushes down the sandy slope and washes away the house.

Pycl #6: Much of this week's lesson impresses us with the fact that there is only one power, God. Citation S15 for one. I think it might be profitable to look together at citation S18 and try doing this almost literally together. Come up with ways that we can "deny" the claims of matter. Make a list. Make a set of stepping "stones", could be paper cut-outs, or a set of stairs in your church. How do the denials we came up with lead us toward joy/freedom/triumph? This really is a good step in treatment so we are teaching something essential to healing.

Pycl #7: In Section 5 Jesus offers a hand to Peter so that Peter doesn't drown when he succumbs to fear. Isn't this like when we have a lovely spiritual revelation, some great progress, and then when symptoms become aggressive, we are tempted to be afraid again? Well, we're in luck because, just as with Peter, while walking on the waves, the Christ is here giving us a hand-up when we are fearful. It's kind of our "ark"— that safety of Christ that lifts us above fear. This last Pycl is just a way to think about one aspect of this story as it relates to our subject this week. Naturally you can discuss the physics involved and the laws of Spirit!

Have a great Sunday.

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