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[PYCL: Untangle and readjust the balance for God & N-everlasting Punishment! (3, 8)]
Possible Younger Class Lessons for the Christian Science Bible Lesson for

“Everlasting Punishment”

on May 1, 2016

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

Pycl #1: In one of the Bible stories in this week's lesson Jesus heals a man with palsy. He knows what the scribes are thinking and addresses that thought before healing the man in need. It is a great representation of why we study this series of lessons that have traditional theological subjects. There is that thought out there, Mrs. Eddy knew, that in order to heal, we need to be aware of that thought and address it! So maybe we could introduce this subject in light of that story in citation B15**. Christian Science is an active theology that seeks to teach us how to do the works that Jesus did through understanding God and His laws of good. As a part of this introduction, you could pretty much spend the entire class working on the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount. This great body of work (partly contained in the lesson in citation B12** and quoted in S29), was Jesus' way of responding to the deadening of God's law. Moses introduced the people to the Ten Commandments, helping to elevate their worship, spiritualize their understanding of God. But as the years went by, man, and theology springing from man, sought to hem in the heart of these laws and turn them into something more intellectual. Man began to lose the sense of their spiritual import. So Jesus took those laws and expounded on their spiritual demands (B12**). At our best, this is what we must do today with Christian Science, be sure that we are not just following the letter, but the spirit of its teaching. The spirit is what heals. As we study the Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount, together with our pupils, we can look for how they are demonstrable today, each day. This is the very best way to lead away from the suggestion of punishment for our sins, because we are less inclined to sin when our thoughts are filled with the spiritual import of these great teachings!

Pycl #2: What do the children think of when you give them the word "punishment"? Does it sound like something God would do? Who punishes us? Why? If God doesn't, then what or who does…(S8)? Can they explain how sin might "punish" itself? Have some examples from your own experience, and likely they can come up with some of their own. Maybe it would help to explain the difference between "punishment" and "discipline". Discipline is something that teaches us and that can, when done well, correct us. Ideally, our parents don't "punish" us; rather, they will help us correct our course. Certainly God as the Shepherd in the Bible (B2), is portrayed often enough as a firm and loving "corrector" rather than punisher. There are Bible stories that speak of God as someone who punishes. Most of those are in the Old Testament and, I think, stem from a mindset of the day that is coordinate, for example, with wiping out an entire city including animals and crops, in order to not be tarnished by the false Gods of that city. I don't think any of us advocate that kind of literal "cleansing"; rather, we see it as representing the idea of keeping our thought pure, staying away from temptation, remaining faithful to Truth, and so on. Discuss whether God "knows" when we "miss the mark". Is He some kind of big "guy" in the sky that keeps watch over us and judges our every move? Have them think of the synonyms for God and how they portray our Father-Mother. Section 1 has a lot of citations that help to explain why God would not be doing that kind of judging (B3 and all of the Science & HealthS&H—citations). If God created man spiritual, good, and that's all that He created, all that is real, then there is no evil or sin for God to recognize and punish. This is part of why sin punishes itself, it causes us to enjoy or hate life in matter and therefore not feel close or at-one with God, even though He never separates Himself from us!

Pycl #3: If all of the above is too old or complicated for your class, try bringing in a tangled wad of yarn (not so tangled that it is hopeless!!) Talk about sin—missing the mark—and how we can repent, rethink, reform ourselves. Look at citation S11. Give each child a wad of yarn to gently and patiently untangle and show them how to wind it into a ball. Two could work together on this. While they work you can talk about how we learn to tell the difference between when God is talking to us and when we are listening to human sense and missing that mark. Has anyone ever found themselves "tangled up" like the yarn when they started doing something that they were not supposed to do, and then having to "untangle" that deed? If you have an example from your life, share it here! Does God help us do this? Yes! Because every law of His is something that supports our efforts to do right. You could even discuss how the Commandments and Jesus' teachings are the great "untanglers" of life!

Pycl #4: What is mercy? It has a big presence in the lesson. Why does God's mercy endure for ever? In pondering this I think one reason is because it is not "personal". Think of the Prodigal story. The father in that story, representing our Father, God, didn't take offense at the son's sins, didn't attach them to him, and thus was free to see that the son had never really changed status from beloved son. In the Responsive Reading we have the tree that grows by the stream. Help the children understand the significance of this image. Does the stream decide whom to water? Does that infinite supply of good choose to water only those plants that believe the right things, have the right jobs, look a certain way? This is kind of an image for how God's love is universal and impartial (S&H p.13:2-3). It is, of course, also an image for how we can be more consistently joyous, harmonious, healthy and perceptive if we keep ourselves rooted in God's laws.

Pycl #5: We touched on this earlier, but for the younger children, look at citation B2 and talk about what a shepherd does. They keep guard over their sheep, keeping them safe from predators. They guide them to the best food, protect them from bad weather by driving them to shelter, lead them to water, and so on. Do they "punish" the sheep for "bad behavior"? (Talk here about the images of stray lambs…) You could give the children a "staff" to "herd" their sheep, dress as shepherds (a piece of sheet and rope to tie around the head in shepherd fashion). One of my kid's favorite Sunday School teachers used this method for helping them understand God's shepherding qualities and also in teaching about David. Then, of course, draw the connection between the shepherd, and God. Can we be shepherds ourselves today? How do we do this, reflecting God's shepherding qualities in daily life? What would our "sheep" be? How do we be "sheep" ourselves? Look at Mrs. Eddy's definition of sheep in the glossary of S&H.

Pycl #6: I like how clearly Mrs. Eddy points out that God would never make a man that is "bad", "inclined to sin", and then punish that man for doing things that God made him able to do (S2). I like to think of this as sort of an "M&M test". Put a bowl of M&M's on the table. Then tell the kids that they can't have any; they are just there for display. After awhile, ask them if that seems like a just or kind thing to do? Would God be that unkind to His son or daughter? Of course you'd need to allow them to eat them after this!

Pycl #7: Just a detail that I think is interesting to note. Moses is in this lesson having murdered someone. It seemed to him like a just thing to do at the time. Later, he writes down God's command in the Ten Commandments that "Thou shalt not kill". Did Moses learn from his "sin"? Did God punish Moses? After many years in the desert, being a shepherd, listening to God, did Moses learn what God truly wanted for man, what true justice was? Kind of fun to think about right?

Pycl #8: One final little thing to try. If you have a set of scales, or want to make a balance of some kind—you could work with citation S24 and talk about "readjust[ing] the balance for God". You could use small stones or something on one side to represent truth, have it outweigh the error. Or invent some other sort of exercise with this in mind!

Have a great Sunday!

[**Warren's PS: See Online version of this Met (upper right) for inspiring Cobbey Crisler commentary Downloads on Bible citations B11, B12 and B15 in this Lesson.]

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