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PYCLs that explore in hands-on ways benefits of obedience, of unwinding snarls and of dissolving hardness with Love!
Possible Younger Class Lesson ideas for the Christian Science Quarterly Bible Lesson on

for Sunday, October 29, 2023

by Kerry Jenkins, CS, of House Springs, MO • 314-406-0041

PYCL #1: Everlasting mercy.

If the children are a little older, explain the theological background of the subject of everlasting punishment. It is always interesting to do a search of the word “everlasting” in Concord if you have a subscription.

If you look at the Bible you can find roughly 8 references that have negative connotations, only one (Mat 25:46 referring to everlasting punishment), and some of those are “everlasting confusion” of enemies, and “everlasting contempt”. But there are a total of 91 references to “everlasting”, all but 8 of which are positive. See if they can gather some of these in a list. The first bunch are going to be “everlasting covenant”, which you may want to explain, and think together about what God’s covenant with us might be. But then you have things like everlasting mercy, love, kindness, kingdom, consolation…and so on.

Why do they think that this theological idea of everlasting punishment seems so important to any church doctrine?
Do they think that perhaps man is actually “wired” to reflect goodness, and so, when we are not obeying goodness, we are stepping out of our natural state, and so we feel “punished”?
What might that “eternal punishment” be that is mentioned in the Bible? I don’t think we need to be afraid of its mention!

Mary Baker Eddy tells us that sin is punished so long as the belief in sin lasts.
And we have the story of Jesus rescuing the sinning woman in Section 5, citation B13/John 8:1-11 to illustrate the fact that no one must suffer eternal punishment. I think that as long as we tolerate that which separates us from a sense of Love, we suffer a sense of “eternal punishment”. But redemption is at the center of Jesus’ message in the Bible, so I don’t think that eternity of punishment is a literal situation. Also, why the imbalance of all the references to eternally good things–83 good “eternals” to 8 bad ones?
Would Jesus have embraced an actual doctrine, if he established a church, of eternal damnation and punishment?

PYCL #2: Be obedient to God’s messages.

The story of Jonah is a ton of fun to share with the younger children. Tell or read it to them, maybe in a modern translation. What is the story meant to teach us–what are we supposed to learn from it? Certainly it is about listening and obedience. Might it also be about right judgement of others, and love for those who are perhaps not living their highest sense of right? (You may need to tell the whole story of Jonah to get into this part.) How often do we hold ourselves as “better”, or “more righteous” than others?
A sense of self-righteousness can often lead us to “sleep” through a “storm” of what others are experiencing. We can become insensitive to the needs of others when we think we are more righteous than others. (This is also illustrated in citation B13, see below)

Bring a couple of big sheets and a flashlight and reenact the story of Jonah. Gather under the sheet if you can hold it up so that it is like a room where all of you can sit with the flashlight. Pretend you are inside the whale. (You could also use the sheet to duplicate the waves by having a student hold each end and wave it up and down, after which you could all gather underneath it). “Inside” the “whale” you can all pray to listen and be obedient to Love.

What is Love asking of us right now? Can they tell?
It may be simply to kindly participate in Sunday School!
But you can always know what Love is asking because it feels loving, obedient, sometimes really hard, but right.

Have a conversation about things that you know you should, or knew you should do, that you resisted.
It could be something as simple as pick up your bedroom, or empty the dishwasher, or close the door quietly.
What does the whale’s belly represent?
Do we sometimes feel in the “dark” or lost or unhappy when we are not listening to Love or Truth in our lives?

PYCL #3: Bring a ball of yarn.

Citation S13/240:24-32 tells us that we have to not only be aware of the errors that we are participating in, but we have to stop committing them and unwind our “snarls” in the process. Bring in some tangled yarn (nothing that has been pulled tight or you will have to really work to get them out. Alternatively use a thicker string that you can get unknotted if you think they will pull too hard.)

Explain that we are going to “unwind our snarls” so that we can be useful, loving, think straightforward, kind thoughts.
We have to approach the process with patience, look for the ends, and not pull anything so tight that it is really impossible to untie!
You can help them if they are having trouble. When they have them untangled you can show them how to make it into a tiny ball of yarn.

Talk about how when we sometimes make mistakes we need to patiently and lovingly be willing to make the effort to restore relationships that get hurt by our mistakes. We don’t need to be punished, but we need to gently “untangle” what we did and restore it to a smooth “ball of yarn”!

PYCL #4: Universal solvent of Love… (& rock candy) {W. Check out Hymn 278 “healed is thy harness, His love hath dissolved it…”]

Citation S21/242:15 speaks of dissolving the “adamant of error” with the “universal solvent of Love”.
Define the word “adamant”, and also the “self” words–justification/love/and will. Why are these “hard” or “rock-like”?

One cool way to illustrate this kind of dissolving process would be to get your hands on some sugar “rock” candy. Rock candy is ideal because it really is hard, and it also dissolves pretty easily in water. If you can’t do that you can simply use regular sugar and just have them try to “make it dissolve” first by crushing it between their fingers, smashing it with something heavy and so on. This will illustrate that it can’t be easily destroyed in that way, (only pulverized). If you are doing this, you may want to use warmer water and put the rock candy in the clear glass of water early in Sunday School so that it has time to dissolve before the end of class. You can talk about all the ways that Love dissolves things like hatred, disobedience, sadness, anger, self-righteousness, etc.

Talk about the process of dissolving. Is it “powerful”? Is it a “show of strength”?
Is it “flashy”? Or does it just gradually happen, maybe helped along by a “stir” or two? How can we do this kind of “stirring” in our own lives?
Maybe we read a Bible verse when we get up in the morning and try to hold it in our thought during the day?
Maybe we commit to doing one unselfish and anonymous act each day?

PYCL #5: Study the story of Jesus and the woman in citation B13/John 8:1-11

Tell this beautiful story and discuss all the aspects of it together. For example: why did Jesus write in the dirt?
(I love this question…I wonder if it was a way to give the scribes and Pharisees a way to leave the scene without making their egos resist by having him stare them down…he allowed them to gracefully contemplate and leave the scene without his personal judgement. It also was a way for him to pray.)

Why did he tell the scribes and Pharisees that whoever had never committed a sin could cast the first stone? Is this relevant to us today?
Do we cast virtual “stones” at people around us all the time by judging them without first thinking about what we have done wrong?
Is there a verse that Jesus has shared in his Sermon on the Mount that illustrates this? (Cast the beam out of your own eye before the mote out of another’s?–explain this analogy!)

Does this story have anything to do with us today? What is Jesus telling us about everlasting punishment in this story? Who is punished?

Is anyone punished if they recognize their wrongdoing and correct it/are humble about it?

Have a great time in Sunday School! 

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