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PYCLs — [DO [higher] math this Sunday & all week! (wh)]
Explain atonement in age-appropriately. Explain sin as anything that “separates” us from God.  Do you ever feel someone else is the “favorite”? Share Absalom’s story.
Our unity with God [expressed] is like [higher] math.
Possible Younger Class Lesson ideas for the Christian Science Quarterly Bible Lesson on

“Doctrine of Atonement”
for Sunday, April 16, 2023

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

PYCL #1: Explain atonement in age-appropriate ways

With the very young you can explain that this word really tells us about how Jesus showed us that we are one with God. After the Easter lesson they are all ready to think about how Jesus taught us so much about God and man.

Bring in a glass of water and an eyedropper or a drinking straw. Draw out a drop of water and let it cling to the end of the dropper or straw. Notice together that it has a distinct shape and size. Maybe it reflects the light in the room?  Then let it fall.
Ask them what happens to it when it falls into the glass?
Does it “vanish”? Or does it become one with the rest of the water?
In a similar way, we are each unique and lovely, but are also one with God/Soul/Love and so on.

With children a bit older it is useful to explain that this is the first in a series of lessons that deal with traditional Christian theological ideas. Actually atonement in the Old  Testament was something that the Jews also practiced especially on certain religious holidays. In their case it centered on cleansing from impurity.
In Hebrew scripture atonement was especially viewed as important to prevent God from leaving the temple.
I find that interesting in light of the definition of temple as “body”.
We can see where even in this Old Testament view, we can see sacrament as symbolizing the need for us to maintain our unity with God, our oneness!

Christian theology has quite a few views of atonement, but most of them revolve around the idea that Jesus died for our sins (which is stated in the Bible), and that this means that God sacrificed his son so that we could be reconciled to God. We don’t really need to explain this view, especially because it really seems hard to understand why God would do this.

Instead, think together about why Mary Baker Eddy viewed this, and the next two Bible lesson subjects, as important to study a couple of times a year.
What is the Christian Science view of atonement?

The broad answer to this is that it teaches us that sin blocks our view of God and of our relationship to Love/Spirit.
When we are living a life wholly in and about matter, we find that our clear views of Love become kind of clouded and difficult to feel or understand. This is because when we are living simply in and for matter, we are not using our spiritual senses and this makes it so we don’t perceive the spiritual good around us.

There are many helpful passages to explain this Christian Science view but a couple of them are citation S1/18:1, and citation S16/23:7 The.
I especially loved this week, the statement that “…suffering is an error of sinful sense which Truth destroys…”
This idea that suffering is an error of sinful sense is helpful. We don’t have to suffer, even when we might be in pain of some kind, when we realize that we can correct “sinful sense”. We can exchange this sinful sense  for spiritual sense which perceives spiritual good!

PYCL #2: Explain how sin is anything that “separates” us from God.

You might ask, can we be separate from All-Good/God? No!
But do we sometimes feel like we are? Sin is not just the typical things that we think of when we think about various bad behaviors!
This lesson really does include a lot about healing and addressing sin. That’s because it is sin that makes us feel separate, rather than “at one” with God, and atonement is about being one with God!

When we do something that we know isn’t our highest sense of right, we feel less joy, peace, ease in our lives. Come up with some examples that feel appropriate to your class, while staying away from the traditional kinds of “sins” that people think of in Christian Science institutions…smoking, drinking, etc.

If you wanted to, this could be a great place to review the Commandments and talk about how they brought so much loving order and joy to the community of Israel as they travelled through the desert.
We can still see today how the Commandments can bring us the peace [of being the best, freest, God-created versions of ourselves] when practiced in a spiritually expansive way such as Jesus points out. (Download online)

It is important to make the distinction that because we are the way that Love is expressed, we cannot ever truly be separated from Love/God.
But in order to feel this truth, we have to demonstrate it, or practice it, right? If we are going around being rude or unkind to people we are not exactly going to feel close, or at one with Love, right?

PYCL #3: Do you ever feel like someone else is the “favorite”?

The Golden Text this week is a really fun one to read together, even to the littlest.  “…God does not show favoritism.” (Romans 2:11, from the New Living Translation)
Talk about what it means, what is “favoritism”?
How would you feel if your mom or dad had a “favorite” child? (Assuming they all have siblings)

A great analogy for not showing favoritism is to think of the sun.
Does it choose whom to shine on? No!
It just sheds its light and heat on whatever is there.
In the same way, God is the law of Love, (not a person) and can only “shed” love on everyone, no matter who you are or what you have done!

You can explain the idea that Jews knew themselves to be especially “chosen”– God’s special children. This isn’t all that uncommon a view among many religions. But the Bible tells us right there in that Golden Text that God does not choose favorites!
This is followed by Peter’s statement that it has been revealed to him that there are no special people to God, but that all who worship God and love Christ are considered equally important.

Maybe share or tell the story of Peter and Cornelius which is not included in the Responsive Reading but is right there in that book of Acts.
It is a beautiful story of Peter and Cornelius each feeling their oneness with Love revealing that there are no special barriers to reaching God–no special dietary or worship restrictions that could possibly keep us from experiencing our at-one-ment with God!
The story in its entirety is found in Acts 10:1-35.
Doesn’t this story also point out that when we are one with God, listening with our spiritual sense–that we are also at one with each other?
Both Peter and Cornelius had visions or dreams where they heard similar directions that led them to come together.

PYCL #4: Share the story of Absalom.

The children may not be familiar with Absalom, so this is a great one to share. You can even tell the whole story if you want. In our Bible lesson this week it is excerpted in citation B7/2 Samuel 14:25 in, and citation B8/2 Sam. 15:2-6.
Talk about how people can seem like they are really nice, or beautiful, or unselfish, but sometimes this is like a disguise that hides their real agenda. This is the case with Absalom, who tried to take over his father’s kingdom by appearing to care and be more attentive to the people’s needs, when really he just wanted to trick them into supporting a coup. This story focuses on the theme of sin that separates us from Love. See if they can spot just what the claim here is of separation? There is separation of the kingdom from David, separation of the people from their rightful ruler, Absalom seemingly separated from a right understanding of his spiritual integrity.

The younger classes might just enjoy the story as it is, but it’s fun to find some deeper ideas with children just a bit older.
It might be helpful to ask the slightly older children how we can tell if our ideas are ones that bring us closer to God, or separate us more.
Why are we doing what we are doing?
Are we doing it for selfish reasons?
Who are we actually serving when we do what we do?
Obviously Absalom was serving himself!

PYCL #5: Our unity with God expressed is [higher] math. (wh)

Not really, but it might be a fun way to illustrate the idea of demonstrating our oneness. Look at citation S22/202:3 “The scientific unity which exists between God and man must be wrought out in life-practice, and God’s will must be universally done.”

As the law of divine Love/Truth, etc., God’s action and oneness with creation is natural. We don’t notice it as much unless we are demonstrating our oneness through our actions.
We can demonstrate our oneness by noticing God all around us in the beauty we see, in the intelligence that is expressed, the order, the love, the patience and so on.

Now, have the children do some simple addition problems.
With the very young you can get out items for them to count and add together. What if they didn’t know that these laws of addition existed and they tried to do things without regard to how things add up?

You could use a silly example like, let’s say one day you bring home a cute dog. Yay! What fun to have a dog! But then tomorrow you bring home another, and then the next day another and so on until you have about 30 dogs! Where did they all come from you ask?
Why do you have so many when you only brought home one at a time?
But, if we know about the laws of addition, we won’t be tempted to bring home thirty [actual] dogs in a month because we love and understand each dog’s uniquely animated goodness as coming from the same divine source and can notice and demonstrate our ever expanding, spiritual understanding of the unifying laws [of “higher math!” Consider sharing Ken Cooper’s online Downloadable poems or his YouTube reading of them, Click on “GOD AND MAN ARE ONE” and “ATONEMENT IS WON” to hear and see Ken’s poem on You Tube [There’s nothing else that we can do, – for GOD AND MAN ARE ONE, not two. (wh added)]

In the same way, when we practice what we know of God’s goodness and presence, when we express generosity, patience, kindness, we can feel our oneness with Love/Life!
We just know it because we are constantly demonstrating it!

Have a great week in Sunday School!

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