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Pycls: [For spiritually substantial friendships, handle annoyances, gossip, status. (Pycl #2)]
P
ossible Younger Class Lesson Ideas for Sunday School from the Christian Science Bible Lesson:

“Substance”
for Sunday, March 14, 2021

by Kerry Jenkins, CS, of House Springs, MO
kerry.helen.jenkins@gmail.com • 314-406-0041

Pycl #1: Bring a treasure box to your in-person or Zoom Sunday School class.
This treasure box could be a decorated shoe box, or any box. Bring each child one if you are in person. Let's label the box something like "spiritual treasures", or something with the words “spiritual substance” in it.

Maybe using the Golden Text & Responsive Reading as a base, discuss what such treasures are made of. Are spiritual treasures, spiritual substance, things that you can hold in your hand?
Can they get "old", or ever be too "young"?
Are these treasures things you can purchase or earn?
How do such treasures "fill" us up?
Why do we feel "full" after discovering such treasures?

For fun, you could bring some small stones that you paint in bright colors, or just plastic or glass beads that you could purchase, anything that might represent "treasure". You can discuss what each item might represent as such treasure. For example: one spiritual treasure might be happiness. One might be gratitude, generosity, unselfishness, and so on. These never die, bring joy, are spiritual gifts that we can practice, and that continue to give us more treasure! If the objects you use are big enough you can write these treasure ideas on each item and drop them in your treasure chest. If they are smaller, the ideas could go on paper and be dropped into the chest at the same time as the item you use to represent spiritual treasure, or spiritual substance.

Pycl #2: What do relationships that are "substantial" & full of spiritual substance, look like?
We could start with our relationship with our moms and dads (depending on your class).
Ideally, moms and dads love their kids unconditionally (we can look at the story of the Prodigal a bit later as an illustration of this quality of substantial, spiritual love). This means that they don't love you more if you behave well, less if you are naughty. (They might be less angry or annoyed and more fun to be with if you are being "good"— but they love you just the same:-)

How do we take spiritually substantial qualities of friendship & apply them to our daily lives?
Three questions with discuss application ideas outlined below:
1) Are we easily annoyed by people's habits? Is that a quality that expresses substantial love/friendship?
2) Do we kind of enjoy juicy gossip now and then?
3) Do we like others for their social status?

Just looking at these three things we can find their spiritual opposite that is substantial, and contributes to lasting joy, closer kinship with others, satisfying friendships.

One: If we’re easily annoyed by others' habits, we’re responding not to who they are, but to how they behave. How do we separate behavior from person? Ask questions of them. What are their interests, loves, and lives like? When annoyed we are not actually focusing on the person at all. We are choosing to focus on a temporary physical expression that actually says nothing about the person's true nature.
Do they make noise when they eat? How does that truly affect your consciousness?
Can we learn to love through the noise and see the actual person?
If we can't, it is a choice we make and it certainly limits our options with others since the world is full of "other people"!!

Two: Probably most of us have enjoyed some juicy gossip now and then. But, let's think about the substance behind that gossip. First of all, it is rarely true, and when true, often exaggerated!
If it is true, would we want it repeated about ourselves if we were in their position?
Substantial friendships that last are never based on saying mean or unkind, much less untrue things about others.

Three: And, if we like people because they are more popular, or because they dress cool, this too, is doomed to failure, because these things are subject to change. Look at cit. B4/Matthew 6:19-21.
Use this as a measure for what a substantial basis for friendships might look like. Make a list together. Discuss how we might act to actually add some of this list into our coming week's interaction with others!

Pycl #3: Tell or read the story of the Prodigal Son. Does it illustrate substantial spiritual love?
Make sure they understand what a parable is. Go through the story carefully to explain the symbolism and what this story teaches about spiritual treasure.
Did the younger son "deserve" this kind of welcome?
Should the father have put him on some kind of special probation?
Why did the father greet his son the way he did?
How does God/Love think of us?
Does Love know us to be different when we are disobedient or naughty?
Why do we sometimes feel like we are different?
Isn't that because we feel bad, rather than because the law of Love has changed to "punish" or exclude us when we "step out of line"?

In other words. The law of Love is always freely bestowing good, substantial joy, health, peace. When we act in accord with that law we find that we are meeting with less resistance! Discuss all the ways the son learned of his status, of the nature of Love.
In what ways does this story illustrate substantial spiritual love/treasures?

Pycl #4: Love without judgement, like a traffic light! … And, practice awareness & gratitude!
I don't think we can emphasize enough that the substance of divine Love is constantly pouring Love on each idea. We do not have to "deserve" it. It is like the traffic light that is without judgement, expressing order, safety, freedom. When we follow those traffic laws, we usually find ourselves making good "progress". When we don't, we have accidents, traffic stops from police, and so on. These stops and accidents don't come from God, any more than the father of the Prodigal made his son take a job feeding pigs, or starved him!

Check out the story in Section two about the manna. (Exodus 16:2-4, 12-15, 35/cit. B7) The Children of Israel were complaining. They were even disobedient on several occasions. Yet, God provided them with food, and kept their clothes from wearing out during forty years of wandering! This is the nature of spiritual substance, of divine Love. That said, notice that these same Hebrew peoples did not enter the Promised Land because, as I see it spiritually, they were not ready to trust the substance of their spiritual safety to God, that same God who had parted the Red Sea for them, provided water from a rock, and sent food from heaven every day.

Practice awareness & gratitude in your life: In order to really experience peace and health, we must be aware of the presence of God, Good. To do this, we must be constantly grateful and acknowledge that goodness — have a regular practice of awareness and gratitude in our lives. This opens our eyes to the substance of spiritual goodness that never fades. Feel free to use the Samaritan in the fifth section who turns back to give gratitude for his healing of leprosy as an example of this. (cit. B15/Luke 17:12-19)

Pycl #5: Learn that to want to do right more than anything else is to be happy!
I was extremely taken with a Bible translation of Jesus’ fourth Beatitude from Matthew 5:6/cit. B13 in the International Children's Bible: "Those who want to do right more than anything else are happy. God will fully satisfy them." ("Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.") Why is this true?
Does it mean that God somehow knows when you are obedient & rewards you? (Answer: NO)

How do we help ourselves grow in the desire to want to do right "more than anything else"?
This is hard when we are talking about smaller things like:

  • always doing the kind thing with classmates, siblings;
  • choosing not to eat the candy we know we’re supposed to wait on until after dinner;
  • spending our time the way we know we should, not procrastinating.

None of these is "evil", but they are all things that impede our joy.

Think together about what little things get in our way of being "filled" with all the joy that God is actually bestowing on each of us right now.
What can we do today to move some of those obstacles out of our way?
How can we come up with some little daily hints that help us remember that actually, we do want to do right more than anything else?

Have a great Sunday School class!

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