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Discover Yourself through the Seven Synonyms for God

Craig L. Ghislin, C.S., Glen Ellyn (Bartlett), IL
Posted Monday, February 28th, 2011

Discover Yourself through the Seven Synonyms for God
Lesson Application Ideas for : Man
February 28-March 6, 2011
by Craig L. Ghislin, C.S., of Glen Ellyn, Illinois
[w/ brackets by Warren Huff]

 [Editor's Note: The following application ideas for this week, and the Possible Sunday School Topics that will follow, are offered primarily to help CEDARS campers and staff (as well as friends) see and demonstrate the great value of daily study and application of the Christian Science Bible lessons year-round, not just at camp! You can sign up to have them emailed to you free -- in English by Monday each week, or by each Wednesday you can get a FREE TRANSLATION in French thanks to Pascal, in German thanks to Helga or in Spanish thanks to a team of Ana, Erick, Claudia and Patricio. YOU CAN SIGN UP at www.cedarscamps.org/newsletters]
 
Who are you? What are you? How do you define yourself? "Know Thyself" writes Mrs. Eddy, "...is indeed a divine command..." (My. 351: 10). How we identify and define ourselves is key to how we behave, and what we accept in life. If we see ourselves as nothing more than the product of human genetics, environment, or fate - whether religiously based, or as a random concoction of molecules - we will tend to either relinquish any responsibility for our lives, or accept everything both good and bad as out of our control. The Golden Text found in the Bible teaches us that we are the children of God. This is really a marvelous thing. Do you honestly believe with all your heart that you are God's child?
 
In our textbook, Mrs. Eddy writes, "We know no more of man as the true divine image and likeness, than we know of God" (S-3). This week's Lesson explores man from the standpoint of the seven synonyms for God, found in Science and Health. The stories and citations give us a starting point, but take the time each day to deeply consider your sonship, or daughterhood, in light of these synonyms. How does it change your attitude? Your daily decisions? Your outlook on life?
 
When considered from a human standpoint, man certainly seems insignificant compared to the vastness of creation. In the Responsive Reading, the psalmist had no idea that earth was just a tiny planet in the corner of a galaxy that was only one of an untold number in the universe. But, he still wondered how marvelous it was that man was given dominion over his environment. How is it that God conferred such high favors upon man? The psalmist, considering man from a standpoint of man's frailty and unworthiness, acknowledges that without God's aid and direction man would be in a severely limited condition. Every worthy ability man has, he owes to God's goodness and mercy. There's more to it than that though. The psalmist has hope that he will eventually awaken to a higher view of himself and recognize himself as God's likeness.
 
Our Lesson starts from that standpoint. Man is made in the image and likeness of God.
 
Section 1: Man Is God's Image and Likeness
Most scholars agree that the creation of man (B-1) found in the first chapter of Genesis was an event of pre-eminent importance. Whereas, the other life forms appeared to be natural progressions of what preceded them, the creation of man is absolutely new. This new creation "associated not so much with any part of creation as with the Eternal Uncreated himself" (Albert Barnes). "Man is a new species, essentially different from all other kinds on earth" (ibid.). The traditional theological view says that the whole of creation was made prior to man so as to have all creation ready for man's appearance and fully developed for his use. There may be some who think this is a rather arrogant point of view, but in the world of theology, man is the apex of creation, subservient only to his Creator.
 
Science and Health takes the creation of man one step beyond the traditional view. Man is not merely the top of the food chain, or the most complex of material organisms. In fact, man isn't material at all. Man in God's likeness is one hundred percent spiritual. Mrs. Eddy's answer to the question, "What is man?" (S-1) reveals man as not made of material elements, but as a spiritual idea of God, perfect in every way. Think about it. You are not made of organs, or bones, or tissue of various types. You are totally spiritual. You are not a brain, a stomach, a liver, a heart, lung, or kidney. You're structure isn't bones. Your strength isn't muscles. Your thinking isn't brain. Your vision isn't eyes, and your hearing isn't ears. You are idea. There is nothing about you that is unlike your Maker. Now of course, this is a complete departure from traditional views both religious and biological. The starting point in understanding man is accepting that God is the Creator, and that the Creator is Spirit. The Creator is also, Life, Truth, Love, Soul, Mind, and Principle. The rest of the Lesson considers man in light of being the image and likeness of each.
 
Section 2: Man Is the Image of Mind
If one is to accept the possibility of a single Creator at all, one must assume that the Creator knows what He is doing. The psalmist accepts that God knows every aspect of our being (B-2). Old theology has twisted this into the belief that God knows every aspect of your human experience similar to Santa Claus knowing when you've been bad or good. This belief has been used to frighten people into good behavior to avoid future punishment for evil deeds. But viewed spiritually, God as omnipresent and omniscient knows all there is to know, and since God is good, all He can know is good. God is never stumped. He knows exactly what to do, and it's done as soon as He knows it.
 
What does that mean for man? Well, if man is the image of the All-Knowing, then man must have access to all he needs to know as well. The building of a sanctuary (B3 - B-5) required special skills. For the Israelites, this was a huge undertaking. Think about the amazing achievements man has accomplished. The architecture and engineering of infrastructures and cities is astonishing. There seems to be no end to the variety, beauty, and functionality of our accomplishments. If we can dream it, we can build it. Every individual has a skill that contributes to the whole. Our world is filled with wonders made by man. There are still many more projects to come. According to The Christian Science Monitor, in the new country of South Sudan, the capital is said to have only three or four paved roads. But the citizens are eager to take on the task of building whatever will be needed for the future. On a smaller scale, the campers at Cedars find new or improved buildings and activity areas every year. But where do the ideas and skills to build them come from? They all come from God.
 
The infinite variety of creativity expressed in every improvement is the reflection of God (S-2), and with God there is no limit to what we can accomplish. The "infinite idea" is "forever developing itself, broadening and rising higher and higher from a boundless basis" (S-3). Now we realize these marvelous abilities as we learn more of God. In fact, Mrs. Eddy says that our capacities are enlarged in proportion to our correct conception of God. From a mortal standpoint, we are very limited, but when we realize more of God, we open the door to infinite possibilities for ourselves. We find hidden talents that take us to higher and higher realms of activity and accomplishment (S-4).
 
Section 3: Principle Abolishes Unfairness
One of the common refrains of modern psychological therapy is that we must come to grips with the fact that "life just isn't fair." Throughout history, there is always some group or class of people who seem to be getting the short end of the stick. In this Lesson, we have a story of the daughters of Zelophehad who were faced with losing their inheritance due only to the fact that they were women (B-9). In those days, property rights extended only to the males of a family. Definitely not fair! Everyone has had some situation that seemed unfair. We have a choice though. We can just learn to deal with it by coping, or we can appeal to a higher law and correct it. That's what these women did. They faced the injustice and won their case. The "daughters of Judah" (B-10) had reason to rejoice, for it was largely due to advances in religious thought that raised women out of degradation and slavery to a position of companionship.
 
History shows women still had a long way to go, but step by step improvements have been made. The Founder of Christian Science met the inequality between male and female head on. She saw that higher aims and motives advanced civilization in every area including gender equality (S-6). Liberty is a divine right for everyone (S-7). No matter how entrenched an injustice may seem, a right idea cannot be stopped. The recent changes in government in Tunisia, Sudan, Egypt and elsewhere, show that even a small group in the beginning can bring forth huge changes. Some changes take a long time; others are relatively quick.
 
Even those who fancy themselves as politically "free" still have to face the tyranny of scholastic theology and material medicine. But, spiritual understanding "rends asunder these fetters" (S-8). Regardless of the type of unfairness you are facing, the recognition of your inseparability from divine Principle will bring a resolution to light.
 
Section 4: Understanding God as Life Overcomes Limitations
How do you measure your strength? Do you let the calendar dictate what you can and cannot do? Caleb didn't pay much attention to the evidence of the senses (B-11). He wasn't impressed with their potential opponents forty-five years earlier, and he didn't lose any strength in the meantime. Caleb's name means "all heart." He was ready for action and ready to do whatever was required of him.
 
Our Leader stressed the direct connection between understanding that Life is God and our longevity (S-10). She often cautioned her students not to measure their lives by the solar year (S-11). Accepting the belief that we were "born into matter" so many number of years ago, opens the door to decrepitude and decay. It is an error to measure human years. We weren't born into matter; we don't grow into it, or die out of it. "Life is eternal." Don't agree with anything that suggests otherwise. There's nothing complicated about this teaching. Our textbook states plainly, "When spiritual being is understood in all its perfection, continuity, and might, then shall man be found in God's image" (S-12).
 
Section 5: The Harmony of Soul Dissolves Discord
There is some debate over what "an instrument of ten strings" actually was (B-13), but there is general agreement that it was an instrument with "something special about it as an instrument of uncommon sweetness and power" (Albert Barnes). Most of us can tell the difference between a technically perfect performance that is perhaps uninspired, and a performance that is filled with inspiration and soul. When watching Yo Yo Ma perform live, one can see that he is transported into another dimension. The tune comes alive, and the audience is moved right along with it. Music has that power. It can evoke feelings and move to action. Almost everyone knows what it's like to turn to music to sooth you after a troubling time or hard day. Saul was troubled, and David's playing brought him relief (B-14). David's playing was, no doubt, filled with inspiration. Rather than a mere pattern of notes, it must have been a prayer in song. 
 
Whether or not, one feels musically inclined, we can find the harmony of our being as we understand more about God as Soul. There is nothing in Soul that is out of sync with itself. Everything is working together and man reflects that harmony (S-13). Discord means something is out of tune with God. To the degree we know more about God, we will see harmony restored (S-15). Whether the discord seems to be in relationships, governments, churches, or bodies, we can know that the fact is that everything is "harmonious when governed by Soul" (S-17).
 
Section 6: The Substance of Spirit Is Untouchable
Are you a child of matter? Or, a child of Spirit? How you answer that makes a big difference. The Bible tells us that we are children of God (B-16). That means nothing going on in the so-called material world can touch us. The story of the fiery furnace (B-17) can be read on many levels. In previous Lesson Application Ideas, I've noted that, to me, the furnace is a metaphor for the hard experience we might face when refusing to bow down to material gods of medicine, when the mortal mind trumpets the symptoms of disease to us. In the context of this Lesson, we can see that, as children of God, those boys were spiritual and couldn't be touched by the threat of the flames. As children of God our substance is spiritual not material.
 
The closing lines from the Scientific Statement of Being (S-18) state clearly that man is spiritual. As such, we can only have "the substance of good, the substance of Spirit, not matter" (S-19). The material senses define us as either totally material, or as a combination of matter and spirit. Divine Science shows that to be impossible (S-20). Think of what a difference it makes when we realize that the understanding of our spiritual being can nullify whatever threat the carnal mind may make (S-21). The form of the fourth walking in the furnace is representative of the Christ, the real man. The declaration that this Christ presents an indestructible man (S-22) is not a license for reckless behavior, but is a statement to be proved through spiritualizing every aspect of our lives.
 
Section 7: Truth Reveals Our Real Existence as Children of God
According to Wesley, to "provide things honest..." (B-18) means to "think beforehand; contrive as little offense as possible." All of Jesus' thoughts and acts found their origin in the power of the Spirit (B-19). That purity of thought and motive kept him honest and true to his mission. The parable of the "sower and the seed" (B-20) is well known by most of us. The word of God is truth and we have the best results when we spread that word honestly. But, the heart or "soil" of the hearer needs to be prepared too. The Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary on the Whole Bible notes, "in all the cases about to be described, the sower is the same, and the seed is the same; while the result is entirely different, the whole difference must lie in the soils, which mean the different states of the human heart. And so, the great general lesson held forth in this parable of the sower is, that however faithful the preacher, and how pure soever his message, the effect of the preaching of the word depends upon the state of the hearer's heart." The receptive heart isn't too hard to receive the seed and let it sink in, or too superficial to provide for deep roots, or too distracted by worldly cares which choke the budding understanding. The good soil is a soft, tender heart stirred up in contemplation of eternal truths, able to receive and retain the word, and filled with qualities that support it.
 
I find it interesting that the citations in Science and Health this week emphasize that Jesus was not only the "sower," but he represented the good soil as well (S-24). A spiritual sense of life is always indicative of good ground, and it is a necessary ingredient if the seed of Truth is to prosper. It takes honesty and integrity to assimilate Truth (S-25) and in turn, Truth makes us more honest. The Truth destroys whatever erroneous claims we've accepted, and those errors thus destroyed, our true identity as children of God comes to light (S-26).
 
Section 8: Love Expresses the DIvine Nature
Those who partake of the divine nature are truly God's children. We must love one another, because "love is of God" (B-22). Love is the fundamental law of Christianity. Loving one's enemies, blessing those who hate, praying for those who persecute you, is claiming sonship with God (B-23). It is the result of understanding that God is Love and that man is His offspring. If we react to hatred, cursing, and persecution, it indicates that we have not quite understood our identity as children of God. No matter how misused or mistreated we may be, whether through words, thoughts, or actions, we are expected to return only love.
 
Identifying yourself as the offspring of Love strikes a blow at the very core of the belief of a material man. A mortal's nature seems to be based on self-preservation and self-interest. Mortal man is in constant competition with other mortals, and when wronged, reacts in order to ensure its own survival. A mortal is self-centered. But as we "subordinate the false testimony of the material senses" (S-30) we see that the true, loving likeness of God is really all there can be.
 
So how do you identify yourself? As a mortal - finite, vulnerable, subject to fate, unfairness, illness, death? Or do you see yourself as the image of God - Mind, Principle, Life, Soul, Spirit, Truth and Love? Doing so will open a brand new world to you. Realizing our coexistence with God, we will reflect and experience more inspiration and talent, fairness, strength, vitality, and harmony. We will see that no material threat can harm us, and we will be honest, and most of all, loving. That's who we really are, children of God - reflecting the divine nature in everything we think and do.
 

 [CEDARS weekly "Mets" or Metaphysical Newsletters are provided at no charge to the 1,200 campers and staff blessed each summer at CEDARS--as well as to thousands of CEDARS alumni, families, Sunday School teachers and friends who request it, or who find it weekly on our website or through CS Directory. But, current and planned gifts are needed: to cover the costs of running this "free" service; to provide camperships to make inspirational opportunities possible for deserving youth; and to help our facilities keep pace with our mission.]
 
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[You can also help CedarS keep a 50th season New Year's resolution to reach out to all the "un-camped" students enrolled in Christian Science Sunday Schools across the world.  In the United States they apparently outnumber Sunday School students who attend 1 of the 6 camps for Christian Scientists in North America by more than 2 to 1. Experience shows that "CS-camped" children who are given the laboratory experience of putting their training from their homes and Sunday Schools into joyous practice in a "24-7" Christian-Science-laboratory experience at camp want to continue to make Christian Science their own. Therefore, please tell all the "un-camped" families you know about our work; and if possible let us know about them and their email and/or other contact information. We will gladly send them--and you--a DVD, plus show host info for over 40 CedarS shows being scheduled and everything needed to help get "un-camped" students to camp -- from info on our programs for all ages; to session dates and rates; to online enrollment info; to transportation;  to financial aid forms; and more as needed.]

 [Camp Director's Note: This sharing is the latest in an ongoing, 10-year series of CedarS Bible Lesson "Mets" (Metaphysical application ideas) contributed weekly by a rotation of CedarS Resident Practitioners and occasionally by other metaphysicians. (To keep the flow of the practitioner's ideas intact and to allow for more selective printing "Possible Sunday School Topics" come in a subsequent email.) These weekly offerings are intended to encourage further study and application of ideas in the lesson and to invigorate Sunday School participation by students and by the budding teachers on our staff. Originally sent JUST to my Sunday School students and to campers, staff and CedarS families who wanted to continue at home and in their home Sunday Schools the same type of focused Lesson study, application and inspiration they had felt at camp, CedarS lesson "mets" are in no way meant to be definitive or conclusive or in any way a substitute for daily study of the lesson. The thoughts presented are the inspiration of the moment and are offered to give a bit more dimension and background as well as new angles (and angels) on the daily applicability of some of the ideas and passages being studied. The weekly Bible Lessons are copyrighted by the Christian Science Publishing Society and are printed in the Christian Science Quarterly as available at Christian Science Reading Rooms or online at eBibleLesson.com or myBibleLesson.com. The citations referenced (i.e.B-1 and S-28) from this week's Bible Lesson in the "Met" (Metaphysical application ideas) are taken from the Bible (B-1 thru B-24) and the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy (S-1 thru S-30). The Bible and Science and Health are the ordained pastor of the Churches of Christ, Scientist. The Bible Lesson is the sermon read in Christian Science church services throughout the world. The Lesson-Sermon speaks individually through the Christ to everyone, providing unique insights and tailor-made applications for each one. We are glad you requested this metaphysical sharing and hope that you find some of the ideas helpful in your daily spiritual journey, in your deeper digging in the books and in closer bonding with your Comforter and Pastor.]
 
 Enjoy!    Warren Huff, Executive Director   director@cedarscamps.org

[PSST: Find in the context spiritual content & contentment!]
Possible Sunday School Topics for Middle-Older classes
by Merrill Boudreaux [with bracketed italics by Warren Huff]
for the Christian Science Bible Lesson: "MAN" forMarch 6, 2011
 
P.S.S.T. Golden Text: What does it mean to behold? What is the basis of thought that forms how we behold another? If you can, imagine this idea: the context affords the content. i.e., the context of desert affords the type of atmosphere and structures found there; the context of city affords the atmosphere and structures found there. So, what is the context from which God beholds us? Is this a hint as to the context we should use when beholding each other?
 
P.S.S.T. Responsive Reading: What are the words in the Responsive Reading that provide the context for the relationship God has with us - God's manifestation, or God's man?
Excellence, glory, dominion, perfect, shield, salvation, gentleness, great, satisfied
 
P.S.S.T. Section 1[Act like God's image, the "apex of creation".]
Good opportunity for memorization.
     Ask students to memorize as much of the answer to the question in citation S-1 as they can.
     Ask students to make a list of the qualities stated in the answer.
 
P.S.S.T. Section 2: [In the context of Mind's workmanship, you contain all you need to know-and you know it.]
What are the qualities of Bezaleel mentioned in citation B-4? Ask students to record their own qualities or talents. This identification forms the context of their thought that then informs the content in their experience. If Bezaleel was a stone cutter and timber carver, what would be the content surrounding him? Quarry and stone shavings; forest and wood chips.
 
P.S.S.T. Section 3: [In the context of Principle's fairness, you contain indestructible, divine rights.]
What does the story in citations B-8 and B-9 tell us about who should be rewarded? Is anyone left out?
     What does Christian Science say about human rights in citation S-8? What is the content in citation S-7 when the context is liberty? Can anyone be separated from God? See S-9.
 
P.S.S.T. Section 4: [In the context of Caleb's confidence in Life, you contain lasting strength.]  
What is the context of Caleb in citation B-11? What was the resulting content? Strength at age 85. 
     What aided the context of his thought in citation S-10? "The understanding that Life is God, Spirit..." What was the resulting content? "lengthens our days"
 
P.S.S.T. Section 5: [Like David with his Soul-ful music, you contain harmony and joy.]
How about composing a song that David might have sung to Saul. Keep in mind the context of David's thought. Look to the Bible and Science & Health in this section for ideas to be included in your song.
 
P.S.S.T. Section 6: [Worshipping Spirit alone like the Hebrew teens, you also contain immunity from every threat and hint of harm.]  
Read the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego in B-17. This is a good acting-out story. What was the context of these three Hebrew boys' thought? What was the resulting content? Safety, no harm, no singed hair, not even a smell of fire.
 
P.S.S.T. Section 7: [In your honest, good heart, let Truth be sown.]
Great story in citation B-20! What is the context of each of the fields? What is the resulting content in each field? In which of those fields did God sow you? How do you know? What is the content expressed in your life?
 
P.S.S.T. Section 8: [Even in the context of persecution, "Love, redolent with unselfishness, bathes all in beauty and light." (S-30)]
What are you called on to express in citations B-22, B-23, & B-24? What is the resulting content in citation S-30 when we are sowing love as the context of our thought? What is the commandment given to us in I John 4:7? That is something we can take with us to practice every minute of every day. The results or content will be awesome to behold!

[PYCL: Younger Classes should be uplifting and very fun too!]
Possible Younger Class Lesson ideas for teaching Sunday School on March 6, 2011
on "MAN", this week's Christian Science Bible Lesson
by Kerry Jenkins, CS of House Springs, MO [with bracketed italics by Warren Huff]
[Editor's Note: Heeding the Manual Sunday School directives (p. 62) on "first lessons", we are seeking ways--in our younger classes especially--to teach how to more joyously keep the Ten Commandments, more effortlessly live the Sermon on the Mount, and more certainly expect results in everything we do from applying the Lord's Prayer and its Spiritual Interpretation.]

PYCL--Overview outline:
Here are a couple of overview ideas for the younger students: The kids around 4th or 5th grade may find it interesting to see how the synonyms relate to each section.  Maybe they can each do a search for a different section, either in class or as an e-mailed assignment.
For the younger kids there is a wonderful synonym song which Warren reminded me of, [recorded on Solo Committee CD called "G is for God"-you can hear samples of this and other offerings by clicking this link.] It might be fun to teach it to them if they don't already know it. With the really little kids moving around to the song is not a bad idea!
 
PYCL--Section 1. Try reading, each student aloud, S1 and replacing "man" with "I" wherever possible-even in the part where it says-- "man is that..." , can be [I am] that which has not a single..." This is a really healing exercise and the question can also be posed: "Is it o.k. to say "I am" if it's not something good?
 
PYCL--Section 2. Citation B2 is such a deeply comforting passage. A possible opportunity for memorization. In citation B3, what "offering" can we bring today? What is an offering? [How about "an offering pure of Love, whereto God leadeth me"? Hymn 253:7] Why do we need to "bring an offering" if God doesn't "need" anything, what's it for?  How can we make a "sanctuary" (a safe, holy place), for God?  Might be useful to think of other sanctuaries they may know of (have they been to a bird sanctuary?  What does it do?) Do we need to build an actual building, or fence in an area, (hopefully it will move to the recognition that this place is in thought!)  For the littlest children you could bring a big blanket and cover the table and go underneath for some of class and talk about being in a quiet safe place in thought, etc.  In light of the Bible portion of this section we might ask: "What do we do that shows God's presence in us?  Bezaleel was a craftsman, do we play a sport, an instrument, happily help out at home, etc?
 
PYCL--Section 3. Fairness is something children are concerned with from an early age so it should strike a chord with them to share the Bible story in this section.  Where does Moses take these women's request?  Does he go to a court of law?  Where should we go...mom or dad?  A friend?  Our teacher?  Or...God!
 
PYCL--Section 4. It might be interesting to compare the solar year on earth to other planetary solar years, just to point out that our measurements are somewhat arbitrary.  Could "brainstorm" how we can "measure" man's life-is there a measure of infinity or eternity?  Is there some distance we cover on an eternal or infinite "tape measure"?  On page 599:1 in S&H Mrs. Eddy tell us "Eternity is God's measurement of Soul-filled years."  This is of course from her definition of year.  Something to check out if interested.
 
PYCL--Section 5.  Think here in terms of Soul senses vs. the human or physical senses.  What qualities are Soul qualities, what are not?  You could talk together about the joy that Soul expresses through creative endeavor, and the comfort it can bring, the healing power.
 
PYCL--Section 6.  The no bowing down to golden image story is a good one to act out with kids as mentioned in Merrill's PSSTs or Possible Sunday School Topics located right before mine at the end of CedarS weekly online Met posting.  [See PS for Possible Script.] This story is a good analogy for what we face today when we are trying to decide what path to follow in any given situation.  Do we do what we unequivocally know is right and have utter confidence in God's protection and care?  What is the equivalent of not bowing down to the statue today?  It sounds silly to us to worship a statue, but it didn't to those people, so what do we bow to today that doesn't seem so silly, but is not Spirit?  Do we avoid the public confrontation by thinking we know what's right and we'll just be quiet about it and lay low? [Please add your prayers to a delegation of Christian Scientists going to Washington DC on Mar. 8-9, 2011 to present our case for repeal of, or acceptable accommodations to, legislation for National Health Care reform.]
 
PYCL--Section 7.  This may seem extreme, but I think it would be "way cool" from quite young to 5th grade or so, to actually bring in small peat pots, simple, easy to sprout seeds from a current seed packet (maybe marigolds or something, but you can choose). Maybe each kid gets a pot, maybe you have a community pot and then a pot with just gravel, one with a surface covered in a little chunk of turf from the lawn (representing thorns, no seed will grow when competing with the grass). There are plenty of thoughts to share about the tending and caring that goes on even when seed falls on the good ground. This one will require a bit of follow through as you wouldn't want to have them come back to a dead pot the next week or two. Check to see how quickly what you plant germinates so you know what to expect.  You might talk about what's happening when the seed is germinating, what happens when our thoughts are becoming more spiritual. Is it always instantly apparent?  How do we prepare the "good soil" in our hearts?  Can you tell I've started working in my garden?
 
PYCL--Section 8. Our only debt is to love one another!  Check the translation in the side-by-side Bible. The Message has a lovely take on this passage from Matt. 5:44, 45 "I'm telling you to love your enemies.  Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst.  When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves."
 
[PS (Possible Script) for re-enacting the Section 6 story of the fiery furnace) First written for CedarS Lesson Met #365 in Dec. 2008]
4 Men in the Furnace - Dan. 3:1-28 - Tell in advance a quick version of this familiar story to be acted out
Cast from Sunday School: Get volunteers & hand out scripts with parts highlighted in advance
King Nebuchadnezzar
"All the important people"
(Teachers?)
Herald
Band members playing whatever instruments you come up with
Narrator
2-3 Babylonian fortuneteller(s)/ King's Advisors (later)
Shadrach
Meshach
Abednego
The Fourth Man
who looks like the Son/Daughter of God
2-3 Guards/Strong guys from the army who carry Shad, Mesh and Abed to the furnace
Possible Props: a king's crown; golden statue or image like TV monitor, poster of star, large charge card, ...; 2-7 musical instruments as available;
King Nebuchadnezzar: "Build a gold statue, ninety feet high and nine feet wide. Set it up on the Dura plain in the province of Babylon. Order everybody who is anybody to come to the dedication ceremony for it." (Most text adapted from The Message Bible)
All the important people for the dedication take their places before the statue.
Herald (in a loud voice): "Attention, everyone! Every race, color, and creed, listen! When you hear the band strike up - (Name all instruments on hand) the trumpet, trombone, tuba, baritone, drum, cymbal, flute, zither, lyre, harp, dulcimer, bagpipe and all kinds of music - fall to your knees and worship the gold statue that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. Anyone who does not kneel and worship shall be thrown immediately into a roaring furnace."
Narrator: "The band starts to play, a huge band equipped with all the musical instruments of Babylon, and everyone - every race, color, and creed - falls to their knees and worship the gold statue that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. Some of the king's fortunetellers tattle on Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego as follows."
Babylonian fortuneteller(s) to King Nebuchadnezzar: "Long live the king! You gave strict orders, O king, that when the big band started playing, everyone had to fall to their knees and worship the gold statue, and whoever did not go to their knees and worship it had to be pitched into a roaring furnace. Well, there are some Jews here-Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego-whom you have placed in high positions in the province of Babylon. These men are ignoring you, O king. They don't respect your gods and they won't worship the gold statue you set up."

Furious, King Nebuchadnezzar says (to his guards): "Get Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and bring them here right now!"
Nebuchadnezzar (when the men are brought in) asks: "Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you don't respect my gods and refuse to worship the gold statue that I have set up? I'm giving you a second chance-but from now on, when the big band strikes up you must go to your knees and worship the statue I have made. If you don't worship it, you will be pitched into a roaring furnace, no questions asked. Who is the god who can rescue you from my power?"
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego together answer King Nebuchadnezzar,
"Your threat means nothing to us."
Shadrach: "If you throw us in the fire, the God we serve can rescue us from your roaring furnace and anything else you might cook up, O king."
Meshach: "But even if he doesn't, it wouldn't make a bit of difference, O king."
Abednego: "We still wouldn't serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up."
Nebuchadnezzar, his face purple with anger, cuts off Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
"Fire up the furnace seven times hotter than usual. You strong guards, tie them up, hands and feet, and throw them into the roaring furnace."

Narrator: "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, are bound hand and foot, fully dressed from head to toe, and are pitched into the roaring fire. Because the king is in such a hurry and the furnace is so hot, flames from the furnace kill the men who carried Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to it, while the fire rages around Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Only the bonds are burned off as a fourth figure walks with them - radiant "like some holy thing."
Alarmed, King Nebuchadnezzar suddenly jumps up and says to his advisors:
"Didn't we throw three men, bound hand and foot, into the fire?"
King's Advisors: "That's right, O king."
Nebuchadnezzar: "But look! I see four men, walking around freely in the fire, completely unharmed! And the fourth man looks like the Son of God!"
Nebuchadnezzar (going to the door of the roaring furnace and calls in):
"Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the High God, come out here!"
Narrator: "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego walk out of the fire. All the important people, the government leaders and king's counselors, gather around to examine them and discover that the fire hadn't so much as touched the three men-not a hair singed, not a scorch mark on their clothes, not even the smell of smoke had clung to them!"
Nebuchadnezzar: "Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! He sent his angel and rescued his servants who trusted in him! They ignored the king's orders and laid their bodies on the line rather than serve or worship any god but their own."
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Teachers' follow-up questions/answers: Q. How did Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego live the essence of Mrs. Eddy's motto: "Do Right and Fear Not!"? (This was hung over a doorway in her home.) Q. How can you live it in your life? (A. By standing up to peer pressure to do the wrong thing? ...) Q. What music or sounds might trigger the worship of something other than God? Q. What are some of the things people worship today?  A. How about TV shows and stars (I'm bring an old, gold-painted TV set to bow down to); the body, its shape and feelings; the latest technological gadgets and games; sporting events and star athletes; substances to make you well, high, sleepy, firm, thin, bulky... ?  Q. How were Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego able to withstand temptation, and what can we learn from this story about how to stop worshiping anything other than God in our own lives?]
 
 
 

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