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Seek what is substantial -- what really matters!

Kathy Fitzer, St. Louis, MO & Park City, UT
Posted Monday, March 7th, 2011

Seek what is substantial -- what really matters - not things but thoughts!
Metaphysical Application Ideas for the Christian Science Bible Lesson on
Substance for March 7-13, 2011
Prepared by Kathy Fitzer, C.S., of St. Louis, MO kathyfitzer@gmail.com
[brackets by Warren]

 [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]
 
What really matters in life? What is it we're focused most on? Money? Grades? Health? Looks? Winning? Satisfying appetite? Escaping and having fun? -- Or,  Giving? Blessing? Expressing talents? Witnessing? Fulfilling potential? Sharing companionship? Obviously, each of these lists is limited -- with lots of possibilities left off. But, this week's lesson helps us realize that how we think (what we've made our priorities) determines our true substance. We're all doing the best we can at the moment -- but no doubt most of us could do better -- if we made it a priority. It's not the things or the activities as much as how we think about the things (we have and do) that matters. It's all about being God-centered -- selflessly Love-centered! (Evan Mehlenbacher's 20-minute lecture on christianscience.com, titled "Are you ready to flourish?" gives some great insights on exchanging things for thoughts.)
 
Golden Text: The treasure of lasting substance -- found in the Kingdom 
Jesus taught us to seek the kingdom of God to find true treasures. As used in this verse, the original Greek word translated 'seek' meant 'to worship God' (in a good sense) and in a bad sense it meant t'o plot against [someone's] life.' So, if we're pursuing material pleasures -- or looking to matter to meet our needs -- rather than trusting God -- we're actually plotting against ourselves, rather than helping or strengthening our position. When the Bible refers to heart, think in terms of the whole of an individual -- a person's center, so to speak. So, if our treasure (or what's important to us in life) is rooted in seeking God's kingdom ("the realm of unerring, eternal, and omnipotent Mind" S&H 590) -- we find our lives anchored in that kingdom -- secure, consistent and incapable of being disturbed, no matter what kind of storm rocks our world. Money, good looks and cool friends can be taken from us, but we can't be robbed of gratitude, faith, joy and goodness, which lead to lasting supply, beauty, grace, health, and companionship. Seek that which builds and lasts, and you will be whole -- including a rhythmically beating heart, the currents of Love circulating freely and unobstructed.
 
Responsive Reading: Solomon's treasure-seeking example
Solomon knew what he needed in order to be successful -- not wealth, or others appreciating his greatness, or revenge on his enemies. He just needed wisdom and knowledge. That's all any of us need! We can't know specifically what we'll need in any given situation, but if we have wisdom, we'll know what to do and where to go to solve whatever challenge confronts us. With wisdom, Solomon also received great wealth and respect. But, those came because Solomon sought God's kingdom and treasured His gift of wisdom. He sought the "means" -- not the end! We don't have to worry about beating out someone else, or how much stuff we can accumulate. We just give God the glory for all things, and pray that we'll know what we need to know, when we need to know it. Love will take care of the details -- supplying every need perfectly!
 
Section 1: What is substance -- what's really real -- and how is it perceived?
If you look the word "substance" up in the dictionary, you'll find a variety of definitions which suggest that both matter and spirit are substance. But, substance is consistently identified as that which is real, significant, solid, which exists by itself, and "the ultimate reality that underlies all outward manifestations and change" (Webster).  Strong defines the Greek word used in Hebrews (referring to faith being substance) as "a setting under or support; essence." True substance is what is really real and can't be taken away -- it's what grounds us so we can go forward!
 
The first four citations of the Bible describe God's creation as all-inclusive -- Everything in the heaven and earth was made by God (B-1);  Riches (true substance) come of God (B-1& B-2);  God's work is solid -- unmovable (B-3); God, being Spirit, His creation is constituted only of spirit (B-4). So, how do we perceive it? Not by looking to matter -- not through fraudulent material senses. God REVEALS His creation through the activity of the Holy Spirit -- the Holy Ghost, or Comforter, that Jesus promised would be with us forever. God is actively revealing His creation to the human consciousness in a way that we can understand (B-4).  As we respond to the message of the "spirit which is of God" rather than the "spirit of the world" (which starts from a false premise of substance as changeable matter) we SEE God's eternal spiritual creation -- made in and of God (whole, healthy, good -- lacking nothing). Mary Baker Eddy emphasizes the eternal nature of substance -- "incapable of discord and decay," and makes reference to Paul's message to the Hebrews when he speaks of FAITH as substance. Eugene Peterson interprets that verse (Heb. 11:1) as: "The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living." Because God made everything, there isn't anything except what God made! So, if we want to find consistent good -- riches, peace, and health that can't be taken away, we have to depend on the report of the spiritual senses (what God Himself is revealing to us through His Spirit).  Correct each piece of fickle material evidence (whether it's reporting good or bad at the moment) with reliable spiritual evidence that is always good. Even in the face of contradictory physical testimony, remain steadfast. Ultimately, the spiritual will become the only visible reality, and the view changes!
 
Section 2: Lasting Substance -- things or thoughts?
There is a tendency to judge wealth by how much "stuff" people have. But that "stuff" (considered tangible because it can be seen and touched) is always subject to destruction or loss (corrupted by moth and dust or stolen by thieves, as the Bible says) -- unless you understand what's really behind it (B-7).  "Stuff" isn't necessarily bad, in and of itself. But, the key is remembering that God is the only source of good. The Bible tells us to give GOD the glory for all things. WE aren't responsible for our intelligence or our strength or our riches. God is. We shouldn't spend time thinking about our intelligence or our strength or our riches. WE need to be thinking about GOD! What we understand of God's limitless nature is what's important because as we understand our oneness with limitless Mind, everything else falls into place.... just like it did for Solomon. (See B-6.) What we consider as important establishes a centered, unshakable sense of being... our heart is strong and healthy when we're valuing the right things. Think about it..... thoughts (ideas) can never really be destroyed. And, even if something happens to a "thing," as long as the idea of it still exists the "thing" can be rebuilt (restored). In reality, all of creation (the creation that lasts forever) is truly God's thoughts expressed. And, as Mrs. Eddy says, "ideas are tangible and real to immortal consciousness, and they have the advantage of being eternal" (S-6, p. 279). That which is eternal is always safe and sufficient. Ideas (springing from Mind) are all that is truly eternal (S-4 & S-6).  Pure science -- Divine Science -- leaves matter totally out of the equation.  It "resolves things into thoughts" and "replaces the objects of material sense with spiritual ideas." All the good that we see around us (or that we have need of) -- nature, home, technology, transportation, work, people -- are not things. They are complete thoughts. If there seems to be a problem -- discord or lack of any kind, all that needs to be changed is our perspective. Ideas are constantly able to be adjusted, corrected, purified. It doesn't take time to change your mind -- correct your concept about something. Refuse to focus on the problem! Right where destruction, friction, loss or lack seems to be, SEE the possibility of construction, harmony, and restoration and watch for how God (Mind, Soul, Spirit, Life) is going to transform your thought to see what has always been. Facing away from the light, there seems to be darkness and void. Turn to the light, and what has been there all the time is seen. When the view changes, your experience changes! (S-9) True substance is found!
 
Section 3: There's plenty of what matters (what lasts) to go around!
We know the story of Jacob and Esau -- and the mess these brothers got themselves into because of the misperception that the blessing was limited, only one of them could get it, and it was this blessing that would make them happy. Striving to be the best we can be is always a good thing, but a false sense of competition -- thinking there is a limited supply of whatever we think we need -- can cause undue fear, jealousy, and animosity. Jacob and Esau each had lessons to learn about brotherhood, love, trust, honesty, fidelity, and what really matters in life -- as do we all. They started out thinking their issues were about stuff and Jacob tried to fix things by offering his stuff to his brother. But, as he wrestled with his guilt and fear (his immersion in matter), he discovered that it's really all about seeing God face-to-face. And that includes seeing God's provision for all in all things! The substance of Love is what Esau and Jacob ended up sharing. Love enables us to support and trust each other -- without [competition and] domination.  Divine Love itself meets every human need, restores the spirit of brotherhood, and enables us to see the abundance of blessing already provided for each one! Rather than determining progress in terms of material measurements (money, test scores, years, pounds, etc.), we have to ask ourselves: "Where are my affections?"; "What am I making my god?";  "Am I feeling the presence of divine Love as the only thing that matters -- as the very substance of my being -- and knowing that Love IS meeting all my needs, as well as the needs of everyone?" (S-13) As we do that, we're throwing our weight into the scale of Spirit and acknowledging an almighty Principle, God, and Her complete and perfectly harmonious creation. We start seeing things as Love sees them... all things working together for good, right where the mortal senses are revealing conflict and destruction. As our view changes, the visible evidence changes and peace is restored (S-14). No one wants to feel oppressed or taken advantage of.... from before Jacob and Esau to individuals and the various disputing groups of today. God's love for man (reflected in man's love for and obedience to God) removes all hate, fear, domination, and competition. Love is substantial and bountiful!
 
Section 4: Change for good is always possible -- pray for it in Christ's way!
The story of Zacchaeus is a great one (B-13).  Here was a man who had achieved his wealth by taking advantage of his fellow country-men. Greed far out-weighed his sense of love and fairness. Are we ever guilty of pulling a Zacchaeus?  Are we ever tempted to do whatever it takes to achieve personal gain -- no matter how it will affect others?  Special interest groups and political leaders (across the world) are accused of such things all the time. How many of us would single out such a person and invite ourselves to their home for lunch (especially if entering such a home was thought to make us unclean.) But, Jesus looked right through the error (the sin) that looked like Zacchaeus, and saw God's man. He offered reformation and redemption, and it was accepted. We can't know why Zacchaeus wanted so desperately to see Jesus.  He may have just been curious. But, clearly he was touched by God's grace (that we read about in the lesson about Christ Jesus a few weeks ago) and the love of Christ melted all that was unlike Christ.  Zacchaeus DID change. It was -- IS -- Christ's mission to "destroy the belief of sin" (S-17).  Honestly.... how much are we doing to stop the oppression and political injustice going on today? Viewing things from different perspectives, we may not agree on where the problem lies, but if there is conflict, there is work to do! Greed, corruption and oppression are never healthy conditions. The human tendency is to attach these qualities to an individual (or group) and then condemn the individual or group rather than see through the error and free them and those they are hurting. Jesus saw the potential that is in all of God's children and worked to unlock it by restoring a true sense of "life, substance, and mind" (S-15). Solomon's prayer for wisdom enabled him to unlock his own potential. Others who haven't reached this perception of God on their own need US to behold "in Science the perfect man" right "where sinning mortal man appears to mortals" (S-18).  ALL of God's children -- the oppressed AND the oppressors -- were made to be free. The grace of God is preparing the thought of HIS children, but we need to respond by following Jesus‘example.  We need to think boldly and invite all to change.  To truly be "victorious over the passions" we have to see the inability of wickedness to rule over anyone (S-21 & S-20).
 
Section 5: Faithful focus away from matter to Spirit liberates!
What gave Peter and John courage to offer the lame man the gift of healing (B-17) rather than simply handing him a coin, telling him they didn't have any change with them, or walking by while avoiding eye-contact (things I've certainly done in similar circumstances)?  They had been given a mission.... to go out into the world, preach the gospel and heal the sick.  And they had faith that they could accomplish their mission. That mission wasn't just for Jesus‘ immediate disciples. We, too, can have the necessary "fidelity to Truth and Love" (S-25) to see through the mist to reality. We must turn from matter to Spirit and shift what we treasure (what we value and love) from a material to a spiritual basis -- from limits to infinite possibilities.   Mrs. Eddy says that "Christianity causes men to turn naturally from matter to Spirit, as the flower turns from darkness to light" (S-24 italics added).   God has put the Holy Spirit in our inner parts so that we can discern (through trust and faith) what is really going on -- what God has done, even when the material senses disagree. What we see as a physical world wasn't made from matter, but from Mind (Spirit, God) -- made by that which can't be seen (B-19 & B-18). So, as we exchange the material evidence for the spiritual facts -- exchange things for thoughts -- we are able to exercise control over the physical, so-called, change the evidence, and bring about healing -- as Jesus and his immediate disciples demonstrated. Look at what IS (the substance of harmonious Spirit -- the consistently good model of perfection) rather than what appears to be (fickle matter that can change from good to bad).  Treasure the spiritual (ideas) and have faith that where your treasure is your heart will be.... what you are valuing will become your experience -- and the experience of those embraced in your view. Then, we too will enable the lame and the oppressed to find freedom.

 [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 find it weekly on our website or through CS Directory. But, current and planned gifts are needed. Just click here to use a credit or debit card (Visa, Mastercard, American Express, or Discover card) or a virtual check to make monthly and one-time donations to CedarS' Camperships, Horse Care Matching Fund, "Maintenance Musts", "Mets", Bible Lands Park, "Mediterranean Sea", Unrestricted or Endowment Funds.  International supporters can give to CedarS via PayPal using built-in currency exchange rates by filling in an amount under International Donors and clicking on the "Donate Online" button.]
 
[You can also help CedarS reach out to all the "un-camped" students enrolled in Christian Science Sunday Schools across the world.  In the United States they outnumber Sunday School students who attend 1 of the 6 camps for Christian Scientists in N. 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 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.]

 [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: Enjoy a real treasure hunt!]
Possible Sunday School Topics for the Christian Science Bible Lesson
on Substance for March 7-13, 2011
By Amy Robbins Evans, St. Louis, MO [with bracketed italics by Warren Huff]
 
As you are reading the lesson, look for references to treasure.  How many times can you find treasure in the lesson?  What does treasure have to do with substance? [You and your students would likely love the Aussie cast in a TMC Youth video about pirates on a true treasure hunt.]
 
PSST for Golden Text and Responsive Reading
Where is your treasure?  What do you think of as your treasure?  What do you value and focus your attention on? If you could have anything, what would you ask for? Solomon asked for wisdom and knowledge, but what was he given? Why do you think this happened? What can you learn from this story? What's the most important thing to have?
 
PSST for Section 1
What do God's "riches" look like? Name some in your family, school, sports team, etc. how can you distinguish God's works/riches/creation from human ones? What is the point of recognizing these things? Is this different from other Christian denominations? Could this help with a healing? With your own spiritual practice? Why? How? What does S3 mean to you? What does it mean for everything that you see and experience everyday?
 
PSST for Section 2
Where is your treasure stored? How do we keep our treasures protected? What keeps what is most precious to us from being corrupted or stolen? How can we be sure that we are protecting the right things? Look at S8. Mrs. Eddy says that what is called intangible is substance and what seems to be substance is nothingness. What do you think about that? Have you ever thought one thing was substantial and later found that it didn't matter or mean anything to you? Or realized that something that you didn't think would ever be important was actually the most valuable thing? Give some examples. Consider some of the following: grades, clothes, money, family, friendship, God. Which of these are substance? Which aren't? Can you think of more?
 
PSST for Section 3
The story of Jacob and Esau comes to a close in this section. What's the background here? Why was Jacob so concerned about seeing Esau again? What happened the night before Esau's arrival (B10)? Jacob wouldn't let go of the angel until it blessed him. How can you be like Jacob and hold on to your blessings? What happened the next day (B11)? How was this different from the original expectation? Who do you think changed first, Jacob or Esau? We never know what happened to Esau the night before. Do you think he had his own transformation? What might have changed in his thought? By the end of the story, both brothers had enough and no one lacked anything. What a change from the beginning of their story when they fought over everything. What does this have to do with substance? How are we sustained and supplied? How are you advancing spiritually (S12)? What lessons are you learning? What are you pursuing (S13)? What are you winning? What does the last sentence in S14 mean? What is unspeakable peace? Can you give an example of it?
 
 
PSST for Section 4
How was Zacchaeus transformed in B13? What do you think the encounter between Jesus and Zacchaeus was like? Think about the type of person Zacchaeus was (a tax collector), and what he did in his profession. And yet he so desperately wanted to see Jesus that he went and climbed a tree to catch a glimpse of him. Would you do that? Talk about Zacchaeus' response to what the crowd says about him. Giving half his goods to the poor and then restoring everyone he took from by four times the amount would basically bankrupt him. What a change! Think about S20. What would this look like? Consider at school, in your home, and in the world. How are you getting "better views of humanity"? What are those views?
 
PSST for Section 5
How are our needs supplied? Give an example of how you have been supplied with all that you need. Discuss the story in B17. What did Peter and John do? The man asked them for money and they gave him far more. Are you willing to give a gift like that? How do you think Peter and John were able to heal him so immediately? What stands out to you in S25?  Think about the statement about not injuring others and doing them good. How do you do this? How have you done this recently? In what direction are you looking (S27)? In what direction are you walking? How have you seen this evidenced in your daily experience?

[PYCLS: Have fun with a Treasure Hunt, Musical Chairs, Story Reenactments,...]
Possible Younger Class Lesson Suggestions for the Christian Science Bible Lesson on "Substance" for March 13, 2011
by Kerry Jenkins, CS, House Springs, MO kerry.helen.jenkins@gmail.com  
[with bracketed italics by Warren Huff, CedarS Camps Director]
 
The entire Sunday School class could center around different aspects of treasure.  What is treasure?  Beyond pirates and things buried, do we have things that we "treasure"?  The younger kids may not have thought of using this word, especially not in this way.
 
[PYCL-Golden Text thru Section 5:] Try preparing a treasure hunt.  Write things that are substantial (spiritual) on slips of gold paper and maybe hid them around the class space or Sunday School, depending on whether this would incite too much energy on the part of the students.  (I know my boys might get a little too excited if the guidelines were not pretty clear).  Maybe if the weather isn't too cold this activity could go outdoors.  The "seeking" might be brief because it is the substantial ideas that we really want to focus on. You could make clues for them to find the treasures that are spiritually-related.  For example: "Your mom and dad often help you feel this way when you are afraid.  Find this clue in the book of Genesis chapter six."  "What story is there about safety?"  You could then take it to Mrs. Eddy's definition of ARK, or alternatively, you could put the clue in S&H with that definition.  [S&H, p. 581] How is safety a substantial idea?  Do we usually feel that the safety that God offers is substantial?  Maybe you, as the teacher, could share an appropriate healing that you may have experienced regarding the substance of safety in your experience.  Students love to hear healings from your own life!  
 
[PYCL-Section 3: Play Musical Chairs--with and without the pressured feeling of lack. The story of Jacob in B-9, B-10, B-11 and S-11 may make a good transition from your discussion of safety as a treasure to a game that puts treasure hunting on a higher level.] Did Jacob feel safe when he heard that Esau was coming to greet him with 400 men?  Apparently not.  Did he turn around and run?  What would you do?  The story doesn't just start there in the Bible.  [You can review with students "the back story" in Genesis chapters 25-35 and show them firsthand how competitive Jacob and Esau felt by playing a game of musical chairs. Start with one chair too few for the number of students and when the music stops the student who is left standing loses the opportunity to continue playing. Watch how pushy and selfish players become when they think there is too little to go around. Then, play again with enough chairs for all, telling players to be extra nice and considerate of each other because God has provided everything they need and they know it.] You could briefly explain the history behind Esau's anger [when he lost his "chair" by Jacob's trickery.]  Why did Jacob feel he needed to steal the blessing, etc. from his brother?  Wasn't he thinking that there was [a limited amount of] substance, something there, that would bless him-- that he would be deprived of otherwise.  What ultimately DID bless Jacob? (Hint: it sure wasn't that stolen blessing of his Father.) Rather it was the result of all that wrestling, not just on the night when he was afraid, but during all those years where matter [and trickery] let him down.  (He worked seven years to marry Rachel, then was tricked into marrying her sister, worked another seven for Rachel, trick after trick; and he resorted to tricks of his own to "get what was rightfully his".  When our treasure is in matter, our heart, our thoughts and consciousness wrapped up in things material, we are constantly disappointed.  Eventually we turn to Spirit to find things that truly make us happy and that's what happened to Jacob, even got a new name --a truer sense of his identity!
 
[PYCL-Section 4: Extreme seeking for the treasure of glimpsing the Christ:] You could discuss how we really "seek" for these treasures.  Kids in grades 1-5 are not too young to have the ideas of symbolism introduced.  What does the Bible mean - "...where your treasure is there shall your heart be also."  You could possibly talk about the people in the Bible who were so deeply desirous of "touching" the Christ that they did things that were either really extreme: (tearing off part of a roof to let a man down on a bed to be healed by Jesus), illegal: (the woman with the "issue of blood" would have been considered unclean, not allowed to touch another), or just sort of silly: (Zacchaeus climbing a tree because he was too short to see Jesus in a crowd-remind the kids that he was a grown man and it might have been a little strange to see him in a tree).  Nothing was going to keep these people from getting a glimpse, a touch, etc. of the Christ.  These are not the only examples: the Magdalene and others broke rules of society and went to unusual lengths because they recognized true substance and wanted it in their lives!  You can pursue Zacchaeus' story further.  [B-13 and can even reenact it to help your student's unpack its meaning for themselves. See at the end a Section 4 script with a ladder prop.] What did ZAC (ZACCHAEUS) find substantial in his life before he knew Jesus?  Was it rewarding to him?  Couldn't have been very since he completely changed on meeting Jesus and accepted for himself that he was a different kind of man right then!  Is this like Jacob's new name?  Who else in the Bible saw themselves in a new light after "meeting" Jesus?  The littler kids may not be able to answer that question, but it's a nice opening for pointing out Paul's desert "meeting" with Jesus and how this changed his path from what he thought was a life of substance, to a life of true substance!  If substance is defined in part as something lasting, Paul's contribution certainly fits that description!  What would you do to see or touch the Christ?  Have we missed our chance because we were born too late?
 
[PYCL-Section 5: Trade in" thing-treasures" for "thought-treasures".]  In Section 5 there is the story of the lame man being healed.  (Was he born too late?)  What did that man THINK he was looking for?  (money, right?)  What did Peter and John KNOW he was REALLY looking for?  This may be a bit heavy for younger kids, but it's interesting to ask what we THINK we need and then listen for what that need REALLY might be.  This is an exercise in "turning things into thoughts".  Your students might find it fun to make lists of things and see if they can turn them into thoughts.  Thinking of my boys...cars into transportation!  I'm sure they can come up with more inventive and helpful ideas.  [My favorite trade-in: the Christ turning a fishing boat into an instant transportation module for the disciple--moving at the ultimate speed of thought--"immediately" "being there". John 6:21]
Have fun!  And, don't forget [from last week's PYCL ideas to start up or] to check on your plantings--whether literal or figurative! Keep on a-watering!    
 
[P.S. On in following pages a possible Section 5 script for Acts 3 (B-17) if you want to combine classes or play multiple roles to reenact "the rest of the story" and bring home its lessons in a memorable way.]

 

[PCYL--Section 4: Treasure Play--THE STORY OF ZACCHAEUS
 
Characters: Narrator, Zac, and Jesus. People lining the road to see Jesus.
 
Props: A ladder
 
Narrator: Jesus and Zacchaeus were Jews who lived in Israel. The Roman army occupied Israel and demanded a lot of money, called taxes, from the Jews. The Jews didn't have a lot of money, so it was hard to pay the taxes. The Roman army hired some of the Jews to collect the taxes from the people. Sometimes the tax collectors cheated the people and took extra money from them for themselves. This made the people hate the tax collectors. They wouldn't speak to them or have anything to do with them. They would never go to their houses.
 
Zacchaeus lived in Jericho and was one of these tax collectors. No one liked him because he had sometimes cheated them and taken too much money from them. They all thought he was a bad person. He was very rich and it was their money that had made him rich. Oh they were mad just thinking about him.
 
One day, Jesus came to Jericho. The people all wanted to see this great teacher who could heal people. They were crowding the street where he was to walk by.   (Line students up in front of the ladder.)
 
ZAC: I really want to see Jesus. Has he come by yet? I can't see past this crowd. 
(Jumps to see over people. Tries to push his way through but no one lets him.) 
I wish I weren't so short! I know what I'll do. I'll climb this tree so I can see him.   (Zac climbs the ladder.)
 
JESUS: (Walks along the road and stops under the tree. Looks up at Zac.)
Zacchaeus, hurry up and come down out of that tree. Today I will stay at your house.
 
ZAC:  (Quickly climbs down the ladder with a big smile on his face.)
 I would be honored to have you stay at my house. 
 
(The people all grumble and whisper to each other that Jesus is going to be the guest of the hated tax collector.)
 
ZAC: I hear what all the people are saying about me. And I feel sorry that I've done bad things. Lord, from now on, one half of everything I own I'll give to the poor people of the city. And if I've cheated anyone, I'll give him back four times more than what I took from him.
 
JESUS: Good for you Zac. This day you have proven your worth as a child of God. I have come looking for people like you, to show you how valuable you are. No matter what you've done wrong, you can follow my example and be good. You can be as perfect as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
 
ZAC: I am so joyful. Thank you for showing me the right way.                (OVER)
 
 
 
Follow up questions: (suggested by my team-teacher, Maryl Walters)
         
Why were the people mad at Zac? What had he done to them?
 
         
Have you ever been mad at someone who treated you badly?
 
         
How was Jesus seeing Zac?
 
         
Have you been able to see the person who treated you badly as the child of God?
 
         
What made Jesus so loving?
 
         
How can you be loving like Jesus was?]
 

[PCYL-Section 5: "Treasure Play"--
 PETER AND JOHN HEAL THE LAME MAN
Acts 3:1-20; Acts 4:1-33, quoted & adapted from The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language by Eugene Peterson
 
Props: a dozen of these scripts, each highlighted for the appropriate part (See questions at end)
            Beautiful gate of temple (gold garland maybe)
            Jail (sign maybe)
            Character names to hang around necks
            High priest scarf
 
Cast of 10 Characters: (could combine smaller classes)
            Lame man who is healed                                Israelite #1
            Narrator                                                          Israelite #2
            Peter                                                                Israelite #3
            John                                                                Sadducee
            High Priest                                                      Chief of Temple police
         
Narrator: "One day at three o'clock in the afternoon, Peter and John were on their way into the Temple for prayer meeting. At the same time there was a man crippled from birth being carried up. Every day he was set down at the Temple gate, the one named Beautiful, to beg from those going into the Temple."
 
(Israelites carry lame man to gate. Peter and John approach.)
 
Lame man: Please help me. Can you spare a nickel for a lame man?
 
Peter: Look at us.   (Pause) "I don't have a nickel to my name, but what I do have, I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth," rise up and walk! (Peter and John take his hands and pull him up on his feet. He jumps up and walks, and leaps.)
 
Lame man: Praise God! Look at me! (He goes into the Temple with Peter and John, walking back and forth, dancing and praising God. He throws his arms around Peter and John.)
 
Israelites: Look at that! Amazing! Praise God! Isn't that the lame man who sat at the temple begging?
 
Peter:   "Oh, Israelites, why does this take you by such complete surprise, and why stare at us as if our power or holiness made him walk? The God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, the God of our ancestors, has glorified his Son Jesus. ... Faith in Jesus' name put this man, whose condition you know so well, on his feet-yes, faith and nothing but faith put this man healed and whole right before your eyes."
 
John: "And now, friends, it's time to change your ways! Turn to face God so God can wipe away your sins; God will pour out showers of blessing to refresh you, and send you Christ, the Messiah."
 
Narrator: "While Peter and John were addressing the people, the priest, the chief of the Temple police, and a Sadducee came up." (Acts 4:1)
 
John: And this man, Jesus Christ, who healed people and even raised the dead, was also raised from the dead himself. 
 
Peter: We ourselves saw him and hung out with him.
 
Sadducee: What kind of craziness is this-everyone knows that there is no such thing as resurrection from death. And who do you think you are-instructing the people-WE are the teachers. You are ignorant fishermen. Arrest them!
 
Chief of Temple police: All right, everyone stand back. You two are coming with me to jail.
 
Narrator: "But many of those who listened had already believed the Message-in round numbers about five thousand!
"The next day a meeting was called in Jerusalem. The rulers, religious leaders, religion scholars, the Chief Priest, John, Alexander-everybody who was anybody was there."
 
High Priest: (To the chief of Temple police) Bring those two men to us. 
 
(Chief of Temple police brings Peter and John back from jail. Standing next to them is the lame man who was healed.)
 
Sadducee: So, Peter and John, "who put you in charge here?"
 
High Priest:"What business do you have doing this preaching?"
 
Peter, ("full of the Holy Spirit, let loose): ‘Rulers and leaders of the people, if we have been brought to trial today for helping a sick man, put under investigation regarding this healing, I'll be completely frank with you-we have nothing to hide. By the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the one you killed on a cross, the one God raised from the dead, by means of his name this man stands before you healthy and whole.'" 
 
Narrator: "They couldn't take their eyes off them-Peter and John standing there so confident, so sure of themselves! Their fascination deepened when they realized these two were laymen with no training in Scripture or formal education. They recognized them as companions of Jesus, but with the man right before them, seeing him standing there so upright-so healed!-what could they say against that?"
 
High Priest: Take them back to jail. We need to make some plans.
 
(Chief of Temple police takes them back to jail.)
 
Sadducee: "What can we do with these men? By now it's known all over town that a miracle has occurred, and that they are behind it. There is no way we can refute that. But so that it doesn't go any further, let's silence them with threats so they won't dare to use Jesus' name ever again with anyone."
 
High Priest: Good plan. Bring the men back in.
 
(Chief of Temple police brings them back.)
 
High Priest: We'll give you one warning. "On no account" are you "ever again to speak or teach in the name of Jesus."
 
Peter: "Whether it's right in God's eyes to listen to you rather than to God, you decide. As for us, there's no question-we can't keep quiet about what we've seen and heard."
 
Sadducee: Pay attention: This is your Sadducee speaking. Don't ever teach or preach about Jesus again.
 
Narrator: "As soon as Peter and John were let go, they went to their friends and told them what the high priests and religious leaders had said. They then "lifted their voices in a wonderful harmony of prayer:"
 
Israelite #1: "Strong God, you made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them. By the Holy Spirit you spoke through the mouth of your servant and our father, David:"
 
Israelite #2:   "Why the big noise, nations? Why the mean plots, people? Earth's leaders push for position, Potentates meet for summit talks, The God-deniers, the Messiah-defiers!" ...
 
Israelite #3: "Take care of their threats and give your servants fearless confidence in preaching your Message, as you stretch out your hand to us in healings and wonders done in the name of your holy servant Jesus."
 
Narrator: "While they were praying, the place where they were meeting trembled and shook. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak God's Word with fearless confidence."
"The whole congregation of believers was united as one-one heart, one mind! ... and grace was on all of them."
 
Post-reenactment discussion ideas:
Afterwards it would be great to discuss for a few minutes how bold Peter and John were to stand up to the High Priest and Sadducees even when told not to preach ever again. It'd be great to connect their experience with our need to do what we know God is telling us to do no matter who says what. You may want to share with students one of Mrs. Eddy's favorite mottos that she hung over the door to her room in her various residences: "Do right and fear not." How did Peter and John live up to this motto? How did Mrs. Eddy live up to it as an adult and as a girl? It'd be great to allow time to ask if anyone in the class could retell how Mary Baker as a young girl in her one-room school stood up to a much older and larger bully how tried to make her and other students drink muddy water out of a hollowed out cucumber. How can you stand up to bullies as well as to peer pressure and so live up to the motto to "Do right and fear not"?]
 
           

Metaphysical

GEMS to wash away blame-game feelings and their bodily results with floodtides of Love! - GEMS...
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