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Celebrate Christ's Victory over Sin, Disease and Death

Christie Hanzlik, C.S., Boulder, CO
Posted Monday, April 2nd, 2012

Let's Celebrate Christ's Victory over Sin, Disease and Death.
Metaphysical Application Ideas for the Christian Science Bible Lesson on
"Are
Sin, Disease and Death Real?" for April 2-9, 2012
by Christie Hanzlik, C.S., Boulder, CO ccern@mac.com 720-331-9356
 
[These application ideas from a CedarS Camps' Resident Christian Science Practitioner are provided primarily to help CedarS campers and staff (as well as friends) see and demonstrate the great value of study and application of the Christian Science Bible lessons daily throughout the year, not just at camp! You can sign up to have them emailed to you free -- by Monday each week in English; or by each Wednesday you can get a FREE TRANSLATION: in French, thanks to Denise and Pascal; in German, thanks to Helga and Manfred; or in Spanish, thanks to a team of Ana, Erick, Claudia and Patricio. YOU CAN ALSO SIGN UP for weekly emails from past CedarS staff of fun approaches & possible ways to teach lesson ideas to older and to younger Sunday School classes at www.cedarscamps.org/newsletters  Enjoy! Warren Huff, CedarS Director & editor of these notes with bracketed additions.]
 
Let's  Celebrate Christ's Victory over Sin, Disease and Death.
You and I have an extremely important job this week.  This job is more important than our schoolwork, an office job, errands to run, or any other activity that might distract us.  We must celebrate Christ's victory over sin, disease, and death.  We must understand more deeply than we ever have before the importance of Jesus' resurrection.  We need to celebrate his victory!   Don't be intimidated.  This week's lesson gives us a step-by-step guide on what we need to do.  Besides, this job is fun, kind of like being a CedarS camp counselor.
 
I remember when I first trained to be a counselor at CedarS. I didn't always know what to do. I learned on the job, listened for direction, watched more experience counselors, and read the staff manual until eventually I could see for myself what I should do.   The better I got at it, the more exciting the work became, and now I can't think of a more fun way to get terrific career training than being a CedarS counselor, whether you want to be a successful marine biologist, computer programmer, actor, choreographer, musician, lawyer, designer, architect, producer, CEO, teacher, Navy officer, writer, web designer, photographer, social worker, coach, homeschooling parent, college professor, NASA engineer, artist, or Christian Science practitioner, among many other professions (I know former counselors in each of these positions).
 
The combination of fun-filled practice and role modeling that helps us become strong counselors and succeed in our careers is also an ideal way to become strong healers.  And the best role model we have for healing is Christ Jesus.  The work that Jesus did on the cross demonstrated Life and sealed Christ's victory over sin, disease, and death.  Your job now, should you choose to accept it, is to follow Jesus' example and actively celebrate Christ's victory.
 
Our first step toward job success is to follow the directions in the Golden Text: "thanks be [give gratitude] to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
The Responsive Reading gives us more job instructions (doesn't this list sound a lot like what it takes to be a good counselor?):
• "get your minds ready for action"
• "be self-disciplined"
• "set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ"
• "keep [your] tongue from evil and [your] lips from speaking deceit"
• "turn away from evil and do good"
• "seek peace and pursue it"
These instructions teach us how to celebrate Christ's victory.   In the remainder of the lesson, we'll see ways that Jesus role modeled how to do these tasks; and we'll learn more and more about what we get when we devote ourselves to this all-important job.   You could even think of the lesson as a sort-of "staff manual" on how to celebrate Easter.   As a start, we know one job perk is that no one can harm us when we're striving to do right:  "And who will harm you if you are passionate for what is good?" [Staff and campers see another form of this reminder in a favorite motto of Mrs. Eddy's that is posted in CedarS' dining room: "Do right and fear not!"]
 
 Section 1:  Jesus shows us how to do God's work, and prove Christ's dominion over sin, disease, and death
In the first section, Jesus accepts the work that God has for him and agrees to follow God's plan. God appointed Jesus (gave him a job) as His servant to "magnify the law, and make it honourable" (B1)  Jesus made this agreement with God, not with death. (B2) He knew that the devil-"the prince of this world"-would be cast out [by the cross, the crucifixion] and that Jesus would be"lifted up from the earth," (resurrected) and that his followers [in every age] would be "drawn" unto him and understand the Christ message.   As he went to the cross, he reminded us all that we can share in Christ's promise when he said, "While ye have light, believe in the light that ye may be the children of light." (B4)
As Mary Baker Eddy explains, "[Jesus] was to prove that the Christ is not subject to material conditions [or death], but is above the reach of human wrath, and is able, through Truth, Life, and Love, to triumph over sin, sickness, death, and the grave."   (S4) When Jesus proved the impotence of sin, disease, and death for himself, he also proved it for all of us.
It is now our job to learn more about the truth that Jesus proved and to live this truth. How do we do this? We need to wake from "this mortal dream, or illusion....This awakening is the forever coming of Christ, the advanced appearing of Truth, which casts out error and heals the sick." (S2)  Every time we catch a glimpse of our spiritual reality and look away from matter to spirit, we are celebrating the victory...the forever coming of Christ. So make sure to stay awake and "get your minds ready for action!"
 
Section 2: Jesus shows us how to purify the temple-body-and thus celebrate Christ's victory over contamination
In section two, we learn about Jesus' activities five days before his crucifixion.  He took an active stand against people who were "changing money" in the temple of Jerusalem.  Moneychangers (and priests) made a big profit off of visitors to the temple by charging high rates to change their foreign money into silver, which the visitors could to buy animals, sold at a profit to the priests, to sacrifice in the temple.  This profiteering by the priests was wrong, and Jesus literally turned the tables over and denounced the activity.  After he kicked out the moneychangers , he was able to teach the temple and heal many sick people who came to hear Christ's message of salvation. (B6, B7) 
Jesus came to "point out the way of Truth and Life" for us. (S1)  While we may not need to topple tables in a temple, we do need to topple the many lies mortal sense throws at us.  Often this means that we need to "stand for what is right even though it may not be the popular thing to do." (This is part of the CedarS torchbearer's pledge.)
Also in this lesson are some "musts" that we can add to the job description we got in the Responsive Reading.
• "We must forsake the foundation of material systems, however time-honored, if we would gain the Christ as our only savior." (S7)
• "We must begin with this so-called mind and empty it of sin and sickness, or sin and sickness will never cease." (S8)
• "You must control evil thoughts in the first instance, or they will control you in the second." (S8)
As we make strides towards these "musts," we are establishing in truth and purity "the temple, or body, ‘whose builder and maker is God.'" (S9)   Following Jesus' example by standing up against false priests, and purifying our temple-body-is the work that celebrates Christ's victory over sin, disease, and death.
 
Section 3:  Jesus didn't allow progress to stop
In the third section, Jesus again serves as our role model as he "curses" the fig tree for being barren.  While this story may seem strange when you read it as an isolated event, it makes more sense when you consider that the cursing of the fig tree happened just after Jesus left the temple where he denounced the moneychangers.  The tree can serve as a metaphor for the temple, which should have been fruitful, but was not bearing fruit because of the unjust activities of the priests.   Jesus had gone to the temple to find inspiration and peace before his pending crucifixion, but had found corruption instead. Likewise, when he was hungry and sought fruit, the fig tree was barren. When he cursed the tree and the roots withered up, this symbolized the destruction of the misdeeds of the priests and moneychangers, making room for new fruit to come. (You can read more about this by clicking on this link: Jesus and the Fig Tree)
Jesus cursed the fig tree-and the "works of the devil" occurring in the temple-so that the temple-body-would be purified and bear fruit.   Likewise, "We should follow our divine Exemplar (role model), and seek the destruction of all evil works, error and disease included."  (S11)
But how do we "seek the destruction of all evil works"?  Fortunately, Mary Baker Eddy gives us a list of ways we can do this, and by following these ways, we are actively celebrating Christ's victory over sin, disease, and death.  Here's a list of job duties found in this section:
• "Be astounded at the vigorous claims of error and doubt them." (S13)
• "No longer think it natural to love sin and unnatural to forsake it" (S13)
• "No longer imagine evil to be ever-present and good absent" (S13)
• "Truth should not seem so surprising and unnatural as error" (S13)
• "Error should not seem to real as truth" (S13)
• "Sickness should not seem so real as health." (S13)
• "Suffer no claim of sin or of sickness to grow upon the thought" (S14)
• "‘Agree to disagree' with approaching symptoms of chronic or acute disease" (S14)
• "Meet the incipient stages of disease with as powerful mental opposition as a legislator would employ to defeat the passage of an inhuman law." (S14)
• "Rise in the conscious strength of the spirit of Truth to overthrow the plea of mortal mind..." (S14)
• "Blot out the images of mortal thought and its beliefs in sickness and sin." (S14) 
Jesus did each of these things in one single motion as he cursed the fig tree (and the corrupt activities in the temple). We too can practice each of these tasks, accept them as our natural tendency toward good, follow Jesus as a role model, and thus actively celebrate Christ's victory over sin, disease, and death.
 
Section 4:  Jesus asks his disciples (and us) to be loyal and to stay awake
Section four continues with the story of the events leading up to Jesus' crucifixion. After telling his disciples that he knew he had been betrayed, Jesus asked them to stay awake with him while he prayed.   But they couldn't do it.   He found them sleeping, and said, "sleepest thou? Couldest not thou watch one hour?" (B11)
We need to constantly ask ourselves if we are "staying awake" with Jesus, and not falling asleep at the hands of the enemy-sin, disease or death.   Our job is to stay alert!   After watching the crucifixion and resurrection, the disciples became very adept at staying awake, and so can we.
After Jesus was turned over to Pontius Pilate for his trial, everyone found out that Judas was the one who betrayed him.    Judas felt so guilty that he left the group and hung himself.    Judas lost his way, stumbled in the darkness, and saw no way out but death.   In short, he didn't trust the Christ would be the victor over death.   (You can read more about the deeper meaning of the Judas story by clicking here: Erasing the 'Judas Stamp')
We don't have to fall into the Judas trap. Guilt has no part in the Christ promise. When we feel separated-or distrusting-of God's care for us, we don't need to turn our backs. Instead, we can affirm that sin/separation is not real for us. Do you think that if Judas had stuck around to witness Jesus' resurrection and hear him say, "Forgive them Father for they know not what they do," that he might have been able to forgive himself, reform, and go on to serve as a loyal apostle? Surely, Jesus would not have wanted Judas to commit suicide.
Before we condemn ourselves as sinners the way Judas did, we should stay awake to the fact that God loves us, cherishes us as His beloved child, and never allows us to drift away from Him.  As we realize this, we understand that, as Mary Baker Eddy writes, "Sin should become unreal to every one.  It is in itself inconsistent, a divided kingdom.  Its supposed realism has no divine authority, and I rejoice in the apprehension of this grand verity." (S19)
It is our job to stay awake, be loyal, understand our inseparability from God, and thus celebrate Christ's victory over sin, disease, and death.
 
Section 5:  Jesus shows us how to bear a cross, the symbol of Christ's victory over sin, disease, and death
Jesus walked a very difficult path in the moments leading up to his crucifixion.  It wasn't easy.  His disciples couldn't help him, the public was hailing insults at him, and he was physically tortured.
He could have avoided the crucifixion. (S21) But instead he chose to allow his enemies to try to destroy him. Why? So he could prove the nothingness of death. As Mary Baker Eddy explains, "Jesus could give his temporal life into his enemies' hands; but when his earth-mission was accomplished, his spiritual life, indestructible and eternal, was found forever the same. He knew that matter had no life and that real Life is God; therefore he could no more be separated from his spiritual Life than God could be extinguished." (S21)
By carrying the cross-allowing the crucifixion to occur-Jesus proved Christ's power over sin, sickness and death.  "The Christ-idea, or the Christ-man," Mrs. Eddy writes, "rose higher to human view because of the crucifixion, and thus proved that Truth was the master of death. Christ presents the indestructible man, whom Spirit creates, constitutes, and governs." (S23)  Without the crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus' work would have been incomplete, and he went through this ordeal in order to prove Christ's victory over sin, disease, and death.
While we may not be expected to endure crucifixion, there may be moments in our experience in which we may feel that we are carrying a metaphorical cross. We may feel like there are unfair burdens placed upon us, hardships to face, loneliness to experience, sicknesses to suffer, deaths to grieve, or betrayals that hurt, among other cross-like events. When these things seem to creep into our experience, we can look to Jesus as a role model, and carry "the cross" with as much grace-and ultimate triumph-as he did. We can do this because we know-he proved!-that the Christ touch frees us from any claims of sin, sickness, or death. Instead of letting the cross be a symbol of suffering and death, we can affirm that it is "the central emblem of history. It is the lodestar [guiding star] in the demonstration of Christian healing, - the demonstration by which sin and sickness are destroyed." (S20)
When we find ourselves in a difficult situation and saying, "this is my cross to bear," we can actively translate this misleading cliché to mean, "This is my opportunity to prove that sin, disease, and death have no hold on me, just as they didn't have a hold on Jesus 2000 years ago." Asserting our freedom from sin, disease, and death based on the reality of Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection is actively celebrating Easter.
It is our duty, our job, to see the cross as the powerful symbol of Christ's victory over sin, disease, and death.
 
Section 6: Christ's Victory over sin, disease, and death
The final section tells the triumphant story of the resurrection.   Shouts of "he is risen" were heard all throughout the land and continue to resound today.   People expressed "great joy"! (B14, B16)   This is the same joy that we feel when we find healing in our lives, when we catch a glimpse of Christ's great victory over sin, disease, and death.  What a joyful feeling it is for us when we experience healing...this is but a hint of the joy the disciples must have felt on Easter morning.  Expressing this joy is an active celebration of Easter!
Jesus victory was no small feat.   His triumph is a triumph for the whole world!   Mary Baker Eddy explains, "Our Master fully and finally demonstrated divine Science in his victory over death and the grave.   Jesus' deed was for the enlightenment of men and for the salvation of the whole world from sin, sickness, and death."  (S25)   Jesus' conviction that he was proving Christ's promise to us was, in part, what gave him the strength to endure the crucifixion with grace.
As we strive to be better and better at our job of celebrating Christ's victory, we find infinite rewards.   And we are capable of succeeding in and enjoying this work.   Just as with most jobs, we may at times feel that we'll never be able to master it; however, this is a special job in which our success is already ensured.    We are told in Science and Health, "We can, and ultimately
 shall, so rise as to avail ourselves in every direction of the supremacy of Truth over error, Life over death, and good over evil, and this growth will go on until we arrive at the fullness of God's idea, and no more fear that we shall be sick and die."  (S28)   Universal salvation means that everyone will ultimately understand Christ's great promises.
This is a great reward for the work we've been asked to do this week. As we strive to accomplish the tasks this week's Bible lesson asks of us, we find that we have "no more fear!" (S28)
And we know that we are capable of succeeding at our "job" because "God expresses in [us] the infinite idea forever developing itself, broadening and rising higher and higher from a boundless basis." (S29)
So, let's all do our job well this week as we express constant joy, "sing of Easter gladness," and have a ton of fun celebrating Christ's victory over sin, disease, and death. We can all "[be thank[ful] to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." (B17)
He is risen! Happy Easter! 
 
Let us sing of Easter gladness
That rejoices every day,
Sing of hope and faith uplifted;
Love has rolled the stone away.
Lo, the promise and fulfillment,
Lo, the man whom God hath made,
Seen in glory of an Easter
Crowned with light that cannot fade.
 
When we touch Truth's healing garment
And behold Life's purity,
When we find in Love the refuge
That is man's security,
When we turn from earth to Spirit,
And from self have won release,
Then we see the risen Saviour;
Then we know his promised peace.
 
Living meekly as the Master,
Who of God was glorified,
Looking ever to the radiance
Of his wondrous Eastertide;
Freed of fear, of pain, and sorrow,
Giving God the honor due,
Every day will be an Easter
Filled with benedictions new.
 
Frances Thompson Hill, Hymn 171/413, Christian Science Hymnal.

The articles cited in this week's CedarS met were originally available free online, but as of April 2nd are part of the paid subscription for JSH-online, which was "rolled out" between Sunday night and Monday morning.   In short, the links worked Sunday night, and then didn't work Monday morning.  The citations for those articles are here:
Elaine Follis, "Repentance: Erasing the 'Judas Stamp'", Christian Science Sentinel-108, 50, page 12 ( I haven't been able to find it on JSH Online, so it is only available through Found Volumes/the print version/Reading Rooms.  In the print edition, there are more than one articles about Judas in the same Sentinel, so it is worth finding if you want to learn more about Judas's significance)
 
"Jesus and the Fig Tree" by Diane Treacy-Cole is not available in print (incorrect citation listed on JSH-Online and its unavailable through Found Volumes because it was originally a spirituality.com article offered for free), so here it is...

"Jesus and the fig tree"
By Diane Treacy-Cole
From the Christian Science Sentinel - August 10, 2006
Originally appeared on spirituality.com
Bible quotations in this article are taken from the New Revised Standard Version.
 
It happened in a flash. Insights can be like that. One minute something can seem incomprehensible and the next it all makes sense. Most of us have had that experience, whether we're struggling to understand a foreign language, tackling a knotty business issue, or trying to get a new cell phone to work. In this case it was a Biblical text whose meaning had been obscure to me but had suddenly become clear.
 
Of course wrestling with difficult stories and sayings in the Bible isn't a new phenomenon. Bible scholars often refer to these texts as "hard sayings" because their meaning may not be obvious or may run counter to popular perceptions. The particular saying that spurred the insight is one attributed to Jesus by the authors of Mark and Matthew. The saying (or to use the term scholars employ, the logion) is generally known as the cursing of the fig tree.
 
There are two versions of this "hard saying" of Jesus, one in Mark 11:12-24 and the other in Matthew 21:18-22. What has troubled readers of this logion is the presumed injustice of the curse, since the account in Mark's Gospel states that it is not the season for fruit bearing. That Jesus would condemn the tree for having only leaves and no fruit out of season appears harsh and unfeeling on his part. Can this incompatibility between a view of Jesus as a just individual and the apparent unfairness of the curse be resolved?
 
In both Gospels the saying is set during Jesus' last week in Jerusalem as he confronts hostility from religious and secular authorities. A closer look at Mark reveals that the day before the tree is cursed Jesus had made a triumphal entry into Jerusalem in fulfillment of prophecy. After spending the night at Bethany, a village on the Mount of Olives, Jesus, and presumably his disciples also, headed for the Temple to challenge openly the religious establishment by overthrowing the tables of the moneychangers and declaring that God's house of prayer had become a den of thieves. This is important because it sets the saying in its context. Looking at where an author has placed an event or a teaching in the overall narrative often provides pertinent details.
 
In this logion the cursing of the tree serves as a metaphor related to the events in the Temple, and more explicitly to the scribes and priests who are cited in verse 18. The gospel audience would have been familiar with the use of a tree as a metaphor. Jeremiah, for example, speaks of the desolation of Jerusalem because of the people's backsliding. God tells the prophet, "When I wanted to gather them, says the Lord, there are no grapes on the vine, nor figs on the fig tree; even the leaves are withered, and what I gave them has passed away from them." In the well-known parable of the tree in Ezekiel 17, God declares, "All the trees of the field shall know that I am the Lord. I bring low the high tree, I make high the low tree; I dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish."
 
So, Mark's readership, and Jesus' audience, would have readily made the association between a tree and the events in the Temple. The religious leaders, like the fig tree, promise much, but like the fig tree that bears fruit only in season, the religious establishment is out of season and unfruitful. In fact the metaphor is carried further by the reference to the dried roots. The rituals of the Temple, like the leaves of the tree, offer promise, but with dry roots neither a tree nor Temple worship can survive. Jesus turns his disciples (and the reader) from looking to the Temple, emphasizing that they should have faith in God rather than trusting rites and ceremonies.
 
Matthew alters Mark's order of events. Like Mark, Matthew describes Jesus' triumphal entry on what subsequently became known as Palm Sunday. The first evangelist then narrates that Jesus went directly into the temple precinct, overthrowing the moneychangers' tables and quoting Isaiah's words about the Temple as a house of prayer. Matthew has already related Jesus' teaching about gathering good fruit from a good tree and not figs from thistles. Like Mark, Matthew's Jesus finds no fruit, only leaves, although Matthew omits the comment that it was not the season for figs. Instead Matthew embeds the saying in a teaching about the nature of prayer. The prayer of faith can accomplish even the removal of mountains. By contrast the rituals of the Temple, it is implied, soon wither.
 
Jesus' cursing of the fig tree is no longer a "hard saying." Reading the logion in isolation it appears that Jesus' curse was unfair. Reading the logion in its context clarifies the saying. By a graphic illustration Jesus' encourages his followers to have confidence, not in the form and outward practice of religion, which can be corrupted, but to have faith in God, who can be relied upon-whatever the season!

Spiritual symbols:
Science and Health
King James Bible

[Calling all Christian Scientists 14 & up! ONLY TWO WEEKS LEFT* TO REGISTER for the Texas Regional Youth Conference!  (*A late fee applies for those enrolling between Tuesday April 17th and the April 21st conference.) Event Planners from Houston & Boston have asked us in all the ways we know to encourage everyone, not just youth to register and come.  If you're 14-35, you've got the whole conference day! But if you're over 35, and a parent, friend, or mentor of youth, you're invited also to join the fun and inspiration of an evening session that includes dinner, live concert, and an inspirational talk on parenting and mentoring. (I'm flying in for the evening and have registered!)  Please join me and all youth supporters as well as young adults in registering so planners can reserve seating, dinner, etc. Three wonderful Christian Science youth speakers will share: how Christian Science can make a difference in our lives; how we can make a difference in the world; and how we can be happier, and have better relationships... (See more and register online at makingadifference2012.com ]

 
[Announcing a need and a wonderful funding channel:  "The Campership Fund is celebrating their 20th Anniversary in the Southeast and is excited to announce a new branch in the Midwest serving the states of Illinois and Missouri. The Campership Fund for Christian Scientists is dedicated to encouraging and financially aiding Christian Science Sunday school students to attend whichever camp for Christian Scientists they choose - CedarS, Adventure Unlimited, Bow-Isle, Crystal Lake Camp, Leelanau-Kohahna or Newfound/Owatonna." 
The need as announced by The Campership Fund: "We are pleased to see the immediate response of Midwest families wanting to send their children to each of the various camps for Christian Science evident by the numerous applications received.   We welcome your support, both metaphysical and financial, so every child is able to enjoy the enriching atmosphere at the camp of their choice this summer.   Visit us at www.campershipfund.org and "like us" on our facebook page."  Please donate today to "The Campership Fund" or for CedarS camperships to help us make sure that no Christian Science Sunday School student is "un-camped" this summer!]

[CedarS will send a DVD & info on our programs for all ages; session dates & rates; 2012 online enrollmenttransportation... to help get anyone in your church family to camp!]

 [Camp Director's Note: This sharing is the latest in an ongoing, 11-year series of CedarS Bible Lesson "Mets" (Metaphysical application ideas) contributed weekly by a rotation of CedarS Resident Practitioners and occasionally by other metaphysicians.  (Ask and look for "Possible Sunday School Topics "and "Possible Younger Class Lessons" in subsequent emails.) 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 "and Sunday School ideas 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.

[PSST: Answer NO quickly with an understanding conviction!]
Possible Sunday School Topics for the Christian Science Bible Lesson  on
"Are Sin, Disease, and Death Real?" for study during the week of April 2-8th 2012
by John Biggs, CS, of Bend, Oregon  johnbiggscs@gmail.com541.316.0809
[bracketed italics by Warren Huff, CedarS Director & Met, PSST & PCYL Editor]
 
Go ahead and ask your class what they think. Are sin, disease, and death real? Let's get some good foundations for the answers they give, too. Maybe you can all put your familiarity with our Pastor to the test! In this week leading up to Sunday, you may also enjoy participating in the discussion on this week's Lesson on the Global Sunday School discussion forums, on christianscience.com. The specific conversation for this Lesson is located here: http://bit.ly/Hj7dCP
 
Golden Text (GT):  Is this something that could be shouted out, or at least clearly lived out, every day? Before you get to class, check out this old article on Christian Science from a 2002 issue of the Christian Science Monitor. http://bit.ly/HcHAE6 You may even want to consider emailing it to your class ahead of time, to see if they can practice living the ideas in it - and of thanking God in everything - and then sharing fruitage (or challenges) in class on Sunday.
 
Responsive Reading (RR): I love the imagery of verse 4 in the RR - "kept in heaven for you." What sort of things do your friends and family keep for you? Would this inheritance be like a Christmas present, all wrapped up, secret, and only to be opened on a certain day? Or is it more like a pie, kept fresh in the fridge for you to eat whenever you want? Or is it even more than that? If this inheritance if kept in heaven for us, is it separate from us at all?! And by the way, what do you think that inheritance might be?
 
Section 1: (B2) Have we made a covenant with death or an agreement with hell? Those are pretty intense words. In what ways might those agreements be symbolized in our own experiences? Is it heartening to realize that those ‘agreements' were never actually valid in the first place? Freedom is a topic close to heart for many around the world these days. Consider using that idea of freedom as a rallying point throughout your Sunday School discussion this week.
 
(S3) Can we wake up even if we're not feeling unwell? Is there more to wake up from than sickness?
 
Section 2: (B9) Was Jesus just mad that they had set up a banking and shopping area in the temple? Or was there a deeper challenge going on there, than just a zoning violation? Where is church - can we live church wherever we go? This might be a nice prelude to discussing church membership with your class. What does it mean to be a member, what does it entail? The Christian Science Journal has been having some wonderful articles and stories on what church membership has meant to many different folks.
 
(S5) What is a ‘rabbinical error?' Is it something to be scared of? What does citation S7 mean for us, here and now? Is this a practical command that can be accomplished today? It does say "we must..." What are we basing our days on - peer approval, strict adherence to someone else's plan for us, financial success...? Talk with each other about how we might realistically begin to break away from those moldy ‘foundations.'
 
Section 3: Check out "Dealing with the Nonproductive" by Joanne Shriver Leedom (on page 32 of the Anthology of Classic Articles II). It is a great help in sorting through the fig tree story! Is productivity important to, or along with, spiritual growth? Who do we turn to, to know what we ought best to do?
 
Citation S13 is such a vigorous wake-up call! Should we ever accept evil as real, or possible, or expected? Evil is a pretty strong word, maybe - how about sadness? Should we ever accept sadness, or lack, as acceptable and expected at certain times? How can we follow citation S14 in our daily experience, to never allow a claim of evil to impress us?
 
Section 4: Have you ever lived out a Judas story? Doing something that wasn't so great, and then realizing what you'd done, and instead of rising above, continuing in a downward spiral of guilt? Guilt is often that last temptation that tries to keep us from shining. Guilt, however, is much different than repentance. We have multiple opportunities every day to repent - to change our thought. But guilt would keep us identifying ourselves as someone who did a bad thing and must be punished somehow. How can you encourage each other in your class to repent, rather than go on guilt trips?
 
The citations from Science & Health seem very harsh and condemning of Judas...or do they? Is it not the thought, the wrongful conception of man as a mis-creator that is being condemned? Could citation S17 [about the only way to escape sin being to cease sinning] be a help to us, whenever we are trying to think of how to help a friend out? Could it be an encouragement to us individually?
 
Section 5: (B13) Do you ever give in to popular opinion, perhaps in an effort to cover your own back? Are you comfortable taking a bold stand for Truth? Why would you want to take that stand, if you're afraid you might be condemned, or at least laughed at? When I first started dancing (after quitting football), I was nervous to tell people that I really loved ballet, and how much I really enjoyed dancing. That nervousness was very clear to people, and kept encouraging a downward spiral of nervousness! Finally, I realized that since I love dancing, I could also love to let people know, confidently and quietly. I could practice expressing the same confidence with my friends that I wanted to express on stage. It made a huge difference. I was only ever teased one more time, and I actually got to have many enriching conversations with a huge variety of people about dance and what it meant to me (and to them!). The same thought process held true for my sharing of Christian Science. We can confidently stick up for and share what we love - not proselytizing, but not shrinking away from opportunities to shine. There are many great resources available, too, for practicing sharing. You may enjoy practicing in Sunday School - practice sharing why each of you loves Christian Science. There are also active discussion forums, through Time4Thinkers, at http://bit.ly/HYpSQo (which are aimed at 16+, but younger students could certainly participate - perhaps they could just ask their parents to check the site out with them) where anyone can practice engaging in conversation and learning to share and learn together about Christian Science.
 
Citation S21 gives a wonderful statement, letting us know WHY we can be confident in our sharing and living: "He knew that matter had no life and that real Life is God..." Does that statement, and the assurance of it, help you? What would you want to know, to be sure of, before you shared more confidently? Can you help each other discover those assurances in this Lesson?
 
Section 6: Christ is risen! What does that mean for us, today? Is this section of the Bible Lesson telling a pleasant story, but one that is irrelevant for us today? Jesus knew that his life was not in matter, so he could graciously go forward with this whole experience - he knew he was never touched. Can we go forward into our days with that same assurance of safety? Why or why not? Is this story for us, too?
 
(S27) What is the real essence of womanhood and manhood? The most recent Christian Science Sentinel is all about manhood - you might enjoy exploring it with your class. Have you ever considered writing something, as a class or individually, for the Christian Science periodicals, by the way?! How can we know that we are pressing on effectively toward the promise of citation S28? Could we ever actually be mortal or limited? Would God ever leave us out? How's citation S29 for an anthem for the week? ["God expresses in man the infinite idea forever developing itself, broadening and rising higher and higher from a boundless basis." (258:13)]
 
Love this opportunity to rejoice with your dear class! Sin, disease, and death are NOT real, and we can boldly live the truth of that. Many thanks for all you do, and to the dear Bible Lesson committee folks who listen so lovingly for these inspired lessons for all of us.
 
Enjoy this wonderful day!

 

[PYCL: Give them Christ's keys to overcoming the unreality of sin, disease, death!]
CedarS PYCL--Possible Younger Class Lessons for:  
"
Are Sin Disease and Death Real?"
The Christian Science Bible Lesson for April 8, 2012
by Kerry Jenkins, CS, House Springs, MO (314) 406-0041

[Brackets by Newsletter Editor Warren Huff, who also directs CedarS Camps and asks you to remind every Sunday School student that one or more of our six camps for Christian Science Sunday School students has a program & session perfect for them & ways to afford it as well!]
 
[PYCL - G.T..: Follow the golden thread from the Golden Text throughout each section.]
[What winning key about your Christliness can you find in each section to give you "the victory through ... Jesus Christ"? You might want buy gold-colored key chains and add to them labeled, gold-colored keys (of paper or metal) for each of the six sections of the lesson to give pupils memorable, meaningful keys to a life of overcoming.]
 
[PYCL - R.R..: A call to act like Jesus and for "uncanned" answers.]
The Responsive Reading is an especially expressive call to act in the way that Jesus, our way-shower, illustrated in his life.  I might be tempted with the slightly older grade schoolers to go slowly through the R.R. and see what Christ Jesus gave us and called on us to do.  For example: "..He has given us a new birth..."  What does that mean?  How does his resurrection do this?  What is an "...inheritance that is imperishable, uncorrupted, and unfading..."?  Talk about each of these words.  Uncorrupted in particular has a couple of meanings, the Bible uses it often to refer to the way our body decays, but layered with that is the present-day definition of being in a sense pure, not receptive to evil or temptation.  How can our inheritance be like that?  And what is our inheritance?  There is much here to explore if you give them time to ponder it and come up with real, "uncanned" responses or questions of their own.
 
[PYCL -Unpack R.R.: what it means to: see good; pursue peace; keep from deceit; arguing...]
Next in the R.R. you can talk about "For the one who wants to love life and to see good days...." -- who doesn't want these things?  What does this passage tell us is necessary to attain these things?  Make sure they understand the language of keeping your tongue from evil, or what deceit means.  What examples can you all come up with that are actually part of your experience and not abstractions that illustrate turning away from evil and doing good.  Or in the next sentence we have "He must seek peace and pursue it..."  What does seeking peace mean on a day to day level?  Is it just not getting into arguments?  Is it not having our thought at war with matter?  Come up with some original thoughts on this.
 
[PYCL - Unpack R.R.: how can we all be more passionate for good? Give examples.]
Finally, check out the last R.R. sentence: "And who will harm you if you are passionate for what is good?"  Talk about what being passionate for good means.  How can we all be more passionate for good?  Why does the passage use the word "passionate" and not just say something like "work for good".  Have they ever come across people who are passionate about something?  What are these people like?  Is it fun/interesting to be with people who feel passionately about their work or about their lives or about some subject?  What are the kids passionate about?  Is it a good thing?  You get the idea.
 
[PYCL -1st s.: Use a "Master" key - see how Jesus beat our enemies & how we can today.]
I feel like this lesson is all about what we can do to be like Jesus.  The first section kind of gives us an overview of how he overcame sin, sickness and death, and showed us the way to do this ourselves.  And then the lesson goes into more detail about specific things we must do to follow his example.  Try translating each example in the lesson into something "modern day".  We know that the Bible, and hence the Bible lessons themselves are meant to be put into action, so determine what sort of actions we are being called upon to take as you go through each section.
 
[PYCL - 2nd s.: Use a winning key of acting like Jesus to sweep away material worship.]
In section two you have the money changers and Jesus' actions against them.  The S&H citations in this section give us a pretty clear indication of what we are to do today to "overturn the tables of money changers".  This will not be obvious to kids.  Read the story and talk about what Jesus was asking of us today by taking this action.  Have them look at the parallel citations, but remember that these will take some work together for a second, third or even older grades to really understand without explanation.  Talk about what "rabbinical error" is today.  Do we have some of the same things in our churches and organizations today?  How does it show itself?  Maybe it could be seen simply as material worship.  What does that mean?  In citation S8 MBE explains how we can clear out our own thought by keeping proper guard over it.  How does that relate to the money changer story?  Talk about what the double meaning of the word temple.  Does that add yet another layer to the discussion of keeping track of our thoughts, clearing out the temple/body of materialistic thought and action?  (S9)  Uses the term "...sweep away the false and give place to the true."  Isn't it exciting to see how MBE opens up the Bible in so many ways to our understanding?!
 
[PYCL - 3rd s.: Use a winning key of acting like Jesus, intolerant of error, tolerant of people.]
The fig tree story is less often told, so this is a great opportunity for the kids to read it and think about what it might mean.  Maybe they have some thoughts of their own about this.  One thought is to see this as a tale of utter intolerance for error or fruitlessness.  In citation S14 MBE radically states: "Suffer no claim of sin or of sickness to grow upon the thought." (italics added).  Are we doing this in our own lives?  Or are we kind of living on the fence with matter?  It's actually kind of a challenging question!  Are we "startled" at what Jesus is asking of us?  Then we are not the first. I think many of the people of his day were not only startled, but dismayed as well, leading to his eventual crucifixion.  How do we show intolerance for error while showing great love and tolerance for mankind?  Talk about how to separate in an meaningful way, actions from people.
 
[PYCL - 4th s.: Use a winning key of acting like Jesus, live to give -- above injury, betrayal.]
Everyone should know about the story of Judas and his unhappy end.  It is a very sad tale and one that we can and should feel some sense of compassion for as I'm sure Jesus did.  This section indirectly teaches us of the need to handle betrayal and injury from another.  Jesus rendered this ultimately powerless, proving that the Christ is beyond the reach of betrayal or injury. Ask what Judas gained through his possible envy, or frustration with the Master.  True gain comes at a higher price than silver.  Jesus showed that it comes through great labor and love.  What can we do to gain the prize of immortality?  Granted we are given that, as sons and daughters of God, but how do we realize that?  How do we keep from "betraying" the Christ today?  Talk about ways that we all do betray the Christ today and ways that we stand by the Christ, facing down fear and condemnation!
 
[PYCL - 5th s.: Use a winning key of acting like Jesus, take up your cross to wear the crown!]
What does the section about crucifixion teach us about what Jesus requires of us?  How do we "take up the cross" today?  Can they come up with a list of ideas about what role the cross plays in their lives?  This section moves quickly to resurrection and ascension in the next section.  How does the crucifixion lead to ascension?  How does this work for us today?  What are we crucifying?  What is ascending?  What does MBE mean that the cross is the loadstar in the demonstration of Christian healing?  What does the cross have to do with healing?  Can you think of ways that we must "crucify" matter so that we can rise up in a stronger understanding of Spirit?
 
[PYCL - 6th s.: Use a winning key of acting like Jesus, ascend from your boundless basis.]
The last section really covers the ascension.  This ascension, it is pointed out, springs from a "boundless basis".  What a thought!  It is not a gradual ascent from mortal egg to maturity to trying to see that we are ageless, to dying and then moving on to some spiritual realm.  It is a "boundless basis".  Ask what they think that means.
 
[PYCL - Wrap up with the meaning of Easter & its ideas we celebrate.]
Finally I think if you are teaching the youngest classes you could profitably spend the whole class talking about Easter. Being sensitive to the varying family backgrounds that they come from, knowing that many have received lovely Easter baskets, or new clothes or are going to have special dinners, we can still discuss what Easter is really about. We can look back at that R.R and talk about the new view of life (new birth) that we got from Jesus [and his keys to life].  We can talk about what Easter is about and why it is important.  Help them see exactly what they are truly celebrating.  How can they celebrate this "resurrection" every day?  You can certainly read or tell parts of the story and you can decide to share or not the events leading up to his resurrection.  I think it is important that they understand that he was crucified and buried in Joseph's tomb and all the details that the Bible holds, but you can use your judgment with each class of course.  Without being critical, we can gently talk about how the "chicks and eggs, etc." may be fun but really have nothing to do with the Easter story.  What about creating a basket or special book of "Easter ideas" that we get in Sunday School?  Talk about ideas that lift us up and show how good is really powerful.  Put those thoughts in your little book or in a basket.  I don't know if it's good or bad to mix these thoughts as they have been for so many years, just as we mix the Christmas trees in with the birth of Jesus.  I'll let each of you decide for yourselves.  But certainly a little notebook wouldn't confuse the issue.  Let them talk about what Easter means to them after you've had some time to think about it.  What could you search for instead of eggs for instance?  Could you look for the Christ idea in others?  [For keys to how he lived?] Could you see where you can be most helpful at home, or with a brother or sister?  How does this help us remember what Jesus did and how the Christ is present?  You could bring in a biggish rock and put these thoughts under it on slips of paper [or on paper or metal keys].  Talk about how the stone was rolled away from his tomb; how big it was and how impossible for one person to move.  Then give them a chance to "roll away" the stone and find what powerful healing Christ thoughts are underneath it.
 
Hope that helps with those little guys! Have a beautiful and Joyous Easter.

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