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Take each step with courage, cared for, watched over, beloved and protected

John Biggs, C.S., St. Louis, Missouri
Posted Monday, April 23rd, 2012

[Take each step with courage, "cared for, watched over, beloved and protected" Hymn 278]
CedarS MET, Metaphysical Application Ideas for:  Everlasting Punishment
The Christian Science Bible Lesson for April 23-29, 2012
by John Biggs, CS - Bend, Oregon
johnbiggscs@gmail.com 541.316.0809
[Bracketed italics by Warren Huff, CedarS Director and Met, PSST & PYCL Newsletters Editor]
 
[Editor's Note: The following application ideas for this week, and the Possible Sunday School Topics (PSST) 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 and Manfred or in Spanish thanks to a team of Ana, Erick, Claudia and Patricio. YOU CAN SIGN UP at www.cedarscamps.org/newsletters]
 
Usually, we don't want to be sheepish. It implies we've done a bad thing, or are embarrassed about something. But this week's Bible Lesson is showing us some of the good aspects of being sheepish!
 
All jokes aside, we have been given a wonderful gift in this Bible Lesson in what having one God, loving one Father-Mother, really means. The symbol of a shepherd is one that is often used for God, and certainly a relatable and comforting symbol regardless of if you have ever seen a sheep or not. Let's see some of the ways that we are shepherded - this week and always. Every section of the Lesson has a specific quality highlighted that stuck out to me. See what qualities stick out to you as you study this week, and see how you can live them.
 
Golden Text:  ["Fear not little flock: for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."  Give your loving attention this fact of reality so as to never FEAR (Forget Everything About Reality".]
How often do we set up blockades for ourselves that tell us just why we can't be happy, secure, and peaceful today? Someone did this to me today, so I clearly can't be happy. My head hurts, so God must not be here, so I'm sick. Governments around the world aren't listening to their citizens, so those citizens are stuck in the kingdom of Mediocre, or Awful, or Fear. This Golden Text reminds us why we never have to say those things. God loves His ideas, and it is God's joy, God's great pleasure, to give the kingdom. If God has given something, can it be taken away, or delayed? No. If we are truly starting with God, then we just stick with God and what God has given. And this giving is unconditional. It just says, "Fear not, little flock." It doesn't say "Fear not, as long as you have done x y z." That recognition of the present kingdom of heaven reveals that we never have to be under any influence other than our dear Shepherd. 
 
Responsive Reading: Heavenly Promises 
Does God break promises? We have the statement in Genesis 1 that "God saw everything He had made, and it was very good." That must include these promises, since God has made them. Can we take these promises listed in the Responsive Reading to heart? So many aspects of our experience are covered in this beautiful list: supply, home, security, purpose, guidance, health... It's a real treat to realize that this Lesson speaks directly to each of us, and isn't just some blanket, general affirmation.
 
Section 1: Guidance
You can't follow a shepherd or a leader if you don't know who the leader is. In this election year in the United States, we have many opportunities to learn more about who the candidates are for the presidency: what qualities they express, their experience, their motivation...  Likewise, any time you have new leadership, it's really great for morale and unity if everyone feels like they know the new folks in charge. These Bible passages are telling us quite clearly who our true Shepherd is: God, all good. This section also makes clear to us God's nature. Some of the qualities that stand out to me, about God, are that God knows everything about His ideas (B3), God will always lead us (B4), that there is only one God (S2). When we consider these qualities of God, we can realize that there will never be a time when we need to act in an un-Godlike manner. There will never be a time when we will ever be separate from God. When we are clear on those facts, then we are opening ourselves to see the amazing blessings that naturally are included in all God's creation. It also frees us from trying to justify evil as God's offspring - rather, we can awaken to the fact that it is the conception of being separated from God which is the lie, and as soon as that is corrected in our thought, we get to see the good - the all - that God has made. [See 23rd Psalm Addendum (B1)]
 
Section 2: Confidence
Peer pressure becomes irrelevant when we know we are following God. Think about it: if we know we are following God, if we know we are devoted to good, then how could the ‘leadership' of others usurp that devotion? Mary Baker Eddy makes this abundantly clear in her work, Message to the Mother Church for 1902, on page 4 where she says, "Follow your Leader, only so far as she follows Christ." Isn't that such a loving, humble, and clear statement of where our affections and trust get to rest?
 
Joseph certainly expressed this single-minded devotion to God. He didn't try to set himself up as a law unto himself, or try to justify taking an immoral action. He knew what was right, because he followed God and God alone. Can we follow that example, regardless of what we think the consequences may be? "Outside the chalk," Joseph is sent to jail as a result of doing the right thing, but this placement in jail continued to reveal blessings and God's guidance.
 
One place peer pressure subtly shows up is in our outlook for ourselves. How often do we allow our happiness to be dictated by the moods of others? If you're a business owner, or self-employed, are you letting your innate oneness with God guide you, or are you being pushed and pulled by the advice (well-intentioned or not) and opinions of those around you, and letting the stock market dictate your mood and success? If God is our Shepherd, we only ever need to turn to Him - and we can do so with supreme confidence. See how closely you can follow citation S9 this week [- to not "distrust His omnipotent care."]
 
Section 3: Repentance
Repentance often brings sad or strange images to thought. You may enjoy this video, which is Norm Bleichman's, CS, intro video by the Board of Lectureship. It's all about the real meaning of that word, repent: to change your thought.
 
What was it that the prodigal son did that was so bad? He lived his life based off of limits. He decided that all the good things in life were dependent on others, in this case, dependent on his father's death, and he decided he didn't want to wait that long for his inheritance. So he basically says, "Dad, you're dead to me, and I want all my good times now." Well, naturally, when you put good in a limited little box like that, you have to run out, since limits are the basis of that thought in the first place.
 
What I love is that, when he repents - when he changes his thought about where and what good is - he immediately heads home. He doesn't sit around wallowing in guilt and self-pity. And his father RUNS to meet him! He doesn't put his son through cycles of guilt; he simply embraces him and welcomes him home. Now, this is certainly a model for us to follow, if we have a friend or family member who has behaved badly but has now repented and ‘come to themselves.' And of course, this is a parable telling us of God's view of His idea. As soon as we repent of believing that we were somehow separate from God, we get to see that we never left God in the first place. Citation S14 has a beautiful promise, in the guarantee that these efforts of repentance are "crowned with success." No fear! As we change our thought, we are naturally signifying that we know and adore God as our dear Shepherd.
 
Section 4: Forgiveness
Why is forgiveness a sheep quality? Well, forgiveness literally means that we are signifying that we are not owed anything. Obviously, if you forgive someone a debt of $5, then they no longer owe you that money, and you are not waiting around for them to pay it back. Forgiveness symbolizes our recognition of ourselves as complete. Now, sheep know that following their shepherd always naturally leads to safety, comfort, and supply. They aren't waiting around for good to come to them someday - they know they are complete right here and now. In the same way, we don't have to wait for good. Forgiveness sets us free from feeling that someone or something else is in charge of our good, and allows us to just bask in the immediacy of God's love. In this parable, if the older brother had realized all along that all good was present and available for him, he would not have been angry at his brother and wasted even more time! However, we are told that this brother had the perfect opportunity to forgive, right here, and to immediately be able to utilize all the good he had, as the beloved son of his father.
 
The passages from Science & Health remind us of the importance of not thinking that we are our own shepherds, or someone else's shepherd. Yes, you may be in a caretaker role, or be a parent or teacher, or be preparing to be a counselor at one of the amazing Christian Science summer camps across the United States or abroad. But you are not a shepherd! You get to rejoice in the devotion of God to ALL God's ideas, including yourself, and know that it is that devotion which keeps us all safe and joyful. We all get to walk together to see the unfoldment of man's unity with God - but if we try to become personal shepherds (in a relationship, in employment, in family...) then we are setting ourselves up as an intermediary between God and God's idea. Let's just stick with devotion to God, and love every opportunity to forgive and live our unity with God ever more clearly.
 
Section 5: Compassion
Instead of being moved by self-righteousness, fear, or the desires of others, let's be "moved with compassion" [B16]. Jesus was so clear about his role. Let's follow that example of clarity and also be clear about what role we can play. The tenderness expressed in these Bible passages is so expressive of God's nature. I love the repetition in this section of the passage we opened with for the Golden Text. It assures us that even if we needed to do a lot of repenting, or a lot of forgiving (or being forgiven!), it is STILL our Father-Mother's good pleasure to give us the kingdom. It is natural to turn peacefully and confidently to the presence of Christ, to hear of who we are as God's children. Citation S19 assures us that we can be unified in this truth - this is not exclusive, only for people who have read this Bible Lesson. Let's be really aware of opportunities this week to be compassionate, to express the confidence of being God's children. Everyone around us is capable of knowing and feeling God's love!
 
Section 6: Rejoicing
Let's be happy! I always hope that people don't count their happiness as irrelevant. Now, I don't mean some sort of needy, limited sense of happiness. I mean the happiness that is one of the natural fruits of being God's child - the happiness that comes from confidently following God's guidance, in compassionately forgiving and humbly repenting. These Bible passages are talking a lot about being found. What is found? A renewed sense of our identity as God's idea. "Deserving" isn't even part of the picture. As soon as we are willing to repent - to change our thought - we see that God has never let us go. Let's be so happy, every moment where we see a fresh view of ourselves as God's beloved idea.
 
The passages from Science & Health make this sense of being found even clearer, with such a joyful sense to them. Citation S21 assures us that no one is truly ever lost - the only thing that is lost is a false sense of who we are. Every time we get a fresh glimpse of who we are, let's take another moment to just rejoice and be glad!
 
Section 7: Persistence
There are many different interpretations and studies of this story by various Bible scholars. I'm especially grateful for the inspiration and clarity of thought that is expressed in these passages from Science & Health, making it so clear that regardless of the situation, environment or circumstance, we can persist in expressing Love and cherishing what God has done. We can take great comfort in the fact of the ever-presence of Christ, always speaking directly to us in ways we can understand right then. After a sad couple of days, several years ago, I was brought great inspiration and healing from a verse from a hard rock song. The context of the song was not especially cheery (which is why I was listening to it, to try and drown my sorrows in sorrowful music), but out of the whole song, the only words that I clearly heard through my headphones was the chorus, which in that moment broke through the mesmerism and showed where my true freedom lay. That song is not one that I keep turning to, now, when I need an uplift, but in that moment, right where I thought I was deep in sadness, Christ spoke to me in a way that I could fully understand.
 
By the way, if you, like me, ever turn to music for inspiration, you may enjoy checking out one of the features of Time4Thinkers.com: the Weekly Musician. There's a great range of music there, from acoustic folk to heavy metal, from jazz to peppy rock. You might enjoy seeing if citation S24 comes to life in a new way for you while you browse the inspirational diversity there!
 
We are not governed by anything but God, good, so it is only natural that we would hear God, wherever we are!
 
Section 8: Unifying
Let's not allow ourselves to be divided. There have been many news stories recently in the Christian Science Monitor, alerting us to the rising tide of extreme, divisive thought globally - whether it is aggressive political campaigns, [divisive class warfare,] the threat of all-out civil war, or shootings. Thankfully, we have this beautiful unifying promise in citations B23 and B24, assuring us that there is no real force that could keep us apart. It is not our differences or our similarities that define us; our identification is solely based on God and His divinely wise expression. The sheep of a shepherd love to roam around on their own; and they love to rest together, and just spend their days wandering around being sheep! But regardless of where they are, or how much wool they have, or how much water they have drunk, their shepherd will never ever leave them. Our dear Father-Mother Shepherd, God, all good, will never ever leave us. This election year in the United States is not a time to see if the USA will stand or fall, as some claim. Our current understanding of the Mayan calendar is not our shepherd, either! No, God is always, will always be, has always been, our sole Shepherd. We can go forward and meet our supposed enemies with grace and kindness, and an awareness of who we all are as God's ideas. It is through these ‘sheepish' qualities - and so many more! - that we allow ourselves to see what God has made, as citation S29 promises. As we discover ourselves as God's beloved sheep, we learn that everlasting punishment is not the fruit of being God's ideas. We are free from any limits, and we have every right to know and live this freedom here and now.
 
Enjoy this wonderful week!

[23rd Psalm Addendum: I don't know who originally wrote the following summary lines for the verses of the 23rd Psalm, but for many years our family and many others have found them to be inspiring and helpful.] 

 TWENTY THIRD PSALM
[with bracketed substitutions in "quoted text"
as written by Mary Baker Eddy to faintly show "the light which Christian Science throws on the Scriptures" with an "incorporeal or spiritual sense" of Love (S&H 578)]  
 
"[Divine Love] is my shepherd;" THAT'S RELATIONSHIP
 
"I shall not want." THAT'S SUPPLY!
 
"[Love] maketh me to lie down in green pastures:" THAT'S REST!
 
"[Love] leadeth me beside still waters."THAT'S REFRESHMENT!
 
"[Love] restoreth my soul [spiritual sense]:" THAT'S HEALING!
 
"[Love] leadeth me in the paths of righteousness" THAT'S GUIDANCE!
 
"For His name's sake." THAT'S PURPOSE!
 
"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death," THAT'S TESTING!
 
"I will fear no evil:"THAT'S PROTECTION!
 
"For [Love] is with me;" THAT'S FAITHFULNESS!
 
"[Love's] rod and [Love's] staff they comfort me."** THAT'S DISCIPLINE!
 
"[Love] prepareth a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:" THAT'S HOPE!
 
"[Love] anointeth my head with oil;" THAT'S CONSECRATION!
 
"My cup runneth over." THAT'S ABUNDANCE!
 
"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:" THAT'S BLESSING!
 
"And I will dwell in the house [the consciousness] of [Love]" THAT'S SECURITY!
 
"forever." THAT'S ETERNITY!

[ANNOUNCING A NEW MATCHING CAMPERSHIP GIFT FOR CEDARS!  
Each NEW
campership donation to CedarS will be matched (up to $50,000!) so that no Christian Science Sunday School student is "un-camped" this summer! (Even transportation costs can be covered as needed!) Daily applications for this aid are being met by daily supply from friends of Christian Science Sunday School pupils like you! Click on http://www.cedarscamps.org/giving/campership-fund.htm for links to a variety of ways to send your gift.]
And by the May 1st application deadline for "The Campership Fund for Christian Scientists" please consider giving to that fund (recently expanded to cover Missouri & Illinois) to financial help Christian Science Sunday school students from the Southeast and Midwest 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."  ]

[CedarS will gladly 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! Note that due to Outdoor Cooking & Building being full for 1st session, we have added that program for 3rd session as well.]
 
 [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.]

[Pray & Live this Hymn to Heal Sin Forever!]
[Bracketed italic additions by Warren Huff with Lesson citations linked to
"Feed My Sheep" (
Hymn 304) by Mary Baker Eddy]

"Shepherd, [GT, RR, B1, B2...] show me how to go [B3 "lead me", B4 "lead me"]
O'er the hillside steep, [B4 "desolate and afflicted...troubles...distresses"]
How to gather, how to sow, [B5 "soweth... reap", S4 "soweth... reap"]-
How to feed Thy sheep; [B6 "sheep of his hand", S7 "SHEEP. Innocence..."]
I will listen for Thy voice, [B7 "hear a word", B8 "hearken not to her", S8 "guided by Maker"]
Lest my footsteps stray; [B8, B9, B10, S9, B11 "gone astray", B12 "turn again", B13]
I will follow and rejoice  [B14 "came to Father...be merry", S14 "crowned with success"]
All the rugged way. [B14 with the swine, S14 "suffering...as drowning men"]
Thou wilt bind the stubborn will, [S12 "Will...stubborn", S13 "dissolve...self-will"]
Wound the callous breast, [B14 "came to himself", S14 "Waking to Christ's demand", B15...]
Make self-righteousness be still, [B15 "elder son...was angry", S16 "self-righteousness"]
Break earth's stupid rest. [S18 "awaken man's dormant sense of moral obligation"]
Strangers on a barren shore, [B15, "elder son ...would not go in"]
Lab'ring long and lone,  [B15, "many years do I serve thee"]
We would enter by the door, [B17, "door", S19 "one way", S20 "opened door...[no] other"]
And Thou know'st Thine own; [B15, "thou art ever with me"; B17. "know them"]
So, when day grows dark and cold, [B19, "scattered in cloudy and dark day"]
Tear or triumph harms, [B21 1 lost sinner, 99 just persons, S23 "cannot depart from holiness"]
Lead Thy lambkins to the fold, [B21 "go after that which is lost ... until...found"]
Take them in Thine arms; [B21 "layeth it upon his shoulders"]
Feed the hungry, [B22 "dogs eat crumbs", S24 "crumbs of comfort...feeding the hungry"]
heal the heart,  
[S25 "heart needs rightful nutriment...peace, patience... Father's loving-kindness"]
Till the morning's beam;  [B22 "whole that very hour", S26 "darkness gives place to light"]
White as wool, [S27 nothing left to punish, B23 "as wool"] ere they depart, [B24 "led forth"]
Shepherd, wash them clean. [B23 "wash...make...clean", S29 "spiritual baptism", S30 "purity"]

[P.S.S.T.-Find Everlasting Love and Forgiveness!]
Possible Sunday School Topics for the Christian Science Bible Lesson on
"[N]Everlasting Punishment"
for Sunday, April 29, 2012
By CedarS Counselors & Sunday School teachers: Amy & Tom Evans
[with bracketed italics by Warren Huff, CedarS Director & Newsletter Editor]
 
P.S.S.T. for the Golden Text: Why don't we ever need to be afraid?
What is it like to be in a flock? What is God's "good pleasure"? What is the kingdom?
 
P.S.S.T. for Responsive Reading
What kind of significance can be drawn from sheep?  Look for the themes of sheep and a shepherd [and of "Shepherd, show me..." (Hymn 304) followed verse by verse] throughout the lesson.  Ezekiel 34:28 speaks of no longer being "a prey to the heathen."  What kinds of false beliefs must we be alert to?  Are we prey being hunted by evil beliefs?  Why is it comforting to know that we are God's people?  Are we included in "the house of Israel?"
 
P.S.S.T. -- Section 1-Live according to Principle to destroy sin [Know "HOW TO GO"]
What does it mean to be the sheep of God's pasture (B2)?  Give an example of God's tender mercies and loving kindness in your experience.  How have you felt tender mercy?  Citation S1 begins with the spiritual interpretation of the 23rd Psalm.  Why do you think the psalmist writes, "I shall not want"?  Does God really provide us with everything we need?  Mrs. Eddy poses a number of questions in citation S2.  Answer them.  Can any of your answers be yes?  Why or why not?  How is "sin its own punishment" (S4)?  In citation S6, Mrs. Eddy writes, "'God is Love.'  More than this we cannot ask, higher we cannot look, farther we cannot go."  What does this have to do with sin?
Activity:
Read citation B5.  This is an excerpt from Paul's letter to the churches in Galatia.  Come up with examples of sewing fleshly ideas/actions or sewing spiritual ideas/actions in your life?  Make a list of these examples from life--some small, some large.  What does this have to do with sin (S2); overcoming the belief of sin (S3); sin destroying itself (S4); or living in accord with Principle in God's sinless creation (S5)?
 
P.S.S.T. -- Section 2- Overcome evil with good ["I WILL LISTEN FOR THY VOICE"]
What happened to Joseph in citation B8?  What is significant about this story?  Why do you think Joseph said he could not do that "great wickedness"?  What law would he have been breaking?  When were the commandments given to the children of Israel? (Hint: after Joseph).  What kind of moral code do you think Joseph had?  How can you trust God like Joseph did?  What is innocence (B10)?  How is it a protection? How do you "hold yourself superior to sin" (S9)?  What makes man truly honest (S10)?  Think about citation S11.  When should we overcome evil with good?  How?  What is our role?  What is God's role?  Make up scenarios for school, sports, in different social situations [in which it seems like we have the ability, but no opportunity from the bench; or the opportunity of a test of social event, but not the ability to calmly expect logical, right answers and words to pour out from us...]
 
P.S.S.T. -- Section 3-Wake to Christ's demands ["THOU WILT BIND THE STUBBORN WILL....WOUND THE CALLOUS BREAST"]
Are you ever really lost? (B11)  Who or what finds you?  What stands out to you in citation B14?  What can we learn from the prodigal son?  What caused the misery in the son's experience?  What made everything better?  How did the father respond to the son's return?  How is this like God?  What does self-love have to do with human will (S12, S13)?  What does it mean to be a "universal solvent"?  Can anything hold it?  Can anything contain Love?  What steps do we need to take to overcome human will (S14, S15)?  How does God forgive sin?  Why is the belief "punished so long as the belief lasts"?  As you destroy the lie of sin, you can also kick out fear.  Here is an original approach to destroying the lie of fear [and so to obeying the Golden Text command of "Fear not, little flock;"]: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_WyjuLA5qlw  
 
 
P.S.S.T. -Section 4-Overcome self-righteousness.   Don't wait! ["MAKE SELF RIGHTEOUSNESS BE STILL"]
Who do you think sinned more, the prodigal son or his brother?  Is this really the point? (B15)  Which son has more challenges to work through?  Who do you associate with more?  Do you think the older brother goes in to his brother's party?  Would you?  There are so many things that can bother us that are lies.  How do we know what's true?  Citation S17 speaks of dealing with "the passions".  How do we find them out, move on, and grow spiritually?  What's the result of not handling these thoughts?  See citation S18 for suggestions on handling them.
 
P.S.S.T. - Section 5-["STRANGERS ON A BARREN SHORE...WE WOULD ENTER BY THE DOOR"]
-- Christ's door!
What's the role of a shepherd? (B16)  Are any of us shepherds?  Why or why not?  Do you hear Christ's "voice"? (B17) What does Christ's voice sound like in your life?  Citation B18 is the Golden Text.  Why do you think it is repeated?  What's important about this verse?  How does Christ in divine Science show us the way to "heaven, harmony"? (S19)  What is the "way through which immortality and life are learned"? (S20)  What do you think about the statement "none may pick the lock nor enter by some other door"?  What does that mean to you?
 
P.S.S.T. - Section 6- Ride on the Shepherd's shoulders ["LEAD THY LAMBKINS TO THE FOLD...TAKE THEM IN THINE ARMS"]
Why would someone leave ninety-nine sheep and search for just one that's missing? (B21)  What does that tell us about how precious we are to God?  Answer Mrs. Eddy's question in citation S21.  (Hint: Of course not!!)  What is the true sense of Love referred to in citation S22?  Think about citation S23.  What does it mean if we can't "depart from holiness"?  We can't leave God' care.  Where does that put us?
 
P.S.S.T. -Section 7-A little goes a long way ["FEED THE HUNGRY, HEAL THE HEART"]
How does "song, sermon, or Science" give "living waters to the thirsty?"  Why is it that only crumbs--small insights of inspiration and Christ's comfort, are needed for spiritual growth and even healing? (S24)  What does the "poor, suffering heart" need? (S25)  How have you witnessed these?  What is the process described in citation S27?
 
P.S.S.T. - Section 8 - ["WASH THEM CLEAN" thru] Love's wholesome chastisements
What does the color white represent? (B23)  What does this mean for us?  The Bible portion of the lesson ends with the statement, "ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace".  What does this mean?  Give examples of repentance, spiritual baptism, and regeneration (S29).  Do citations S24 and S29 contradict one another? They seem to have very different lists of necessities needed to feed the hungry (S24) and put-off material beliefs (S29).  What are the "wholesome chastisements" Mrs. Eddy refers to in citation S30?  What does it look like when "boundless thought walks enraptured and conception unconfined is winged to reach the divine glory?"  How can we witness this in our experience?

[PCYL: Happily Follow Tips on How to do better after doing bad.]
CedarS PYCL--Possible Younger Class Lessons for:  
"
Everlasting Punishment"
The Christian Science Bible Lesson for April 29, 2012
by Kerry Jenkins, CS, House Springs, MO (314) 406-0041
[with bracketed italics by Warren Huff, CedarS Director & Newsletter Editor]
 
[PYCL Intro-Happily follow divine tips on how to do better after doing bad.]
It might be good to approach this subject with talking about how we feel when we do things that aren't especially good.  Is there anything that we can do to make ourselves feel better?  Should that be our goal?  You can talk about this subject as an opportunity for us to see ourselves more clearly and not to be impressed by the bad things that we sometimes do, but to see how we can see what God sees about us.  How does this better view of ourselves help us to stop doing things that are not our highest sense of right?  
 
[PYCL: "--"Shepherd, show me how to go (B3 "lead me)]
MBE's poem and its hymn version are unavoidable as a way to approach this week's lesson. You can't do better than to talk about every verse in this hymn, sing it, act out shepherding. Discuss how a shepherd watches, tends and takes care of his sheep and how God does this for us. Look at the Bible passages about sheep and how we are His sheep. How are we the "...sheep of His hand..."? Does is sound comforting and safe to be in God's hand? Why does it matter what God sees about us? Why does it matter that we are listening to the Shepherd and doing right? What happens when we do the wrong thing? What does God do?
 
[PYCL: "O'er the hillside steep, [B4 "desolate and afflicted...troubles...distresses"]
This last question [about what God does when we do wrong] is especially interesting in light of this week's lesson.  If you look at the Golden Text (GT) and the Responsive Reading (RR), you can point out that everything that God does for us is good!  So what is happening when we suffer consequences from things that we do wrong?  To uncover some answers look at the Bible stories in this week's lesson.  First you may have to dig a little deeper to understand the Joseph story in this context if you look beyond the slice of his life represented in this week's lesson.  Most of the kids will have knowledge of at least some of the things that seemed to go wrong in Joseph's life.  These accounts help us to put our own challenges into perspective.  When it seems like we are following God to the best of our understanding and we still suffer...sickness, sadness, a lack of success at something, unfairness...we can look to Joseph's story and know that while God is not serving up these challenges, He is governing our life and steering us towards a most useful and rewarding place.  
[PYCL: How to feed Thy sheep; [B6 "sheep of his hand", S7 "SHEEP. Innocence..."]
Look at what Joseph did to help feed a huge number of people and tell me that Joseph wasn't cared for and prepared for the task of helping entire cultures/countries of people to survive a long and difficult drought?  Was it worth it for him to go through all the trials he endured?  We can say it was now, but there must have been many times that it didn't look like it to him!  He must have had a very solid understanding that God was not punishing him, that he was righteous in God's sight and that nothing could keep him from feeling God's love and protection!  
 
[PYCL: "I will listen for Thy voice, [B7 "hear a word", B8 "hearkened not to her"]
Notice that Joseph "...hearkened not..." to Potiphar's wife.  That is so beautifully symbolic.  Can you talk about not "hearkening" or listening to the everyday temptations that come to us to be disobedient to God's laws?  What might come to us on a daily basis that we have to turn a deaf ear to?  Is it the temptation to compare ourselves to others, to gossip (even a little), to tease someone?  Notice in citation S10 that MBE says that "...evil has in reality neither place nor power in the human or the divine economy." (italics added).  Interesting that she includes the human here, don't we usually think of just the divine being a place without evil?  Brings things into focus, no?
 
[PYCL: "Lest my footsteps stray; I will follow and rejoice All the rugged way." (with swine)]
Another story that may be easier to use in this context is that of the Prodigal.  What does God (the Father in this story) do "to" the prodigal?  Ask this and wait (after you have reviewed the story of course).  Does the Father ever scold, say "I told you so", punish him, withhold good from him, or even nurse hurt feelings about how his son has "treated" him?  (Interesting questions for us parents to consider!!)  Make sure you do the usual search for the symbolism in the story.  Don't assume they see the relationship between the Father in this parable and God.  Explain that this is a parable, and what a parable is.  
 
[PYCL: "Thou wilt bind the stubborn will, [S12 "Will...stubborn", S13 "dissolve...self-will"]
Ask them what "riotous living" means.  [Maybe being willfully disobedient?] Discuss the insult that the kid was doling out by asking for the inheritance before his father had died.  Then look at the symbolic nature of the father seeing his son "...was yet a great way off..."  What does that mean besides the obvious?  Did his father wait for him to "get there" or did he run and meet him while he was working his way back?  What a beautiful image!  And borne out by the GT.  What do the robe and ring mean?  
 
[PYCL: "Wound the callous breast, [B14 "came to himself", S14 "to Christ's demand"]
Where in this story is the punishment?  Did it come from God?  See citation S14 for elaboration and citation S15 as well.  How can we view our own suffering in the future?  Should we try to "see what we did wrong"?  Or should we just turn to God and "head in that direction"?  God, through His love, will help us correct any false ideas about ourselves that we have.
 
[PYCL: "Make self-righteousness be still, [B15 "elder son... angry", S16 "self-righteousness"]
I love that they include the story of the older son in this lesson.  See if the kids understand what is going on here.  Have they ever felt like they were overlooked for recognition?  Or like someone else got more recognition than they did and that that other person certainly didn't deserve it?  I am reading a book with my second grader where the main character feels very angry and cheated because someone in her class copied her art project and the teacher held it up for the class to show everyone how wonderful it was.  She ended up so angry that she destroyed not only her own project, but that of the copier!  (Needless to say it didn't make her happy!)  This is the kind of thing that is not unusual to encounter in life; and I love that we get to see it illustrated through this second half of the parable.  If our view of ourselves is based on a false sense of our personal achievement or goodness, that is a false foundation.  See what MBE has to say about false foundations in citation S16.  It is not enough to do rightly to feel "good" about ourselves.  We must do it because we are rejoicing in our relationship to the Father.  Just as we saw in "Doctrine of Atonement", if we see our relationship to be one with God, and not other people, we will find ourselves happier, and more content with life, seeing things more accurately.
 
[PYCL: "Lest my footsteps stray; I will follow and rejoice All the rugged way."]
For some of the smaller children you can talk about walking in the right path, taking steps in the right direction.  Look at citation S28: "Every step towards goodness..."  What does "departure" mean?  [S28] Can you make a map together of the steps you can take towards God, towards goodness?  You can decorate the map with beautiful things that you might see along the way as we walk in this path.  If you wish you can discuss the things that might tempt us to step off this path too.  My littlest one tends to talk a lot about how if you step on the cracks you fall into hot lava.  I realize this is a common obsession that many kids have...and some adults..., though they substitute other things for lava.  But maybe you can use this common story line to talk about how we avoid the pitfalls that keep us from happily enjoying the path toward goodness.
 
[PYCL: Share the Love that universally dissolves all.] 
Another little project might be to look at the ideas in citation S13 and unpack that passage for them.  ["...let us labor to dissolve with the universal solvent of Love the adamant of error." S13] Bring a cup of water and show how you can dissolve things in it, like sugar.  Give them a chance to put some in, and stir and watch as it disappears.  Explain that this is how bad things can disappear in our lives as we look to God to see our true selves.  What makes bad things dissolve?  In this passage it says Love does this!  Can you talk together about examples of how Love dissolves so many challenges that they sometimes face?
 
[PYCL: Share how to sow and how to gather, and why we begin with the harvest in Mind.]
Look at citation B5 and talk about how whatever seeds we plant, that is the plant that will come up.  If you plant lettuce, you will get lettuce, not beans, right?  If you want beauty and love and joy in your life, how do we "plant" these things?  You can make a pretend garden or act out planting these qualities.  Talk about how to make these things "grow" in their lives, how to plant, water and tend these good qualities.
 
[PYCL: Show only Love "can bring us gladness... give us peace" (of sin forgiven) Hymn 263]
I can't help but point out the lovely passage in citation S6 in case it is helpful to you this week in your endeavors.  I love that "God is Love.  More than this we cannot ask, higher we cannot look, farther we cannot go."  There is nothing more satisfying, greater, better, more exciting, more fun or more rewarding than Love and all that Love offers.  Nothing mortal can offer anything close to the satisfaction that Love gives us.  Don't believe any other offers!  Think back on the times you've experienced the most happiness that you can remember and I guarantee they won't be related to an item purchased or a gift received!  Ask them this question and see what they say.  What does this say to us all about true satisfaction and joy?
 
Have a great Sunday!

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