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PYCL: Focus particularly on progress, answer questions, allay fears!

Kerry Jenkins, C.S., House Springs, MO

[PYCL: Focus particularly on progress, answer questions, allay fears! (1)]
Possible Younger Class Lessons for the Christian Science Bible Lesson for

“PROBATION AFTER DEATH”

on April 24, 2016

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

Pycl #1: Probation after death is one of those old school theology subjects that is still important in thought for many. It may be worth asking some of the slightly older classes some direct questions about what they think this subject (and next week's too) mean to them. Maybe your students are not particularly interested or moved by this subject, but some children are, and we have a chance here to speak together constructively in this context. Many young people wonder about death in particular, we needn't pretend to be experts on life after death. This Bible lesson gives us some great citations that we can use to answer some questions and allay some fears. We can focus particularly on progress. What does it mean to progress? What does it mean to a really little child? To a child that's in middle school? Why is progress linked to this subject? When should we progress? Can we have healing without progress? I've shared this idea before and it is really borrowed from another Sunday School teacher and then shared by one of his pupils with me when I was working as a practitioner some years ago at CedarS in the Junior Leadership camp... so it has a rich history! The pupil shared that when we are in a boat on the water we make a wake behind the boat when it is moving forward. We don't set out on the water in order to form a wake, it just naturally happens as a result of our forward progress through the water. Healing is like that wake. We don't need to set out to "have" a healing. The healing comes as a result of spiritual progress, awakening, increased understanding of the reality of God's goodness around us. If you wanted to have a physical example you could bring in a large bowl with water and something small to float in it. Watch what happens when you move the object forward through the water. Each child could try moving a toy boat, a stick, anything that floats—through the water. Talk about the idea of travel on the water, when we are trying to "get" somewhere. That's the progress, as we do this "getting"/progressing, it leaves evidence behind in the form of ruffled water/healing.

Pycl #2: Looking at the Golden Text and the Responsive Reading (R.R.) together, you could try a planting experiment. Plant seeds that they recognize and watch them over the coming weeks as they sprout in the dirt. This can be a great analogy for a real variety of spiritual ideas. In this case we are proving that whatever seed you plant, this is the plant that will come up, the vegetable/fruit/flower that will grow. With the younger ones you can bring up the idea that maybe a bean seed will grow a puppy? Or, as in the movie "Wall-E" when the captain of the ship repeatedly points out, "we can grow pizza". Some of these sillier ideas can drive home the idea that what we tend, weed, water, and love in our own thought, is exactly what will come to be in our lives. Can they flesh this out with some specific qualities that they could or do already, "plant"? What do these qualities bring to their lives? Why is it important, as it says in the R.R., to "plant" wisdom and understanding? If we really understand reality, God, and His creation, then we will reap the product of this understanding—harmony, joy, health, peace—because we will be able to perceive God's goodness clearly around us.

Pycl #3: The first section really addresses the question of "what is life?". We tend to think of it as what we do when we are waking up and walking around every day. But this section makes it clear that life is "the law of the wise", "[continuing] in my word", "[keeping] my saying", "gained by walking in the pathway of Truth", "a present knowledge of [our] Father and of [ourselves]—the knowledge of Love, Truth, and Life." Largely, true living is knowing God. We can't get closer to knowing God by dying. Only by living (because He is Life)! Maybe you could liken living in matter—what seems to be—to a dream. When we dream it can seem real, we walk, talk, drink, etc. in a dream. We see things and do things. But when we wake up it was all only a dream. There was no true life in that dream. We think that what we do every day is "life", but it is often more dream than reality. We glimpse true life and its source, Life, when we have moments that are alive with spiritual joy and satisfaction. Much of what we do can be a reflection of that true life in God. The love we experience in family, friends, church is real, good, spiritual. True peace, beauty that surrounds us, affection, tenderness... these are qualities that emanate from Life and we do experience them right now. We might pose the question: "What is life eternal" as Mrs. Eddy uses that phrase in citation S8, quoting from the Master. It is answered as Jesus defined it: "...a present knowledge of [the] Father...". Thinking about this absolutely literally is really amazing. We are alive, we live, only as we are right now, moving forward in our understanding of our Father/Mother. If you have posed the question about "what is life" to the pupils before you look at all these passages together, it will be interesting to think together about why a knowledge of God is really life...

Pycl #4: The Christ is the ideal man. So we are aiming for living as the Christly man. The Christ heals, reveals the true man that lives in Spirit. The Christ was the spiritual man that Jesus embodied so well that we call him Christ Jesus! You can look at all the transfiguration and ascension stories in citations B6, B7 and B9**. What do these stories say about life? How can these people all be in the same place at the same time if they are material? Can we demonstrate the same facts that the Christ shows and experience immortality now? What can we say about how "long" Christ lives?

Pycl #5: A word about progress. Sometimes it is tempting to look at matter to check on spiritual progress. Remember the "boat" and keep your eyes on the distance, the shore, or wherever you are headed, don't look down at the wake behind you! Thomas can be mentioned as someone who really needed to see the evidence in the body that Jesus was who he said he was. This is no different from what we do when we pray because we are injured or sick, and then we check our body to see if our prayers are answered. This probably won't lend itself to a long discussion or anything but it is worth a mention!

Pycl #6: What about using the Ten Commandments as the structure for thinking about spiritual progress? Citation S23 says that "When the last mortal fault is destroyed, then the final trump will sound which will end the battle of Truth with error and mortality;" The more we can conform our lives to the literal and spiritual intent of these Commands, the closer we come to demonstrating spiritual living or life. You could delve into each Commandment for ways that they support a better understanding of God, and therefore promote eternal life.

Hope this gives you a few thoughts to work with! Have a great Sunday.

**Warren's PS: See Online version of this Met (upper right) for inspiring Cobbey Crisler commentary Downloads on several Bible citations in this Lesson.]

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