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The joy of Christian Science Sunday School teaching

From the March 2018 issue of The Christian Science Journal

When I think about the fundamental lessons taught in Christian Science Sunday Schools, particularly the Ten Commandments, Christ Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, and the Lord’s Prayer with its spiritual interpretation as given in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, I realize that the Christian Science Sunday School is one of the dearest spots on earth.

This Sunday School is for pupils up to the age of twenty, and I attended until I was twenty years old. The teaching I received blessed me in countless ways and helped me demonstrate intelligence, wisdom, and moral courage when I was in school and university. After I graduated from Sunday School, I became a member of a branch Church of Christ, Scientist (in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo), and I was invited to serve as a Sunday School teacher. I was happy to accept this task! 

Though it wasn’t difficult for me, it was still a new experience. Actually, this particular assignment was going to be somewhat different: The class was held outside the church, in an academic center for disadvantaged children from seven to nineteen years old. The head of the center wanted the spiritual education of these children to be provided by Christian Scientists. 

At the very beginning, I was the only Sunday School teacher there, but then two other members of my branch church came to join me. We split the big group into three different classes based on age, and I ended up with the fifteen-to-nineteen-year-old pupils.

Before going, I prayed specifically for my class, to be able to see the pupils as spiritual children of God and not as underprivileged children or children coming from the street. That first day, the atmosphere was very friendly and full of joy. As weeks went by, the pupils shared healings through prayer in Christian Science. There was spontaneity and understanding in their sharing. 

There was spontaneity and understanding in the pupils’ sharing. 

One eighteen-year-old young man shared how he was failing the state exams necessary to go to college. He studied the answer to the question “What is man?” in Science and Health (see pp. 475–477). When he was preparing for the exams, we declared the spiritual fact that, as this answer explains, man is “the compound idea of God, including all right ideas,” and therefore, man expresses divine intelligence. We also affirmed the fact that there is no failure in the divine Mind. He passed the state exam and was able to go to college. 

At the end of 2011, the center closed down. I was then given a class of teenagers between sixteen and eighteen years old in the Sunday School of my branch church. At first, I saw myself as a young teacher, not much older than my pupils, tasked with the personal responsibility of maintaining discipline in my class and answering questions of all kinds. But a thought from Science and Health helped me understand that teaching Sunday School starts with God. Mrs. Eddy writes: “Nothing is new to Spirit. Nothing can be novel to eternal Mind, the author of all things, who from all eternity knoweth His own ideas” (pp. 518–519). What looked like a challenge became a real spiritual adventure. And it taught me that the intelligence and spiritual understanding necessary to teach spiritual truths to children has its origin in God, and that man reflects this intelligence. With this point of view, starting with God, we develop the talents needed to teach Sunday School.

I love to witness pupils striving to understand how Christian Science can provide practical answers to problems with schoolwork or relationships between boys and girls. Once my pupils and I had a great discussion about God as Love. This led us to realize that since God is Love, we can express only love in our exchanges and interactions with others. We can appreciate everyone’s individuality, knowing that we are all God’s complete spiritual ideas, able to express love, beauty, happiness, grace, integrity. 

One week the homework assignment for each pupil was to find a way to express Love with his or her family, in the community, or at school during the week. The following Sunday, they all shared the results of their work, and we saw that expressing love could be challenging, but it was always possible.

The intelligence and spiritual understanding necessary to teach spiritual truths to children has its origin in God.

One pupil shared his experience with us and talked about the power of forgiveness. He had been having a difficult relationship with both of his parents, and it was an inner struggle for him. He prayed continually, starting his prayers not with what the material circumstances were, but with what God knows about man. Slowly but surely, he was seeing his parents as beautiful reflections of God, good. He finally made the firm decision to forgive his parents and to forget what seemed to have been an offense. One of the healing results was that he now has a much better relationship with his parents. 

I have also had pupils who weren’t committed to attending Sunday School regularly, and others who were having difficulty demonstrating Christian Science on their own. In such cases, I have clung to this idea from a hymn: 

God works in us to will,
   He works in us to do;
His is the power by which we act,
   His be the glory too.
(Benjamin Beddome, Christian Science Hymnal, No. 354, © CSBD)

One of my pupils always arrived less than 15 minutes before the end of Sunday School. He said he couldn’t manage to get up early. At his request, I supported him through prayer. Now, we both arrive at church at almost the same time, and we arrange the chairs and the hymnals before Sunday School starts. 

Mary Baker Eddy writes: “Motives govern acts, and Mind governs man. If you make clear to the child’s thought the right motives for action, and cause him to love them, they will lead him aright: …” (Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, p. 51). 

Teaching at a Christian Science Sunday School is a source of tremendous joy and great spiritual enrichment for me.

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