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The Child and the Teacher
M. ETHEL WHITCOMB


         What a blessed spot is a Christian Science Sunday School! Here the child and the teacher, in heaven-born gladness, meet to hear, to see, to understand the living presence of the Christ. Hand in hand they come to learn of God, who ever imparts to the meek in heart the inspiration and glory of His presence.

         "Is it possible to teach such tiny tots Christian Science?" people often exclaim as they watch the little ones of two years, and sometimes younger, entering our Sunday schools. The teacher, however, perceives through spiritual sense that children are never too young to learn to know God as Father, Mother, and great Physician; not too young to love the healing Christ, nor to turn from the false gods of disobedience and self-will. A beautiful incident, which proves this true, was related by an elderly lady. She was one day lying ill in bed when a babe of two and a half years returned from Sunday school, and putting her little hand on "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy, which lay beside the woman, said emphatically, again and again, "God, Grandma! Life, Grandma! Love, Grandma!" And then with conviction she exclaimed, "No sick, Grandma!" So touched was the grandmother with the consciousness of God's presence, which came to her through the help of the infant practitioner, that she felt the renewal of Spirit at once; and was well. It is as natural for the child to love the things of God as for the flower to drink the morning dew. How privileged is the teacher who is called upon to help these little ones unfold in spiritual understanding and goodness! Can one ever outgrow his work for them? Ah, no! Rather should he pray with his whole heart to grow enough in Christlikeness humbly to learn with them Love's eternal lessons.

         What true joy comes to the teacher as he studies with the pupil the Commandments, the Lord's Prayer with its spiritual interpretation, and the Beatitudes, in obedience to the Manual of The Mother Church (p. 62)! Because the teacher knows how little he has as yet lived of the purified heart that sees God, of the meekness which inherits the earth, how slightly he has as yet obeyed the eternal call, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me," because he perceives to what heights he must ascend before he realizes at all times, "Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory," he might say to the child: "These are my first lessons too. Let us help each other to learn them." How thought claps its hands with gladness as the one whom the world calls the child and the one who is yearning for childlikeness help each other to find new and higher ways to apply to every word and act these holy rules for living!

         Sometimes it is said that the Bible has not so important a place as it should have in the Christian Science Sunday School. Because of the profound devotion of Mary Baker Eddy to the inspired Word, she says to all Sunday school teachers, through the Manual of The Mother Church (p. 62), "The Sabbath School children shall be taught the Scriptures." The study of the Bible runs like a golden cord through the years of Sunday school work, binding the hearts of the pupils to those immortal truths which are life and joy eternal. How the spiritual works of our Master, of the prophets and apostles, glow with living reality in the thought of the pupils who are thus taught! A boy of five, who loved to hear and to tell in Sunday school of Daniel's obedience to the one God, was on a certain day ill with a fever. Hoping to bring God's healing sunlight to his thought, his mother asked, "Son, can you not think of something for which to give thanks?" "Yes," the boy said with positiveness, as he sat upright; "I am grateful that Daniel was safe in the lions' den, and I am grateful that the same God who sent the angel and closed the lions' mouths is here, and will shut the mouth of this error now." So convinced was he of this spiritual fact that immediately the fever left him. Is not the place where our children are thus taught to live and demonstrate the healing truth of the Scriptures a holy one?

         "What do you do with the incorrigible boy?" is often asked of the Christian Scientist who is a Sunday school teacher. After considering that the word "incorrigible" means incapable of being corrected, he replies with conviction, "There are none such!" Are not all God's ideas created to express the intelligence, harmony, and sweetness of the great heart of Love? Because he is assured of this divine fact, the teacher knows that there is not one who cannot be healed, and that it is his duty to keep himself so aroused spiritually that he will not judge by what his eyes see, but by what God holds true. How the teacher should love this boy whom the world in its ignorance of spiritual-being calls incorrigible! He recognizes that the child may have had "correction" from every side, but perhaps not a corrective. Perchance he has never been told of his real selfhood or how to turn from evil suggestions of dishonesty, disobedience, and self-will to express the qualities that belong to God's man. Therefore, with a God-inspired interest that no material evidence can discourage, the teacher imparts to the child the right ideas which are the correctives, and works on with an all-conquering expectation and joy until a mighty victory is won for the boy and for the world.

         The progressive teacher learns very early in his experience that the inattentive boy or class of boys may indicate a lack of right mental activity on the teacher's part. What a discovery! For he at first may have thought that the boy or the class was alone at fault! He now sees that he may not have been giving them enough to think about. Children love to think spiritually, and express the greatest joy when being asked questions that lead them to see and to know the things of divine Mind and how to apply them. Unemployed, inactive thought produces noisy feet in class, while active, spontaneous thinking produces orderly, well-behaved feet! Because the wide-awake teacher is conscious of this stirring fact, he brings with him each Sunday fresh illustrations from the Scriptures and from everyday life, and so leads the children to think and to question that the "first lessons" (Church Manual, p. 62) fairly glow with newness and life. When this is accomplished the problems of order and attention are generally solved, and the Commandments, the Lord's Prayer, and the Beatitudes begin to be written in the hearts of the children, there to guide and guard them continually.

         How marvelous is the help which the unawakened youth receives from the Christian Science Sunday School! With devout prayerfulness the God-governed teacher gently lifts the thought of the young above the mesmerism of dream-pleasures into the real happiness which good unfolds. He would no more condemn or preach to such a one than he would to one under a sick belief; but with overflowing compassion and victorious love he wins him to Christ, to the spiritual ideals which Christian Science reveals. Upon the then awakened youth the teacher helps to buckle the invulnerable armor of right thinking, to put into his hand the sword of spiritual ideas which protects him from responding to the evil suggestions and false influences of materialism. The teacher thus brings to his thought the joy of revelation and application. With what loveliness Truth now unfolds to the youth who, rising above mere personal pleasure to right purpose, learns to apply the inspiration gained through the Christian Science Quarterly Bible Lessons to his school work, his sports, and his home life.

         The Christian Science Sunday School holds for its ideal the lifting up of the thoughts of the pupils to know and to love God as a tender, present Mother; the turning of them to the Christ, Truth, as healer; and, in the warmth of such glory, it frees them from the tatters of sickness and sin imposed by the beliefs of human environment and inheritance, tenderly teaching them the Christly lessons of order, obedience, courtesy, helpfulness, and purity; opening their heart-gates, through the love of good, to receive God's impartation of endless joy.

         Dear children, may we who are called your teachers keep our lives so renewed with the freshness of Love's eternal morn, that we shall inspire you by our example to live in accordance with God's revelation, — Christian Science, — because it teaches you to love God above all else.

 

"The Child and the Teacher" by M. Ethel Whitcomb
Christian Science Sentinel, November 8, 1924
 

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