The second book of Vicki Jones Cole’s trilogy on the “first lessons” taught to Christian Science Sunday School students focuses on the Beatitudes found in the Sermon on the Mount in the book of Matthew. There are over 100 daily lessons suitable for a wide range of ages, with two very simple lessons on each Beatitude aimed at preschoolers.
This volume on the Beatitudes contains additional background material to aid parents and teachers in understanding the Beatitudes overall, before getting to the lessons on the individual lines. The titles of the sections are:
From the Ten Commandments to the Gospel of Christ
The Book of Matthew
The Sermon on the Mount
Structure of the Beatitudes
Introduction to the Beatitudes
Explaining Concepts of the Beatitudes to Children
What Mary Baker Eddy has written about the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount
Here is an excerpt from the section on “Explaining Concepts of the Beatitudes to Children:”
Another way to explain both the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes is to liken them to traffic signs. The Ten Commandments are like the traffic signs that tell us when to stop and go, or yield. They are there to protect us, and provide a way for people to be treated fairly. If you are a parent, you might take your children to an intersection of roads that has either stop signs or a traffic signal. Have them observe how useful the signals are. Ask them what might happen if someone did not obey the signs. In a way, the traffic signs are expressions of Love, as well as Principle, since they protect everyone and provide fair access to the intersection. Tell them that the Ten Commandments are like that. However, the Beatitudes might be said to serve as our direction signs, or guide posts, along the way of our spiritual journey. Just as local street name or highway signs do, the Beatitudes let us know where we are, and if we are heading in the right direction. If we find that we are successfully demonstrating those qualities and attitudes that Jesus recommended, then we know that we are taking the right spiritual path.
Below is an example of a two-part lesson on the first Beatitude for very young children (although this does not reflect the format and font used in the actual book):
“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”
means that we will be filled with great joy whenever we find that we need God’s help. When we see that we are poor in spiritual things — such as pure thoughts, good ideas, a feeling of being loved and wanted, or a sense of purpose in life — we have no place to turn except to God. God is the divine Mind, and is rich in wisdom. Through our sincere prayers, we reach out of the darkness of our fears, for the light of divine Mind. We will then be able to see that God has already provided us with what we need. We just forgot He was there! Some people do not look to God for help until all else has failed them. They suffer because they feel separated from God’s goodness. But we can all expect much joy when we pick ourselves up and return to the open arms of our Father-Mother God. In this home — the kingdom of heaven — we are greatly loved and showered with blessings. We no longer feel poor in spirit.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
The kingdom of heaven is a special place filled with the light of wisdom and Love, where all of God’s spiritual children get along with each other in perfect harmony. There is no evil there, no sadness, or sickness, or loneliness, or things to frighten us. God rewards us with this kingdom, when we prayerfully look to Him for all our needs. We find that heaven is within our own thinking! It is right here with us on earth, not a place far away in the sky. We can never be separated from the kingdom of heaven, as long as we accept the ideas that God gives to us. This is the wonderful reward promised to those who see they are “poor in spirit.”
Here’s an example of one of the Question-and-Answers for older children on the same Beatitude:
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Question: What does “poor in spirit” mean?
Answer: If we do not have enough of something we need, we might think of ourselves as poor. It means “to lack.” We might feel poor, or in poverty, if we do not have enough money, a job, a home, nice toys, gadgets, or friends.
However, this first Beatitude does not speak of material poverty. It speaks of the poverty of the things of spirit. If we lack spiritual substance — those qualities and ideas that come from God — we are truly poor. Often, we do not realize that we are “poor in spirit” until something happens in our lives that we cannot handle alone, or in our usual way. We are forced to turn to God for help. That is good. It brings a reward!
People often spend their lives putting their faith in things besides God: money, family ties, personal intelligence or abilities, popularity, bodily health, pride of race, or personal possessions.
But, is this what Jesus taught? No. He taught us to look to God first for our happiness, and not to depend solely on our personal resources: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Mary Baker Eddy gives us an idea about what some of those riches are: “What we most need is the prayer of fervent desire for growth in grace, expressed in patience, meekness, love and good deeds.” (S&H 4)
Practice: Think about what you have been wishing for lately. Is there a spiritual gift that would be better for you?
Each Beatitude has similar introductory material, and follows with a variety of other questions suitable for various ages. For example, here are the rest of the Questions relating to the first Beatitude:
What is the “kingdom of heaven”?
Why do people become “poor in spirit”?
What is “pride,” and why does it make us “poor in spirit”?
How do we get rid of pride?
Why did Jesus teach that people should become as little children to enter the kingdom of heaven?
How can grown-ups become “as little children,” as Jesus taught?
Why is being “teachable” so important to being “poor in spirit”?
What about people who just do not care about God, or may be ignorant of the true facts about Him?
How will people who do not know they are “poor in spirit” find God?
Was Jesus “poor in spirit”?
Why is “the kingdom of heaven” the immediate reward for those who are “poor in spirit”?