Evaluating Access (Focus 3 of 4)

Focus 3 | Evaluating Access

Access is not “anything you want.” Access is “when you need it.”
Consider this ice breaker as you gather for the Spotlight.
Which would you rather have in your backyard: squirrels or birds?

Once you've broken the ice, get into the main idea of this Spotlight with another question, this one about getting in your own way. Use the video below for this. (To learn more about The Great Chinese Famine and honor the 15–35 million people who perished in it, consider reading articles like this.)
See what this Spotlight—and series—is focused on.
Tap on the words "Focus 3" in the image below to read this Spotlight's summary.
Review the series so far. If you still have access to your note with things you have “in excess” from earlier this series, that would be handy here!
Welcome Perspective: You have access to more than anyone before. What could that be for?     
Read together the words to Psalm 84. This psalm looks to God as a provider and praises him for the way he gives all creatures access to what they need. If you’re doing this Spotlight with others, read the psalm in rotation, one verse at a time. 

Psalm 84:1–12 (NIV):
1 How lovely is your dwelling place,
Lord Almighty!
2 My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God.
3 Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young—
a place near your altar,
Lord Almighty, my King and my God.
4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
they are ever praising you.
5 Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
6 As they pass through the Valley of Baka,
they make it a place of springs;
the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
7 They go from strength to strength,
till each appears before God in Zion.
8 Hear my prayer, Lord God Almighty;
listen to me, God of Jacob.
9 Look on our shield,  O God;
look with favor on your anointed one.
10 Better is one day in your courts
than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
the Lord bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold
from those whose walk is blameless.
12 Lord Almighty,
blessed is the one who trusts in you.
The song “Open My Hands” was inspired by Psalm 84, and it reflects on the faith it takes to accept what the Provider is giving. As you listen/sing along, consider what it takes to make the words of this song your own. 

Open My Hands by Sara Groves

I believe in a blessing I don’t understand.
I’ve seen rain fall on the wicked and the just.
Rain is no measure of his faithfulness—
he withholds no good thing from us.

I believe in a peace that flows deeper than pain—
that broken find healing in love.
Pain is no measure of his faithfulness—
he withholds no good thing from us.

I will open my hands, will open my heart.
I will open my hands, will open my heart.
I am nodding my head, an emphatic yes
to all that you have for me.

I believe in a fountain that will never dry
though I’ve thirsted and didn’t have enough.
Thirst is no measure of his faithfulness—
he withholds no good thing from us.

I will open my hands, will open my heart.
I will open my hands, will open my heart.
I am nodding my head, an emphatic yes
to all that you have for me.

No good thing from us,
no good thing from us—
he withholds no good thing from us.

I will open my hands, will open my heart.
I will open my hands, will open my heart.
I am nodding my head, an emphatic yes,
to all that you have for me.

Why repeat the first line of the chorus?
Could it be intentional?
Add a new meaning?
(Hint: It is, and it does.)
Have three volunteers (One, Two, and Three) read the following, which is a combination of Mark 10, Mark 12, and 2 Corinthians 9.

One:     As Jesus started on his way,
            a man ran up to him
            and fell on his knees before him.

Two:     Good teacher,
            what must I do to inherit eternal life?

Three:  Why do you call me good?
            No one is good—except God alone.
            You know the commandments:
            ‘You shall not murder,
            you shall not commit adultery,
            you shall not steal,
            you shall not give false testimony,
            you shall not defraud,
            honor your father and mother.’”

Two:     Teacher, all these I have kept since I was a boy.

One:     Jesus looked at him and loved him.

Three:  One thing you lack.
            Go, sell everything you have
            and give to the poor,
            and you will have treasure in heaven.
            Then come, follow me.

One:     At this the man’s face fell.
            He went away sad,
            because he had great wealth.

            Jesus sat down near the collection box in the Temple
            and watched as the crowds dropped in their money.
            Many rich people put in large amounts.
            Then a poor widow came
            and dropped in two small coins.
            Jesus called his disciples to him and said,

Three:  I tell you the truth,
            this poor widow has given more
            than all the others who are making contributions.
            For they gave a tiny part of their surplus,
            but she, poor as she is,
            has given everything she had to live on.

Two:     Remember this:
            Whoever sows sparingly
            will also reap sparingly,
            and whoever sows generously
            will also reap generously.

One:     Each of you should give
            what you have decided in your heart to give,
            not reluctantly or under compulsion,
            for God loves a cheerful giver.

Three:  And God is able to bless you abundantly,
            so that in all things at all times,
            having all that you need,
            you will abound in every good work.

Two:     Now he who supplies seed to the sower
            and bread for food
            will also supply and increase your store of seed
            and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.
            You will be enriched in every way
            so that you can be generous on every occasion,
            and through us your generosity will result
            in thanksgiving to God.
Worship Perspective: God loves to give gifts, but not just so that we can have them for ourselves.
Learn Perspective: Redefine success as using God’s gift of excess to give others access.
In discussing the broader concept of access, we can apply the idea to various aspects of societal well-being, especially for those most in need. Access isn’t only about the availability of resources but also about the practical means to utilize those resources effectively.

This brings us to the critical issue of accessible housing solutions for homeless people. Ensuring that everyone has a safe and stable place to live is not just about providing shelter. It involves creating comprehensive, sustainable housing programs that address the underlying causes of homelessness, integrate community services, and offer long-term stability. By focusing on accessible housing, we can provide a foundational platform that empowers individuals to rebuild their lives, enhancing their access to other essential services like healthcare, education, and employment opportunities.

As this series has focused on the tiny house concept and Seattle’s use of it for transitional housing, there have been some great conversations and thoughts. It would be ideal if your Spotlight Community would consider visiting a tiny house village to learn more. Here’s a short video about the one closes to Illume, located in the University District.
You could also consider finding a way to help Sound Foundations NW, one of the leading groups in the construction of tiny houses. Check out their webpage together now. 
Feel free to submit a prayer request by filling out the below form.
(If you choose to make your request public, you'll see it display in the Current at the end of the Spotlight along with anyone else who did the same.)

Prayer Requests

Pray this prayer together as a group: 

Holy One,
Giver of blessings that nurture the earth and feed our bodies and souls,
we offer now our thanks for the abundance that surrounds us:

For the harvest of which we partake,
For the many hands that make light the work of helping our sisters and brothers,
For those who are in need, who gladden our hearts by allowing us to be of use.

With spirits raised by all this, we are so bold as to ask even more:

We pray for more caring hands,
For the equitable sharing of the riches of the harvest,
For more affordable housing,
For more people of faith willing to put their faith into action,
And for our lives to be constant prayers that all may be safe, warm, and loved.

So may it be. Amen.

Prayer written by David Keyes
Serve Perspective: When we have access, we can either seek more or look out for others. 
Close with a song about sharing.
Read an excerpt from the story behind the song:

“Wells are a big deal in rural India. That’s often the only place to get halfway decent water. Dalits must often wait by the well for a higher caste person to share from their jar because by strict religious custom they are ‘unclean’ and are forbidden to draw from the well themselves. Many Dalits wait all day and still no one gives them water. It’s a big problem, and also a powerful metaphor. Christ has given me access to the Living Water of a life based on faith in Him. And there are many in this world, even right next door, who are like the Samaritan woman at the well—thirsty for the living water that will never run dry. I also have the opportunity and the responsibility to share the well. Also, the rhythm of the song and the ‘je ra, ji ra’ melody comes from a Dalit freedom song.”

- Andrew Osenga, Caedmon’s Call
Lyrics from Share the Well by Caedmon’s Call

Je ra, ji ra, ji ra, de ji ra, de ji, ji, ji

Share the well—
share with your brother—
share the well, my friend.
It takes a deeper well
to love one another.
Share the well, my friend.

Je ra, ji ra, ji ra, de ji ra, de ji, ji, ji

Do you think the water knows -
flowing down to the mountain thaw
finally to find repose
for any soul who cares to draw -
some kindred keepers of this earth,
on their way to join the flow,
are cast aside and left to thirst?
Tell me now it is not so!

Share the well—
share with your brother—
share the well, my friend.
It takes a deeper well
to love one another.
Share the well, my friend.

All God’s creatures share the water hole
the blessed day the monsoon comes,
and in His image, we are woven—
every likeness, every one.
From Kashmir to Karala,
under every banyan tree,
mothers for their children cry
with empty jar and bended knee.

Je ra, ji ra, ji ra, de ji ra, de ji, ji, ji

You know I’ve heard good people say
there’s nothing I can do,
that’s half a world away.
Well, maybe you’ve got money,
maybe you’ve got time,
maybe you’ve got the Living Well
that ain’t ever running dry.

Je ra, ji ra, ji ra, de ji ra, de ji, ji, ji
Sing along with (or listen to) this song to close out this Spotlight.
Feel free to sing along or simply listen. Do what makes you comfortable—but do whatever helps you focus on the song's meaning best.
Farewell Perspective: Congratulations! God has given all of us enough to share.
Let's wrap things up by taking a look at what's Current at Illume.

Tap on the buttons in the frame below to see what’s currently happening at Illume—information on everything from current and upcoming online content to live events and opportunities to serve in the community can all be found here.                          

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