Focus 2 (of 4)-Is Passing

Focus 2|Is Passing

Darkness and its awful results are here, now. Every person on earth interacts with them constantly—but the darkness is not all there is. There is also light, and in the battle between light and darkness, light is winning. Darkness is losing. It can be hard to notice, but the darkness is passing, and that means that you can treat it like it is passing. You don’t have to live as through there is no alternative to darkness or like darkness might win in the end. You can live knowing that although you will face darkness, there is also light—and that light is coming.
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See what this Spotlight—and series— is focused on.
Tap on the words "Focus 2" in the image below to read this Spotlight's summary.
Let's talk about the attraction of the darkness.
Read this section when you’re ready to begin today's Spotlight. (And welcome, by the way! It’s great that you’re here!)

Here’s a question: Why are people often attracted to things that are dark? There are lots of reasons for it, but the majority of those reasons are reflections of one big idea: People can tell there's darkness in the world, and they don't like to pretend like there isn't. So they shouldn't, and neither should you. It's OK, good even, to take an honest look at and to spend time reflecting on and acknowledging that there is a lot in this world that is dark—it's dark far away, it's dark close to home, and it's dark inside your own heart, mind, and soul. But don't simply look at the dark—as you acknowledge it, acknowledge the one thing the darkness wants you to forget: Darkness is passing. Let's be honest and admit that darkness is here and now, but say just as truthfully that it is not forever.
Let's say a prayer together as we dive into this Spotlight.
Thank you for helping us find one another even in a dark world. It's by your goodness and love that the darkness is passing, and we pray that you'd reveal this truth to us even as we live where darkness still is. We look to—and look forward to—the light that is taking its place.
Welcome Perspective
There is more than darkness.
Find hope in this: Darkness has always been passing.
Do you ever feel like things are getting darker and darker? It's a remarkably common feeling among both Christians and non-Christians alike.

Scroll through the images in the frame below to see a few quick examples:
The feeling that things are "getting darker" is a real feeling, but it isn't based in reality. It's akin to experiencing a solar eclipse but not knowing what is happening. For a brief time, you think the sun might being destroyed.

The ancient Greeks thought eclipses meant the gods were deciding to abandon them.
The ancient Chinese thought eclipses happened when a dragon was eating the sun.
The ancient Norse thought that a great wolf was catching and eating the sun, causing Ragnarok.

And modern Westerners think the world is getting darker. It's all myth based on momentary perceptions. It's going to be OK. Darkness is passing.

Pray these words with your group.
  1. Have one person read the non-bolded words.
  2. And the rest of the group read the bolded words together.
We thank you God that you know what it is to be human—
fragile and vulnerable,
searching for ways to stay alive
in dangerous and complicated times.
We thank you that you know the struggles and temptations
of living in darkness.
We thank you that you give light to the world.

We confess that sometimes it’s easier to stay in the shadows,
where things can stay hidden,
where people can’t see our cracks and flaws.
Cast your light on our darkness
and forgive us, God of love.

We confess that we have at times brought darkness
into the world by our anger, our selfishness, our violence.
Cast your light on our darkness
and forgive us, God of love.

We confess that we are sometimes skeptical of light
and find it easier to trust its absence.
Cast your light on our darkness
and forgive us, God of love.

And in this silence,
bring the confessions that are on your heart and mind
into the light of God’s love


We know in faith that God restores and renews,
and that our sins are forgiven.
Thank you. Amen.
You can trace the passing of darkness through the Bible. 
There has never been a period of time when "the light might lose" and "the darkness might win." That's not how the story of your universe or your God goes.

In fact, from the first moment, darkness was passing:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.
Genesis 1:1–4

From that point on, the best darkness could do has been a smoke-and-mirrors, illusionary deception in which it tries to seem like it has the upper hand. It's had varying degrees of success at convincing people it was going to win, but the best the darkness has ever felt was this during a three hour period while Jesus was on the cross:

It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.
Luke 23:44–46

On its best day, darkness was defeated by the light himself at the crucifixion, proving what was always true. The darkness is passing, and it will eventually pass completely into oblivion. This is how heaven is described at the very end of the Bible:

There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.
Revelation 22:5

The story of your universe is the story of darkness being replaced by light. In one of the most beautiful passages in all of The Lord of the Rings books, JRR Tolkien reflects on this truth in this tiny moment shared by Sam.

“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”
JRR Tolkien, "The Return of the King" 
Worship Perspective
Darkness has always been passing.
Let's consider what it feels like to live in the world as darkness passes.
Navigate through the presentation by using the buttons and arrows in the frame below.
Learn Perspective
The darkness is hiding.
Read about the work of the Organization for Prostitution Survivors.

The following is from an interview with the leadership of OPS. You can read the whole interview here. Chelsea, Rekina, and SarahAnn are all "Survivor Advocates" for OPS, which means they work directly with women who are coming out of prostitution.

The Question: What do you want people to know about your work?

There are so many barriers in the systems of trying to help the women that we service. A lot of times I feel like I’m coming up against a wall. That’s the part that is exhausting: constantly feeling like I’m fighting to get my clients’ basic needs met. It shouldn’t be that difficult, and that is frustrating. I think the cool part about OPS and the work we do is we get to be in this role with the women we serve for a lifetime (if they want it) and have these relationships that are built by really seeing each other. There are youth I’ve worked with since they were 15 and now they’re 21—at OPS there is no age limit so I can continue with clients. Also there is no requirement or you need to do x-y-z in order for us to work with you. We really meet people where they are at, and I think that’s really powerful. There are no stipulations on us helping the clients that we serve. A lot of the work I do, I have to hold for my clients to realize their own journeys and realize their worth, and empower them in that. That means continuing to fight those systems even though some days it feels really hopeless. That’s what we are; we’re advocates advocating for our clients’ dreams and their feelings in a system that says they don’t matter. 

The work we do is not just a quick fix. It’s not like regular social service agencies where people come, get benefits, and leave. It’s an ongoing, continuing service where we meet people where they are. It’s not like a regular social service agency. People don’t come in the door, get services, and leave. Sometimes it takes years to get people in a place where they can be self-sufficient, empowered, and move on to another stage of their life. I’m speaking from experience and from my work, being an advocate over the last year. I have many participants who are very much still in the middle of their process and need continuing services to help them get to a place of self-sufficiency. This is important to highlight because the more people we get to understand that, the better we are able to address the needs of our participants in a well-rounded way. The fact that we work with survivors, it is very difficult to get them in through the county ways of entering services, like housing and all of these things. They score based on how many resources a person already takes advantage of, which really doesn’t say anything about the kind of help that they need. The fact that people are accessing services does not mean they are in any way ready to do this on their own. If they access services their score drops, which is ridiculous.  The level of organizational trauma is such that by the time they get to us that we sometimes have to work 10x harder to build trust. They’ve been turned away from so many organizations based on what they’ve done to survive. We have to prove our own commitment in order to accompany them. Some of the smallest things, like helping someone with a gas card, it basically kept them from going out and busting a date, from giving their soul to one more person. The level of organizational trauma they have when they’ve come to us, and hearing ‘no, no, no,’ from other organizations, I wish people shifted their perspective to see that as an asset instead of a disqualifier to services.

People don’t realize that we are working with a community that is basically on the bottom of the totem pole. Not only do we work with women of color but they are also survivors. Sometimes it feels impossible because we already have all of these stigmas against us anyways. I don’t think people realize how hard we work. I think the thing that sets us apart from other places is we are not here to build numbers, we are here to build a community, and I think that is a huge difference. I hate to go here, but I constantly, everyday, have someone in tears because we don’t have a group to go to right now [due to COVID closure]. We built this community that really looks out for each other even if it’s just for the time they’re in the building, and these little moments save lives. This is also my favorite thing about OPS: when I come back in it has the same faces. I think we are so different from everyone else, but we’re in this line of work where we’ve been told to be quiet for so long and I think it’s really time to be vocal about what we do and how important it is.

That’s what we are; we’re advocates advocating for our clients’ dreams and their feelings in a system that says they don’t matter.
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Prayer Requests

Pray through your requests—together—as a group.
After submitting your requests in the above form, take some time to share with your group whatever requests the group might have for this week.
Follow along with this prayer guide with your group.
Follow this simple, written suggestion on how to pray about the prayer requests shared during this Spotlight.

Lord, today we have these reasons to be thankful: (everyone share one reason to be thankful.)
Lord, today we have these requests: (everyone share one request)
Lord, today we have these hopes: (everyone share one thing they are looking forward to)
Thank you for hearing us, Lord. Amen.

Serve Perspective
Darkness is never not passing.
Let's recap what we have learned in this Spotlight—and series.

Discuss: If you were going to share one part of this Spotlight on social media for the benefit of your friends and family, which part would you share?
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.

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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