ACW

ACW

Friday, 12 February 2016

Frankincense and Fishes. What is God asking you to bring to the party? By Andrew J Chamberlain



Have you ever had one of those protracted conversations with God about how much you should give? It’s very frustrating, not least because you think you can come up with a sensible number, but you know that what God might ask us to give is practically limitless.
When I think about the examples of giving that we have from the Bible, the really odd thing is that money doesn’t get much of a mention. Gold, yes, to symbolise Kingship rather than for its monetary value, and frankincense and myrrh; and there are quite a few loaves and fishes going around too. All of these things have some monetary value but the point seems to be that the giver is matched to the moment, to what is required at that time, whatever that might be.

I think God wants us to show a bit of imagination when it comes to giving, and for us writers that may literally mean imagination, as well as all the other skills and talents that we bring to bear to our writing. If the bible tells us that the giver gives what they have to match the needs of the moment, then for us writers our giving might be in the form of our writing talents.
And that doesn’t sound too bad, does it? We can write for the parish paper, or we could write an article about someone in the church. Maybe there’s some deserving person that your church community has reached out to: a homeless person, a refugee, someone in prison? Answering the call to write someone’s story is a wonderful example of standing with someone, of bearing with them. Simon of Cyrene carried Jesus’ cross, the widow at Zarephath took her little flour and oil, and made bread for Elijah, the Samaritan crossed cultural and personal boundaries to help the man attacked on the road to Jericho.
This last example is particularly interesting because it shows us that God might require us to give in a way that takes us far outside what we think is sensible, reasonable, and controllable. Writing the story of a refugee might sound like a big ask but I could manage that, I think. But what about the gay person who has started coming to church. Or what might I do if a transgender person has joined us and wants me to help with telling their story? Whatever the stretch example is for me or for you, we know that if God is doing the asking there’s only one answer we can really give.
And what God asks us to give is only that which we have to give; the lesson for us, I think, is that the manner in which we might be asked to give it, and the context in which we make the gift might be the thing which really makes us grow as a follower of Jesus.


Andrew is the presenter of The Creative Writer's Toolbelt a podcast that offers practical, accessible advice on the craft. Andrew has published fiction and collaborated on a number of ghost-writing projects through Authentic Media, including the bestselling, 'Once an Addict' with Barry Woodward. He has also self-published a number of science fiction short stories.


12 comments:

  1. I love the idea of using my writing as a way of giving. I have already helped someone else to self-publish using what I learned when I self-published my books.

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  2. This hits the spot for me today, Andrew. I've been struggling with the new novel because it's majoring on the 'bad' people in the story and I didn't feel comfortable with that. I felt I should be writing 'nice' stuff! So, thank you! I'll get back to work!

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  3. Lynda, Dorothy, I'm glad this has been helpful to you. I do think there are lots of ways we can 'give' through writing and it may be that if we are obedient we will actually broaden our own knowledge, and thereby enrich the stories we would want to tell for ourselves. A

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  4. Writing as giving? My problem at the moment is that I have to give up some of my precious writing time to someone who needs me more. It is proving very hard to give, but I'm trusting God to find

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    1. Rosemary, that must feel really hard, and frustrating...

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    2. Me too Rosemary. But we never know what writing may eventually issue from that. Besides, God is more concerned with shaping our being than with our writing - what we are and become, comes out in the writing anyway.

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  5. Thank you for this,blessing, i have even quoted a small piece of it on my Facebook status. Being unemployed i have been feeling awful not giving money each Sunday. It has opened my eyes to see differently that i can give in a way that i can, not that which i cannot.

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  6. Very good points here. I'm not sure if my novel(s) fit into this, but in the past I have done a bit of what Andrew mentions, including writing a piece to support trans people who were in marriages where both partners wished to remain as 'married' - difficult question, but the underlying thing was, they were loving and supportive couples, they did not want to be parted by legislation. God igve us all sorts of things to do!

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  7. This reminds me of the parable of the widow's mite. Sometimes we're too busy chasing our dream of being a "success" in the writing world that we forget that - in God's eyes - a small writing task can be equally significant. Thanks, Andrew.

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  8. Andrew, good post but I'm most fascinated by the painting - who is it by? I notice that because we read from left to right, we 'read' this painting giving the child priority over the old man offering his gift. This not only says something about Christ, but also about his kingdom where the last shall be first and the master the servant of all. Old men were seen as wise, while children knew nothing, but in this painting a child causes an old man to kneel. Of course, it could simply be reproduced the 'wrong' way round! But I think my interpretation is valid all the same.

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  9. Hi Veronica, it's "Adoration of the Magi" by Andrea Mantegna, painted 1495-1505.

    http://www.getty.edu/art/collection/objects/781/andrea-mantegna-adoration-of-the-magi-italian-about-1495-1505/

    Thanks Andy

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