Monday, 1 June 2020

Writer. Hope Bringer. Change Agent.

We have the potential to be change-agents and hope bringers through our writing. 

It seems to me that what our world needs right now (and each day) is an expectant hope for the whole community and its hope for the future. As the Covid19 realities have ensued, world shaping events have unfolded. Our lives have continued. The passion week (Easter) has come and gone, and as we are starting to see some easing of restrictions Pentecost was celebrated across the world (albeit very differently).We have seen a radical series of events that leaves many unsure, possibly scared, confused, or perhaps even excited of the possibilities that lay ahead.  

The early followers of Christ faced an incredible challenge after Jesus had left for heaven (having begun to turn the Roman world upside down and having stood in the face of staunch judiac religious opposition). They had left everything to follow Jesus. Now the Saviour was gone. Persecution had begun. But Jesus had instructed them to tell the world about Him. But how do you explain the awesome omnipotence of an almighty eternal creator saviour God who gets born to a lowly couple, grows up, reveals God’s heart and power yet then dies and then orchestrates his own resurrection?  How do you capture the miraculous stories so every generation that follows will know?
You do this in a few letters that form words and ideas and themes and narratives and is itself a miracle written down for all to receive.  You need Hope. You need some sort of empowerment that goes beyond your own sensibilities.

Hope needs to be based on something more than fulfilling ‘my own interests’ because we need others to help build hope. Accepting this wisdom begins with recognising that when I don’t have an inherent trust in what is going on in or around my life I need to get re-grounded in trust that can be built in relationship with others. So we can be believing together for good to happen . Besides, self-focused hope does not motivate us to attempt to change the way we are going about living for the mutual betterment of all of us. Jesus provides hope by not only bringing the disciples together, He fills them with His power. As the disciples waited, wondered, hoped together in one accord The Holy Spirit filled them. It was Pentecost.

Entering the Upper Room in Jerusalem

The writers of the Old Testament begin the record about Shavuoth (the Hebrew Pentecost). Shavuoth was the God-ordained celebration of “First Fruits” during the Festival of Weeks, commanded to Moses in Exodus. It occurred when the first spring crop after winter appeared. This is reason to celebrate. The seeds that had been lying as unseen, dormant, seemingly “dead” (but actually alive), hidden but destined to burst forth—beneath the cold earth have become a golden sea of ripe grain. God had commanded Moses to have the people of Israel remember that everything that they have comes from his hand.

The writings in Acts record that at Pentecost, 50 days after Jesus’ death and resurrection, the Spirit of the living God fell upon the disciples as promised, and they were empowered for worldwide mission. And that breath of the Holy Spirit which transformed them, which demonstrated Pentecost’s intent by signs and wonders on that day, continues to blow, advancing the Great Commission of Jesus Christ through successive generations until he comes again.

Pentecost is about the provision of God in our lives. It is about seeing Hope fulfilled. By His Grace He saves us, by His promises he keeps us, and by His power we are a living testimony of His providence. Pentecost reminds us that what God starts, God completes. It is about the first fruit of the changing of seasons.

Here is a reminder for us writers to continue to give thanks for God’s fruit and the creative gift He has given us to bless the world. It is an opportunity to pray to discern the season ahead and write accordingly. It is an opportunity to pray for fruitfulness and a multiplication of our talents, the messages we are able to deliver and for the harvest. Pentecost reminds us that the followers of Jesus were empowered to fulfill the mission of Christ. As Christian writers this is a good reminder for us as well.

When we recognize a hope that goes beyond our personal livelihood and that is mediated by a broader vision than our own comfort or current level of life satisfaction, we are able to draw on a vast and deep well of experience, communal vision, and purpose than we can when we only have our own life experiences and past successes and failures upon which to base our hopes. This communal understanding of hope allows us to continue working and writing for justice and care even when we despair of that hope manifesting fully in our lifetime.

Shave for A Cure. Chappy

Hope is found in the stories of people seeking to adapt to change and finding positive, innovative, creative solutions and the potential of a better life for their family. I have seen many of these stories in my chaplaincy role as we continue to provide bakery goods, frozen meals, welfare parcels to families needing a bit of encouragement and support. It has been a blessing to catch up with several families with home visits to help deliver study packs. It has been a blessing to simply share our care via notes of encouragement, newsletters that highlight stories of compassion, and create narratives that inspire hope.
Hope is found in the laughter and conversation at corners, cul-de-sacs, streets, driveways, as people walk and talk and chat with neighbours during things like adapted ANZAC day dawn services.  It is found in sharing, caring, smiling, encouraging and looking after each other. It was seen when we changed our communal habits of gathering to massive online connections. It was heard when we talked authentically about our struggles, listened, and encouraged to each other. It was felt when we changed a hi-5 to an elbow shake, or foot tap, or a nod and a namaste-type greeting.

What I have witnessed over the past few weeks is people wanting to be part of creating a community of caring (rather than only creating a momentary blip of personal comfort of their own). This vision of communal hope rather than individual goal completion offers a broader and deeper purpose for acting on the part of all of us together. To look after each other, looking toward the future with hope for the entire community. It is in looking after each other that we truly discover hope.
We wash our hands, sneeze in our elbows, keep our distance- and all of that – and in all of this I see that what we seek is not to hope alone, but to open our arms and embrace (metaphorically). To remind and encourage each other that we are generous neighbours, and that we are better and stronger together.
Together the disciples experienced the miracles of Pentecost. Together they told others about it. They wrote it all down so that we would not only know the story,  but would be inspired to experience the same. Perhaps in all of this change Pentecost is a reminder to wait and ask for the empowerment of the Holy Spirit for yourself as writers and others. Pray to be a part of helping to fulfill God’s mission. His will to be done on earth as it is in Heaven.

We read the words of the author of Acts that at Pentecost Peter stood and preached when the disciples were empowered to fulfill the mission of Christ. He quoted Joel Chapter 2: Pentecost fulfills the prophecies of Scripture. Peter was saying that “the festival of harvest” had produced radical change in the universe as a result of the empowering of the disciples by the Holy Spirit. All this was written down and has helped change the world. It was a decisive demonstration of all that was prophesied in the Old Testament and revealed in the New for God’s glory and our good, and for the salvation of millions worldwide, to the ends of the earth.

Pentecost is about the people of God being who they are called to be.

As Christian writers we need Hope. We need some sort of empowerment that goes beyond our own sensibilities. We need the inspiration of our Creator. We need the power of His Spirit. Sure, we can choose to do it on our own. But Pentecost is a reminder that in this crazy world we need to rely on God more than trusting our own abilities.
Be encouraged:  you are a hope bringer and a potential change-agent through your writing. 


  1. "You need Hope. You need some sort of empowerment that goes beyond your own sensibilities." Thank you Shane. And a hearty AMEN from me.

    For the last several weeks, God has been drawing my attention, again and again, to two verses: Psalm 138:8 The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy and loving kindness, O Lord, endure forever--forsake not the works of Your own hands. And Philippians 1:6 And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return] developing [that good work] and perfecting and bring it to full completion in you.(AMP) With these two verses, God has been speaking his tender encouragement to me. I have also had a sense of needing something more from him in terms of my understanding and his enablement. I've also experienced a subtle sense of peace to wait (albeit actively), and not stress over delay (caused in part by my own inertia) but to trust in his timing and empowering release. Your words today have blessed me not only by providing a depth of biblical background but wonderful clarity about the 'why' and 'when' behind the message.

  2. Thanks, Shane. I’ve long felt that bringing HOPE was one of the key purposes of my writing. Thanks for unpacking this a bit more today :D.

    1. Thankyou Susan
      I trust you continue to be inspired to be a hope bringer.

  3. Thanks so much for your insight Shane, which really resonated with me. I'm writing modern-day parables as a way to share my faith, and to give people the chance to see themselves through story. Those emails I get talking about long-overdue conversations being held or long-carried baggage being addressed are why I (and I feel all of us) write. Thanks for the encouragement, and reminder of that.

    1. Thankyou David. Thankyou for your gift of the modern parables. We need more accented story telling that helps bring LIFE.

  4. Great blog, Shane. I think God is birthing a lot during this season that will bear fruit in the future. I thought I'd be blogging about my upcoming book at this time. But with the launch delayed by a few months due to COVID-19, He's been leading me to write on other topics. It certainly is a time to share the hope we have in Christ. Thanks for the encouragement.

  5. Keep going for it Nola :) Thankyou for your thoughts. Bless ya.