Some Thoughts On The 30 Hour Famine
I just returned home from serving communion to over 100 teenagers and youth workers who gathered together in our sanctuary at the conclusion of the 30 hour famine that they particpated in this weekend.
As I offered these young people the body and blood of Christ I couldn't help but wonder why the youth tend to be the ones who do these kinds of things. You rarely see a group of adults get together and decide to fast for 30 hours and serve the community in a variety of ways in an effort to better understand the devastating reality of poverty around the world.
These kids stopped eating at noon on Friday, slept in cardboard boxes overnight on Friday, and then served throughout the community all day Saturday by feeding the hungry, offering drive-by prayers for shut-ins and those that are struggling with various issues, paying for peoples meals at fast-food restaraunts, handing out bottles of water, and spending time with abandoned and neglected children at the local Children's Neighborhood. They concluded their fast with communion, a healthy meal and a time of praise and worship.
The youth director at my church said that he couldn't keep the kids away from this event. He tried to discourage them, reminding them that this was not a lock-in; not an event that was intended to be fun and games, but a very serious event focusing on sacrifice and service. He had more students sign-up for this than for most of the fun events that they offer throughout the year. I think that says something.
I am concerned that these kinds of events are limited to the youth of our churches. Does discipleship and mission become something different once we reach a certain age? Can 40 and 50 year-olds not sleep in a cardboard box for a night in order to enter into solidarity with our homeless brothers and sisters? Can grown-ups not abstain from food for 30 hours in order to reflect physically and spiritually upon the global hunger crisis?
I am deeply moved by what I've seen and experienced this weekend with these young people, but I can't help wonder why these kinds of things are relegated to the younger generations.
Now, I know that there are adults who are engaging in these kinds of practices, but my sense is that - for the most part - we adults are willing to sit back and watch (and support) the younger generations as they live out the gospel in the world.