Hunger Games

I left work early today (I have to go back in later), but early for leaving work can still mean late for lunch. I was pretty hungry when I got home, so as soon as I dumped the daily baggage that I carry around, I raided the fridge in which I managed to find some scrummy leftovers which I demolished in no more than five minutes. Now I’m wondering what else I can munch on.

And dreading tomorrow.

For the second year in a row (because it went so well the first year), the Youth and some adult volunteers and I are going to be combining World Vision’s 30-Hour Famine event with an ersatz Easter vigil spanning Good Friday and a large chunk of Waiting Saturday. The deal with the 30-Hour Famine is that you get people to sponsor you to go without food for 30 hours, and then the money goes to World Vision to help feed the hungry. You do it at the same time as, and with, a whole bunch of other people for the solidarity and so you can learn about hunger (both intellectually and literally) together. Just thinking about it makes me hungry–which doesn’t help when I’m already hungry. Thus my dread of tomorrow. The idea of not eating anything else after breakfast is really kind of a dismaying thought.

Last year I tied in a sort of Bible-plotline-overview in between all the hunger stuff, as the “vigil” aspect of this event. Somehow or other both things merged quite well and ended up highlighting Holy Weekend rather astonishingly, though I’m still not entirely sure how that happened. (Although–I have an idea, which doesn’t involve me.)

This year I’m thinking about hunger, and about the Famine slogan about “going hungry so others don’t have to.” Kind of like . . . Jesus? Dying so we don’t have to? (I’m not talking physical death, guys. I do anticipate expiring at some point. Just not ceasing to exist–nor even floating around incorporeally, but that’s clearly another topic about which I am not now writing.) If everything goes as I’ve planned it (which it usually doesn’t, but ideally something better will happen instead), we’re going to talk about hunger non-stop all weekend this time. I mean spiritual hunger as well as physical hunger, and why, if we’re trying to eradicate physical hunger, we would inflict it on ourselves for a limited time. Why fast, honestly?

We’re going to talk about going through something difficult with our “eyes on the prize” (well, there are prizes for the kids if they raise enough money, although that’s not looking too good this year). We’re going to talk about “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who, for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12.2, NRSV). We’re going to talk about hunger as a metaphor for our deepest desires, and about wanting something badly enough you’ll do anything to get it. Then we’re going to talk about how badly Jesus must have wanted us, to go through what He did.

At the end of our fast, which I’m still not looking forward to, we’ll each eat a bowl of oatmeal. Not exactly a “prize,” but a precursor–a reminder–that we do get to eat again, and a sort of physical prayer that more of the people around the world will, too. I’m looking forward to eating afterwards. If I think I’m hungry now, I can only imagine how hungry I’ll be after 30 hours! I’m only giving up food, though. Jesus gave up life, which, if you think about it, is pretty incredible, since He’s the source of it. He gave it up. Then He got it back, which is a good thing, if you think about how He was dying specifically for a relationship with us (kind of hard to have one of those when you’re dead–I imagine).

I’m pretty sure there will be moments all day tomorrow, and even more of them the next day, when I just want to throw in the towel and sneak a granola bar from the trunk of my car. (I should probably take those out of there, huh?) In a way, this 30-Hour Famine thing is just a game. We’re helping with world hunger a little bit, but only a little bit, really. And we all (or most) have larders full of food at home. And it’s nothing like the suffering Jesus went through on our behalf.

At the same time, though, it’s a little like it–even if only in the way that a whisper is like a shout. It’s doing something unpleasant for the sake of something greater, and I hope, while we’re doing it, we’re going to fix our eyes on Jesus. That should get us through.

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Just in case you want to help, you can sponsor the kids here. Thanks for considering it!

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