Making Space for Wonder


By John Sorrell

The 30 Hour Famine allows students to be confronted with realities outside themselves. This is actually the number one reason why I love the Famine. It isn’t always an easy event, but the long-term impacts on students are consistently present. I look forward to it every year.

The Famine creates space for students to expand how they presently see the world and our place in it and God and our relationship with Him. I’ve found that making use of wonder and even imagination as a lens through which we reflect during the Famine can be valuable. I saw this mostly through closing our Famine each year with communion. While I know this isn’t possible in all settings I hope it can help inspire the sense of wonder and imagination through your Famine weekend.

In Your God Is Too Safe, Mark Buchanan has a chapter devoted to wonder called “What Ever Happened to Wonder”. That chapter has always resonated with me. He challenges the premise of having all things figured out and invites the reader to reconsider how much about God we don’t really know. About halfway through the chapter he takes communion into consideration and equates how it is commonly practiced to that of scientists explaining a kiss in sheer scientific terms. When that happens there is a loss of wonder and imagination. He continues talking through his experience where the practice of communion left him hungrier or thirstier than when he entered.

I found during the 30 Hour Famine as we neared the end and students began to anticipate breaking the fast together in whatever mysterious way we had planned that year we could enter a time where we redefined communion. Not only with larger drinks of grape juice and bigger pieces of bread but a new vision of a community practicing this almost mystic spiritual ordinance of the church.

Mark’s last paragraph on the topic of communion is this:

“Jesus said, ‘This is my body. Take and eat. This is my blood. Take and drink.’ He didn’t explain it. In fact, all attempts to explain it have been mere descriptions of kissing [This is a callback to a fantastic point he makes a few paragraphs earlier]. He just stated it and left it to our imaginations to figure out how it was so. He left it to us to remember – to vividly remember – His life and death and resurrection and ascension. To experience right now, right here, His presence. To anticipate with a wild yearning our seeing Him again, eating this meal with Him in Heaven. And to leave full.

It takes imagination.”

– Mark Buchanan, Your God Is Too Safe. Pg. 55

It isn’t only in communion where imagination and wonder can be invited. If our students gain insight into local areas of need and how their help and energy could change their neighborhoods, it becomes powerful. Or if they see that by skipping a few fast-food meals or coffee runs that money can further help someone else through microloans. The possibilities are endless of course.

You might, like me, have a love/not-so-love relationship with the Famine. Its impact is inspiring, but it can be hard some years to get excited about having that coffee withdrawal headache I would always get Saturday afternoon. My hope is this year we can create space to imagine and wonder with our students through the various elements of the event.

As you prepare for your 30 Hour Famine event this year, is there a topic or time where you can invite your students to dream? Encourage them to reconsider, with the help of imagination and wonder, what could be if God breathes life into our vision and action.