Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Against Communion Without Baptism: Some Anecdotes

A follow up to my last post regarding Communion Without Baptism:

Much of the argument for communing people regardless of baptism is anecdotal – testimonies of feeling welcomed by the indiscriminate invitation to the Eucharist or stories of folk who received Eucharist before they were baptized and through that experience eventually were baptized. These can be powerful testimonies. But, as AKMA Adam has observed,
Narratives about who received communion before baptism and how it affected their lives may inform, to some extent, the discussion — but they can’t decide the issue. Last January, a climber fell 1000 ft during an attempted ascent of Ben Nevis, tumbling down three cliffs, and survived with only relatively minor injuries. He may have reconciled himself to his enemies during that fall, he may have attained blissful oneness with the universe, he may only have enjoyed the adrenaline rush of confronting death — but none of those makes ‘falling off Ben Nevis’ a good idea as a normative practice, no matter how benign its effects in his case. If someone can show that communion without baptism as a general practice builds up the Body of Christ, that’s one thing; but no matter how much we give thanks for the positive effects of pre-baptismal communion in individual cases (such as Fr Kelvin himself, Sara Miles, or any other person) these remain the marvellous instances of the unpredictable power of the Spirit, rather than decisive warrants for a far-reaching change in the theology of the church.
AKMA's Random Thoughts

As one who opposes changing the traditional discipline of reserving participation in the communion of the Body and Blood of Christ to those who have been baptized into the body of Christ, I want to offer some anecdotes of my own.

We have a blurb in our bulletin that invites all baptized Christians to receive Communion, but I do not generally say anything about it. I do always make a point of inviting everyone to join us in sharing food and drinks at our fellowship time immediately following the liturgy. I do not interrogate visitors who come forward to receive. Contrary to common misrepresntation, this is not about trying to protect Jesus from the unworthy or ignorant.

1. We have a member of our congregation who received communion every Sunday for several months before mentioning that he was not baptized. He had been raised in, and had been an officer in, the Salvation Army which does not do sacraments. Upon learning this, we had a conversation in which I explained the rationale for requiring baptism. We then met for several months of baptismal preparation during which time he came forward for a blessing. Once baptized, he received communion again.

2. There are ways to make noncommunicants welcome while still respecting distinctions. Another of our members is married to a man who years ago became a Buddhist while he was in college. In many ways he is more active than many of our baptized members, attending congregational events beyond his regular Sunday attendance. He and his wife linger long at our fellowship time after the liturgy. He is even the chair of our IT committee. I can assure you he feels most welcome. When I asked him what he thought of our limiting Eucharist to the baptized and if it bothered him, his response was, “Why would I take Communion, I am not a Christian.” I suggest that we respect him more and he us by acknowledging that distinction than if we pretended it was irrelevant.

3. I was a guest speaker a year and a half ago at an event at a mosque around the corner from St. Barnabas (What I said at the Mosque). Since the main event took place in their place of worship, they requested/made us take our shoes off before entering. I could have taken offense, I suppose, at this expectation since I believe it is sufficient to remove the sandals of our hearts (though as one who takes bodily action seriously, I do wonder if they are onto something). Would I not be guilty of presumption if I had ignored the request? Would they not have been disrespectful of their own tradition’s understanding of God/Allah had they not insisted? Would they not have been less than respectful of me and my convictions if they had just said that our differences don’t matter and I could go ahead and wear my shoes if I wanted to since we are all just generic people seeking an experience of a generic 'Holy'?

I remain convinced that an indiscrimate invitation to Eucharist is a theological error that is neither respectful nor hospitable. Striving for both hospitality and honesty is harder, but better.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Communion Without Baptism? Some Resources

The Episcopal Cafe reports that the Diocese of Eastern Oregon will present a resolution to the next General Convention to change the Constitution and Canons and the Prayer Book to " invite all to Holy Communion, 'regardless of age, denomination or baptism.'

Though this is widely (too widely) practiced in clear disobedience to the Canons governing our common life, I think it extremely doubtful that those Canons will be changed.

I have written before that I think this is a very bad idea. Though not as 'sexy' as some other church controversies, this would be a fundamental theological error. It springs from a shallow, tendentious reading of the gospels, is grounded in a sentimental, anemic theoloy of the church and its sacraments, and smacks of co-dependent niceness. Though promoted in the name of 'radical hospitality' it is neither all that radical nor all that hospitable.

This is not about who is or isn't 'worthy' to receive Communion. Nor is it mainly about whether or not someone understands the mystery of the Blessed Sacrament. It is about belonging and the responsibilities and accountabilities that go with belonging - belonging to Jesus and belonging to the body of Christ, the Church.

Here are some links to a fairly wide range of folk who have offered good arguments against this:

Tobias Haller, In a Godward Direction

Derek Olsen, Haligweorc

Robert Hendrickson, The Curate's Desk

Bryan Owen, Creedal Christian

My own attempt to articulate the argument against


Here are four others who have weighed in:

AKMA Adam, AKMA's Random Thoughts

Dan Joslyn-Siemiatkoski, All Things Necessary

Tom Ferguson, Crusty Old Dean

Christopher Evans, Contemplative Vernacular

Follow-up Post:
Against Communion Without Baptism: Some Anecdotes

Friday, March 23, 2012

God’s Love is Not Enough

A Sermon
Numbers 21:4-9, Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22,
Ephesians 2:1-10, John 3:14-21

"For God so loved the world . . ."

I saw a bumper sticker a while back that said, “God loves you. No exceptions.” I believe this is so. And I believe just accepting that can be life-changing (see here). It makes a huge difference to understand that, when God looks upon you, it is with eyes of love. I know there are some among us who have mental tapes recorded deeply in their minds telling them that they are not lovable. And I appreciate that the sentiment of the bumper sticker is addressing the reality that there are groups of people who have been made to feel that they are somehow the exception to God’s love. So it is important to remember that when Jesus said, “God so loved the world,” that does not leave anyone out. “God so loved the world” - no exceptions.

But, I also need to say that the bumper sticker is inadequate. Wonderful as it is, God’s love is not enough.

Just before the justly famous line in John 3:16, Jesus says, "Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” What’s that about? Clearly, it is a reference to the passage from the book of Numbers that we heard read a moment ago:
From Mount Hor the Israelites set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; but the people became impatient on the way. The people spoke against God and against Moses, "Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we detest this miserable food." Then the LORD sent poisonous serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, "We have sinned by speaking against the LORD and against you; pray to the LORD to take away the serpents from us." So Moses prayed for the people. And the LORD said to Moses, "Make a poisonous serpent, and set it on a pole; and everyone who is bitten shall look at it and live." So Moses made a serpent of bronze, and put it upon a pole; and whenever a serpent bit someone, that person would look at the serpent of bronze and live. – Numbers 21:4-9

It’s a strange passage in lots of ways. But, let’s start by reviewing the context. Israel was enslaved in Egypt. They were miserable. God heard their cry, called Moses to lead them, and through a series of miracles delivered them from their bondage, setting them on the path to the Promised Land. Soon after they became impatient and ungrateful and began to complain about how God was managing their deliverance. We have here an example of that complaining.

"Why have you brought us up out of Egypt?”

“Well, because you asked me to. And because I love you and desire your good.”

“To die in the wilderness?”

“So far I have provided for you at every turn, haven’t I?”

“There is no food and no water.” That is an outright lie – or willful forgetting. God has miraculously provided water. God has rained down upon them the wonder of manna, "the grain of heaven", for their nourishment and quail as well.

“We detest this miserable food." Now we’re getting a little closer to the truth. It’s not that they have no food, but that they are dissatisfied with the food God has provided. And so they declare their displeasure. I wonder if the serpents are not an outward and visible manifestation of the inward and spiritual impatience and ingratitude. But, God provides a means of healing through the bronze serpent attached to a pole for the people to look upon and be healed.

That is the story in Numbers. But, since Jesus suggests that we read this story metaphorically as a type or analogy of what he accomplishes on the cross, what might it be saying about us and about the Son of Man?

First of all, we can say that the attitude of the Hebrews in the wilderness is, as usual, representative of the attitude of each of us. Are we not impatient with God and one another? An early church theologian, Ephrem the Syrian, suggested that impatience might be the sin that started it all. He wrote that God all along intended us to have a share in his divinity. But, Adam and Eve, at the suggestion of the serpent, were impatient with God’s timing and seized the fruit the serpent promised would make them like God.

Are we not often ungrateful? Discontent with enough and more than enough? Are we not inclined to believe we are our own and what we own is ours alone? But, in a little while we will repeat these words that should always be on our hearts, “All things come of thee O Lord. And of Thine own have we given Thee.” All things. All that I am and all that I have, moment by moment, I receive from God – whether I receive it gratefully or not. All creation and every person I encounter is the gift of God to be received with gratitude. But much of the time I turn my heart from God and from most others. I detest this miserable food.

Like Adam and Eve we listen to the serpent in our impatience with God and the way our lives and others are unfolding and our ingratitude for all God has given us. And as with Israel, that turning of our hearts gives birth to the serpents of sin in our hearts, the poisonous serpents of our own impatience and ingratitude, our own envy and enmity. The serpents of our own hearts bite us and bite those around us. What’s more, we become addicted to the poison. Like an alcoholic, we are addicted to the very thing that causes us to perish. This might sound harsh, but that is because we take too lightly our own failure to attend to God and to one another, our failure to love, our lack of true generosity and hospitality. And when we turn our hearts from God, our hearts begin to breed the serpents of sin. And we perish.

And here’s the thing. We are beset by the serpents of our own making. And worse, we are addicted to the poison of our own serpents. Like alcoholics we are unable to help ourselves. That is why hearing that God loves us with no exceptions isn’t enough. If I am trapped at the bottom of a pit full of rattle snakes, having someone shout from the top, “I love you,” isn’t all I need. Even if that one jumps into the pit with me to tell me how much I am loved, that only does me so much good. No, I need someone who can extract the poison. I need an antidote. I need someone who will come into my heart and drive out the serpents like Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland. We need God to “take away the serpents from us.”

And, my friends, as William Temple wrote,
This is the heart of the Gospel, not, ‘God is Love’ – a precious truth, but affirming no divine act for our redemption. God so loved that he gave; of course the words indicate the cost to the Father’s heart. He gave; it was an act, not only a continuing mood of generosity, it was an act at a particular time and place. - Readings in John's Gospel

"Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so was the Son of Man lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” God has provided the means of our redemption, our deliverance, our healing, and our restoration. God does not love us and leave us as we are, beset by the serpents of our hearts. He has acted on our behalf to drive out the snakes and heal us of their venom. Crux Est Mundi Medicina – the cross is the medicine of the world. “God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ”(Ephesians 2:4).

God loves you. No exceptions. But the really good news is, "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”

You need only turn your heart to him and in trusting belief receive the gift of God.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Picture This: Self-denial and the Obesity of Sin

A sermon on Mark 8:31-38

“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”

Last summer, when I returned from sabbatical, I saw a picture of myself that had been taken the previous spring. You know how you get used to seeing yourself in the mirror and become so familiar that you hardly notice? And then you see a picture of yourself and you respond, “Really?”? Well, that was how I felt about this particular picture. I knew I had put on some weight, but yikes! I did a little research online and found that given my age and height, I was borderline obese. That was sobering. So I started watching what I eat and bought an exercise bike. I’ve lost 25 lbs. since and hope to lose another 10.

The process has been instructive spiritually. There is no easy way to get in better shape. I have been getting acquainted with a sort of self-denial. I have also come to realize how mindless was my eating before – undisciplined and ungrateful. I used to eat just about anything that was around without any thought of how much I was eating. No batch of cookies or bag of potato chips was safe in our house. But I also was not eating with any real gratitude. Sure I said my prayers before meals. But, then I just stuffed my face. It is quite different to take the time to savor what I eat – to really experience the miracle of say a ripe cherry tomato exploding with flavor in my mouth.

I have also come to a new appreciation of the wisdom of the ancient practice of fasting. Our ancestors taught that, because it is so basic to our lives, self-denial in our eating was the foundation of other more significant self-denial. And Jesus, in this morning’s gospel does call us to self-denial: “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Let’s face it; the very idea of self-denial cuts against the grain of our society. We are an affluent and indulgent people – and Christians are just about as indulgent as anyone else. We are the people who are convinced we deserve a break today. We live in excess. Self-denial is not part of our vocabulary. Why are we to practice self-denial and what are we to deny ourselves? To what end?

All you have to do is drive around Chicago on the expressway to see evidence of our indulgence. Look at the billboards and ask yourself which of the seven deadly sins is being appealed to. Our indulgence in food has led to an epidemic of obesity. But, classically, gluttony does not refer only to overeating. Being finicky or obsessed with what one eats is also gluttony. When was the last time you confessed your gluttony to God? Greed, for sure; getting and having newer, bigger, and more, is what we are about. Lust, you bet; and not just the proliferation of “Gentlemen’s” Clubs. Almost anything can be advertised appealing to our lust. Of course, these do not just exist on billboards. We have become inured to their presence in our lives. When did we decide that greed, gluttony, and lust were no big deal? Each of those creates such spiritual static in our lives that we should not wonder that it can seem difficult to hear the still small voice of God calling in our hearts. One way or another, each interferes with our ability to truly love our neighbor.

But, while greed, gluttony, and lust are basic, we are also indulgent when it comes to deeper, more deadly sins. I suspect that my lack of discipline, ungratefulness, and excessive eating have been reflected in those areas of my life as well. And I suspect I am not alone.

Are we not indulgent when it comes to pride? Far from denying it, in our celebrity society, we celebrate it. We are infatuated with our own self-importance and self-sufficiency. Or we indulge in fantasies of our own uselessness and worthlessness which is a different sort of self-absorption. C. S. Lewis said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less.” And if we think of ourselves less, we can think more of God and others. The word that is where Jesus challenges us to do just that can also mean “disown” yourself or “de-center” yourself. But, one way or another, I am often full of myself. I wonder. If there was a spiritual camera that could take a picture revealing my pride, my self-centeredness, and self-absorption, how obese would I look? A photograph of that would not be pretty. Am I willing to deny my self?

Are we not indulgent when it comes to envy? You know that twinge of resentment when some good comes to another? I confess that sometimes I feel this when other clergy get some recognition or a clergy colleague tells me about their attendance numbers or some new program at their church. Which is really quite ridiculous because I get plenty of recognition and I don’t know of a church where I would rather serve than St. Barnabas. So what’s up with the envy? Or what about the other side of envy when we rejoice when something bad happens to those we dislike or with whom we disagree? Isn’t that tasty? Tasty, but not good for you. But, if there was a spiritual camera that could take a picture revealing my envy, how obese would I look? I do not think I would want that one on my refrigerator. Am I willing to deny myself the pleasure of envy?

We indulge in anger and malice. We almost celebrate it. We feel free to say or write the most disdainful things about others. Snarkiness has become so common as to be unremarkable. And we carry ill-will toward others without a qualm, feeling self-righteous in our anger and resentment. What if the camera took a picture revealing my anger? And not just how I look when I yell. What about my passive-aggressiveness? How about all the bitterness, resentment, and malice I store in my heart toward others? The impatience with which I engage people who I find difficult or just inconvenient? My lack of generosity of spirit toward others? The way I hold onto old slights and hurts? My unwillingness to love those who I have identified as an enemy – or think about and treat like an enemy even if I am not honest enough to name them as such? The picture of my excess would, I fear, reveal an obesity of anger. Am I willing to deny myself the satisfaction of my anger?

And of course, sloth is what keeps us from exerting the effort to deny ourselves, take up the cross and follow Jesus. It just takes too much effort. Or, we run around filling our lives with busyness to avoid doing so. We indulge in being spiritual and moral couch potatoes. Again, not a pretty picture.

“Deny yourself, take up the cross and follow.” That is Jesus’ challenge. I will not have the strength to take up the cross if I am content with being spiritually out of shape. I will not have the stamina to follow Jesus in his way of self-sacrificial love if I indulge myself and am obese in sin.

So in Lent we take on extra disciplines of self-denial to work a bit more at denying ourselves and getting ourselves in shape. But the disciplines of Lent are not meant to be unusual. They are supposed to be an intensification of disciplines and self-denial we practice all year. Classically there are three self-denying disciplines that are understood to be basic in getting us in shape:

Prayer: Prayer is self-denial inasmuch as it means sacrificing some time and attention. It is meant to de-center us and reorient us away from ourselves to the things of God.

Fasting: This is meant to get our biological desires under control – and not just eating. As I said, this is the foundation of other more significant self-denials. Indulging our every bodily desire makes it impossible to deny ourselves in more important “spiritual” matters.

Almsgiving: Given the way money and wealth mess with our minds and hearts and how we confuse our sense of self with how much stuff we have, this is critical. Certainly, giving to help those in need is an essential means of practicing compassion. But, the letting go of our wealth is an outward and visible sign of our giving away some of ourselves.

If we intend to be serious about it, we will look at ourselves and admit our excess. We will not indulge our gluttony, greed, or lust. We will not indulge in our pride, anger, and envy. We will not be content with spiritual flabbiness. We will attend to the obesity of our sin. We will seek ways to deny ourselves so we can take up the cross and follow Jesus. We will tend to prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

The point of all this is to open us up to God and our neighbor. John Chrysostom (347-407) said:

Do you fast?
Give me proof of it by your works.

If you see a poor man, take pity on him.

If you see a friend being honored, do not envy him.

Do not let only your mouth fast, but also the eye, the ear, and the feet, and the hands, and all members of our bodies.

Let the hands fast, by being free of avarice.

Let the feet fast, by ceasing to run after sin.

Let the eye fast, by disciplining them not to glare at that which is sinful.

Let the ear fast, by not listening to evil talk and gossip.

Let the mouth fast from foul words and criticism. For what good is it if we abstain from fowl and fishes, but bite and devour one another?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Hunger Games – What Would Perpetua Do?

I just finished Catching Fire, the second book of The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins. The books are an interesting read. The story is sort of a mash-up of the Legend of Theseus, Gladiator/Spartacus, George Orwell's 1984, and Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery.

Set in a post-apocalyptic North America, the story offers a dystopian vision (a popular sub-genre of young adult fiction) of the country of Panem where a despotic “Capitol” controls 12 outlying districts. The districts, which used to number 13 revolted some years ago against that rule, but the revolt was crushed and one of the districts utterly destroyed. Now, to remind the remaining districts of their abject subservience, the Capitol holds an annual lottery selecting one girl and one boy aged 12 to 18 from each of the districts. These “tributes” are then taken to the Capitol and placed into an elaborate arena where they are expected to fight to the death in the “Hunger Games”. Only one tribute can come out alive. The winner is rewarded with celebrity status and a life of unimaginable luxury. The killing and death in the arena is televised for the entertainment of the citizens of the Capitol. The citizens of the districts are forced to watch as ongoing punishment for the rebellion. The heroine of the story, Katniss Everdeen, ends up in the Hunger Games as one of the tributes.

I’m not actually writing a review of the books. And nothing I say below gives anything away if you haven't read the books. I will say they are well-written and engaging. And as the father of three remarkable grown daughters, I always appreciate a strong, complex female character like the author has created in Katniss. And it does contain an element of substitution and sacrifice that a Christian can appreciate. I will read the third book and likely see the movie later this month. The point of this post is something else.

As I’ve read the story, I have wondered how Katniss or the other tributes should respond if they were Christians. Or, on this feast day of Perpetua and Her Companions, I am wondering, “What would Perpetua do?” Perpetua and her companions were martyred in AD 202/203 in the arena of Carthage as “entertainment” for the crowd during one of the early persecutions of the church. You can read her story here and here.

What would Perpetua do? What would be the Christian thing to do? Perhaps the faithful thing would be for Christians to always be prepared to volunteer or substitute themselves at the time of the drawing thus sacrificing themselves for the sake of others following the example of their Lord (like Maximilian Kolbe). If a follower of Jesus found herself in the Hunger Games, what should she do once in the arena? Killing would be out. All of the youngsters are innocent. Even the “careers” (tributes from districts where children are trained to compete in the games) are innocent pawns of an unholy system.

The Christians of the early centuries were keenly aware of Jesus’ words: "If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also (Luke 6:29); do not resist an evil person (Matthew 5:39); blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness (Matthew 5:10); if they persecuted me, they will persecute you also (John 15:20)."

Paul and the other New Testament authors sustained and developed the theme that followers of Christ were to suffer, not fight, for their Lord. A believer's weapons were not composed of iron or bronze but were made of sterner stuff. (Ephesians 6:13ff.).

Stephen, the first Christian martyr, died a Christlike death, praying earnestly for his tormentors. Eusebius, the church historian, called Stephen "the perfect martyr"; thus he became a prototype for all martyrs to follow.

As an early Christian apologist wrote a hundred years after Perpetua’s martyrdom:
For since we in such numbers have learned from the precepts and laws of Christ not to repay evil with evil, to endure injury rather than to inflict it, to shed our own blood rather than stain our hands and conscience with the blood of another . . .
- Arnobius, Adversus Nationes, I, 6

That rules out suicide as well.

Even if one was to grant the legitimacy of self-defense (an idea hard to defend on New Testament grounds), fighting in the Games at all would be colluding with the Capitol. It would be “following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient.”
(Ephesians 2:2). And, after all, “our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12).

What would be the better Christian witness? It seems to me that there are a couple of options. In either, to begin with, you would want to find a way to mark yourself with a clearly visible cross as you are being elevated into the arena so that it is clear for all to see that you are a Christian bearing witness.

One option, since no one has to seek martyrdom, would be to run and try to avoid being killed as long as possible. This would keep the others from incurring the guilt of your murder. Then your main opponent would be the Gamemaker who would be trying to kill you. This might be entertaining for you and the audience. Perhaps you could find ways to bear Christian witness that would be hard to edit out of the viewing. You would still end up a martyr.

But, even running might have its limits. What should you do if one of the other tributes is in danger? Even if they are pursuing you with lethal intent? A later martyr, Dirk Willems, gives an example of what loving your enemy might look like in such a situation (see here).

But I suspect Perpetua would probably find running unseemly and not a very complete witness (martyr means witness) to the hope of resurrection. After all, she and her companions entered the amphitheatre "joyfully as though they were going to heaven, with calm faces" singing Psalms. In the end, demonstrating true Christian courage and fortitude, she took the trembling hand of the young gladiator and guided his sword to her throat so he could kill her. Thus, like the ideal martyr, she demonstrated her scorn for death and bore witness to her hope in a Life that transcends Death’s power and the power of all those who would use the threat of death to control others.

What would that look like in the Hunger Games? Again, marked clearly with the cross, I think Perpetua would have simply stood where she found herself as the beginning of the Games was signaled and begin singing a Psalm or hymn, continuing until someone killed her. Unless they edited her out completely, the whole of Panem would see that there are some who refuse to play this world’s game of oppression, violence, and death. And all would see the power of the cross, however weak and foolish it might seem to some. (1 Corinthians 1:18-25). She would have thus considered herself a victor of the the only game that matters.

Perpetua likely would have understood her martyrdom along the lines of Origen who wrote later in the same century as her death,
A great theater is filled with spectators to watch your contests and your summons to martyrdom, just as if we were to speak of a great crowd gathered to watch the contests of athletes supposed to be champions. And no less than Paul you will say when you enter the contest, “We have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men.” (1 Corinthians 4:9). Thus, the whole world and all the angels of the right and the left, and all men, from God’s portion (cf. Deuteronomy 32:9; Colossians 1:12) and those from the other portions, will attend to us as we contend for Christianity.
- An Exhortation to Martyrdom, p. 53

The example of the monk, Telemachus, offers a third possibility:
Two gladiators were fighting, and Telemachus tried to get between them to stop them, shouting three times, "In the name of Christ, forbear!" Telemachus was killed by being run through with the sword of one of the gladiators. When the crowd saw the little monk lying dead in a pool of blood, they fell silent, leaving the stadium, one by one. Because of Telemachus' death, three days later, the Emperor by decree ended the Games. (see here).

So, as a Christian in the Hunger Games, you might avoid being killed for as long as possible, stand and wait to be killed, or try to intervene in the killing in the name of Christ. In any event, the only option would be one or another form of martyrdom in the hope that one way or another you would be able to bear witness to the way of Jesus Christ in an "adulterous and sinful generation." (Mark 8:31-38).

What do you think?

A related post: No More Sacrifices - The God of Easter and the Death of Death