Lori Trupp is the Director of Children’s Ministries at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection.
My kids were among the millions of teenagers this past spring who went to see The Hunger Games, the first movie in a series of three based on the books written by Suzanne Collins. The author provides the following plot synopsis: In a dystopian future, the totalitarian nation of Panem is divided between 12 districts and the Capitol. Each year two young representatives from each district are selected by lottery to participate in The Hunger Games. Part entertainment, part brutal retribution for a past rebellion, the televised games are broadcast throughout Panem. The 24 participants are forced to eliminate their competitors while the citizens of Panem are required to watch. When 16-year-old Katniss’s young sister, Prim, is selected as District 12’s female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart Peeta, are pitted against bigger, stronger representatives who have trained for this their whole lives.
In preparation for the movie, I read the book along with my kids. The controversial plot line lead to some interesting discussions in our household, primarily centered around the idea that watching other people’s tragedy seems to have become a spectator sport, much like the Capital residents watching The Hunger Games. Although the book and subsequent movie present this concept in the extreme, we discussed our culture of 24-hour news cycles and reality TV, and how we sometimes become the Capital people portrayed in the book and movie, eating our snacks as we watch as other people’s worlds fall apart.
As Christians, we are called to action, not to be mere spectators in the world. In John 13:34-35, Jesus tells us, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
In the midst of tragedy, we show the love of Christ by our words and actions, not with a bowl of popcorn and a remote in our hand.
Sooner or later we will all be faced with the moment, or even moments, when our world will fall apart. Something will happen that we were not planning on. Maybe a loved one dies, a deadly diagnosis is given, a relationship ends, a wildfire threatens our home, or a tornado strikes. When it does, we will be grateful for those around us who take action in the name of Christ and don’t just sit by and watch as we suffer. We will be grateful to those who help us recall Psalm 46 and are by our side as we cry out to our ever-present God, our refuge, our mighty fortress. We will be reminded that the greatest catastrophe occurred 2000 years ago, when we crucified the Son of God, and we will be reminded that through the Resurrection, even in the midst of suffering, we have the greatest gift of all–hope.
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