Telling the Story of Grace
I loved, loved, loved the movie version of ‘Les Miserables.’ Oh, I agree, Russell Crowe was just dreadful as Javert and his singing lands him in a very special category of awfulness (let’s just say, I would have sounded better – and if you’ve ever heard me sing, that’s saying a lot).
But Crowe aside, the movie is amazing. What makes it even more meaningful is that this is one of the very few cinematic productions that portrays the church in a positive light. In fact, the one person who consistently personifies goodness and God’s love is (gasp!) a cleric. In the movie’s pivotal scene, as the law-bound Javert waits to pounce on his prey and re-arrest him, Bishop Myriel (played by Colm Wilkinson) forgives Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) for stealing silver objects from the rectory. In fact, the Bishop turns around and hands Valjean the church’s most expensive material possessions, its silver candlesticks. Surely, he says, Valjean must have forgotten them.
As a stunned Valjean departs, the priest leaves him with these words:
But remember this, my brother
See in this some higher plan
You must use this precious silver
To become an honest man
By the witness of the martyrs
By the Passion and the Blood
God has raised you out of darkness
I have bought your soul for God!
Donald Heinz of Sojourners says, “Valjean gets it. He accepts a grace beyond understanding. The bishop touched his soul and taught him love, called him a brother, claimed his life for God.” A re-born Valjean works until the end of his life to be a living embodiment of grace.
This is the pivotal scene in the movie, and it’s the transforming work that God does in each and every one of our lives. Who in your church has had their “soul bought by God”? Who in your church needs to hear that person’s story? This is the story of grace, the story of redemption that needs to be told in our churches day in and day out – whenever we get the chance to celebrate the Good News. If that doesn’t inspire generosity, nothing ever will.
Did you miss last week's blog posting? See other posts by Cesie.
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Cesie Delve Scheuermann is consultant in grant writing and stewardship/development working with the Conference. From 2008-12 she was the Conference Lay Leader for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference.