I’m eagerly awaiting the Christmas release of the movie, LES MISÉRABLES. I’ve seen the Broadway play eight times and its one of my all time favorites! The Rev. Sarah Puryear delivered her sermon yesterday on the first Sunday of Advent, sharing a short recap of the early storyline and recalling her debut as an understudy in Les Misérables at her high school production.
Victor Hugo’s character, Jean Valjean has served a 19-year prison term for stealing bread to feed his sister's children (5 years for the theft, 14 years for four attempted escapes and two years for fighting back during one escape attempt) during an economic depression in France. After he’s released from prison he has a tough time finding a job because his criminal past follows him. Bishop Myriel gives him a place to stay and food, but Valjean thanks the Bishop by stealing his silverware and taking off in the middle of the night. Valjean’s nemesis, Police Officer Javert, arrests Valjean again and brings him to the Bishop’s residence so that he can confirm that the silverware was stolen.
In a surprise, the Bishop tells Javert that the silverware was a gift and chastises Valjean for not taking the expensive silver candlesticks which the Bishop had “also given him.” Javert has no choice but to let Valjean loose. But as the Bishop places the silver candlesticks in Valjean’s hands he speaks to him alone, “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!”
I won’t spoil the ending for those who haven’t read the book or seen the play, but Sarah closed her sermon by saying, “Advent gives us an opportunity to face our own need for God.”
I’ve heard the words, “I have bought your soul for God” thousands of times and it prompts me to pause and remember the people who have covered my transgressions and forgiven me my sins with incredible grace! They have never wanted anything in return except for me to recognize that everything I have, even my soul, belongs to God!
Are there people in your life that you have forgiven, but then you hold their transgression over them forever? Just like the Bishop we need to forgive them, place our most precious possessions in their hands and then send them back to God.
I’m planning to see LES MISÉRABLES, the movie, on opening day, Christmas. Will you join me?