By Nate Burns, John W. Nielson, and Doug Samples
Listening to the Finale this morning has once again brought tears streaming down my face as I revel in the majestic finish to this amazing story. Not only is Valjean making his last confession and Fantine is welcoming him home to heaven, but we are being invited to join in the revolution of grace!
“Do you hear the people sing
Lost in the valley of the night?
It is the music of a people
Who are climbing to the light.”
Together, Valjean and Fantine and Eponine remind us of the miserable brokenness of life; how mean and brutal and unfair life can be when you are lost in the night. Sometimes it seems that no matter how hard you climb, you never seem to get ahead. But you keep climbing in hopes that “the darkest night will end and [tomorrow] the sun will rise.” If you listen closely, you can hear the Psalmist lament that “sorrow may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning!” (Psalm 30:5)
As we come to this last song and last blog, we are taking a different approach and simply listing a few random thoughts rather than writing a narrative blog. We anticipate that this final sermon will probably not take shape until we are approaching the end of the series.
We would surely welcome anything that our friends would like to contribute. How would you wrap up a series like this? What would your final message want to emphasize? Feel free to respond!
Reflections from John –
- Les Miserable ends with the death of our hero, Jean Valjean who is welcomed by those who have gone before him. Many of these individuals, Valjean helped in dramatic ways. He showed love and grace and mercy and forgiveness and sacrificial care. Before moving into the stirring finale, the trio of Valjean, Fantine and Eponine sing the powerful words, “To love another person is to see the face of God.” Truly the way to leave a legacy is to demonstrate to others the love that has first come to us from God’s own heart. As we do so, we come to see and to know God in deeper and more powerful ways. Not only are we then connected more fully to the heart of God, but we also find ourselves connected to others who have joined the conspiracy of grace and love. We thus can help the world become more of the place we all long to see. There is a future that is coming when the Kingdom of God comes in all of its fullness. Tomorrow is coming. The longing of all of our hearts will be fulfilled.
- In Hebrews chapter 11 we read about the great hereos of faith. In the middle of listing so many of these great men and women of God, the author of Hebrews writes these compelling words:
- 13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. (Hebrews 11:13-16)
- Then after picking up the accounts of more heroes of the faith, the author conlcudes the chapter with these words:
- 39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. (Hebrews 11:39-40)
- Together with us . . .
Reflections from Doug –
Hugo’s life was dedicated to the cry of the people. He was always a champion of the underdog. Some members of the mob who built the barricades in Paris in 1832 actually stayed at his house, using it as a worker’s headquarters.
He always had a belief in the triumph of good over evil
– optimistic vision of the future
– belief in the virtues of the common people
You hear all these values in this grand finale
Will you join in our crusade?
Who will be strong and stand with me?
Somewhere beyond the barricade
Is there a world you long to see?
Do you hear the people sing?
Say, do you hear the distant drums?
It is the future that they bring
When tomorrow comes…
That universal appeal explains why, at the end of Les Mis, audiences all over the world leave the theater both uplifted and in tears!
Reflections from Nate –
Revolutions have come and gone throughout history, and yet one revolutionary man forever changed history. In fact time before His arrival is marked (B.C.E) and now time after Him is also marked (C.E). The question is will we follow Him? Will we join in His crusade?
As we journeyed through Les Mis, it was easy to find the places throughout this classic work that had obvious overtones of the life and mission of Jesus. Yet something troubles me. That the revolution that Christ gave His life for, is being marked by good attendance, instead of faithfully responding to the call of Christ, to “take up our cross and follow Him.” Will you and I just be good attenders or will we respond to the cries of our broken world and help them find Him the one who redeems what is broken and makes it whole?
Hugo does not give up on Valjean’s redemption, nor has Jesus given up on you! Do you hear the broken singing for hope, the dying crying out to live? Do you hear the call of Christ reverberate throughout history like a distant drum? My hope is through this series you have, and have responded to His call to this revolution of grace.