It’s one of the most beloved musicals of all time. The poignant story and moving score of Les Misérables intertwine to create what most consider to be a masterpiece of art. Passion for the musical was reignited recently as the book-turned-Broadway musical came alive once again, this time on the big screen. Audiences flocked to the theater to be transported to 19th century France and to be surrounded by the soul-touching music and tragically human story of this cast of characters: Jean Valjean, the ex-con who, after the mercy of a priest, transformed his life and took the daughter of a factory worker into his care; Javert, the policeman whose life’s purpose became hunting Valjean for breaking parole; Fantine, whose daughter, Cosette, became the adoptive daughter of Valjean. These characters, along with the many others in the story, have deep personalities, conflicts, and battles - and epitomize what true humanity and life entails.
One of the reasons, I think, that Les Misérables has developed such a devoted following is that the story is, in essence, one of forgiveness and second chances; it speaks to our constant search for justice and freedom from past mistakes. And, as the powerful score comes to a close, Valjean cries out words that touch our souls: “To love another person is to see the face of God.” When the movie first came out, a pastor-friend of mine posted that everyone needed to go see the movie, that it is the message of the Gospel. Les Misérables is not one of the places that we expect to encounter the voice of God, but as the story unfolds before us, the Gospel message becomes so palpable that it’s almost tangible.
And this is where we will go, together as a family of faith, this summer - to find the Gospel in unexpected places, to find our extraordinary God in the ordinary world around us. “Stones that Shout,” our summer sermon series, takes its name from the line spoken by Jesus as he entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday: when officials told Jesus to quiet the crowds as he paraded by, he answered, “If these were silent, the stones would shout out” (Luke 19:39). In other words, out of ordinary, mundane sources, the Gospel can call to us. In common, earthly objects lies a fount of divine inspiration. From everyday encounters, God speaks.
So come at 9:30am for Summer Worship and explore a few of the ways that God speaks from ordinary places, out of everyday sources, from “stones” that shout the grace and glory of God. Movies, storybooks, a commercial, a photograph - these are just some of the “stones” that will lead us to a deeper understanding of God.
And in the meantime, pay attention - look for the ways that God speaks to you, calls to you, from the most everyday of places. And don’t forget to share with me where you find our extraordinary God in the ordinary!