So who’ll win the Oscars this year? What are your favourite movies? Among mine are: Jungle Book; Local Hero; O Brother Where art Thou; My Name is Khan; The Fugitive; & ’Les Miserables’ (2012 Musical). The stage version of Victor Hugo’s inspirational story of Grace & Guts is also up there in my top stage shows. I’m delighted to see agnostic & atheist  friends able to similarly rave about Les Mis’ in its various versions, for it is essentially a portrayal of God’s amazing Grace.

The scene where Valjean is caught red handed with silverware stolen from the priest, who kindly sheltered him, is striking. Justice would see Valjean thrown back in jail, mercy would see the priest drop charges, but Grace is what he receives as the priest tells Valjean that he forgot to take the candle sticks too. Such gobsmacking gracious treatment defines the remainder of
Valjean’s life and eventually allows him the grace to let go of his newfound love and adopted daughter ‘Cosette’ into the arms of her new found love. Like the candlesticks, which Valjean treasures throughout his life, there are many symbols for the believer to remind us of God’s amazing Grace, demonstrated in the forgiveness and eternal life God gifts us through the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Perhaps the empty ‘Cross’ is the most famous, the water of baptism and bread and wine of Communion also visible signs of God’s invisible Grace at work inside believers.

It’s the season of awards for acting and. There are some right good actors about, but we can all be good at pretending we’re someone we’re not.

The gorilla died at a Zoo & was replaced by a man dressed up as a gorilla till they got a new one; thanks to an immaculate gorilla suit no one was the wiser. He got tired of sleeping & sitting, so started walking around, jumped up & down & tried a few gorilla noises. Onlookers loved it, clapping & throwing him peanuts. The man adored peanuts so he bounced up a tree; the growing crowd threw more peanuts. Playing to the excited crowd, he grabbed a vine & swung from one side of the cage to the other; more peanuts! So he swung higher & higher & higher till suddenly, “Whap!” the vine broke & he went sailing into the ferocious lions’ cage next door. He panicked, a humungous lion not 20 feet away, looked very hungry! Scared spitless the gorilla jumped up & down, screaming, “Help! Help! Get me out of here! I’m not really a gorilla! I’m a man in a gorilla suit! Heeeelp!” The lion pounced & pinned petrified gorilla to the ground, & whispered, “Will you SHUT UP or you’ll get us BOTH fired!”

Sooner or later we all blow our cover & get found out. The great thing is that once the make up & pretending is stripped away God still thoroughly loves us! He loves you the way you are and loves you too much to leave you the way you are. Les Miserables is such a story of grace, which points us to an extravagantly generous God who doesn’t treat us as we deserve, or leave us ‘Miserable’. He longs to open a new world of love and opportunity for us, if we let him ‘find us out’ and ‘set us free’.