The Grace of “Les Misérables”

February 27, 2020

Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables is a masterpiece. If you’re one of the seventy million people in forty-two countries who have seen the Broadway musical and loved its songs, or have been intrepid enough to read the 1,400-page novel, or seen one of the many television and film adaptations, then you already know the power of its story. 

If not, get ready: Les Misérables is coming to Galilee this Lent in the form of a worship series called, “The Grace of Les Misérables.”

 

Hugh Jackman played the lead role of Jean Valjean in a 2012 film of Les Misérables.

 

Grappling with a story this powerful allows us to explore the intersection of faith and culture by drawing parallels between classic characters and our own Christian calling, inspiring us to understand our faith and live it out in a world that is different from, and so similar to, the world found in Les Misérables.

You won’t find Les Misérables in the religion section at Barnes and Noble, but Hugo’s novel is steeped in Christian imagery and ethics. The plot centers on escaped criminal Jean Valjean, who is redeemed by an act of extraordinary compassion which leads him to discover God and turn his life around. At the same time, he is pursued by the policemen Javert who, driven to pursue justice at any cost, symbolizes the ironclad demands of the Law.

In the struggle between the Valjean and Javert, and in the stories of the people they meet—Cosette and Marius, Fantine, the revolutionaries at the barricade—we see grace at work. Even as Paris crumbles in political violence, we glimpse a “peace that surpasses understanding” enveloping these characters. It’s a beautiful story.

 

“Les Mis” is a long-running musical in New York and London.

 

Join us each Sunday until Easter as we tackle a different theme:

  • March 1 – “Bread Alone: Cast Yourself in Les Misérables” – Matthew 4:1-11
  • March 8 – “Grace Well Received: Jean Valjean” – Luke 6:32-36
  • March 15 – “You Always have the Poor with You: Fantine”  – Matthew 25:31-46
  • March 22 – “Grace and Justice: The Story of Javert” – Matthew 5:38-39
  • March 29 – “The Gift of Love: The Story of Marius and Cosette” – John 15:13
  • April 5 – Palm Sunday – “Barricades and Better Days” – Mark 11:1-11
  • April 12 – Easter Sunday – “Blessed Garden” – John 20

 

We’re following a study by pastor Matt Rawle. You don’t need to read Victor Hugo or Pastor Rawles’ short paperback, but they make good background.