Anne Hathaway, Les Mis, and….Liturgy

Devotional Thought of the Day:

Disclaimer – I am not a fan of musicals, or even stage theatre.  I did like Phantom and Wicked because of the plots – but.. I would much rather see a great concert (Kansas, Styx) or the LOTR if I am sitting in theatre seats.

Having said that, my wife and I saw the movie Les Mis the other night.  ( Did I say I hate musicals?)  Those acting in the movie intrigued me, and I went, preparing to make a sacrifice to see the movie.

From the first, I was stunned by Anne Hathaway.  Not the cutest role ever for her, not by a long shot.  But perhaps the most breathtaking performance of her life. As she goes from purest despair and lament over her situation, as hopeless as any can be… her voice sings a song that is normally one that is supposedly, “inspiriational”.  You hear it on shows like American’s Got Talent, when someone wants to impress the judges with their voice – range, power all of it.  Anne’s performance rises up against all of them, and confronts them all- for the song is one of lament, of pain, of anguish – and she sings it that way.

One of the reasons I don’t like stage musicals – is that they are, for many, simple performances.  They are directed and choreographed in such a way… that the power of voices overcomes and drowns out the power of the story, the pathos of the charachter, as they throw themselves into singing the song – for the song’s sake.  The play simply becomes the vehicle for solo performance after solo performance, with some group pieces tossed into the mix.  Not so with this one – the music and singing served the play – and I have to admit – not even begrudgingly, that it was incredible.  Because everything served the story – because the actors and actresses – Anne especially, seemed driven to live the role.

Sometimes I think we treat church like that – the liturgy serves to set up this hymn or that choir or praise team piece.  We sit and yes, we sing, but for some reason, we forget the story line – we don’t throw ourselves – whether pastor, musicians, or congregation into the story that is being revealed.   When we say AMEN! after we have been told we have been cleansed of the guilt and shame of our multitude of sins – we react – that’s nice… oh yeah Amen!.  When we sing the Kyrie, our heart doesn’t plead for the Lord’s mercy and presence…and love as we hear our needs – our desperate need for God’s presence… realized.

One of my dreams – one of my goals, has been for a long time – to help people not just be involved in the liturgy – but to live it – just as Anne does the role.  To sing with the passion appropriate – as we sing the Gloria to do so with the awe of those who have realized – He has had mercy! He is here!  The Church, His Bride, He has come for!   As we sing the Sanctus, the great Holy Holy Holy – we hear the angels and archangels and all the host of heaven joining in with us…. as we pass the peace – to share the joy of realizing that God has not only reconciled us to Him, but to each other…that ALL is forgiven.

And when we sing the Agnus Dei – as the Lamb of God – who takes away the sins of the world… as He shares His body, His blood, with us, the awe… the majesty, the raw love – there for us… and the joy of Simeon’s Song – as we walk away from the feast – knowing that God is with us, that we have seen, we have tasted salvation…. oh the joy that should be evident from our voices.

I am not saying we should act, but you get the feeling that Anne somehow wasn’t acting – she was the role – she was in the story.   Not really sure how she did that – for Les Mis is a work of fiction – though it touches us all at a deep emotional level.  SO much more should the real story of the Liturgy – of the need for God, of His coming and teaching and healing and feeding and loving and cleansing and….bringing us into His presence… that story should sweep us all off our feet… and into the story in which we live.

For liturgy is not just a way to “do church”.  It is our story, intertwined with that of Christ, that runs the gamut of every emotion… that leaves us… in His peace….

I pray this helps you….become the church…not just be there……

About justifiedandsinner

I am a pastor of a Concordia Lutheran Church in Cerritos, California, where we rejoice in God's saving us from our sin, and the unrighteousness of the world. It is all about His work, the gift of salvation given to all who trust in Jesus Christ, and what He has done that is revealed in Scripture. God deserves all the glory, honor and praise, for He has rescued and redeemed His people.

Posted on January 6, 2013, in Devotions and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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