We are currently working through some material based on the film Les Miserables with other churches in the area. We held our first meeting last night and I found my self moved by the song ‘Castle on a Cloud’
If you’ve not seen it, you can play the short video clip below in which we find a young Cosette who is being badly mistreated by the people who are being paid to care for her. They treat her more like a slave than a child but despite her desperate situation she comes up with a song full of hope.
The lyrics are,
There is a castle on a cloud,
I like to go there in my sleep,
Aren’t any floors for me to sweep,
Not in my castle on a cloud.
There is a lady all in white,
Holds me and sings a lullaby,
She’s nice to see and she’s soft to touch,
She says “Cosette, I love you very much.”
I know a place where no one’s lost,
I know a place where no one cries,
Crying at all is not allowed,
Not in my castle on a cloud.
When we are surrounded by endless misery and pain we can end up on what feels like a fairly inevitable slide into despair. Cosette has every reason to despair but instead she sings a song of hope.
Probably the most famous song from Les Miserables is ‘I dreamed a dream’ which is sung by Cosette’s mother Fantine. The phrase ‘but then it all went wrong’ before the first line of the song sets the tone for the song from the beginning. The young Fantine had such high hopes and amazing dreams but she is lost in what she describes as the hell in which she is living.
It is an interesting contrast between the two songs, Fantine singing of her dream that has ben dashed and Cosette singing of her dream that things can be better.
As I listened to ‘Castle on a Cloud’, I was reminded of Jesus’ saying that we have to become like little children to enter into his Kingdom.
Is this childlike optimism and hope something that is good for us?
Some may think not, after all if you have lived in this world long enough then you are likely to have seen plenty of pain and disappointment. In the light of this, it can seem foolish to hope and believe that there is something better but I think that God wants us to believe that he is at work and that he can transform situations and lives.
Is our hope and confidence in God greater than the difficult situations which we face?
Consider Cosette’s vision of hope:
Everyone is welcome
The most touching moment in the song is when the imaginary mother whispers ‘I love you very much’. Cosette feels unloved but she dares to believe that there is someone out there who will love her unconditionally.
It all seems wonderful
Cosette won’t be treated as a slave anymore. She will be a loved child rather than just as someone who sweeps the floor. No one is ever lost and no one ever cries in her hope filled dream.
God promises a vision of a hope filled future:
I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” (Revelation 21.3-4)
We all feel for young Cosette as she sings her beautiful song. We feel her pain and we desperately want her to find freedom.
Do we feel for ourselves and humanity? There is so much that is evil in this world but one day Jesus will return and ‘make everything new’. Spending eternity with God isn’t about sitting on clouds plucking harps and eating Philadelphia, it is about God living with us on a new and perfect Earth. On this Earth there will be no more crying, death, sorrow or pain because all of these things will be gone forever.
This is what the Kingdom of God looks like and while we wait for Jesus to return we pray that God’s kingdom would come and that his will would be done.here and now. In other words we pray that we would see less crying, sorrow and pain, that we would believe that God is at work restoring and recreating lives in amongst the chaos and evil in this world.
Cosette gets her happy ending and it’s all thanks to Valjean who rescues her. In some ways Valjean is a Christ like figure as he rescues Cosette because of grace. She hasn’t earned his love but he gives it anyway. He pays the price for her freedom in a similar way to Jesus who dies to redeem us (to pay the price for us) in order to offer us a way to know God now and forever
Without Valjean, Cosette wouldn’t find the life of hope and freedom that she was longing for.
Without Jesus I don’t believe that we can find the life of hope and freedom that we are longing for.
Jesus offers freedom but will we turn to him?