I am going to have to find time to read Les Misérables. Maybe you have been fortunate enough to see the stage show. Many of us will have seen the film and/or the recent TV adaptation. Perhaps you have read Victor Hugo’s novel. I have the book on my shelves: a gift from a while ago. It’s going to be a long read; but it is a goal now.

Even from knowing only the dramatised versions, it’s a marvellous sweep of a story: so many lives woven together to tell stories of failure, foolishness, injustice and guilt, and stories of courage, mercy, hope, redemption and grace.

The life of the central character is transformed, step by step over the years, by an act of grace, as Jean Valjean is given a gift he in no way deserves.

Grace is fundamental to the Christian story: God’s grace, his gift to us, of rescue, restoration and a future hope that we in no way merit; God’s grace, revealed above all in the cross of Jesus —the Easter story

Before we reach Easter, we have Lent, a time of preparation, which starts this month.

Lent is a time set apart in the Christian year to seek to see things afresh, to reflect and pray, to be aware of our short-comings and to offer them in repentance to God; to make time to discern God’s will and to seek reconciliation with him and with each other.

Lent is often seen as a time to give something up: it may also be a time to take up something new that will help us focus on reconciliation and preparation for Easter. If you’ve not been to a bible study group before or have not been for a long time, you might like to take that up, at this season, and come and join our Lent Study group.

This year we are going to be using the story of Les Misérables as part of our Lent Study, as we reflect on the big themes of the Christian story: justice, mercy, transformation and God’s grace.

Please come and join us, whether or not you are a church-goer. You don’t have to have read Les Misérables or the Bible. We’ll take it step by step.

Don’t forget Lent also includes Mothering Sunday: the very last day of March this year. Come and join us in each of the BART churches.

Blessings in Christ