I felt just like a kid again. In fact, one of the staff commented that I skipped into the queue rather than walked! Me, a nearly 60-year-old man! As a treat, my wife had brought me to Harry Potter World for the day and I was fizzing with excitement, eager to encounter the books and movies all over again.
My excitement was shared by a few thousand others who came to Harry Potter World that day. And we were just a drop in the ocean – millions and millions of people across the world have been captivated by the Harry Potter stories for nearly two decades. So off I went to get that butter-beer and wonder at the amazing creativity that went into bringing the stories to life on screen.
Surrounded by enthusiasts
The following day, my wife and I went to see the enduringly famous stage show, Les Miserables. Once again, I found myself surrounded by enthusiasts, many of whom couldn’t believe that I had grown so old without ever having seen a performance of this wonderful musical before! Most of them had seen it at least twice, some seven or eight times. My first time was an unforgettable experience. I laughed and cried – sometimes at the same time.
Later, as I recalled those two magical experiences, I wondered why they’d had such a positive effect on me and so many others. And then it dawned on me. It isn’t just the fantastic special effects or the haunting music that bring people back time and time again. It is about something far more enduring and powerful than that: these stories restore hope – in people, in God, in the power of love. These stories show that love, sacrifice and forgiveness have the power to overcome evil and bring peace and restoration.
We all have a deep need to hear this message of hope. People spend their lives looking for it but are not necessarily going to the Bible. Certainly, here in the UK, only a small percentage of people read the Bible. In the run-up to Christmas, the Bible Series was broadcast on one of our major television channels. My hope is that it has inspired more people to open their Bibles and find out more about the greatest and most hope-filled true story ever written – of God’s immense and sacrificial love for humanity.
I hope too, that the millions of people who love Harry Potter or Les Miserables or, indeed, other books, films and shows, will be led to the Bible some day. After all, so many of the most popular stories of all time resound with biblical echoes and references.
Here are some words from the final and arguably most moving song in Les Miserables. Enjoy, and be inspired!