God knows each of us personally – not just as a number
Judging by the queues at my local cinema, there cannot be many people in the Westcountry who have still to see the film Les Miserables.
If you are one of them, then I urge you to get along as soon as you can. I may bump into you at the ticket office as I am planning to go again.
The appeal of this musical on both stage and screen could be put down to the epic vision of its author, Victor Hugo.
It might be that the tunes have an ability to get inside one's head and become the inspiring sound track to the day.
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Perhaps we just like a good cry – and the film version offers countless opportunities for that. But I suspect that it is the grand themes of forgiveness and redemption, of grace versus legalism and supremely the exploration of human identity that finds an echoing chord in the hearts and souls of its audience.
The central character driven to crime because of hunger is known to his captors as merely a number (24601).
When he is offered the chance of a new start through the compassion of a priest he asks himself the question, "Who am I?" and asserts in one of the musical peaks of the show, "I'm Jean Valjean".
Who we are is important to us all. At a church where I was leading worship last weekend, a young boy was very keen to make it clear to me how he spelt his name: it mattered.
Some of us are old enough to remember watching the TV series The Prisoner where the central character asserts, "I am not a number, I am a free man."
The Bible takes the issue of identity very seriously. It tells of how one group of people was brought from slavery in Egypt to the point where they were able to establish themselves as a nation in their own land.
It also speaks to all who feel depersonalised in today's society reminding us that we are "fearfully and wonderfully made" and known by God. And that means we matter.
Malc' Halliday is centre manager of the Christian Resources Project, Plymouth firstname.lastname@example.org