I have a small role in the Litchfield Community Theatre’s production of “Beauty and the Beast.”

(Shameless plug: July 25-28.) Most of us are familiar with the story. A prince is transformed by an enchantress into a beast in judgment for his lack of compassion. He can only be returned to human form when he learns to love and is loved in return. It seems a hopeless situation for “who could ever learn to love a beast?”

Humankind lived in such a hopeless situation. Who could ever love a bunch of sinners; humans who live lives of selfishness, settle disagreements with violence, who love power and wealth? For the Beast, his hope is Belle, whose selflessness and sacrifice gives him hope for salvation. And for humankind Paul’s letter to the Ephesians gives us the reason for our hope:

“All of us once lived in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses... But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.” (Ephesians 2: 3-5)

We, much like the Beast, were lost, were dead and without hope. But the great love of God has made us alive! That is good news. And “spoiler alert”... Belle and the Beast learn the power of love as well.

The power of love... a gift of God.

“Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4: 7, 9,10)

Belle and the Beast have to learn to love; our relationship with God begins with the love God has for us. This love was demonstrated by Jesus coming to earth, surrendering his glory and power to walk among us as one of us. And not only that, he went to the cross for love.

Belle’s love for the Beast in this fairy tale was greater than the power of death. The love of Christ is real-life and is greater than the power of sin and has overcome the penalty for our sin — death. In the play, the Beast bemoans his fate, “I simply made one careless, wrong decision... who can show me how to win the world’s forgiveness?” We all make careless, wrong decisions. But God has shown us the way to forgiveness us in Jesus Christ.

A tale as old as time...God’s love and our sin. But the love of God in Jesus is greater than all our sin.

— Gordon Pennertz is pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Litchfield.

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