'Amazing Grace' – the movie
As the title suggests, the movie is amazing – reaching to the core of humanity's soul, gripping the issue of human slavery and inhumane treatment of human beings and not letting go of the moral imperative of abolition until the victory is won.
The movie's message to abolish the root of slavery was poignantly brought home by the simple and tastefully crafted scene of a free African Londoner who opened his shirt, showing a branded chest while pointedly but peacefully declaring that they do this to make you know that you no longer belong to God, but to a man.
Many important issues and discoveries await the viewer of this story based on the life of antislavery pioneer William Wilberforce and the theme of John Newton's beloved hymn. The "Amazing Grace" of mercy and pardon awaits everyone who is contrite. This is a promise for all who are awakened to do what is right.
But it was the secondary theme of freedom from the oppression of illness that struck a familiar chord for me.
For years I've been intrigued by the perspective Christian Science offers on how to find freedom from the bonds of disease through prayer.
Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, wrote, "The emancipation of our bodies from sickness will follow the mind's freedom from sin.... The rights of man were vindicated but in a single instance when African slavery was abolished ... yet that hour was a prophecy of the full liberty of the sons of God ... the feeblest mind, enlightened and spiritualized, can free its body from disease as well as sin; and this victory is achieved, not with bayonet and blood, not by inhuman warfare, but in divine peace" ("The People's Idea of God," pp. 10-11).
Gaining a glimpse of divine grace is helpful beyond words. It brings calm, hope, and healing that endure. It may come as an intuition, a feeling of holiness, an encouraging word or a deep and powerful stillness amid chaos.
It breaks through the depths of despair, fear, and hatred and moves us to a higher consciousness where goodness and love abide. This divine power breaks the bonds of oppression, depression, sickness, and sin with the sacred power of divinity – a power that is tangible and its effects undeniable.
I experienced this myself. It broke through the depth of my despair and planted a seed of hope that grew and took hold of my life. I was gradually set free from the nightmares of the constant threat of physical abuse in 15 years of marriage to an alcoholic.
This freedom wrought in seeking God's grace brought emancipation not only to me but also to my former husband, whom I stood by for the next 15 years while his bonds were broken as well.
The power of God to heal our minds and bodies is available today – physical healing, spiritual growth, and grace beyond measure.
We are not alone in the fight to abolish slavery in all its forms, and we have divine power to help others be and do better. Mary Baker Eddy described the effect this divinity has in our lives: "It binds up the broken-hearted; heals the poor body ... comforts such as mourn, wipes away the unavailing, tired tear, brings back the wanderer to the Father's house in which are many mansions, many welcomes, many pardons for the penitent....
"So shall all earth's children at last come to acknowledge God, and be one..." ("The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," pp. 132-133).
What promise her ideal and its amazing grace hold for each of us.
Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace,
that we may obtain mercy,
and find grace to help
in time of need.