Film Friday: Victoria and Abdul

When the story begin Queen Victoria, Empress of India, is alive but not really living. She struggles out of bed, shuffles through her days, and shovels down her food. Then when day she sets eyes on Abdul, who has been brought over from India to present a special coin during one of her many banquets. Although he has been warned not to make eye contact with the queen he can’t help but take a sneaky look as he steps away. She looks back at him and is immediately rather taken with this tall, good looking servant. She decides that he must stay in the country for a while and become her companion. Here they are taking a walk through the garden together…

Abdul beings Victoria back to life. She wakes up again, and is once again interested in life. He begins to teach her Urdu, and tell her of life in India. “I am so very fond of him,” Victoria wrote on one occasion. “He is so good and gentle and understanding… and is a real comfort to me.” However this does not go down well with the rest of her staff, who just cannot understand what she is doing. To get away from their prying eyes and ears she takes Abdul to her quiet Scottish cottage.

It’s remarkable to see the way Abdul brings the Queen back to life; as he teaches her new things and enjoys being in her company. She is clearly worn down and wearied, but he puts a spring back into things. There is a joy and playfulness between them that is clearly missing from her other relationships. When he tells her that we are not here to think only of ourselves, but for the higher purpose of serving others, it is not a heavy statement. Not burdensome or downbeat, but somehow inspiring and purposeful. Jesus brought so many people back to life in all kinds of ways. When his cousin John sent friends to ask if Jesus really was the Messiah he told them to look around him, at the way others were being affected by his presence. He brought light into dark lives, and hope into a people who were crushed and despairing. He came with a whole new take on life, love and God. The world would never be the same again. And of course it’s a story which continues. People continue to find their lives resurrected when they encounter Jesus, the man from Galilee who gave ever last ounce of his life for others, and then flipped the world on its head one resurrection morning. There are 2 billion Christians in the world today, all of whom have encountered Jesus and have been deeply affected by that. All kinds of people from all walks of life uplifted and transformed by the ongoing, resurrection life of Jesus. I’m so grateful for the God who is good and gentle and understanding, and continues to care for and draw near to the likes of me, with all my muddling and bumbling along; close and understanding in the ups and downs and ordinariness of each day and night.

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