Heroes Fall

Jerry Nelson. The man behind the Count among others. (photo from sesameworkshop.org)

Herry Monster. The Amazing Mumford. Sherlock Hemlock. The Count. These are just names that may not ring a bell to children of the present generation where the prominent figures are rabid birds, zombies, purple dinosaurs and walking and talking sea creatures. These names are heroes when learning numbers and letters were taken more seriously by the media. Those were times when learning was the main focus and not viewer ratings.

When I was a kid, I used to watch their segments with Big Bird, Elmo, Cookie Monster, Ernie, Bert, Betty Lou, Prairie Dawn, Snuffles, and, of course, Oscar the Grouch. It’s sad to learn that the long time voice of those three characters died this month. Jerry Nelson, the voice actor and puppeteer behind The Count, The Amazing Mumford, Sherlock Hemlock and many other puppets of Sesame Street died this month. Of course another puppeteer will replace him but the kids today won’t know the difference, especially The Count’s weird laugh.

Then there’s Neil Armstrong. Of all child hood heroes he’s the real deal. He’s the only one not existing exclusively on television or on a book. He was a real human and what’s amazing about him was that he was the first person to walk on the surface of the moon. He was one of the astronauts sent by the USA to the moon together with Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins. Armstrong and Aldrin were the first people to walk on the moon. It was really cool!

Then the conspiracy theories came out. Theories claim that everything that happened during the Apollo Missions were all faked so that the Americans will win the Cold War. They said that everything were filmed at area 52 in US. Their claims are so astounding and curiosity arousing, you could easily believe everything that these theorists said.

Well, just this week, the first man on the moon (whether true or not) died this week.

Heroes fall. Life is not permanent. Things will eventually fade away. Dust goes back to dust.

In the early 1500s, heroes also rose to prominence in spreading God’s word. They became the back bone of the French Reformation. The 12th Chapter of the Great Controversy of Ellen G. White tells us of the discoveries of the French theologians on faith and grace.

The ball started with a scholar named Lefevre. Although no first name was given, the man’s full name was Jacques Lefèvre d’Étaples. He was the forerunner of the protestant movement in France. He was supposed to author a study about the history of the Catholic saints. He thought it best to see what the Bible itself had to say about them. However, as he dug deeper into studying the Bible, his interest in annotating the history of saints waned. He instead became interested in God Himself.

“It is God who gives us, by faith, that righteousness which by grace alone justifies to eternal life.” Dwelling upon the mysteries of redemption, he exclaimed, “Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is  condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.”

Being a scholar and a professor, he was able to influence students with his discovery.  One of which was William Farel, who was one of the founders of the reformed church in France. Together with Lefevre, they started training preachers and ministers. The bishop of Meaux at that time, Guillaume Briçonnet, was also a supporter of their desire to reform France and to lead France to meet a God of grace.  At the same time, they were also supported by the king of France. They translated the Bible in French and sought to distribute their translation to the masses.

However, the enemy has ways of putting God’s people down. Their circle of Meaux was disbanded after facing accusations of promoting reformation. They lost face and credibility. In the end, they had no choice but to part ways.

Yet their light still shone.

The study of the Circle of Meaux influenced a young man named John Calvin. Calvin became the prime reformer of France. He fought for his beliefs and was able to establish reformed churches in France. He published books, treatises and commentaries which became a theological topic of study up to today. He died of sickness at the tender age of 54. He died while serving God as a minister.

Such were the hardships of the Reformers back then. Some were set to sow the seeds, others like Calvin came out to reap the harvest. In the end, heroes fall but when they do, they leave behind an idea, a principle, a belief that cannot end even long after they are gone and forgotten. This is the legacy of a true hero.

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