When I was 3 years old, my Mother took me to my very first movie, Mary Poppins. Over 50 years later, I learned that the writer of that original story, P.L. Travers, devoted her life to the most interesting thing about human beings - our capacity to grow up. Have you ever noticed that Mary Poppins ended up challenging the adults to adult, and the children to be their best playful, curious and courageous selves? She did it through playfulness, her own courage and a strong sense of self.
As I said earlier, these qualities in Mary Poppins and the effects she had on the other characters in the original story were not an accident. G.I. Gurdjieff also devoted his entire life to the same project, and he too affected the people around him through playfulness and self definition. In both cases, their presence encouraged growth because they loved the people around them.
I have always loved Mary Poppins, and now I know why! God put her in my life at a young age to help me understand God better. I have never been able to read the gospel accounts of Jesus and not see him with a twinkle in his eye. The level of challenge he brings is greater than Mary Poppins because he is real, not a fantasy story. That means the consequences that he paid for being true to his mission and his values were also real. Mary Poppins is a fun playful fantasy that helps us lighten up. Thanks be to God for light heartedness and play! Jesus did what it takes to give me the values God created me to have, and then to stand by my side as I embrace them in the real challenges of every day life - and when I don't!
So, after worship this Sunday, we will all go to our new restored stage and sing "Feed the Birds" and a few other songs using our new media center to create a wonderful sound scape together. But if you want the gift that Mary Poppins brought us in her wonderful fantasy, it is a journey that will ultimately take us to the One who can help us grow into the best possible version of our selves: light hearted, courageous and able to stand in our most solid core values even in the challenges of very day life.