Last Friday we showed ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ at our pop-up cinema. It was a highly en enjoyable evening. It came with the sense of an old friend visiting, a familiar story and childhood memories. There was also captured in it the wish that many have to be lifted out of the greyness of daily life by something magical, the desire that there should be more to life than this.
Once again the Banks family are in trouble, only this time the children of the first film are now the adults, and it is their children that are suffering as a result and want to put things right. Things aren’t looking good, that is until an old kite is found. Cast aside it blows away in the wind only to return from the clouds with the resplendent Mary Poppins clutching its string. Yes, the impossible nanny is back to restore joy and colour and hope to their lives, and to help them put things right. Before you know it, with the help of a song or two, and a crowd not of chimney sweeps but lamplighters, the day is saved. Once more Mary Poppins slips away, like King Arthur perhaps, hidden out of sight until needed again.
I really enjoyed myself, especially watching the older members of the audience spotting Dick Van Dyke and Angela Lansburys’ cameos. We all went away uplifted, seeing the world in a different way, if just for a little while. If only, you may think, if only there was a real life Mary Poppins who could ‘parachute’ in with a kite or umbrella when we need her. I hate to disappoint you, but I fear there is not…
Sometimes Jesus is seen in this way. The world was in trouble and so God sent his Jesus down to sort us out, a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down, only to depart when the job is done. Certainly, when I listen to people pray, Jesus is often treated this way, called upon to fix our troubles as if he is some sort of divine AA service, there at our beck and call.
But this is not how Jesus is portrayed in the Bible at all. There is no divine Mary Poppins, he’s even better! Yes, God did his Son to sort things out, a job which he will return and finish one day, but this is not his primary aim. God’s objective is to have an ongoing relationship with us, not just for when times are tough. Yes, Jesus came to fix things to enable this, but there is no goodbye in the Bible where God slips away from us. As Jesus ascends, he goes promising his Spirit to those who follow him, his Presence to live in us meaning we are never alone. He also said, wherever two or three of you are gathered, I am in your midst – he walks with us still. Time and time again, such as in Psalm 139, God tells us there is no where we can go where he is not. It seems that unlike Ms Poppins, Father, Son and Spirit are always with us, in good times, bad times and every day times. And that’s what I want, not just a quick fix with its fading magic, but a relationship that lasts.
Drop In Talk, 08.10.19
Posts labelled ‘From the Pastor’s Pen’ reflect our ministers’ views and not necessarily those of Wormley Free Church/The Countess of Huntingdon’s Connexion