Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.....
-Apostle Paul (Ephesians 3:20)
I watched Mary Poppins Returns with my family yesterday at the theater. It had been 25 years since I had seen the original. But the memories came flooding back. The film was beautifully done. The children are constantly being opened up to a world bursting with new possibilities… and of course, they are told by the adults to get their heads out of the clouds. Even the kids aren’t really sure if what they are experiencing is real life or just their imaginations that Mary Poppins has so cleverly captured.
Until the end.
At the end, it’s difficult even for the adults to deny the wonder in the air. In fact, there is a moment when one parent exclaims, as he thinks back on his own memories from 20 years ago, that “It's all true! Every impossible thing we imagined with Mary Poppins. It all happened!"
And yet, as people are laughing, filled with wonder, and literally floating around holding onto balloons, the balloon lady looks at Mary Poppins….
“Of course, the grown ups will all forget by tomorrow.”
Mary Poppins looks back. She sighs….
“They always do."
They always forget to imagine. They always forget to look up. They always forget to wonder. And what is lost is so terribly, terribly important.
Maybe already, maybe tomorrow, or maybe later this week, you will move out of the brief time every year where you allow yourself to engage in the spirit of wonder…
Many of us have reflected on the amazing story of God entering humanity over the past weeks. Many of us have allowed ourselves to be filled with wonder at a star that pointed the way to Bethlehem. Our imaginations ran wild as we thought about the shepherds looking out and seeing angels bringing the first news, as they became guests of honor. We pictured, with wonder, a world where God came among his people and changed everything from that moment forward. We’ve lit candles in the dark. We’ve taken extra time for moments with family and friends. We’ve given away gifts in a spirit of generosity.
But tomorrow, we have a lot to do. It was fun, but we need to get back at it.
Maybe we need a new it to get back to. Maybe imagination is actually the thing we ought to get back to doing. Maybe tomorrow, we need to not forget.
The Jesus story is about imagination. It’s about believing Jesus when he promises us that another world is possible. It’s about joining in a story where blind people see, and the overlooked are given dignity. The Jesus story is a story where people are forgiven, and people forgive, and enemies are made into friends by being loved. It’s a story where everyone has enough, and where justice and equality happen. It’s a story where amazingly good things come out of Nazareth. It’s a story where dividing walls are destroyed. It’s a story where in a land of deep darkness, a light comes. It’s a story where death doesn’t win, and love is always the most powerful force.
Real talk: that takes one heck of an imagination. That takes wonder.
Don’t forget by tomorrow.
The Christian vision has always sounded foolish to people. It sounds impossible. But unless we believe with our whole hearts that the kingdom of God is possible, and is capable of transforming our world today through your and my tiny little acts of daily love…. well, unless we believe it’s possible, it won’t be.
But it is! A world like the one God longs to bring about is possible, as long as we don’t forget because we are acting too much like grown ups.
Paint a new picture for those around you this year. Imagine, even if it makes you look foolish. Keep the wonder in your eye, even if you feel like a grown up pretending to be a child. Because after all, we believe that Jesus loves us and Jesus is with us. If you’re foolish enough to believe that, you might just be foolish enough to join him in changing our world. Here’s to hoping we don’t forget.
Jesus, help us live with imagination today.
The Eastern Orthodox Tradition has a name for Mary. They call her Theotokos. It means, literally, "the God-bearer." Mary's special because she is the one who brings Jesus into the world. The one who brings the hope that turns it all around.
What a terrifying privilege.
Advent is when we prepare for Jesus' coming. But the terms have changed from that first Christmas. Now, we not only remember Mary, the beautiful theotokos, but we also prepare ourselves to be God-bearers. We join together to prepare and reflect on our own breathtaking privilege of bringing Jesus into the world.
As a church, LifePath prepares together by sharing our own stories. We are trying to practice the holy calling to bear God to one another. These simple stories have been put together as daily readings leading up to Christmas. Because of these readings, I will be putting my Thursday Together For Good reflections on pause until after Advent. If you are not a part of our church, I invite you to journey with us through these daily reflections (and if you are a part of our church, you already have been!).
You can download the pdf here:
This year we're telling stories about learning to celebrate.
I'd love for you to join us. We'll catch up again here after Christmas.
You are enough to be a God-bearer.