A couple weeks ago I told you all about the Banks family… George, Winifred, Jane and Michael. If you didn’t get to read that post, scroll down and give it a run through – today will make so much more sense with that background.
The Banks’ family was dysfunctional (but, then again, whose family isn’t?). They were in desperate need of: “a knight in shining armor… someone to liberate them from the mess that they call normal… a rescuer.
The ancient word for such a person is messiah. The word literally means someone anointed to liberate prisoners.” [earlier blog]
The problem was, not all of the Banks thought they needed rescuing. They were pretty sure someone in the family needed a liberator; just convinced it was someone else.
- George actually thought everyone else was the problem – Winifred just couldn’t get her act together and run a proper house; and Jane and Michael were the case studies.
- Winifred thought Jane and Michael were symptoms of George’s demons.
- Jane and Michael thought they were behaving in a completely acceptable manner, given the parents with whom they were stuck.
The cultural solution was to secure yet another nanny. And the path to follow was to post a job opening in the local paper. However, before George could wordsmith his expectations Jane and Michael produced their own list of requirements…
- Perspective: The position was choice not challenging
- Applicants should have a cheery disposition (no one else in the house seemed to)
- Rosy cheeks; no warts
- Play games of all sorts
- Sweet, witty, and very pretty
- Take us (the kids) on outings, give us treats, sing songs, bring sweets
- Never be cross, cruel, give caster oil, or gruel (although I think the gruel would have been the purview of Mrs. Brill)
- Love us like a son and daughter (something for which they had little true perspective),
- Never smell like barley water (sort of like Coca-Cola’s early roots, barley water is a British soft drink with medicinal applications)
- Don’t scold or dominate us – in which case, the kids will promise to give no cause to hate us… no hiding your spectacles (so you can’t see), no toads in your bed, no pepper in your tea
It all seemed a reasonable list to Jane and Michael. Applicants could mail their resume to the Banks family home: Number Seventeen, Cherry Tree Lane.
George was not amused. In a bit of a fit (something he was inclined to throw from time to time), he crumpled the paper and tossed it into the fireplace only to happen upon something much more than a poof of smoke!
Standing right behind the poof – just popping in unannounced – was their messiah… a Miss Iah, to be exact. A new, mysterious nanny named Mary, her surname a wonderful descriptor of her track record of magically showing up at just the right time: she would just pop in.
Mary was, well, practically perfect in every way. But, she did have her own way of doing things.
- She took the kids to a public park (beneath their station) and introduced them to an artist/musician (opposite of dad) chimney sweep… an unseemly sort, they would have thought.
- Imagination is uncovered and fanned into a flame through adventures like a jolly holiday with Mary… all without leaving the little community park.
- Lessons are learned, to be sure, but not with ‘brimstone and treacle.’ Instead, she opts for a spoonful of sugar.
- The making-money world of banking is juxtaposed against genuine generosity by introducing the kids to a little homeless lady who has one, single passion in life: feed the birds – take care of the innocents.
- They are taught to think-outside-the-box by visiting a candy shop that also sells new words. Their inventive word of the day? Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious
Everyone has noticed the changes in their young lives. Winifred, however, fears the change is more than George could ever approve. Wanting to please him (and with Mary gone AWOL), she makes the misguided decision to employ his holy terror childhood nanny, Miss Andrew.
The decision backfires on Winifred, as the children rush to the park to find solace in Bert, and George… just runs!
That decision to embrace the joy of living rather than return to the bondage of law and order seemed to be the mile-marker moment Mary was hoping for because she pops in again.
Jane and Michael are transforming, on their way to becoming new people. But, they live in a home with a legalistic dad and a people-pleasing mom. The witness of the children and their changed hearts will be so important for the restoration of this dysfunctional family.
Along the way, George is faced with a difficult career-building or career-crushing choice: whether to release funds and invest in the purposeless, money-making plans of one man or the socially conscious but risky hopes of another. Engaged in her own struggle with generosity, Jane asks an innocent but unrelenting question of her father, “What’s more important, a good man or a good idea?”
George simply can’t escape the question. It leads him to experiment with just what he might look like – transformed – by funding the socially conscious project, jeopardizing his way of living and all he has known as his life.
The children introduce mom and dad to their new ideals and friends; all factors that pile on the Banks until they too surrender to change!
In the end, the Banks family finds good people are the best investment, generosity is the way to go, and life is much preferred to the chains of death. They meet and learn to love new people very different than their own selves.
And Mary? Well, she pops out again.
Don’t you just love the story? I have since I was a kid. Although I’ve never read the books, I’ve worn the movie out. And, as a part of our 35th wedding anniversary celebration, Adele and I took the short drive up to NYC to see our first ever Broadway play, opting unanimously for Mary Poppins. If you get the chance, you have got to see that play.
Have you ever thought about just how many of our stories – stories the world over, really… and throughout time – are Messiah stories?
Stories about being trapped in our existence, believing at an almost imperceptible place, that there must be a way out… hoping for hope… searching for a liberator…
Stories about a strong deliverer who does come and bring that rescue – one who surpasses our expectations and surprises our ideas…
Stories about early adopters who embrace the kind grace of salvation, about determined legalists who resist to no end, and about those in between those extremes…
I’ve thought about it a lot lately. And I’ve come to a current-position on the question: we just can’t help writing and reading these stories. We humans are designed with this hope – this quest is hard-wired into our very soul. That’s why there are so many!
How might one respond to the possibility that truth is driving us in this direction? It seems to me we could resist, dismiss, explore, or embrace the idea that we all need Messiah.
I have walked through three of those responses and landed on the idea of embracing, not just the notion, but the Messiah Himself. I want to encourage you along your own journey. Take a look at all the stories around you – stories of authentically changing lives. Explore. Embrace.