What’s a “leerie?”
A “leerie” is the name used for lamplighters in the new movie, “Mary Poppins Returns.” And as I listened carefully to the lyrics while watching the movie, it became evident to me that if we are Christians we have a connection with the word “leerie.”
One of the songs in the film entitled “Trip a Little Light Fantastic” has this line within it, “Leeries trip the lights and lead the way!” In this case they are describing how lamplighters of another era would go from lamp to lamp throughout the city and light them each night to light the darkness and show the way for people. It may have seemed like a menial job, but it was vital to the city dwellers each night.
The metaphor becomes clear in Matthew 5:14-16 (MSG):
“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.”
There is no doubt in my mind as I read this that each of us who claim to be his are called to be light and lamplighters for the world. Luke writes about that in Acts 13:47 (NIV):
“For this is what the Lord has commanded us: ‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth’.”
The lyricist for the song in the movie refers to the process of the lamplighters lighting the lamps as “trip a little light fantastic”as they move up and down the streets lighting the lamps. That is a fun description indeed.
Since the Lord calls us to be light and light the way for others, what kind of “leerie” am I? Are you?
As shadows fall across the earth in many different places and some have lost hope, are we lighting the way for the hope that is within us? Pointing the direction to the path they cannot see?
Listen to some of the things the song suggests a “leerie” can do:
“Let’s say you’re lost in a park, sure
You can give in to the dark or
You can trip a little light fantastic with me
When you’re alone in your room
Your choices just embrace the gloom
Or you can trip a little light fantastic with me
For if you hide under the covers
You might never see the day
But if a spark can start inside your heart
Then you can always find the way
So when life is getting dreary
Just pretend that you’re a leerie
As you trip a little light fantastic with me”
Some of you may be shaking your head that I would compare being called to be light in a dark world with the lyrics of this song about “leeries” from the movie, but consider even the words noted above…
If we are lost physically or spiritually, are we to give in to the dark?
If we are alone and lonely, feeling down and gloomy, do we choose to “embrace the gloom” or search out the light?
Is the light within our lamps burning brightly with fresh oil that allows “a spark” to “start inside your heart?”
Paul exhorts us in Ephesians 5:8-10 (MSG) by reminding us of what we were and now what we are to be:
“You groped your way through that murk once, but no longer. You’re out in the open now. The bright light of Christ makes your way plain. So no more stumbling around. Get on with it! The good, the right, the true—these are the actions appropriate for daylight hours. Figure out what will please Christ, and then do it.”
We were once groping around without light, stumbling as we went. But now that the Lord has lit the way for us and called us to be light in the world, we are to be lighting the way for others who are stumbling in the dark, alone, lost and without hope.
There is no qualifier that suggests this role, as a “leerie” is optional. Whatever season we are in, we are to keep fresh oil in our lamps and light the way for others.
What kind of “leerie” are you?
“Now when you’re stuck in the mist, sure
You can struggle and resist or
You can trip a little light fantastic with me”