How Paul’s advice would have emerged if he directed a Christmas pageant (instead of practicing a homiletic style that puts teenagers to sleep in second story windows)
Rejoice in God always, again I will say –
eat the cookie, hang the tinsel,
wear the antler headband,
explain the candy cane,
show everyone the star in the apple.
Let your acceptance
of the needle-dry highs and lows
of this season
be known to everyone.
Emmanuel is near –
don’t worry about your plans,
but plan them anyway,
because last-year’s college grad
is willing to become the second magi
between two fourth graders.
And the peace you don’t expect
arrives when the angel
with a star on a stick
walks the wrong way and shines light
into the heart and mind of someone
who really needs Christ Jesus.
Finally my friends –
whoever is so young she forgets, ”baa,”
whoever is so shepherd
he, keeping watch, takes her hand,
whoever plays “just Joseph,”
in both senses of the word,
whoever, playing Mary a second year
as pure and sweet,
how scary it all must have been …
a pleasing angel, improvising bits
from various dance recitals
to the glad tidings
echoing over the plains,
the visiting commendable cousin
who steps into Narrator
at the last minute
because we all live in the last minute,
excellent friendly beasts
discovered inside the asses and sheep
of any congregation
when we are asked to sing,
and the innkeeper worthy of praise
because doing your job
doesn’t mean you can’t show someone
the way to the manger.
Think about these things,
this story told again and new.
Keep on keeping Christmas
messy with straw and wax drippings,
as you have learned
and received, heard and seen —
and the God who sends peace on earth
will be with you.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4: 4-9