At Christmas (A poem)

I’m keeping warm, this heart of mine
in winter’s air, this soul repines,
these bones, but brittle glory be
the wonders of His love to see.

I dare not miss nor neglect this grace
and lose out on heavn’s holy place
a song of praise, a song of peace
a hope of joy will never cease.

And so I glimpse into that stable
the Son of God, no, not a fable.
A gift of hope, of love divine
salvation givn’ to all mankind.
SEStrissel 12-19-14

Dear Salvation Army, The Angel Said Whaaaaaaat???

(Luke 1:26-45)
Today’s Pondering, Dear Soldier…

It had been a quiet morning as the sun seemingly struggled to wake the slumbering cobwebs from the earth.  This is how Mary always began her day.  She helped her mother prepare the house then it was off to collect water and the list went on… The sun began to pour into their dwelling, rays of gold catching every glimmer and spec of dust falling in the air.  Mary enjoyed these silent, ponderous moments.  Abruptly, her silent moment is caught by the heel and turned upside down in the most remarkable way possible.  Perhaps, years later, she will look back upon her life and identify this as the moment when everything changed.

Her neck hairs stand on end and she immediately knows that she is not alone.  Something behind her catches the eye…movement.  Spinning around swiftly she is caught off guard by the imagery in front of her.  Imagine something not of this earth, strikingly radiant, suddenly appearing in your home.  Wouldn’t you be caught off guard as well?
She notices beyond the aura of light that a being stands before her.
Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.’ An unknown voice calls out.  The being’s voice is deep, confident and strong.  Mary is afraid.  A momentary swell of fear captures her and she is glued in place, unable to move.  Mary peers around for the closest door, her muscles tense as she prepares to escape this fear.  But The angel, for that is what it is, calls out again and says “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David,and he will reign over the house of Jacob                                                                                   forever; his kingdom will never end.”  


Okay, perhaps Mary’s response wasn’t exactly like that, but a look of concern crosses her face.  How could this be?  She isn’t even married yet.  She is, in fact, still a virgin.  It is unnatural, unheard of, it is just too much to take in all at once.  The Angel had told her not to be afraid and yet she was certainly anxious and afraid.

There in that lowly room so long ago, history was being made.  It didn’t happen to a mighty queen,  nor did it happen to one who was prepared for such a feat…but it happened to a teenage girl, inexperienced in the world, naive and young.  How could this be?  The Savior of the world is placed in the arms, or soon would be, of a young woman.  Think of it!  Mary experiences this theophany of sorts and the symphony of salvation is born to all the world!

I find it interesting that Mary doesn’t refuse the Angel’s announcement, or laugh as Zacharias (Elizabeth’s husband) does.  She takes in this message.  She absorbs the news.  She is strong, much stronger than most…perhaps this is one of the reasons she is chosen to be the mother of Jesus.  It still astounds us today if we contemplate it long enough.  Salvation will be born of a virgin.  Could it be that because of such a concept the Christ is not born into sin as we were?  Could it be that all of the “messiah’s” who came before Jesus, the bloodshed, the violence was all in vain?  Could it be that man’s attempts to find salvation and restoration from sin was imperfect for the lambs they were sacrificing were also imperfect and not enough?  There is much to ponder here today my friends.

Immediately following the proclamation from Gabriel, Mary runs as fast as she can to the nearby village…(was it the same day? Was it immediately, as in ‘that day’?  We don’t know, it just says “at that timeMary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea.) Perhaps she stumbles a few times on the way in her haste to seek out solace and reassurance.   Mary seeks out the comfort of family.  She seeks out someone in whom to confide.  No one will believe that she is still a virgin.  No one will accept such a tale…but family, the trusted few will help, protect and guide.

For Us…faith2
What do we make of this tale?  What do we find reassuring from this record?  Is there not something we can all glean from this?  What does faith look like, dear soldier?  Certainly Mary’s response to the Angel’s proclamation is a indication of courage and faith.  Certainly the mother of Jesus provides us with an example of how we are to respond to the workings of the Lord.  Are we so far removed from this narrative?  Does this not still impact our daily lives?   Mary doesn’t laugh at the Angel.  She doesn’t weep and rebel and refuse to participate in this salvation story…in fact she accepts it and moves forward.  It doesn’t say that her life improves immediately.  I am sure she could not have hidden this pregnancy for too long.  From a pure physical perspective, Mary’s life could have been in danger and at the very least susceptible to all kinds of scorn, gossip and sideways glances.  “Oh look, there goes THAT Girl“.

How do we respond to the leading of the Lord in our lives?
What is our response?
Are we fully submitted to His will or do we still struggle, moaning and groaning within this call?
Can we reflect within this holy narrative today?
Can we find comfort in a mighty God?
Have we forgotten, or taken His holy presence for granted, especially during this busy season?

Dear Lord,
renew us again.  May we respond to you as Mary once did so long ago.  We all face challenges, some large and some small, instill in us Your comfort again no matter what season we are in.  We long to be your people.  We long to give you praise in all things.  Refine us, O Lord.  Restore unto us, this joy of our salvation today!  Reignite our passion to serve you and to reach out to those who are still lost.  O Lord, we can do nothing without your hand upon us.  Journey beside us today.  This we pray.  -Amen.

To God Be The Glory!

“GPS Jesus”




I read today that a church was having problems with Jesus.  Okay, their problem wasn’t so much Jesus, as much as someone stealing Him from their nativity display on the front lawn of their church building.  


People have been stealing Jesus?  Say what?  I find this kind of theft interesting.  It’s as interesting as getting reports from church parishioners that someone has stolen a pew bible. If they’re stealing bibles or even Jesus, I say steal away!  There’s no better way of sharing the good news than to have Jesus staring at you as you run from a church parking lot.

But this church didn’t just leave the good news in the hands in the robbers and vandalizers, oh no, they are allowing others to share in the joy should they so choose to “borrow” Jesus from the nativity set.  They have placed a GPS tracker in Jesus…now they know where Jesus is at all times!  


I think the disciples felt like doing this from time to time if they had possessed GPS technology.  I’m sure they would have wanted to have dropped a tracker in His robe pocket so they would know where He was.  

Do you know where Jesus is?  If you have seen Him, or if you know where He can be located…Keep Him! That’s right, keep Jesus.  

I don’t want to make light of Jesus and our relationship with Him.  Keep Christ in your heart always and never leave Him!  He will always be with you, He even promised that to us!  We don’t need a GPS tracker to find Him, because He is right beside us each step of the way in our lives.  Let Him love you, and if you haven’t already love Him in return, this makes life truly worth living!

-Just a thought.

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O Bethlehem (A Poem)


In Bethlehem, O Bethlehem

what sights you must have seen

with manger bed where sheep had fed

and yonder pastures green.

A Savior came, O Bethlehem

the One whom prophets foretold

yet most were blind, they could not find

The God-man soft, yet bold.

Yet Shepherds came, Oh Bethlehem

the unclean keepers of the sheep.

A song they heard, they spread the word

while Jesus was fast asleep.

O Bethlehem, O Bethlehem

His name is ever true!

To all who hear, He drives out fear

Salvation comes to you!

S.E. Strissel ’13’

The Journey (Poem)

The journey is long

the path is caked in dust

and rocks, the donkey 

lumbers on as each rut

and aching stride ushers another

exhale of air in Mary 

as contractions continue.  

There isn’t fan fare 

or folly, 

This. Is. Difficult! 

With gritting teeth and concern

Joseph tries his best to make 

the journey as comfortable as possible

while other along the path 

catch and pass them by…

this is going to take a while.

How humble a journey, 

certainly not an entrance of a king, 

not to mention the King of Kings. 

Yet with this journey 

it brings us new life and hope.

With this journey 

all of nature leans in 

and whispers praises 

as Mary groans with another 

aching mile passing by…

this is going to take a while.  


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