“Perspectives” Day # 3 Featuring Captain Shanais Strissel

What is tradition and why do some of us cling tightly to it and some of us find it suffocating?  Why is there such a struggle between being something new and holding tightly to something old?  Is tradition or newness best for the Corps?

The answer is yes to both.

I think that in order to find what’s best for the church, within the Salvation Army, both camps must loosen their death grips and come to see that the answer lies within each claim, just in an unexpected way.
Jesus was the master at taking something old and renewing it.  Not remaking it, but renewing it.

And I believe the answer to why our churches are dying lies within the struggle to come to terms with the unexpected, because if we do not come to terms with the unexpected, I am afraid that we may go the way of the Pharisees and leaders of the law.  Are we to become something that a church history class studies in a hundred years from now, a charitable entity who faded away into irrelevancy because we just couldn’t grasp the way of the unexpected?

Jesus was always doing things that upset the religious leaders, healing on the Sabbath (how dare he) not fasting (how un-Jewish of him) telling the Pharisees they are dirty unwashed bowls (gasp), what in the world is this man doing?
He was not remaking the law; he was renewing how the people saw it.  They had taken something simple and made it complicated and unwieldy.  They made it difficult for God’s work to be done because of all the, ahem, addendums that they added to it….

It is not that the old ways where bad in themselves, but the way that people applied them over the years that made it into something that it was not intended to be.
It happens.  People muck things up from time to time and God has to shake things back into the rightful place.  The question to ask ourselves is, are we going to move with God when he shakes this Army or will we get left behind as God moves his mission forward in this world?

So…what’s the answer?…

The answer, I believe, lies in the unexpected.

Jesus’ actions were always consistent with the law, just in different and unexpected ways.  He observed the ritual but took the meaning of the law and expanded and enriched it!  The Pharisees and religious leaders had it backwards; they took the ritual and expanded it while ignoring the richness and meaning of the law in the first place.

And here is what I believe has become a stumbling block for the Salvation Army.  We don’t need more ritual a.k.a more “growth” programs, more paperwork, more ritual, more law, what we need is a deeper richer meaning to the simple foundation of what make the Salvation Army who it already is.

We do not need to get rid of our rich traditions, but we do need to get rid of all of the baggage that hinders the mission.

Somewhere we lost our simplicity of mission among the mounds of responsibility heaped onto Officers backs, and I mean all Officers not just Corps Officers.  We have spread ourselves so thin that we are in danger of becoming shallow and useless, instead of deep and rich.

I am not calling for a revolution of the Salvation Army, what I am asking you to consider is a re-evaluation of who we already are.  Not to remake the whole system but to pull out and expand what is good and to keep it SIMPLE!  Let go of the complicated extended busy work and enrich and deepen what is good!  Don’t extend the shallow and complicate the simple!

Jesus’ way is simple and his burden is light, it’s his followers who tend to weigh things down.

So, how do we figure it out?  How do we come together as an organization and deepen, enrich, simplify and give deep meaning to the traditions we already have, how do we embrace the unexpected?

That is something that we have to figure out together.

Let’s let God Shake us up shall we?

Perspectives Day 1 – Featuring Shanais Strissel (Captain) “On the Other Side of the Veil”

“On the Other Side of the Veil”

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Have you ever had a dream that was so vivid that when you woke up it took you a few moments to realize that it actually was a dream and not reality? It takes a moment for the mist to clear, the world to turn right side up and reality to realign itself once more.

I had a dream like that last night, vivid, stingingly emotional, deep and filled with rich, longing emotions.

I had a dream in which my mother showed up, she wasn’t what the dream was about or even a large portion of it, she just showed up for a moment…

I was sitting in a small room, with a small stage and when I glanced up I saw my mother walk out on the stage and begin to speak (which if you knew my mother she would NEVER intentionally get up in front of anyone)

            It wasn’t what she said, it was how she looked that struck me like an arrow through the heart…she was wearing blue jeans, an old t-shirt, her hair kind of wild and a huge cup of coffee in clutched her hands, with a nervous smirk on her face.

             The feelings that overtook me were so intense in my dream that I couldn’t even bare to look upon her face, in my dream I got up and walked out to the hall and cried, I cried a deep longing, emotion filled, slightly angry filled moaning cry.

            Why…because even in my dreams I know that my mother is gone and I can only glimpse her through the veil of death…it was her essence in my dream that connected my heart directly to hers because this WAS who my mother was, her look, her mannerism, her spirit...

            My dream was my subconscious creating an illusionary moment of a reality that I desire- a desire that I cannot fulfill….yet.

 

For now I wait patiently on this side of the veil.

 

Death is not a fixed point and heaven isn’t some misty, foggy place “out” there in the sky somewhere…it is just across the veil and closer than we think, or at least closer than I used to think.

            When death visits close to home and comes to take someone we love, whether violently or silently, it never comes gently- it cannot- it is not its nature, because it almost always leaves behind a gaping hole of loss or uneasy questions.

            But the good news for us is that even though we must, for now, stand on one side of the veil or the other it will not always be so.  Death may separate one life from another for now but someday that veil will be torn and we will not mingle with each other in death but in a real and tangible incorruptible life…

            When Jesus hung on that cross he didn’t just save us from our sin, he saved all humanity from desolate separation…We could not face God in a corruptible state but when Jesus tore the temple veil on his death, WE can now walk through that VEIL of death and arrive before God…and just as the temple veil was torn, so will this veil that separates the corruptible flesh, what we are now, to what we will someday become.

Someday, I will see my mother, my grandmother and those who are now on the other side of the veil and someday I will see that veil fall…

For those we celebrate on this day of honor and sacrifice, for the loss of loved ones, let the pain and sorrow of that loss gently flow into healing and hope…

            Healing because we know life does not end at death

And hope because we, for now, may get glimpses through the veil of death from time to time but someday it will be gone and we will be free to live and love the way we were meant to…without the fear of separation.

So on this day, let us not celebrate loss, but let us celebrate our future hope…

Because someday I will be able to go across the room and embrace my mother because nothing will separate us anymore, and you will be able to do the same…

 

Shanais Strissel’s Blog Site: http://shanaisstrissel.wordpress.com/

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