Clutch-Walking

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

2021 Blog Number 19

May 10, 2021

Clutch-Walking

I love driving with a manual transmission. I realize that driving a clutch is rare. Fewer and fewer people know how to drive a clutch. Indeed, ten years ago when my car, who calls herself “Irma,” came to live with me I had a long search to find one made with a clutch. They are rare. This week, Irma’s clutch died close to a busy intersection. My clutch locked up the transmission and I had to be towed in. Now I am re-learning the joy of walking.

Walking is something I enjoy but always seem to avoid because I always seem to be in a hurry. Walking is still slower, but probably better for me. This weekend, an elder of my congregation hurt his leg. He is in a cast and has difficulty walking. I bet that he would love to be able to do the pain-free walking that I have been doing.

Half dozen years ago I had surgery and walking hurt. A rather loving but stern nurse who is a congregational elder came to visit me at the parsonage. The first thing that she told me was, “get up. You are going to take a walk.” The walk hurt but she was gracious and at the end of the walk she had me stop at the local Dunkin Donuts. The walk was worth the jelly donuts that she treated me too. She took me on several walks during my convalescence. These walks hurt but they were good therapy.

Now, until my clutch is replaced, I’m doing a lot of walking. It is quite a blessing. I’m observing gardens that I had never noticed before. I am admiring houses that I had driven by many times but never really appreciated. I guess that the breakdown of my 91,000-mile clutch has been a real blessing. Will I learn from this? Probably not. When my car is fixed I’ll probably be back driving and missing the wonderful sights I have seen during my walks. Or perhaps I’ll smarten up and take regular walks and once more enjoy the beautiful sights all around me.

#ClintonAvenueReformedChurch                         #ReformedChurchInAmerica                    

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                   

#BergenfieldNJ

#StandardTransmission                                         

#Walking

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order a copy of his book:https://deepriverbooks.com/books/the-circle-of-seven/

Violence Against Asians

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

2021 Blog Number 18

May 3, 2021

Violence Against Asians

For months now I have been hearing media stories of “Asian bias” and “Asian Violence.” The stories certainly had me disturbed. I was raised with the American ideal that people are to be treated equally. I was also raised with the Christian belief that we are to love one another. I was disturbed by such stories but I heard them in the abstract. I was disturbed on the surface, not at a deep level until I heard the story of “Inyoung.”

Inyoung is a therapist at the Hudson River Care and Counselling Center. She is also a devout Christian. Before the Corona crisis, she was one of the people who joined us in distributing lunches to the day-laborers in Bergenfield. She is good-hearted and a credit to our nation. I was told that she is frightened about the growing violence against Asians.

Although she lives in her New Jersey, Inyoung regularly goes to her mother’s house in Queens, NY to check on her. Her mother is quite elderly and is showing signs of confusion. A language barrier further complicates the Mother’s confusion. These visits, of course, are heart-breaking for Inyoung. I know from experience how difficult it is to watch a mother decline. Inyoung was saddened by these trips but lately she has been frightened.

Lately she is discovering hostility from people she sees on the streets of Queens, NY. They look at her, notice her Asian featured and often give her threatening looks. I am grateful that she has not been the victim of violence, but with the hostile looks it is a fear that she carries with her.

On one occasion she and her sister were walking outside in the evening and a group of girls were walking by she and her sister. The group was not wearing masks. The girls were laughing and simulating coughing as she walked. Perhaps this was a reference to Covid-19 having origins in China and these girls being unable to distinguish Chinese folks from Korean people. How Korean immigrants to our nation should be held responsible for a virus from China I will never know. It reflects badly on the intelligence, wisdom, and manners of some native-born people.

Now it is time for those of us who wish for justice and righteousness to step up. We, who wish for our neighbors to live in safety and security need to speak out and speak up on behalf of our Asian brothers and sisters.

If we are Christian, we are called to stand next to all oppressed people, especially brothers and sisters in Christ.

If you are not Christian, simply an American who believes in justice, you should be equally offended.

Violence and hostility is not acceptable. I call on all of us to stand with Asians and stand against those would be hostile and violent.

#ClintonAvenueReformedChurch                         #ReformedChurchInAmerica                    

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                   

#BergenfieldNJ

#AsianViolence                                                       

#AsianHostility

#HusdonRiverCareandCounseling

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order a copy of his book:https://deepriverbooks.com/books/the-circle-of-seven/

A Letter to my grandsons about staying alive

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

2021 Blog Number 17

April 26, 2021

A Letter to my grandsons about staying alive

This week officer Derek Chauvin we convicted of murder for killing George Floyd. Floyd was 46 and had been arrested for passing a counterfeit bill. It was painful to watch the video of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s chest and other officers not intervening. Also this week, two teenagers, one black and one Latino were killed by police officers. Makiyah Bryant 16, was shot and killed by a police officer in Ohio while attacking two people with a knife. Adam Toledo, also from Ohio was shot and killed after running from a police officer up a dark alley while holding a gun. He dropped it just before the shot was fired.

One of my grandsons is half black and the other is half Latino. I don’t want similar tragedies to happen to them. I wrote this letter to the boys in the hope that it will help keep them safe.

Dear Mr. Z and Manny,

It is no secret that there are some police officers who abuse their power. In many cases young Latin and Black males are the targets of these abuses of power. I want you two to be safe. Here is my advice to you on how to do that.

  1. Don’t do illegal things. George Floyd would not have been vulnerable to an abusive police officer had he not been arrested for passing counterfeit money. Makiyah Bryant would not be deceased at age 16 had she not attacked two people with a knife.
  2. Don’t be out of the house after dark. Adam Toledo would be alive had he not been out at 2:30 am. Nothing good comes from being out in the middle of the night.
  3. Don’t play with weapons. Makiyah and Adam both were carrying weapons when police officers arrived. They created the circumstances that gave the police a reason to use deadly force.
  4. Follow the instructions of police officers. Even if they are acting badly, be polite and follow orders. Don’t give an officer a reason to be anxious and overreact with violence.
  5. Someday you will be driving. If you are pulled over by a police officer, be polite and don’t make the officer nervous.
  6. Take off sunglasses, turn off the radio keep your hands on the steering wheel, and turn on the dome light if it is dark.
  7. Always address the officer as “sir”, “Ma’am”, or “officer.”
  8. Be polite and follow instructions even if the officer is being obnoxious. You can always file a complaint against officers behaving badly. During a pull-over your job is to keep yourself safe.

Yes, boys, unfortunately there are officers who target blacks and Latinos. Some of them use excessive force. Yet, there are ways that you can behave to increase your chances of being safe. Please, use these behaviors and increase your chances of leading long,  healthy and prosperous lives. I want to see you two grow to manhood and someday be as old as I am. Black and Brown lives matter. Behave as if they matter to you.

#ClintonAvenueReformedChurch                         #ReformedChurchInAmerica                    

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                   

#BergenfieldNJ

#BlackLivesMatter                                                  

#GeorgeFloyd

#MakiyahBryant                                                      

#AdamToledo

#PoliceShootings                                                    

#MinorityTargeting

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order a copy of his book:https://deepriverbooks.com/books/the-circle-of-seven/

Putting God To The Test, Not!

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

2021 Blog Number 16

April 19, 2021

Putting God To The Test, Not!

I’m grateful that I have now received my second Pfizer shot. I felt a bit ill for a day but that is a small price to pay to help my body resist COVID 19. I will now feel less anxious as the plague continues to go on. I wish all professing Christians felt the same way.

I am saddened that I have heard reports in the media and seen social media posts from people proclaiming to be Christian who urge friends and congregations to not get the vaccine. Such people proclaim that there is no need for the vaccine all people needed to do was “trust God.” God, they argued would protect faithful Christians from this plague. To me, this line of reasoning seems like what Jesus condemned when he told Satan that we should not put “God to the test.”

I wonder if people who condemn vaccines drive without seatbelts, or drive drunk, and assume a good and healthy outcome. I wonder if they reject the FDA stamp that certifies that their food is safe. Why eat inspected food if God will protect you no matter what you put in your mouth? I wonder if people who advocate getting no vaccines would walk up a city street alone at midnight displaying wads of cash and expect a good outcome because of God’s protection.

I hope that unchurched people will not listen to the professing Christians who advocate putting God to the test. The unchurched might generalize and think that all professing Christians might think this way. I hope that we who do follow Christ will correct those who advocate putting God to the test. We are the voice of Jesus. Let us speak with word and deed encouraging people to get vaccinated and telling other Christians to stop testing God. We can prevent deaths by our faithful witness; get the vaccine! Don’t test God!

#ClintonAvenueReformedChurch                         #ReformedChurchInAmerica                    

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                   

#BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                  

#Pfizer

#Vaccine                                                                   

#TestingGod

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order a copy of his book:https://deepriverbooks.com/books/the-circle-of-seven/

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

2021 Blog Number 15

April 12, 2021

My NY Mets Sabbatical and Return

I took a sabbatical from the Mets last year. I only watched two games and felt completely un-excited. I even completely skipped watching any of the World Series. I’m not quite sure why but I have a few ideas.

Maybe it was the beginning of the Corona-19 crisis. We all got a little preoccupied with that and how to stay alive and still maintain the most normal life that was possible for us.

Perhaps it was grief. Early on in our plague two of my mentors died of Covid-19, and my sister died of a sudden heart attack. Perhaps in my grief, I was not ready to enjoy the game. I think that my sister’s death especially took away my baseball joy. She was the biggest Met fan in the world. After she died I knew that we would never talk about the Mets again.

Another possibility was the delay in the season. In my mind, the first baseball games are to start with crisp, spring air. Last year the season was delayed until July, and then we didn’t get to hear fans cheer, boo, and rebuke the players and umpires.

Now I am back and enjoying baseball once more. My Mets sabbatical is over and I am, again, loving baseball games. I’m back and it almost feels as though I never left watching games. Sometimes we just need a break from things to enjoy how good they are when we return.

During this pandemic, and our improvement of on-line worship, I am noticing that folks who have been apart from the church are re-engaging online. For whatever reason, some folks felt the need to distance but are now returning. I am thrilled to see them back. Welcome home! It doesn’t matter why you felt the need to leave it is good to see you re-engaging. I hope that you will again feel the peace and joy of worship that you once knew. I pray that your return will be a blessing to you. If there is any way that I can make your return a blessing, please let me know. It is a thrill to have your Church sabbatical at and end and to see you back once more.

#ClintonAvenueReformedChurch                         #ReformedChurchInAmerica                    

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                   

#BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                  

#NYMets

#ChurchDistancing                                                 

#ChurchReturn

#Sabbatical                                                              

#WelcomeHome

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order a copy of his book: https://deepriverbooks.com/books/the-circle-of-seven/

If you were Pontius Pilate what would you have done?

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

2021 Blog Number 14

April 5, 2021

If you were Pontius Pilate what would you have done?

I was raised to hate Pontius Pilate. For me, Good Friday was a day to trash-talk pilate and condemn his action. If you did not grow up with Bible stories, he is the Roman Governor, appointed by Caesar, who condemned Jesus to be crucified. I was taught that he was the worst human in history. When I grew up and studied the politics of the time of Jesus I began to wonder if this was completely true. Would any of us have done the same thing given the same circumstances?

Pilate was Governor of Judea, the southern part of Israel. Under his reign there had been two Jewish riots. He knew that riots cost the lives of many people. On Good Friday, Pilate was facing a riot, instigated by the temple elite, if he did not sentence Jesus to die. How many people would have died in those riots. Perhaps Pilate reasoned that to kill one person would save hundreds or even thousands. Would we do the same thing?

We fight wars under the assumption that more people would die without a war to end abuse and murder. Had someone killed Hitler in 1938, perhaps thirty million people would not have died in World War II. We dropped two atomic bombs on Japan under the assumption that killing two hundred thousand people would save one million lives who would have died in the invasion of Japan.

Police officers fire upon active shooters under the assumption that killing the shooter will save numerous lives. Wouldn’t any one of us seek to kill an assailant to rescue our loved ones from potential death?

This action of Pilate is not all that unique. He chose to kill one for the sake of saving others. Something others do, and we frequently endorse this. Good Friday isn’t about condemning Pilate. It is about thanking Jesus for volunteering for his death. Perhaps if we had been in Pilate’s circumstance we might have done just what he did.

I hope that we contemplate this during this Holy Season.

#ClintonAvenueReformedChurch                         #ReformedChurchInAmerica                    

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                    #BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                   #Christ-like

#Lent                                                                          #HolyWeek

#Perfection                                                                #Self-improvement

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order a copy of his book:https://deepriverbooks.com/books/the-circle-of-seven/

Perfection! Not!

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

2021 Blog Number 13

March 29, 2021

Perfection! Not!

What is your credit rating? Is it good? Is it great? A gentleman I knew in New York State told me once that he thought credit checks should be made on all ministerial candidates. According to him, a credit score was the best indicator of emotional and spiritual health. Since he told me this, I have been striving to maintain a good credit score. I’ve done well but never was able to reach 850, the top score. No matter how I try I can’t get to that number. This month my score topped out at 849. So close but not perfect. I was a bit annoyed that I hadn’t quite reached my goal.

This quest reminds me of other aspects of my life as well. I was a B and C student, unlike my sister who received all A’s. I asked why I should strive so hard for A’s if I never got them. A mentor told me that the only way we do the best we can is to strive for something even higher. It is striving for A’s that got me B’s. Can you imagine how low my grades would be if I wasn’t trying for A’s?

One of the things I struggle with in our modern media is that there seems to be few attempts at showing people at their best. Through our language and coarse behavior, we seem to be striving for the lowest common denominator. Do we as individuals strive to be our best or are we settling for bad behavior and manners instead of trying to elevate ourselves to something better?

Holy Week has now begun and Lent is ending. Every season, but especially in Lent, Christians strive to become more Christ-like. We never get there, so why should we strive? We are  not that great a Christian now but could you imagine how bad we would be if we wasn’t trying so hard? Striving to be better people isn’t a bad thing. Is it?

No, I will never reach perfection but that doesn’t mean that I will stop trying. It is the striving for better that makes us as good as we are. Are you striving to be more Christ-like? How can you improve if you do not try? Let us all work to help one another imitate Christ more. We won’t be perfect but we shall certainly be better people for this quest.

#ClintonAvenueReformedChurch                         #ReformedChurchInAmerica                    

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                    #BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                   #Christ-like

#Lent                                                                          #HolyWeek

#Perfection                                                                #Self-improvement

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order a copy of his book: https://deepriverbooks.com/books/the-circle-of-seven/

Food Bags on Hotel Doors

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

2021 Blog Number 12

March 22, 2021

Food Bags on Hotel Doors

Most of us have stayed in hotels from time to time. Usually on vacations. Yes, the room get crowded but on vacation who stays in the room for any length of time? There are places to go and things to see. Who wants to spend a lot of time in the hotel room. Pretty much they all look alike.

I do remember a few vacation days in hotel rooms when it was too rainy to do very much. The girls were bored. There is only so much television that you can watch. Those days seemed to last forever.

Can you imagine a small hotel room being your home? How about the home for a family? Recently a group of us from church supplied the meal for Family Promise in Hackensack. Our congregation has participated in this mission for decades. When I first arrived more than fourteen years ago, I was told that this was an important mission of the church and it was required that the pastor participate. Meals were served in the Bergen County Shelter. I always felt good after feeding hungry people. It gave us all a warm feeling. Now, because of Covid-19, meals are no longer served in the shelter. They are packaged and delivered to the homeless, now housed in area hotels.

I was part of a team that delivered these meals. We went room to room in two different hotels placing food bags on doorknobs, knocking on doors and yelling, “dinner.” A number of residents came out and graciously thanked us. At one room, we left four dinners. It was explained to me that a whole family was living in that room. My heart sank with that news. It is one thing to be single and homeless and another to be homeless with a family. I have been fortunate enough never to have had such an experience.

When I went home I didn’t feel quite so good about my endeavors at feeding the homeless. I was haunted by the fact that I returned to my warm and comfortable home while a family with children lived in a single room. Suddenly my efforts did not seem so significant. It is good that this experience happened in Lent. It reminds me that no matter how hard I try, I am still not righteous. I live in relative luxury while other still live on the edge of survival.

I guess on my Lenten journey toward being Christ-like I still have quite a way to go.

#ClintonAvenueReformedChurch                         #ReformedChurchInAmerica                    

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                    #BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                   #FamilyPromise

#Hunger                                                                     #Homeless

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order a copy of his book:https://deepriverbooks.com/books/the-circle-of-seven/

A Jewish, Franciscan, Calvinist Conspiracy

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

2021 Blog Number 11

March 15, 2021

A Jewish, Franciscan, Calvinist Conspiracy

The conspiracy happened right under our noses but most of us did not see it until it was almost over. Now I am revealing the truth of this well-conceived and well-performed scheme.

It began a few years ago as Barbara Blumberg, who is Jewish, became an active participant in soliciting donations for needy people in the area. The law firm where Barbara works had participated in these donation collections before but Barbara expanded it by her aggressive solicitation. Eventually, she began her own collection by bargain shopping at stores following each holiday. She brings bargain hunting to a new level, often taking advantage of 90% off sales.

Soon Barbara needed new places to donate to. Through the Bergen County Volunteer Center she became connected with the Franciscan Community Development Center of Fairview. Thus, a woman born into a Jewish family was partnering with members of an old and established Catholic order. But the conspiracy was not yet completed. Barbara ran out of room in her apartment and requested space in our physical plant. This space we were happy to grant. And thus, the final part of the conspiracy was completed.

This year for Easter Barbara assembled 160 Easter Baskets (bags). The Franciscans arrived to pick up one hundred of them. Where did the remainder go? They went to the Teaneck Food Bank and the Passaic County CASA for Children. In addition to these bags, 80 pair of children’s Easter socks and twenty stuffed animals were also distributed.

And so, the conspiracy was successful in blessing neighbors during this holy time. This was done, of course by the work and money of Barbara and her group conspirators. What a wonderful ecumenical work this was. May God continue to bless this mission.

#ClintonAvenueReformedChurch                         #ReformedChurchInAmerica                    

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                    #BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                   #FrancisanCommunityDevelopment

#Chairty                                                                     #Generosity

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order a copy of his book:https://deepriverbooks.com/books/the-circle-of-seven/

The Pope Visits Iraqi

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

2021 Blog Number 10

March 8, 2021

The Pope Visits Iraqi

I was surprised and amazed to hear last week that Pope Francis was visiting Iraqi. I never thought that such a visit could ever possibly happen. I can only hope that his presence in the nation as well as his meetings with Muslim leaders will be catalysts to a Christian population in Iraqi that will be thriving once more.

Thriving? Yes, thriving. Although a minority religion, there has been a thriving Christian population in Iraqi since the first century! Before our nation went to war with Iraqi, a number of Reformed Church Middle Eastern missionaries lobbied our government, and asked the Reformed Church in America, to lobby against military action. These missionaries felt that an invasion of Iraqi would be detrimental to the Christian population there. This prediction has proven to be quite accurate.

According to a report from “The Telegraph,” a gentleman named Saadallah Rassam, is the last Christian resident in the old City of Mosul. This town once had 50,000 Christians. Most of these Christians fled at the time after the war as Saddam Hussein’s grip on the country slipped and Islamic militants took control. As bad as Saddam was, he kept some of these militant groups under control and the Christian population was relatively safe with these groups under control.

Now the Iraqi state army is in control and the power of the militant groups has waned. What is left is a greatly diminished Christian population and many ancient churches destroyed through warfare. In the case of old Mosul, there is one Christian remaining and no standing churches. How tragic that the Christian population was “collateral damage” to our invasion of Iraqi.

Now, with the visit of Pope Francis, there is hope for proper treatment for Iraqi Christians. Even prior to his trip there has been a joint effort by Muslim and Christian groups to rebuild many of Iraqi’s ancient churches. Let us pray that the work of Pope Francis will led to the rejuvenation of a Christian presence in that nation. Currently it is practically vacant for the first time since the first century. Perhaps this can now change.

#ClintonAvenueReformedChurch                         #ReformedChurchInAmerica                    

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                    #BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                   #PopeFrancis

#Iraqi                                                                          #ChristianIraqis

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order a copy of his book:https://deepriverbooks.com/books/the-circle-of-seven/