Monday Ministerial Musings By Rev. Mark William Ennis Blog Number 41 December 9, 2019 Military Arms

Military Arms

Renaissance Man, staring Danny De Vito is an old film now, but I was thinking about it recently. In this movie, Danny De Vito is hired to instruct a group of under-functioning soldiers how to think critically. He instructs them by teaching them Shakespeare and succeeds in instructing them not to be just soldiers, but soldiers and scholars. There is more to being a warrior than strength and fighting.

This reminds me of the Medieval code that knights swore to when becoming warriors in Europe. The code is as follows:

1. Believe the Church’s teachings and observe all the Church’s directions
2. Defend the Church
3. Respect and defend the weak
4. Love your country
5. Do not fear your enemy
6. Show no mercy and do not hesitate to make war with the infidel
7. Perform all your feudal duties as long as they do not conflict with the laws of God
8. Never lie or go back on one’s word
9. Be generous
10. Always and everywhere be right and good against evil and injustice

And so, it is today that our soldiers are called upon to not just be capable making warfare but to defend and respect the weak. They must be violent when called upon as well be gentle and protective of the weak. How is one person to do all of these things. My hunch is that these soldiers need our help to balance such opposite behaviors.

On Saturday, my son-in-law returned from deployment with the National Guard. He was serving a mission in the horn of Africa and this was his fourth deployment. This return is different. He was married shortly before deploying and his son was born while he was away. Now, he returns as a husband and father. His warrior ways must yield to his loving protective ways. I bet he needs help and support to do this.

We train our young people in the ways of the warrior and send them off. Now, when they return, we must help them learn the skills of loving nurturers. Military arms must now hold spouses and children, not guns. Let us all be there for our returning warriors.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                 #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                     #BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                    #NJNationalGuard

#113thRegiment                                                       #44thInfantryBrigadeCombatTeam

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order a copy of his book:

Monday Ministerial Musings By Rev. Mark William Ennis Blog Number 40 December 2, 2019 Thanksgiving Day?

Thanksgiving Day has always been a wonderful time for me. One of my greatest memories of this day was watching The March of the Wooden Soldiers on television while smelling the turkey cook in the electric roaster. Each commercial I would run into the kitchen to look through the window on top of the roaster to see the turkey cook. I would have removed the top to look except my mother always forbid me from doing this. To this day I love the smell of turkey cooking in an electric roaster which I purchased several years ago. Thanksgiving is still a wonderful day.

This year, at church, and at home, we began Thanksgiving dinner began with each person sharing what he/she was most thankful for during the year. We also told of our number one hope for the next year. It was fun to hear from each person and this conversation enabled us to get to know one another on a very deeper level than we all had previously known. I do hope to repeat this ritual during future Thanksgiving celebrations.

I wonder why we only “give thanks” once every year. Should we not be thankful each and every day? I have gone through difficult times in my life and yet, even in those times, my life has been easy compared to the lives that millions of people around the world live. My worst day is better than the days of the majority of people on the earth. Should we not be as thankful every day of our lives as we are on Thanksgiving Day?

This is a challenge to everyone reading this. Will you join me each day of the year in articulating what we are most thankful for at that time, and our hope for the next day? I bet that if we practiced thanksgiving every day and not on one day, our peace and joy will increase and our joy will be contagious. Let us celebrate Thanksgiving Life, not just Thanksgiving Day.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                             #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch                                                     #BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                               #ThanksgivingDay


To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order a copy of his book: 

Monday Ministerial Musings By Rev. Mark William Ennis Blog Number 39 November 25, 2019 Celebrating Faith

Here in Bergenfield we are celebrating our 125th anniversary. We have celebrated a number of events during this past year and they have been well attended and well received. New and old residents have come together to share the long history of our town.

Last afternoon our town held the latest of our celebrations; an interfaith celebration. It was held at the high school auditorium and featured presentations and testimonies by eight different faith communities. We sang, prayed, listened to one another and celebrated the faith that each group brought to share.

The differences of musical presentations were rather extreme ranging from an ancient chant performed by an Orthodox Christian Church, to a Psalm in Hebrew taught to us by a Rabbi, to the upbeat music of Latin Pentecostal churches. The music was very different, but all praised our creator. It was a holy and sacred event.

Someday, when the faithful arrive in paradise, we shall meet many different types of faithful people. Yesterday we received a small taste of that future paradise. It tasted good. The faithful of Bergenfield shined the light of God brightly yesterday. May we continue to do so that our town might be full of God’s light.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                             #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch                                                     #BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                               #125thAnniversary

#InterfaithCelebration                                                           #Worship

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order a copy of his book:

Monday Ministerial Musings By Rev. Mark William Ennis November 18, 2019 Recharging The Clergy’s Spiritual Batteries

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

Blog Number 38

November 18, 2019

Recharging The Clergy’s Spiritual Batteries

Yesterday my daughter was installed as the new pastor of the First Reformed Church of Boonton, NJ. It was a wonderful event. Folks from her new congregation were joined by members of her new Classis as well as old friends from various churches and congregations in the area. I had a most wonderful time with old friends and making new friends. The worship service was inspiring and I enjoyed sitting in the pew to receive communion instead of being the one who presides over the sacrament. It was refreshing to be able to sit and partake. Holding one of my grandsons during the service made it even more special.

How does a minister worship? Ministers by nature are leading worship but how do they get the opportunity to sit and worship, to be nurtured by singing and praying? Where do ministers recharge their spiritual batteries?

Lately I have been reading many reports of “ministerial burn out.” I don’t know why I have to read such reports. I sometimes feel it and know colleagues who have experienced “burn out.” It is no wonder. The clergy sexual scandals that have, too often, occurred, have caused many people to dis-trust all clergy. Once held in high-esteem, ministers are no longer looked up to as they once were. Churches were full a generation ago but now fewer people hold church participation as important.

So, where does a minister go to worship and pray? I wonder if all of us ought to find churches with different worship times to attend where we can simply sit, worship, sing and pray. Perhaps we do this too rarely. Worship is good for all, including the clergy. Sitting at worship might do all of us who are ordained a great deal of good. Maybe this should be a goal for all of us. When we recharge our spiritual batteries, we will do others a great deal of good.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                             #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch                                                     #BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                                #Worship

#SpiritualRenewal                                                                #ClergyWorship

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order a copy of his book:

Monday Ministerial Musings By Rev. Mark William Ennis Blog Number 37 November 11, 2019 A Resilient Saint

I write this blog about, and with the permission of, a saint of our congregation. Her name is Marilyn but she goes by the names of Aunt Marilyn or Miss Marilyn. She is truly a saint, full of good works, and the resiliency to adapt her good works based on her declining energy. I won’t disclose her age, but she does remember the attack on Pearl Harbor and that should give you some idea. 

She is an elder and in the past she has been a member of our governing board (Consistory) and has served as vice-president of that body. Her outstanding achievements have been in cooking and hospitality. She reads cook-books like novels and has graced us with her culinary skills at many church functions, as well as the dinners served at community groups. But this is not her outstanding achievement. That is her care for the homeless in our area.

Several times a year our congregation feeds the hungry of our area at the Bergen County Shelter. In years gone by, Elder Marilyn has cooked, coordinated and served at these events. She has lamented recently that health problems have precluded her ability to actively participate in this feeding program. For a woman who has always been active in hospitality, this was heart-breaking. But, she is a resilient saint. She found a way to be a part of our recent dinner-hosting.

Elder Marilyn started two weeks before the event and began baking home-made cookies for those that we would serve. She prepared 105 zip-lock bags, each containing one each of five different types of cookies. Being afraid of running short, she then 40 extra bags of cookies. These did not all have the same variety, but were equally home baked, and good. If she was not able to serve one way, she served another.

Where there is a will, there is a way. Marilyn could not serve one way, but found another way. I wish that all of us in Christ’s family had the burning desire to serve as she serves, and the adaptability to find new ways of doing it. She is a role model for all of us. Many people admire her. My advice is if you admire her, imitate her. Be faithful to Christ. Serve as she serves. As old ways of serving no longer work, find new ways.

This is a tribute to Marilyn, an adaptable saint and role model. Let us all live as faithfully as she does!

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                             #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch                                                     #BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                                #Saints

#GoodWorks                                                                          #Aging

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order a copy of his book:

Monday Ministerial Musings By Rev. Mark William Ennis Blog Number 36 November 4, 2019 Choices for Children

My older grandson made a discovery this week, our piano. He smiled when he stood by it and was able to make noise on it. Quickly I moved his highchair over and let him bang away. I’m doing the opposite of my parents. When I was a child and was intrigued by the sounds of a piano at church, I was quickly hauled away and was told not to “bang on it.” That was something only trained musicians could do. Whatever interest I had in piano playing quickly left. Without a piano at home, and no musicians in my immediate family, I don’t know if I ever would have become a serious piano student, but who knows. With a little encouragement I might have.

My grandson has a bit of an advantage over me. His mother took voice lessons, his aunt plays flute, his grandmother plays piano, as did his late great-grandmother and his father plays bass guitar. He has a genetic musical advantage. Genetics aside. I want to talk about having the opportunity we gave him by having him live with a piano and not discouraging him from trying it. We must place opportunities in front of our children if we are to see their interests and potential.

It disappoints me that few people who want their children baptized give their children opportunities to develop a Christian faith. For many parents, baptism is important, yet exposing them to faith is unimportant. Sports and other activities come before prayer, praise and worship. How can a child develop faith if not exposed to it. By being absent from church, parents have chosen the “no faith” option for their children. This has effects upon our society.

I hear complaints about the “lack of civility” in our political discourse. I agree. Compared to political debates that I remember as a child, we have become course. Gone are the days of civility in debating in politics and speaking to one another. I wonder if this is caused by our lack of faith participation. Religious faithfulness was assumed in the middle part of the 1900’s. The majority of people attended church and Sunday School and our discourse was more polite and loving.

With the reluctance of people to engage in faithful worship, we have the demise of civility. We are now paying the price of parents choosing to not add faith to a child’s activity. Is this really good for individuals or our society? Has our rejection of God served us well.

I encourage parents, especially those who have had their children baptized, to return to church and to bring their children. We all pay the price for children not knowing God and not living within the rules of faith. Children develop what they are exposed to. Should they not be exposed to faith? Faith, I believe, is the cure for our lack of civility toward one another.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                             #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch                                                     #BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                               #CivilDiscourse

#FaithChoices                                                                      #ChristianParents

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order a copy of his book:

Monday Ministerial Musings By Rev. Mark William Ennis Blog Number 35 October 28, 2019 Cutting The Umbilical Cord

My second grandson was born almost two weeks ago. He was born under unique circumstances. My son-in-law is deployed to another continent with the United States Army. Since he was not available for the birth of his son, my wife and younger daughter filled in as birthing coaches for my older daughter. On the day of the delivery my one daughter drove her pregnant sister to the hospital while my wife wrapped up her work two hours away and began her journey. I baby-sat my first grandson while the women gathered in the hospital room.

Those who know my family know that we are full of ministers. I am a minister, my younger daughter is a minister, my wife is a minister, as was my late father-in-law. We are full of ministers. And so, it was that my daughter delivered my second grandson with the assistance of two Reformed Church ministers in addition to the professional medical staff.

It was late when I learned of my new grandson’s arrival. My younger daughter gave me the news, first through texting, and then in person. It was the next day that I got to see the new little boy. It was several days before I learned that his umbilical cord was cut not by the medical staff but by my daughter. She was given the honor of cutting the cord between her sister and nephew before the baby was wrapped and placed in his mother’s arms.

And so, the umbilical cord was cut, but the second connection between mother and child, breast bonding, began. The miracle of birth certainly is always sacred. Maybe I am just sentimental, but it seems to me that there is something even more sacred about having two Christian ministers attending the birth, cutting the cord, and placing the baby on his mother’s breast. I know it is not practical, but how wonderful it would be if every one of the births in our congregations was attended by Christian women ministers who did these sacred acts. Representatives of God cutting the cord for a faithful mother; what a Godly dream this is. 

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                             #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch                                                     #Bergenfield

#BergenCountyNJ                                                               #UmbilicalCord

#Birth                                                                                      #GodlyBirthing

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order a copy of his book:

Monday Ministerial Musings By Rev. Mark William Ennis Blog Number 34 October 21, 2019 United by a Common Liturgy

I spent three days this week in Michigan attending our national Reformed Church in America Commission meetings. I was honored a year ago when I was appointed to be on the Christian Action Commission for the Reformed Church in America. Now, each year, I gather with members of my commission for meetings and to write papers addressing social action concerns. These papers are presented at our General Synod.

Each morning the members of various commissions gather together for worship and, on the last day, we gather for communion. Everyone in the room was either a minister or an elder and each of us had been part of the Reformed Church for a very long time. We all knew our communion liturgy rather well. I was honored to be asked to be one of the six people asked to distribute communion. It was quite an august body to be serving.

I was surprised that I did not see the printed communion liturgies placed on our tables. The worship leader began to read our liturgy, the same one used in our local congregation, and I realized that we did not need a liturgy. We each knew it well enough to say from memory the people’s parts. No matter where we were from, or what our ethnic makeup was, we knew the Reformed Church in America communion liturgy. It was what united us in Jesus.

I have heard some criticisms in recent years about our liturgy. Some people say it is too long while others tell me that using it often “takes away its meaning.” I argue that it is what unites us around Christ’s table. Even without it written, we all knew it. The communion felt as natural for us as if we were having communion back home. Is the liturgy too long or too rote? I don’t think so. It is a ritual that unites us and makes us feel at home no matter how far away from home we are.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                             #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch                                                     #Bergenfield

#BergenCountyNJ                                                               #HolyCommunion

#Liturgy                                                                                  #LastSupper

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order a copy of his book: 

Monday Ministerial Musings By Rev. Mark William Ennis Blog Number 33 October 14, 2019 Chicken Rotisseries and Transformative Love

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I have been on a two-year quest to find a Chicken Rotisserie. I love the taste of Rotisserie Chicken but would rather cook it myself than buy one at the local grocery. Perhaps I am foolish but I enjoy the craft of cooking for myself. My last Rotisserie burned out and I have been searching garage sales looking for a replacement. I’m too frugal to pay full retail price. My garage sale searches have been fruitless.

This weekend my daughter did a quick search on Facebook Marketplace. She found me a never-used rotisserie in the next town for a fraction of the retail price. Within an hour, she and I were picking it up from a woman who had purchased it, never used it, and sat it on a shelf. This un-loved, un-used rotisserie quickly found a home where it was loved and appreciated. It cooked its first chicken for me just a little more that 24 hours after it came home with me. In the right hands, with a little appreciation, it transformed from being unloved and useless to an appreciated member of my kitchen appliance collection.

I wish that every person would find a relationship that moves one from being un-used and useless to being purposeful and appreciated. I imagine that this is what mentoring is all about. I am a person who was changed and transformed by such a mentor. The person that I was entering college and the person that I was upon graduation was due to a wonderful Christian man who saw the good in me. I went from aimless to purposeful in those years of mentoring.

If you are feeling aimless, I encourage you to locate a mature Christian who can mentor you. If you are a mature Christian I encourage you to find someone without purpose and become that individual’s mentor. A relationship with the right person can, and will be, transformative. Let us mentor, and be mentored, in Jesus’ name.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                             #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch                                                     #Bergenfield

#BergenCountyNJ                                                               #Mentors

#Usefulness                                                                          #TransformativeLove

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order a copy of his book: