Grandsons and Christian Mentoring

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

2021 Blog Number 42

October 18, 2021

Grandsons and Christian Mentoring

My younger grandson turned two years old this week. In just a few months my older one will be three years old. It does not seem possible that close to three years ago my life changed for the better with the arrival of a grandson. I really didn’t think that I was old enough to be a grandfather.

Sometimes I don’t realize how much these two guys have changed until I look back at old pictures. When I view them, I realize how incredibly these to have grown and transformed. I remember the past and I see the present. What will the future of these two boys be?

I have helped them to walk. I have encouraged them to speak clear words and worked on table manners and polite speech. I am now helping parents to teach them how to use a water closet properly so diaper expenses will be a thing of the past.

How about their faith? Can I be a good and faithful teacher of the Christian faith in these boys? Will my faith and life, as imperfect as they are, be effective in drawing these two in the Christian faith, life and fellowship. Granted, it is not only me who will be working toward this outcome. Parents, Grandparents, and the congregational community will also be hoping for and struggling toward this goal. To coin a phrase, it really does “take a village” to help a child become a disciple of Jesus Christ.

Yes, we all will be encouraging the boys to come to worship. Yes, we are reading Bible stories to the boys. Of course, we are praying for, and with, the boys, and teaching them to pray. More than that, we are all striving to be good role models of what adult Christians act like and sound like. I am grateful that other will be showing these examples. I often fall short of acting as a Christian gentleman should act.

I know the past and I know the present of these boys. What will the future be for them? I don’t know. It is up to God. I’ll be doing all that I can do for a good outcome and I’m sure that God will be blessing our good efforts and correcting us when we are off course. The final outcome? Only God knows. I will work as if it is all up to me and pray as if it is all up to God.

#ClintonAvenueReformedChurch                         #ReformedChurchInAmerica                    

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                    #BergenfieldNJ

#Grandsons                                                              #Discipleship

#ChristianMentoring                                                #Prayer                                 

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

One Young Man Lived and One Young Man Died

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

2021 Blog Number 41

October 11, 2021

One Young Man Lived and One Young Man Died

My Sunday afternoons are usually a mixture of happiness and fatigue. I’m happy after worship and the chance to interact with congregation members. I always feel fatigue when the adrenalin declines. I’m usually seeking a nap but that does not often come.

This Sunday was different. I received two notifications, one on Facebook and the other on email. Each of these caused me grief and sadness. My Sunday afternoon was not the one that I expected.

The Facebook notification was from a young man in the church who had a friend who had died suddenly. This young man had suffered from seizures. In fact, he almost died a year ago. During a seizure he stopped breathing. Fortunately, he was at the home of a nurse who quickly performed CPR and saved his life. Now, a year later, a massive seizure struck him. This kind young man, full of life and wanting to live, died suddenly.

The email I received from a young woman in the church was from an acquaintance of hers. This young man, suffering from a bi-polar disorder had sent out an email to his family and friends. This email was his will and was a time-dated email to go out after his death by suicide. In theory the email would go out after his death. God had other ideas. A friend of the young man thwarted his suicide attempt. The young man who wanted to die, lived.

In one period of a few hours, I learned of a man who wanted to live and died and one young man who wanted to die but lived. How is one to make sense of this? I really don’t know. Perhaps there is no sense to be made of this. Maybe I’m not supposed to understand. That is not my job. My job is to be the real presence of Christ to those who grieve a death and a suicide attempt. I don’t have to understand, I have to be there as a Godly presence to those involved. Life often makes no sense. There are tragedies that will boggle our minds in this life. I’m glad that I don’t have to understand. I only have to represent Christ in the midst of these crises and walk the dark valley with them.

God does not require my understanding but God does require me to stand with the grieving as they grieve. Please, join me in praying for those stricken by these events and the two men involved; the one who lived and the one who died.

#ClintonAvenueReformedChurch                         #ReformedChurchInAmerica                    

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                    #BergenfieldNJ

#Grief                                                                         #Suicide

#Depression                                                             #Seizures                             

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

Grief Delayed

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

2021 Blog Number 40

October 4, 2021

Grief Delayed

Saturday I spent part of my day away from my normal schedule of sermonizing and paused to watch an online memorial service for an important mentor, Rev. Allan Janssen. He died more than a year ago, in April 2020, of Covid-19. It is a sad tragedy that he has left us and hundreds of us who were mentored by him or were students of his, are mourning and missing him.

Somehow I did not fully feel the grief of losing him. Perhaps when he died I was too busy learning how to keep safe myself. Three weeks later, my own sister died, further pushing off my grief. This past Saturday, while participating in his memorial online, I finally felt it.

It was hard to control my tears. I’m glad that no one else was around to see my reaction. I must have looked like a sight, look at a computer with uncontrolled tears. Feeling every word that was spoken. Finally, with this service of worship, I had the chance to fully grieve.

Time had meant nothing in the grief process, but the public memorial meant everything to me. The memorial liturgy was familiar to me. I’ve used it dozens, if not hundreds of times, as I have presided at funerals and memorials. Yet, this time I heard the words of comfort more clearly. I was listening and not speaking. I was grieving, not presiding.

It was a grief delayed, but I finally got there. I was able to grieve in the presence of God and his faithful people. I can move on and live the life that Al would want me to live; faithful to God and faithful to the Reformed Church in America. Thank you, Al, for being such a good example of this.

#ClintonAvenueReformedChurch                         #ReformedChurchInAmerica                    

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                    #BergenfieldNJ

#Grief                                                                         #Rev.AllanJanssen                                     

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

Religious Exemption

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

2021 Blog Number 39

September 27, 2021

Religious Exemption

I have heard on the news that many people are requesting a “religious exemption” from getting vaccines. To me it seems that vaccines are more of a public health issue than a religious one. Recently a colleague from another denomination told me that a member of one church was unable to get an exemption from his priest and came to him requesting one. Of course, he declined. It makes me wonder if there are other exemptions we should seek, beside those from inoculations. Here is a list of other things that people might want to be exempt from.

  1. How about churches get religious exemptions for Board of Health retail food licenses? Each year, churches with kitchens who serve food must be licensed by the Board of Health. Maybe we should get exemptions from them also and simply risk serving food in unhealthy environments. I bet that if we pray well over the food, God will never allow anyone to be ill even if our kitchens are contaminated!
  2. The state regularly inspects church boilers to make sure that they are safe. The state does not feel that unsafe boilers should be running in public buildings. Shouldn’t we just trust God. God would never allow a church boiler to explode, would he? Let’s petition to get a religious exemption for boiler inspections as well.
  3. Maybe I should seek a religious exemption for child car seats as well. Why should I have to put my grandsons into a child car seat? Certainly, since I am a minister, God would never allow my grandsons to be hurt in a car accident. Come to think of it, why should Christians be required to use seat belts? How can anyone assume that God’s guardian angels won’t protect us even if we do risky behavior.

I hope you appreciate the satire in this blog. The fact is that Jesus told his disciples to “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to God what is God’s. He also taught against “putting God to the test.”

Saint Paul instructs that the government is put in place by God to bring order to and protection for citizens. Maybe the better witness to the world for Christians to make is not to seek religious exemptions but instead to cooperate with governmental regulations and guidelines. To not do so would be to defy the instructions of Jesus and Saint Paul. How good a witness to the world if we ourselves defy what our Lord instructs?

Religious exemptions? I speak against them.

#ClintonAvenueReformedChurch                         #ReformedChurchInAmerica                    

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                   

#BergenfieldNJ

#Vaccines                                                                  #ReligiousExemptions

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

It’s Too Late Now!

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

2021 Blog Number 38

September 20, 2021

It’s Too Late Now!

A month or so ago, I read a news article on the Yahoo news feed. It was an intriguing story of the pain a sadness of physicians who have been working diligently during the Covid-19 plague. One doctor, who works in a Southern state where the value of Covid vaccinations are minimized, told a very heart-wrenching story.

This physician had been fighting to save the life of an un-vaccinated patient who contracted Covid and whose condition was worsening. As he neared death, he looked at the doctor and asked if he could get the Covid-19 vaccine. The doctor had to tell him sadly, “It’s too late now.” Yes, the man died a few days later.

There are times in life when we wait too long and it is “too late.” I’ve not experienced it, but I know people who have arrived too late to the airport and missed a flight. Somethings in life have timeframes which are inflexible.

Relationships are especially like this. I have met a number of people who were estranged from family or friends. When the family member or friend dies without a reconciliation, the surviving member feels guilt knowing that reconciliation is not possible. It is too late.

How about your relationship with God? Will you build one before it is too late? Do you visit with God in his house? Do you talk to him each day? When was the last time that you inquired from God what he wishes you to do. This recent plague has taught us all that life is short. Our time to die has come any day. Have you made good plans to meet God face to face? If not, why not? If you wait too long to get right with God it might be “too late.”

#ClintonAvenueReformedChurch                         #ReformedChurchInAmerica                    

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                    #BergenfieldNJ

#CovidVaccines                                                       #Death

#Timing                                                                      #FriendOfGod

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

Twenty Years after 911

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

2021 Blog Number 37

September 13, 2021

Twenty Years after 911

I wrote this blog as I watched television coverage of the 911 Memorial. This, of course, is the twentieth anniversary of that murderous act. When I see it, I still get angry as I did twenty years ago. This anniversary is unique compared to the commemorations in the past. During the past commemorations, our military has been fighting in Afghanistan. This year, our military has left that country. Donald Trump signed the agreement and Joe Biden carried it out. The Taliban, with whom we fought in Afghanistan, now rules that nation. I don’t doubt that our military did thwart many potential terrorist attacks and yet I wonder if our real security doesn’t lie in other responses.

From what I read; terrorists are frequently funded by Middle Eastern oil money. I can’t help but wonder if the best way to attack terrorists is to attack their oil money. What if we Americans cut our energy uses. Upgrading our automobile technology and put money into renewable energy research might bring us closes to being independent of Middle East oil. The fewer oil dollars that we send to that region, the fewer resources that Middle East terrorists will have. What if we took the money that we had been spending on the military in Afghanistan and put it into renewable energy research? That is a lot of money!

We have been fighting a War on Terror for twenty years. Maybe it is time to fight this war economically instead of militarily. Perhaps that is the best tribute to those who died because of the 911 attacks and those brave soldiers who were killed, injured, or traumatized in this war. Can we make this happen? I bet we can.

#ClintonAvenueReformedChurch                         #ReformedChurchInAmerica                    

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                    #BergenfieldNJ

#911Memorial                                                           #WarOnTerror

#Terrorists                                                                 #RenewableEnergy

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

A Bitter-Sweet Vacation

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

2021 Blog Number 36

September 6, 2021

A Bitter-Sweet Vacation

One of the benefits of pastoring churches is the wonderful vacation packages that pastors receive. I am given a month of vacation. Usually I take off all of August. It is wonderfully refreshing to get a month to rewind before heading back for another academic year of pastoring.

This year was a bit different. Vacation was good but not quite as good as usual. It was mixed with grief and having to let go of some beloved friends. It took a bit of the joy away from vacation.

My sister died a year and a half ago. She died during the Covid-19 epidemic even though her death was not Covid-19 related. This summer I planted rose  bushes at my vacation cabin in her memory. Her name was Dawn and I planted roses named “Dawn Chorus” in her memory. I didn’t do this last year as I wasn’t quite ready. This year I felt ready.

During my time away, a beloved church elder died. She was the oldest elder in our congregation. Her death was no surprise. When I left for vacation she was in hospice. Nevertheless, her death was a sad event. I came back from vacation for her funeral.

Another beloved lady, a deacon, also died while I was away. She certainly was ill but I never expected this death so quickly. I though she had more time and fully expected to visit her when I returned. I guess that God had other ideas. I left vacation for two days for her funeral as well. These funerals were about one week apart and each left my life a bit emptier and placed sadness in my heart.

Was my vacation good? Yes, of course. I enjoyed rest, relaxation and some wonderful time with my family, especially my grandsons. Was there a bitterness as well? Yes, of course. I return from vacation finally putting closure on my sister’s death and I return knowing that I will never see a beloved elder and a beloved deacon again. My world has changed and when I leave vacation this evening and travel home, I am coming back to a community that will be quite different from the one I left. My world changed by these deaths and will never be the same again.

So, what do I do to manage this grief and begin life without these friends and colleagues? I will do what I always do; trust God. I believe that God brings us out of each dark valley that we walk through and brings us to better places. God’s presence is greater than my grief and that is something to celebrate.

#ClintonAvenueReformedChurch                         #ReformedChurchInAmerica                    

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                #BergenfieldNJ

#Vacation                                                                  #Grief

#Trust                                                                         #Death

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

What Would Jesus Do or Not Do?

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

2021 Blog Number 35

August 30, 2021

Vacation Blog #5

Pastor Mark is on vacation and is not writing blogs now. He pre-wrote and uploaded these vacation blogs before leaving on vacation. Because they are dated they may or may not reflect current event.

What Would Jesus Do or Not Do?

The week before I left for vacation I spent a wonderful day down the Jersey Shore. On the way home after a full day, I stopped in a McDonalds for a coffee to go. In the McDonalds was a man who wore a shirt that proclaimed, “Jesus Healed Lepers Without A Mask.” He graciously allowed me to photograph him. As I wear a mask to shield me from Covid-19, he expressed surprise that someone wearing a mask would want a photograph of his shirt.

This shirt is not one I would ever wear. It is factually correct, but misleading. It saddens me that so many professing Christians share this mentality. I can’t imagine how many deaths there have been because of this mentality and those who follow it.

Here are my problems with the shirt, and the thoughts that stand behind it:

It is true that Jesus did heal lepers without a mask. Leprosy is not an airborne disease. Covid-19 is. No mask is needed to guard against Leprosy.

Jesus was divine. We are not. Jesus could do a lot of things that we are not able to do. Jesus told Satan himself to “not put God to the test.” I believe that we are testing God when we don’t live as physicians advise.

Jesus said, “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s.” Our government has the authority to regulate affairs of public health. As Christian’s it is our responsibility to obey the government as long as the government’s orders do not keep us from our first loyalty, God.

When we refuse to prudently follow the advice of medical professionals we endanger ourselves and others. We might even be putting others in danger and show a bad witness to Jesus. We are called  “to love our neighbor as ourselves.” Is endangering others through Covid-19 really loving our neighbors?

It is time for all of us who are Christians to stand up and follow CDC quide lines. We need to “do no harm.” Acting arrogantly and foolishly does not give a good witness for Jesus Christ.

#ClintonAvenueReformedChurch                         #ReformedChurchInAmerica                    

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                   

#BergenfieldNJ

#Ocean Grove                                                         

#AsburyPark

#BradleyBeach                                                        

#CovidMasks

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

Shakespeare Is Timeless

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

2021 Blog Number 34

August 23, 2021

Vacation Blog #4

Pastor Mark is on vacation and is not writing blogs now. He pre-wrote and uploaded these vacation blogs before leaving on vacation. Because they are dated they may or may not reflect current event.

Shakespeare Is Timeless

The week before I left for vacation I spent a wonderful day down the Jersey Shore. Among other things I did that evening was go to a Shakespeare Festival at Bradley Beach. High quality performers from the Local Shakespeare Society were doing readings from various Shakespeare plays. In between readings were musical pieces from the Shakespeare era. It was wonderful harpsicord music. It was a most wonderful evening.

Fifty years ago, when I came to the beach I came with other interests. The thought of hearing Shakespeare at the beach would have been something that I would have laughed at, if I had even thought about it. Back then the shore for me was beach, sand, rides and Skee-ball. I still love the ocean, the sand and the smell of salt water but now I was able to appreciate Shakespeare in a way that I had never been able to before.

Hearing these excerpts, which I haven’t really heard since high school, reminded me that original sin, and the ways that that  sin presents itself, does not change. Crime stories and novels of our modern era have the same themes of Shakespeare. Themes of power, greed, betrayal, violence are in Shakespeare and our modern life. Since the fall of humanity in the Garden of Eden, humans have struggled with the conflict between being submissive to God and the desire to be self-centered. In our Holy Scriptures the lesson is simple: be submissive and obedient to God. Shakespeare plays are tragedies of the evil that comes from making ourselves the centers of our lives.

So, why is Shakespeare still popular? Because the themes of Shakespeare’s plays are the themes of our day. Perhaps we all need to read Shakespeare next to the Bible. Shakespeare can be the tragedy and the Bible can be the alternative.

#ClintonAvenueReformedChurch                         #ReformedChurchInAmerica                    

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                   

#BergenfieldNJ

#Ocean Grove                                                         

#AsburyPark

#BradleyBeach                                                        

#Shakespeare

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

Vacation Blog #3: Where Did The Women Go?

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

2021 Blog Number 33

August 16, 2021

Vacation Blog #3

Pastor Mark is on vacation and is not writing blogs now. He pre-wrote and uploaded these vacation blogs before leaving on vacation. Because they are dated they may or may not reflect current event.

Where Did The Women Go?

The week before I left for vacation I spent a wonderful day down the Jersey Shore. One of the sights that stood out for me was the announcement of the speakers for the Sunday Worship Service in the Great Auditorium. As a child I never attended a service in the auditorium but I did attend programs there. Particularly I attended organ concerts there. As a boy I was overwhelmed by the crowds (the auditorium was packed) as well as the grandeur of the organ. There certainly were men in the crowd but, like my home church, two thirds of the attenders were women. Indeed, in many places in my lifetime, women have made up the majority of the faithful who supported congregations with their attendance and cash. So why were there no women ministers?

Several groups of Methodists ordained women ministers as early as the 1860’s. The mainline United Methodist Church allowed women to be full ministers in 1956. There was still rumblings about this in the 1960’s when I was a Sunday School student.

In 1979, after I had become part of the Reformed Church, I was shocked that the Reformed church was still debating women’s ordination. I thought that this issue had been settled by Christians decades before. I had only begun to realize how different denominations could be on pivotal issues.

Women in both the United Methodist Church and the Reformed Church in America, now make up a large percentage of our ministers. Women have now been ordained in the United Methodist Church for 65 years. Why are no women invited to preach at the Great Auditorium? Clergy Women who I know have long told me that although women are ordained, they often feel backwashed and held down. In short, they feel there is the proverbial “glass ceiling” in the church. When I see this “male-only” roster at the Great Auditorium I can’t help but wonder if the female clergy I know are correct.

If this is true, it is a true injustice. The church that claims to fight against injustice might want to address this issue.

#ClintonAvenueReformedChurch                         #ReformedChurchInAmerica                    

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                   

#BergenfieldNJ

#Ocean Grove                                                         

#AsburyPark

#BradleyBeach                                                         #Women’sOrdination

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