New Brunswick Theological Seminary Prophetic Ministry Award

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

2022 Blog #20

May 23, 2022

New Brunswick Theological Seminary Prophetic Ministry Award

It was a pleasure to return to New Brunswick Theological Seminary this past weekend. I haven’t attended an in-person event there since the beginning of the COVID pandemic. There are certainly mask restrictions and medical precautions, but events are in person again. I attended baccalaureate this year for a specific purpose: to join Dr. Pamela Pater-Ennis in celebrating an honor that she received. The Alumni Association of the seminary gave her the “Prophetic Ministry Award.” This award is given to an alumni who has a ministry that is prophetic in nature.

Certainly Dr. Pam does not fit our image of an old testament prophet. Such prophets were often eccentric and lived on the fringe of mainline society while proclaiming God’s message to various individuals and/or institutions. The role of the prophet was often to confront non-just systems and demand in God’s name that the institutions conform to God’s righteousness and justice.

So, what makes Dr. Pam eligible for such a prophetic ministry award? She was nominated because of her newly created program, “My Sanctuary Healing.” Dr. Pam, angry that people have been abused by various churches, upset that often blamed themselves for their abuse, wanted every Christian in every church to be diligent in preventing abuse in Christ’s Church, formed “My Sanctuary Healing.” The goal is to help abuse survivors heal and to develop programing to keep future abuse from happening.

With “My Sanctuary Healing” Dr. Pam speaks God’s word to abusers, the abused and institutions that have fostered and tolerated abuse. The goal, of course, is that there will be no more abuse in the church of Christ.

I am pleased that the Alumni Association of New Brunswick Seminary had chosen Dr. Pam to receive this award. I am also happy that many of the National Staff of the Reformed Church of America were present for the seminary’s festivities and now word of “My Sanctuary Healing” is known in national Reformed Church circles.

I thank Dr. Pam for starting this prophetic program of healing.

I thank her for speaking out against this modern evil.

I thank the consistory of the Clinton Avenue Reformed Church for endorsing this program.

I thank the alumni association of New Brunswick Theological Seminary for honoring Dr. Pam in this way.

May this program bring healing to many and prevent the abuse of even more people.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                 #PastorMarkAuthor            

#BergenCounty                                                       

#BergenfieldNJ

#MySanctuaryHealing                                             #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#NewBrunswickTheologicalSeminary                  #NewBrunswickSeminaryAlumni

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

What Did Our Military Sacrifice For?

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

2022 Blog #19

May 16, 2022

What Did Our Military Sacrifice For?

I received a great honor this week. I was asked to pray and invocation and benediction at the Bergen County Military Appreciation Month Ceremony. I gave up part of a “day off” to participate, but it was such an honor I couldn’t turn it down. It isn’t every day that you can publicly honor our past and present military members. Even though I have never served in the military, I know many people who have and continue to do so. They certainly deserve our respect and appreciation.

At this event I had the honor of sitting next to the keynote speaker, Dr. Cindy R. Jebb who is the President of Ramapo College, former Dean of West Point, and a retired Brigadier General from the United States Army. She was an interesting woman to speak with and gave an inspiring presentation.

Honors were given to a group of selected veterans including a few from World War II. There are few of that generation to honor anymore. As a child most veterans I knew were from that war. Now there are few from World War II or Korea as most are from Vietnam and our several wars in the Middle-East. All of them, of course, deserve our honor, respect, and praise.

And yet, I could not help but wonder what their sacrifice was for. Our nation is now in chaos with groups in conflict against each other. Congress is still investigating the “insurrection” of little more than a year ago. I prefer the word “treason” to “insurrection” but I think I’m in the middle of legal definitions here. Mothers can no longer buy formula for their children and inflation is causing great harm on our poorest citizens. Our nation is beginning to look like a third world nation. Is this really what our military members sacrificed for?

At last the Chorale Ensemble from Bergen County Academies rose to sing God Bless America. Young people from all walks of life and from very different ethnic backgrounds came together to sing a prayer for God’s blessing on our nation. These young people represented our hopes and dreams for the future. I was deeply moved by their rendition of this classis hymn. The sacrifice of all our military is for the future; the next generation. Perhaps this new generation will be more united and less divided, will be smarter in solving problems than past generations have. I thank our military and our veterans for preserving our nation so that the next generation can improve us.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                 #PastorMarkAuthor            

#BergenCounty                                                        #BergenfieldNJ

#MilitaryAppreciationMonthCeremony                 #BergenCountyAcademies

#ChoralEnsemble                                                    #Dr.CindyR.Jebb

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

How to make joy last forever

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

2022 Blog #18

May 9, 2022

How to make joy last forever

Last week I blogged about grief and how long it can last. I thank so many friends who commented with helpful advice. This week I wish to blog on joy and how long that can last.

Eight days ago I had the joy of baptizing my newest grandson, Samuel. I love baptizing children. It is a true pastoral joy. I liken this level of joy to the joy that I recall when I witnessed the birth of my daughters and held my grandsons for the first time. The joy of birth and the joy of welcoming new babies into the church is very similar. How do we keep that joy filled feeling from diminishing? How long can joy last?

Life is indeed a mixture of joy and grief. All of us have experienced some of each. How do we live so that we celebrate joy and keep our experienced grief at bay. I do know some people who seem to focus on the negative and ignore the positive. Likewise I know people who only seem to remember he joys and somehow are not affected by the grief that they have endured.

A wise man once told me to remember the Cherokee proverb that says that there are two wolves living within us. The one wolf is good and the other is bad. These two fight with one another for domination of our souls. The wolf that we feed is the one that will win the fight.

We choose whether to feed the joy within us or to feed the grief and hurts within us. How do we starve grief and feed the joy? Quite simply, it is a matter of which we pay attention to more. If we intentionally remember our joys we will reinforce them. Whenever the griefs begin to rise to the surface we can train ourselves to think of a joyful memory. Little by little we can transform ourselves from grief to joy. We all carry both. The question is which will we nurture and which we will neglect.

I pray that we all, even in troubled times, nurture joy and become joy-filled people.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                 #PastorMarkAuthor            

#BergenCounty                                                        #BergenfieldNJ

#Baptism                                                                   #God’sFamily

#Grief                                                                         #Joy

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

How Long Does Grief Last?

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

2022 Blog #17

May 2, 2022

How Long Does Grief Last?

Two years ago, like many if not most, Americans, I was struck by grief. At the beginning of April 2020 a beloved friend and mentor Rev. Dr. Allan J. Janssen died of COVID-19. His wife was sickened also but survived. The two contracted the illness while out to dinner with another Reformed Church icon, Rev. Dr. Gregg Mast and his wife. Gregg and his wife also contracted COVID-19. Gregg fought to live an additional three weeks but finally died on April 27. Like Al’s wife, Gregg’s wife was sickened but survived.

I was still reeling from these deaths when I was called on April 29 to check on my sister. She had not gone to work and was not responding to phone calls from work nor to wellness calls by the local police department. I found her and it was clear that she had died on April 28 while preparing for work.

Over the past two years I thought that I had largely healed from the grief of these three losses. I think about them less and less each day as my life has continued. I was busy with daily work at church and enjoying grandparenting with my three grandsons. Grief, I thought was over as current evens took over. I was wrong. It was buried, not eliminated.

On Facebook I began to read tributes to Al and Gregg and my waves of grief came back and overwhelmed me. Suddenly I was grieving as I had done two years before. I had the feeling that emotionally I was stuck in a time two years before and was asking the questions, “how long does grief last” and “does anyone really outlive grief?”

These are feeling that congregations have as well as individuals. Many congregations have suffered many losses during these last two years of COVID-19. How long will congregations grieve and how will they overcome grief?

I guess that we never truly get over grief. We simply deal with it enough so that it does not keep us from living in the present or looking forward to the future. Grief is part of living but we must never let it become the core of our lives. We surrender it to God and allow God to use our grief and channel it for better, more faithful, future days.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                 #PastorMarkAuthor            

#BergenCounty                                                        #BergenfieldNJ

#RevDrAllanJJanssen                                             #RevDrGreggMast

#DawnRuthEnnis                                                     #Grief

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

Reminder: Don’t Take Our Children For Granted

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

2022 Blog #16

April 25, 2022

Reminder: Don’t Take Our Children For Granted

Friday is the one day that I take off each week. It is often a busy day with my catching up on errands and getting domestic projects done that I have not gotten to during the week. I do lead a very busy life. This past Friday was the greatest and worst of all possible days.

It started out rather well. I spent the day at the home of one of my daughters. We helped her set up the new bedroom for her two boys. My other daughter and her son also joined us. It is always fun to have family dinners, especially when all three of my grandsons are present. I’m still nostalgic when it comes to a family gathered around a dinner table sharing a meal and sharing lives with one another.

I was in a tremendous mood as I left to drive back home and drop my other daughter and grandson back at their home in the nearby town of New Milford. I was surprised when I entered her complex and saw a ring of police, fire department vehicles, and all manner of emergency vehicles. I did not know what was happening but with all the vehicles present I knew that the incident could not be good.

I stopped and ask several people in the crowd of spectators that were gathered. These people informed me that a teenager, a senior at New Milford High School, had entered the pond in the center of the complex and had never come out. The emergency vehicles were conducting a search and recovery operation. Approximately one hour after I spoke to these concerned people, the young man’s body was recovered. As feared, he was deceased.

I did not learn any details until the next day. The details distressed me as much as the initial report. Clinten Ajit is the deceased young man. He was eighteen years old and a high school senior. He was doing a good deed at the time of his death. A group of younger people were playing soccer when their ball was kicked into a pond in the center of the complex. Clinten volunteered to enter the water and retrieve the ball. One of the soccer-playing boys described Clinten walking into the water and with each step, sinking until he was out of sight.

Now a family is grieving. An entire community is in shock. School friends are in disbelief at losing a fellow student who was described as friendly, driven, and popular.  I’m sure that the group of soccer players are feeling guilty. It was their soccer ball that Clinten was fetching at the time of his death. None of the people who had interacted with Clinten on his final day could have imagined that this was the last time that they would be seeing them.

Life is short. We cannot take tomorrow for granted. This tragedy reminds us of the importance of showing affection toward those we love. We can’t wait for tomorrow to do so. Tomorrow may never come. None of us know how many days we have or how many days our loved-ones have. Let us pray for all those who are now grieving Clinten’s death. Let us remember to love those around us and treat them as if it is the last time that we will see them. It just might be.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                 #PastorMarkAuthor            

#BergenCounty                                                        #BergenfieldNJ

# NewMilfordNJ                                                        #DorchesterManor

# NewMilfordHighSchool                                        #ClintenAjit

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

Homeless During Holy Week

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

2022 Blog #15

April 18, 2022

Homeless During Holy Week

In the Christian community we refer to the week between Palm Sunday and the Sunday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus as “Holy Week.” By tradition it is a time of contemplating Jesus’ suffering and death as well as introspection about our own sin in preparation for the joyous celebration of Jesus’ resurrection. This Holy week I had more than enough suffering to contemplate.

On Monday of Holy Week a man from Pennsylvania opened fire on passengers on a subway in Brooklyn. Several of the victims will spend Holy Week in the hospital and will not spend this time at home with their families.

On Tuesday, the next day, a house in my neighborhood caught fire. Despite the very professional work of our volunteer fire company, the house  is no longer inhabitable. A family affiliated with the local Roman Catholic church will now spend Holy Week without a home.

On Wednesday, my childhood friend, Lidia T. Hawryluk, posted videos and pictures of a new wave of refugees from Ukraine who have been displaced by Putin’s war. They too will be homeless for Holy Week.

This news is quite depressing and my heart goes out to these people suffering to this extent. But I know that Holy Week isn’t over yet. The lesson of Holy Week and the day of Jesus’ resurrection is that God gets the last word. Yes, these people are suffering and this suffering will continue, but not forever. As bad as Holy Week is, Resurrection Day is coming.

Sometimes it appears that the bad is winning, but we who have faith in Jesus know that as bad as things can be, Jesus’ resurrection trumps everything bad. No matter what we have endured, they are insignificant compared to the glory that Christ’s people will see.

If you are feeling overwhelmed by the troubles of the world, draw close to Christ and feel his presence and his peace. It isn’t over until God says it is.

If you would like to contribute to help care for Ukrainian refugees please contribute by this link: https://www.rca.org/give/2022-european-crisis-response/

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                 #PastorMarkAuthor            

#BergenCounty                                                        #BergenfieldNJ

# Ukraine                                                                   #Russia

# LidiaTHawryluk                                                     #UkrainianChildren

#HolyWeek                                                                #Jesus’Resurrection

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

Marked as Belonging

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

2022 Blog #14

April 11, 2022

Marked as Belonging

We are now in the beginning of Holy Week which is the most sacred week of the Christian year. It is a time of reflection and repentance. It is a time to celebrate the sacrifice of Jesus, God in human form. Perhaps this year, with the war in Ukraine continuing, contemplation of sin and a fallen world, is a bit more obvious. We are reminded daily of the horrors of war.

Lidia T. Hawryluk, my Ukrainian friend from childhood recently posted a horrible and haunting picture of children in the war zone of Ukraine. These children have letters placed with markers on their backs. The letters tell who each child is, who the parents are, and where the child is from. What is the point of this? The point is that in case of the death of the children’s parents, rescuers will know who the children are. This practice became common as the number of civilian casualties has increased leaving many children orphaned.

It burns my heart that civilian deaths are so high in this war of Putin’s. My heart breaks because of the rise of the number of orphans in Ukraine. I want to cry that parents know that they stand a good chance of dying and are hoping that someone else will find and raise their children. Can you imagine not knowing if you will survive tonight and be wondering who will be taking care of your children tomorrow? That is a nightmare that I would rather not contemplate but it is a reality  for many parents in war-torn Ukraine. On the verge of death, they are watching out for the welfare of their children.

This Holy Week, as with all Holy Weeks we contemplate God’s love for us and his watching out for our welfare both in this life and in the afterlife. Like those children in Ukraine, when we are part of Christ, we have the name of God etched upon us. Let us spend this Holy Week thanking God for making us his own and let us live lives that show gratitude for placing his name on us.

Both adult and juvenile refugees are still fleeing Ukraine and need our support. If you would like to contribute to help care for these refugees please contribute by this link: https://www.rca.org/give/2022-european-crisis-response/

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                 #PastorMarkAuthor            

#BergenCounty                                                        #BergenfieldNJ

# Ukraine                                                                   #Russia

#Peace                                                                      #Refugees    

# LidiaTHawryluk                                                        #UkrainianChildren

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

Do the Next Thing

Our daily devotional is a re-post with permission from Words Of Hope. Come view our website at www.clintonave.org.

Do the Next Thing

By Jon Opgenorth on April 6, 2022

Read: John 6:1-14

Have the people sit down. (v. 10)

I tend to be more like Philip than Andrew. As I look over the tasks on my to-do list or consider the responsibilities of my leadership role, I can be overcome with inadequacy and see the impossibility of accomplishing what needs to be done. When Jesus asked Philip where they could buy bread to feed the multitudes, Philip’s quick math didn’t add up: “Two hundred denarii would not buy enough” (John 6:7). He froze in the face of what seemed impossible.

Jesus, of course, was not flustered. He had a plan all along. He wanted to teach Philip that he was able to supply all that was needed, even more. Andrew didn’t have much more confidence in the little boy’s lunch, but he did bring what meager resources he had to Jesus. Together, Andrew and Philip learned the truth, as the apostle Paul prayed, that God is “able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think” (Eph. 3:20). The resources of Jesus are without limit.

I take three things from this passage as I look over my to-do list. First, God is not surprised by the overwhelming nature of the mission he calls us to. Second, our work is not to get lost in the anxiety of what we think is impossible but to look for what God has already provided. Finally, offer thanks to God and do the next thing. —Jon Opgenorth

As you pray, ask God to show you his provision for what concerns you today.

Holy Disruption

Our daily devotional is a re-post with permission from Words Of Hope. Come view our website at www.clintonave.org.

Holy Disruption

By Jon Opgenorth on April 5, 2022

Read: John 5:1-18

He was even calling God his own Father. (v. 18)

John recorded fewer miracle stories than other gospel writers, but each one is full of meaning and grows our belief in Jesus. In this miracle, Jesus disrupted the false narratives of both the 38-year-old paralyzed man and the self-righteous religious leaders. The man on his mat placed his confidence in the false hope that if he could be the first one to the pool when the water stirred, he could be healed. Jesus disrupted the narrative by stirring the man to his feet: “Get up, take up your bed, and walk” (John 5:8). And he did!

The Jewish leaders placed their confidence in the false hope of their interpretation of God’s law. Jewish oral traditions contained 39 categories of work that broke Sabbath, including the carrying of mats! Jesus disrupted the narrative by not only healing on the Sabbath, but also by commanding the man to “take up” his bed, thus breaking the Sabbath. The disruption only grew when they confronted Jesus. He stunned them with the claim, “My Father is working until now, and I am working” (v. 17). This moment brought a tipping point. Jesus was claiming equality with God. They couldn’t see how this could be, so they began “seeking all the more to kill him” (v. 18).

It all makes me wonder, what false hopes am I placing confidence in? How do I assume my interpretation of God’s Word is correct? The solution is to have eyes like Jesus. He only does “what he sees the Father doing” (v. 19). —Jon Opgenorth

As you pray, ask for eyes to see what Jesus sees.

Polish Hospitality

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

2022 Blog #13

April 4, 2022

Polish Hospitality

I have recently read that 2.3 million people fleeing Putin’s invasion of Ukraine have found safe haven in Poland. This number of refugees dwarf the amount of people fleeing Afghanistan following the rise of the Taliban there in 2021. That number is estimated to be 500,000 people. Of course, both of these numbers is dwarfed by the number of refugees who fled Afghanistan in 1979 when The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. After that invasion it is estimated that 6 million Afghanis fled that nation. Most, but not all, fled to refugee camps in Pakistan which soon reached maximum capacity. This refugee crisis begin to catch the attention of the entire world and the resettlement of those displaced people became a world issue.

I have no firsthand knowledge of what it is like to be a refugee and I really hope that I never will have such an experience. Until recently, everything that I knew about refugees came from news reports and pictures that I saw from the media. Recently, as I wrote about last week, I heard the report of a friend, Iryna Bondarenko, who was a refugee fleeing Ukraine and received hospitality in Poland. Since hearing from her, I have done a bit of research on the housing of refugees. I am in awe of some of the stories of mercy that I have heard.

A childhood friend, Lidia T. Hawryluk, who also is Ukrainian, regularly posts about Putin’s invasion and the hospitality shown by resettlement agencies in Poland. These agencies in Poland are gaining a good reputation for the kindness that they are expressing to refugees. The Polish government is receiving accolades for its assistance in the coordination of accepting and resettling Ukrainian refugees. The kindness of the Polish people, and the natural hospitality of that culture has been on full display during that crisis.  As the reputation of Putin has declined, the reputation of the Polish has increased.

Would our nation know what to do with 2.3 million refugees? The Polish, with the help of refugee agencies have figured this out and their natural kindness has come through. This blog is a shout out to the Polish for doing so much to help so many. This blog also is an encouragement to all of my readers to contribute as you are able to alleviate this refugee crisis. I recommend contributing through Church World Service. The link to contribute is: https://www.rca.org/give/2022-european-crisis-response/

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                 #PastorMarkAuthor            

#BergenCounty                                                        #BergenfieldNJ

# Ukraine                                                                   #Russia

#Peace                                                                      #Refugees    

# LidiaTHawryluk                                                        #IrynaBondarenko

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