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/

Ocean  Grove Non-Methodist Worship

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

2021 Blog Number 32

August 9, 2021

Vacation Blog #2

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.

Ocean  Grove Non-Methodist Worship

The week before I left for vacation I took a daytrip down the shore. Specifically, I went to Bradley Beach, Ocean Grove and Asbury Park. I remember these towns well from my childhood. These were founded as Methodist towns along the Jersey shore. I was raised a Methodist and as a child I knew many people who had homes in this area. I was feeling nostalgic when I walked along those boardwalks again, hearing the ocean and smelling the salt air.

I remembered back to the days of Methodist programs on the boardwalk. It was not uncommon to hear area preachers giving messages and frequently area choirs performing Wesley Hymns. I grew up with this and enjoyed it. It always struck me, however, that even in my childhood, in the 1960’s, the attendance was largely older people. Few younger people vacationed in Ocean Grove or celebrated this rich Methodist history.

On this recent daytrip to Ocean Grove, I passed a boardwalk pavilion and saw a worship service in process. It didn’t look like or sound like one of the old Methodist service that I remember. It was being led by a local church with a significant mix of ethnic groups, many Latino look people. Back when I was a Methodist we had three kinds of people; White Methodists, Black Methodists and a small core of Korean Methodists. All of the groups in that era dress formally and sang traditional hymns with a piano. This new group attending worship dressed informally, and sang praise hymns. They may or may not have heard of the hymns written by John and Charles Wesley.

Personally, I like the beat and cadence of much praise music but I don’t care for how the words constantly repeat. I miss the “story telling” of many of the traditional hymns rather than the redundancy of praise music. And yet, this music attracts younger people of different ethnicities. Certainly, I can’t complain about that.

Some people like to frame things in terms of “better” or “worse.” In discussing traditional hymns or praise music I prefer to view things as “different but equal.”

#ClintonAvenueReformedChurch                         #ReformedChurchInAmerica                    

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                    #BergenfieldNJ

#OceanGrove                                                           #AsburyPark

#BradleyBeach                                                         #Pentecostals

# PraiseMusic                                                           #TraditionalHymns

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

You Have A Weapon! Hurt No One

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

2021 Blog Number 31

August 2, 2021

Vacation Blog #1

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.

You Have A Weapon! Hurt No One

The week before I left for vacation I was hospital calling when I hit traffic. Anyone I know will tell you how I hate traffic. I was grumbling about the delay. I stopped grumbling when I saw the reason for the delay. There was a collision between a car and someone on a bicycle. I realized that my problem, sitting in traffic, was nothing compared to the drama of those involved in the traffic accident.

I saw this incident and I could once more hear the words of my high school driving teacher. He always told us that someday when we were driving cars we would “be handling a weapon.” He then advised us to “hurt no one.”

Sometimes we forget just how much harm, or blessing we can bring to others. Our lives matter. We do have influence, for better or worse, upon those around us. We forget this at our own peril, and possible the peril of others. In governing our lives, we can bless or curse others by what we do or what we do not do.

At work do our co-workers celebrate our presence or feel dread when we arrive? Family, friends, retailers, do these folks celebrate us or are we the cause of harm?

Each and every day our lives can bless or curse. Let us use our lives well. “You have a weapon.” “Hurt no one!”

#ClintonAvenueReformedChurch                         #ReformedChurchInAmerica                    

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                   

#BergenfieldNJ

# DoNoHarm                                                            

#BeABlessing

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

Healing Hands?

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

2021 Blog Number 30

July 26, 2021

Healing Hands?

It was difficult for me to refrain from hospital calling during the Covid-19 pandemic. I have done a lot of hospital sick calls in my thirty-seven years of ordination. For me, hospital calling is more than part of ministry, it is personal. I know from the point of view of a patient how important visitation is.

When I was 10 years old I had surgery that went badly. I was very ill. People were wondering if I would survive or not. Amid the doctors and nurses poking and probing me, a friendly visit was always a treat. I did survive, but appreciated visitation.

At 29 I was deathly ill from Crohn’s disease and an allergy to medicine that I was given. I spent weeks in the hospital. About the only pleasurable time for me at that period was visitation. I vowed then that visitation of the sick would always be a priority.

When I pastored in Albany I volunteered as an overnight chaplain at Albany Medical Center. It was intense work and I did it for six years. I was told by a number of people how important such visits were. I felt gratified that I was able to be there for patients and families.

Calling on the sick has been a pastoral priority for me for decades. Then, the Corona Virus hit and hospital visits ceased. I felt like something was missing from my life and ministry. Finally, restrictions were lifted and hospital visits returned.

Shortly after these restrictions ended, I was called to the hospital. A beloved elder was in ICU. I held here hand as we prayed and I realized what I had been missing for over one year. I was missing Holy Hands praying for Healing.

Yes, I have been back almost every day visiting this woman holding hands, praying and asking for healing. I wonder if any ministry can really be complete without the presence, touch, and prayer. Jesus encountered, touched and prayed. Let all of us imitate Jesus in these activities.

#ClintonAvenueReformedChurch                         #ReformedChurchInAmerica                    

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                   

#BergenfieldNJ

# PastoralVisitation                                                 

#HealingHands

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

Holy Name Hospital and Visiting Clergy

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

2021 Blog Number 29

July 19, 2021

Holy Name Hospital and Visiting Clergy

It has been a common practice for hospitals to allow visiting clergy free parking privileges, and often extensions above and beyond visiting hours. This has been my experience since I was a seminary student in the 1980’s and has been true at both private and public hospitals. The theory behind these special privliges is that visiting clergy supplement the spiritual care of the Pastoral Care departments of hospitals and that giving spiritual car to patients is good for their health and recovery. At times I have heard from nurses that we are “part of the team.” I am wondering if this is true at Holy Name Hospital in Teaneck, NJ.

Like most hospitals in years past area clergy were given ID tags that said, “clergy.” A while back Holy Name issued us tags that say, “contractor.” I wasn’t sure whether or not this was a step up or a step down in value and prestige.

Of course, for over a year, the Covid-19 plague precluded me, and other local clergy from visiting. It is only recently that I have been able to visit again. In most hospitals clergy ID is sufficient to allow visits and no additional visitor tag is required. This is not true at Holy Name Hospital. Holy Name requires an additional visitor badge to visit. I visit patients at Holy Name with two tags instead of one. This always made me wonder what the value of these tags actually is.

At the parking lot, my tag no longer opens the gate to the employee lot where we once parked. Instead, I took a ticket at the visitors lot to visit at the hospital. I inquired at the desk about parking vouchers and was told that they “no longer validate parking tickets.” Any questions on parking tags should be brought to security.

I went to security and was told that I would have to speak to Pastoral Care. There was no longer anyone in that office so I called the next day. I was told that Pastoral Care no longer gives such parking tags to local clergy. I assume that the hospital no longer sees local clergy as being a valuable part of the healing team. I guess we don’t matter.

The flexibility of visiting hours has often been helpful to patients who wish their clergy to pray with them before surgeries or procedures. Recently I went to visit a patient at 11:00 in the morning. It seemed like a reasonable time to visit and I knew that she would be having a procedure and I wished to see her beforehand. I was told by the lady at the reception desk that “visiting hours start at noon.” I explained that I was visiting clergy and showed her my tag. She repeated, “visiting hours start at noon.” My hospital issued tag, obviously did not matter. With no clergy parking or visitation flexibility, what is the purpose of the tag? I waited till noon while trying to call the patient on the phone to know avail. When I got to the room shortly after noon, the room was empty. She had gone to her procedure shortly before noon.

These procedures certainly will not keep me from visiting congregation members who are patients. I will simply pay to park and alter my visitation times to keep compliant with the established hours. I can’t help but wonder why a hospital that calls itself “Holy Name” would hold visiting clergy is such disregard. Since Holy Name is not living up to its name maybe it is time for the hospital to adapt a new name. Maybe it should be called, “Teaneck Hospital.”

Am I wrong? Do you agree with me? Please “like,” “share,” and comment on this. I would like thousands of people to know who Holy Name Hospital disregards visiting clergy.

#ClintonAvenueReformedChurch                         #ReformedChurchInAmerica                    

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                    #BergenfieldNJ

#HolyNameHospital                                                 #TeaneckNJ

# PastoralVisitation                                                  #ClergyParking

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