Ripples of Suicide

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

2021 Blog Number 5

February 1, 2021

Ripples of Suicide

I was celebrating the birth of a new baby. He was a boy, the son of a woman who grew up in our congregation and has since moved out of the area. My heart was rejoicing when I read the news and my spirits plunged. I read about the death of a Pompton Lakes High School teacher who it is believed committed suicide. The official report has not yet confirmed this, but officials believe that this is the cause of death.

When I read this, I was suddenly back in time to a place of grief that has never healed and a place of guilt that I never feel forgiven from and a guilt that I cannot seem to forgive myself for.

My guilt comes from my Godfather killing himself in the summer of 1980. I should have been there for him. I did not reach out to him as much as I could have. I bear the shame and guilt from this up until the present day. Did my neglect cause his death? This year my guilt is worse. Since my sister died this year, relatively young, from lack of self-care, I wonder if I could have done more for her as well. Might these two people have lived longer if I had only done more?

Assuming that the early suicide report is correct, what are the family and friends of this high school teacher feeling? Do they have similar guilt, shame and remorse? Suicide spreads hurt and grief to all around the victim. There is no such thing as a “victimless” suicide. When one kills oneself, it hurts others.

I am begging all those who are depressed or feeling hopeless; all those who are contemplating suicide to call someone to talk. Please call the suicide prevention line if you are feeling this way. If you need someone to talk to, reach out to me. I’ll gladly give you any pastoral counseling that I can. Please don’t kill yourself. It hurts others and I doubt that you really want to do that.

#ClintonAvenueReformedChurch                         #ReformedChurchInAmerica                    

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                    #BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                   #Depression

#Suicide                                                                     #SuicideHelpLine

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

Waiting For The Vaccine

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

2021 Blog Number 4

January 25, 2021

Waiting For The Vaccine

All over town, as well as from friends across the country I hear the same tale of woe. “I can’t find a place that is administering vaccines.” It is true. There is a real shortage of vaccines and people to administer these vaccines. I don’t know who should be surprised by this. There are three hundred fifty million people in this country. If we each need two vaccines that is seven hundred million inoculations. Is it shocking that this would take a while. How fast could our nation possibly administer that many shots as quickly as we would like? Most of us will be waiting awhile.  How does one wait effectively with as little stress as possible?

I learned some tips from a beloved professor at Hope College. He was a child in the Netherlands during the occupation by the Nazis. The Dutch had faith that the Allies would be coming to their rescue but they did not know when. It was years and that is a long time to wait. Death from the war was all around them. Soldiers committed atrocities and bombs were dropped from the sky. No one knew where they landed. My professor and his family survived and talked about how they waited.

They took all necessary precautions. They did all they could do to be polite to the Nazi occupiers. Some people were rude and they generally were killed or imprisoned. My friends family were cautious and tried not to anger the occupiers.

Each house had a bomb shelter in the basement for the frequent air-raids. Times in the cellar were pretty boring. They brought prayer books and hymnals with them and entertained themselves by praying and singing. Often, the faithful used their basements as house churches when it was too dangerous to meet gathered in a church building. One bomb could have killed an entire congregation.

He also told me that there was a chess board constantly set up in the basement. The game would be played during air-raids and left set up to be continued during the next bombing attack. One had to have some enjoyment.

My professor told me that the keys to waiting are: take all precautions, pray, sing hymns, and find something to amuse oneself. I guess I’ll follow his suggestions as I wait for my vaccine. I’ll take all precautions, praise God continually, and do something fun. For me this is reading watching movies and playing world conquest games on my computer.

What are you doing while you wait? I hope you are being careful, praying, singing, and doing something fun. It might be a long wait but it will be shorter than the people in Europe waited for the Allies to arrive.

#ClintonAvenueReformedChurch                         #ReformedChurchInAmerica                    

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                    #BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                   #CovidVaccine

#Waiting                                                                    #SafetyPrecautions

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

Faithful Christian Children

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

2021 Blog Number 3

January 18, 2021

Faithful Christian Children

It was seven years ago that I was thrilled when one of my daughter’s was ordained as a minister of word and sacrament in the Reformed Church in America. She is part of a lengthy tradition. Both her parents as well as her maternal grandfather are ministers. Just eight days ago I was thrilled once again when her sister, my other daughter was ordained as a deacon in the Reformed Church in America. I could not have been more pleased that she is following the faith tradition.

I remember the day when I was ordained as a deacon. I was still in high school as well as the day that I was ordained as a minister of word and sacrament. These events really originated, I think, when I was in pre-school and early grammar school. Whenever my grandmother was greeting in church she would drag me with her so that I could stand next to her so that she could show me off to her friends. These other ladies would pinch my check until it felt like it would fall off.

As I got to college my behavior was less than exemplary. God was much more faithful to me than I was to him. It took me a few years to straighten myself out and begin to live the life that I should have been leading. Finally, by God’s grace I did arrive back on the correct track even though I still have a long way to go. When children arrived, I vowed that I would try to pass on the faith as it was given to me in those early years greeting people in church with my grandmother. I taught and role modeled as best I could and prayed that my girls would be women of faith.

I guess God heard my prayers and I am thrilled and grateful. It wasn’t easy. There were a lot of tears when we placed church above other activities. There were times when I endured anger when I had to say, “church comes first.” Now I am very glad that I did.

Not every parent has the same experiences. Many have raised children in the faith only to have them fade away. Yet, in this case my efforts bore fruit and I rejoice in that. What do we do with those who have left the faith? Love them, pray for them and continue to be examples of Christian faith.

#ClintonAvenueReformedChurch                         #ReformedChurchInAmerica                    

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                    #BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                   #ChildrenOfFaith

#OrdainedDeacons                                                 #OrdainedMinisters

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





American Exceptionalism

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

2021 Blog Number 2

January 11, 2021

American Exceptionalism

I know that this is not politically correct but I do believe in American Exceptionalism. I do think that our historic succession of power, in a world that had monarchies, was exceptional and is now imitated. I will never forget the summer than I learned this in practical reality as opposed to a theory. That was the summer that I fell in love with America.

I took a month-long trip to Spain during the summer of 1974 as a student with the Foreign Study League. Back home Richard Nixon was under investigation. In Spain, General Franco became ill and Prince Juan Carlos took over during Franco’s illness. My group was in Barcelona at the time. This city, with a long history of a desire to break away from Spain, surged with unrest. It was the first time that I heard explosions and machine gun fire. Police demanded to see passports at gunpoint. The national police and the army were both mobilized. I kept wondering why everyone was so upset over a leader who was ill. I had seen presidents come and go and no one got that upset over it.

Our trip continued and at the end of the month we returned home to become immersed in the political chaos of our country in the midst of the Watergate scandal. The day arrived when Richard Nixon resigned and Gerald Ford became president. Unlike Spain, our nation did not mobilize the army or the national police. One president left and another took over without violent protests. Many people in the neighborhood decried Nixon’s resignation while others celebrated it. They argued, but there was no reason to mobilize peace keeping forces. We, in the United States were exceptional.

My heart was broken on Wednesday as I saw a mob break into the Capital because they disagree with an election outcome. People that I know who were cheering this mob on expressed the belief that the election was “stolen.” This is the third time in my lifetime that I have heard that an election was “stolen.” Most historians that I have read believe that John Kennedy stole his election from Richard Nixon, yet Nixon refused to contest it. Most of us remember the George W Bush election win against Al Gore. Many still believe that this election was “stolen” yet it was settled by the courts, not mob action. These, I believe, are other examples of American Exceptionalism.

This past week I looked at a number of Facebook posts from friends who are immigrants from Latin America. They were outraged by the behavior at the capital. These immigrants claimed that political violence in their home countries was a major reason for wanting to live in the United States. The lack of political violence was, for these immigrants, American Exceptionalism.

It is sad for me that some of our citizens did not exhibit American Exceptionalism last week. I wonder how we can reclaim it. Perhaps it is up to all of us who know people who support such mob activities to tell those folks, “we don’t act like that here. We Americans are exceptional. Let us all act like exceptional people.” Will you join me in this task? Together we can reclaim our exceptionalism.

#ClintonAvenueReformedChurch                         #ReformedChurchInAmerica                    

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                    #BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                   #AmericanExceptionalism

#MobPolitics                                                            #StolenElections

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

Politics and Religion

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

2021 Blog Number 1

January 4, 2021

Politics and Religion

On December 22, 2020 John Gabriel wrote an opinion piece for USA Today. This article which was titled, “God help us: We’re losing our religion and filling void with politics.” In this article he argues that religious participation in our country continues to decline but political activity continues to rise. His opinion is that politics has become our new religion even as Americans are rejecting religious of faith. I was disturbed by reading this but not surprised. Not exclusively, but much of the blame for this must fall on Christians who seem to talk politics more than faith.

I certainly am active on social media and am friends with Christians and non-Christians. I talk to Christians who consider themselves to be “right” of center and “left” of center but I still am unclear what these terms actually mean. During the recent presidential election, I saw posts from many of these Christian people who supported one candidate while demonizing the other. The rhetoric was rather harsh in many cases. Each claimed that the candidate of their choice was the candidate that God desired to be in the White House and would do God’s work. Absent from these political raves was much talk about what these people were doing to preach Christ. I heard more about political candidates than I did about Jesus during the election cycle.

I’m not saying that the Church and individual Christians should not have a prophetic voice. We need to speak prophetically to the powers of this world. I thank that we get off course when we become partisan in our prophetic voices and lose our prophetic voice. Maybe we need to stick more closely to the prophetic voice of Jesus. What did he say?

Jesus told us to pay taxes to Caesar but never called for his overthrow.

Jesus told us to pray for, not condemn our enemies.

Jesus told us to share with those who have less, not establish a social program to do so.

Are we preaching Jesus or are we preaching politics in our lives and on social media? This is a question that I hope we ask ourselves this year. We must preach Christ to people of every political stripe.

#ClintonAvenueReformedChurch                         #ReformedChurchInAmerica                    

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                    #BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                   #Elections

#PartisanPolitics                                                      #PreachingChrist

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

Persons of the Year?

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

Blog Number 45

December 28, 2020

Persons of the Year?

I have been a subscriber to Time Magazine since the 1970’s. In high school I took a class that examined current global political issues. Our textbook was Time Magazine. I discovered that a subscription was cheaper than buying copies weekly at the newsstand.  Since I enjoyed reading it, I’ve been subscribing since then. I always look forward to the person/person(s) of the year issue. Some years I have agreed with the selection. Other years I haven’t. This year I’m appalled by the selection. I am even considering writing a letter of protest to Time. Biden and Harris are persons of the year? Really? I believe that this was a dumb selection.

Traditionally this award has been given to the person(s) who have done the most to influence events of the year. What has Biden or Harris done to influence the events of this year? The two won an election two months before the year came to an end. That is not a whole lot of influence over world events. So, who might I pick for this honor?

Perhaps Dr. Fauci, who was a major  part of Donald Trump’s Covid task force.

Maybe the pharmacology companies who developed the Covid vaccine.

Perhaps the scientists who invented the Covid-19 inoculation.

My personal favorite for this award is the frontline health care workers who cared for the sick and the dying. Some of these workers died because of their efforts.

With these candidates for this award, why would Time magazine even consider Biden and Harris for this award. Many of my friends have accused the national media of being “leftward leaning.” With this award I can’t help but wonder if these people are correct.

In my mind, the health care workers are really the “persons of the year,” and I will always treat them as such. Certainly Biden and Harris are unworthy of this award.

#ClintonAvenueReformedChurch                         #ReformedChurchInAmerica                    

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                    #BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                   #TimeMagazine

#PersonsOfTheYear                                               #BidenHarris

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

A Tradition With A Twist

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

Blog Number 44

December 21, 2020

A Tradition With A Twist

For decades one of our deacons has been making Christmas Deacon ornaments. These are made as members order them. It is a fine tradition and my tree displays every ornament for the past fourteen years. They look wonderful and the money from these ornament sales go toward our deacons fund. Each of these have been different designs from hearts to candy canes to angels. This year the ornaments are a not quite the same as any other.

This year, reflecting the Corona times that we live in, have a very special message. They are in the shape of a ribbon with many colors; white, rainbow, black and red. Each color pays tribute to something or someone that we are grateful for in this time of death and illness.

The white is for the first responders and essential workers.

The rainbow is a sign of peace and hope for the future.

The black is in memory of many lives lost.

The red is for faith that God will help us through it all.

These words were written by Deacon Barbara who created these ornaments. I really don’t have anything to add to these fine words. I will simply thank Barbara for these ornaments. Each year, when I put mine on the tree I will remember this hard year as I mourn those who I lost and show gratitude for those who served me during this time.  Of course I will be grateful for surviving the plague.

#ClintonAvenueReformedChurch                         #ReformedChurchInAmerica                    

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                    #BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                   #Christmas

#ChristmasTreeOrnaments                                    #Gratitude

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

Reflections on A Charlie Brown Christmas

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

Blog Number 43

December 14, 2020

Reflections on A Charlie Brown Christmas

A while ago I was asked what my favorite Christmas movie was. My answer is simple. I have two. My favorite is “The Nativity Story” from 2006 and “A Charlie Brown Christmas” from 1965. I love the Nativity Story because it is a very realistic, and historical view of Jesus birth. I love “A Charlie Brown Christmas” because it shows how we as imperfect people, in an imperfect world, find the joy of Christmas through focusing on “the true meaning of Christmas,” the love of God reflected in Christ’s birth.

Charlie Brown, of course, is a lovable loser. He never does anything right. He is constantly bullied by Lucy. Nothing ever seems to go right for him. Now, at Christmas, he can’t quite find himself to be in a joyful mood. Everyone else is happy, but he is not. Reluctantly he agrees to participate in all of the “programming.” He is appointed to direct the Christmas play. Of course, as is the case of Charlie Brown’s life, this doesn’t go very well either. He is in a worse mood than ever.

Linus, forever the prophetic voice, gives Charlie Brown sage advice. He tells Charlie Brown that he has to focus on the “true meaning of Christmas.” That is, of course, God’s love for us in the birth of Christ in a manger. Linus reads this to Charlie Brown from Luke’s gospel. When Charlie Brown is able to hear Luke’s gospel he is then able to celebrate Christmas and join in the singing of “Hark The Herald Angels Sing.” It is a community celebration where everyone’s importance is affirmed.

Our world, like that of Charlie Brown, is not perfect. There are times when we are bullied and feel like a loser. Sometimes the celebrations around us make us feel worse about ourselves because we don’t feel festive. Job loses make us doubt our self-worth. Now we worry about disease and some of us mourn the loss of loved ones. We feel inadequate and out of control.

And yet, if we focus on the story of God’s love, instead of the cares of this world, we will be ready to rejoice. I invite you to read the Christmas story again. Or, better yet, come to church in person, or online, and hear it again surrounded by your neighbors. What does Christmas mean? It means that God loves you enough to be born in a manger to share life with you. Share it with him and you too with feel like rejoicing this Christmas.

#ClintonAvenueReformedChurch                         #ReformedChurchInAmerica                    

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                    #BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                   #Christmas

#ChristmasMovies                                                   #CharlieBrown

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

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

Blog Number 42

December 7, 2020

An Advent Tragedy

On Saturday a beloved and historic church was ruined from a fire. The church, Middle Collegiate Church in New York City has been a Christian presence in New York City since its founding in 1628 and has been in continuous Christian service since then. The congregation built a new building and moved to its current location, in the East Village of New York City in 1891.

The fire began in an abandoned building that was next to, and attached to the church building. The fire quickly spread. Fires do spread quickly through shared walls. The fire department ultimately called in six alarms to fight the fire and to protect other buildings in the area. Unfortunately, the fire too rapidly to save the church building.

I am not a member of this congregation but I have had the pleasure of worshiping there on several occasions. It is a very spirited place with lively and worship that accepts all kinds of people from many walks of life. The pastor, ministerial staff, and members are true credits to God’s kingdom. The building was also beautiful and the destruction of this historic and elegant building makes me sad. I don’t believe that any new construction will rival the beauty of the one that was destroyed.

And yet, the church continues. The church is not a building. The church is a gathering of Christ’s people and this will continue. Rev. Dr. Jacqueline J. Lewis, who is the pastor of the church, assured viewers on the local television news that worship will continue online. This has been the method of worship since the beginning of the corona plague. She further assured viewers that the programs of the congregation would continue despite the loss of the building.

This is a sad day for this congregation as well as for all of us who loved and respected their work. Now it is simply time to pray for this congregation that God will lead it, and its leadership toward a bright and faithful future.

#ClintonAvenueReformedChurch                         #ReformedChurchInAmerica                    

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                    #BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                   #MiddleCollegiateChurch

#ChurchFire                                                              #RevDrJacquelineLewis

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

God’s Ripples of Mission

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

Blog Number 41

November 30, 2020

God’s Ripples of Mission

From the beginning of the Corona plague until mid-October, we held our worship service only on-line. We held a re-opening on October 15. How this happened was that in September a number of church members requested this. These members were tired of worshiping on a computer screen. We posted the re-opening date on our church sign and without knowing it, opened a path to a whole new mission.

Anna, an immigrant to our area from Honduras, works in our area and saw our sign announcing our in-person worship. She came to join us for worship and then became part of our Wednesday’s Women (prayer) Warriors. During a meeting of this group, she shared her concerns about the twin hurricanes, Eta and Iota, that battered her homeland. She came here to seek better opportunities, much like many of our parents and grandparents did. Yet, she still has many families and friends in Honduras that she worries about. Many people that she knows in her hometown lost everything.

Quickly the Wednesday’s Women decided that they wanted to organize a mission to help Anna’s friends and relatives. In concert with our mission chairwoman, they devised a way to collect and ship donated relief items. Of course, our members responded and we received large amounts of donations to help relieve the Honduran suffering.

This evening is the time that we will be packing the donations and getting them ready for shipment. That will be, possibly, only the first of a number of donated shipments.

Can you see God’s hand in this? Members got discontented, the consistory responded, a woman sees our announcement, she joins us, Christian women are moved to help, and faithful Christians respond. I am sure that God had a hand in this. Now dozens of people will be blessed because of this chain of events. We cannot underestimate the little things that God can use. God is wonderfully at work in the world. May we always be so willing to respond to these opportunities.

#ClintonAvenueReformedChurch                         #ReformedChurchInAmerica                    

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                    #BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                   #Honduras

#HurricaneVictims                                                    #Missions

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