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

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

Blog Number 38

November 18, 2019

Recharging The Clergy’s Spiritual Batteries

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

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

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

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

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                             #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#PastorMarkAuthor.com                                                     #BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                                #Worship

#SpiritualRenewal                                                                #ClergyWorship

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 37 November 11, 2019 A Resilient Saint

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

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

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

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

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

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

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                             #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#PastorMarkAuthor.com                                                     #BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                                #Saints

#GoodWorks                                                                          #Aging

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 36 November 4, 2019 Choices for Children

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

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

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

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

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

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

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                             #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#PastorMarkAuthor.com                                                     #BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                               #CivilDiscourse

#FaithChoices                                                                      #ChristianParents

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 35 October 28, 2019 Cutting The Umbilical Cord

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

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

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

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

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                             #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#PastorMarkAuthor.com                                                     #Bergenfield

#BergenCountyNJ                                                               #UmbilicalCord

#Birth                                                                                      #GodlyBirthing

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 34 October 21, 2019 United by a Common Liturgy

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

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

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

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

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                             #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#PastorMarkAuthor.com                                                     #Bergenfield

#BergenCountyNJ                                                               #HolyCommunion

#Liturgy                                                                                  #LastSupper

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

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

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

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

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

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

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                             #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#PastorMarkAuthor.com                                                     #Bergenfield

#BergenCountyNJ                                                               #Mentors

#Usefulness                                                                          #TransformativeLove

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

Monday Ministerial Musings By Rev. Mark William Ennis Blog Number 32 October 7, 2019 Sunday Dinner De-Stress

Recently a number of my friends shared a post on Facebook that originated on NBC. It was a plea to bring back the family tradition of Sunday Dinner. Many of us grew up with this tradition. I really enjoyed the article and I endorse it. Sunday dinner is a way to bond, catch up with one another, and support one another. Sunday dinner for many of us was something that brings back many happy memories.

Obviously, the network is a secular network and would not mention the other part of our childhood tradition; attending church first before we enjoyed Sunday dinner. First we prayed and sang together and only after that did we eat together. While I appreciate the encouragement to bring back Sunday family dinners, I would add the need to bring back Sunday church attendance.

Many parents I know who grew up with these traditions lament that they do not currently practice them. They claim to be too “busy” for family church or family dinners. They are involved with other activities that make these traditions impossible. I wonder if they “can’t” or “won’t.” Isn’t missing Sunday church and dinner a choice.

Yes, we can choose to be busy on Sunday with clubs and sports or we can choose church and family dinner. No, we can’t do it all, but we have  the power to choose. If family church and family dinner made us into the fine people that we are, why would we choose to deprive our children of such blessings? Is there really anything more important than giving God the reverence that God is entitled to?

We live rapid-paced lives and feel the stress of those lives but that is our choice. Why not choose quieter, more peaceful lives? This is an invitation to de-stress. Make church a choice, followed by a Sunday family dinner. The peace that you receive will be a wonderful gift to yourself.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                             #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#PastorMarkAuthor.com                                                     #Bergenfield

#BergenCountyNJ                                                               #Stress

#SundayDinner                                                                    #FamilyChurch

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

https://www.nbcnews.com/better/lifestyle/sunday-dinner-family-tradition-we-need-bring-back-ncna1001166?fbclid=IwAR185mb_PcMZmU92HVBw1MmMVf7YH9CDUh1x7wE8SFZmJ21gFAHWP-G88mg

Our Daily Elder Devotional: His Abiding Presence

Our Daily Elder Devotional
We claim no originality for these devotions. One of our elders searches various sources and finds a daily devotion. Consider this a gift from Clinton Avenue Reformed Church: www.clintonave.org.

Today’s devotional comes from “Jesus Calling – Enjoying Peace in His Presence” by Sarah Young.

His Abiding Presence

Exodus 33:14New International Version (NIV)

14 The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

John 15:4-7New International Version (NIV)

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”

Let Me prepare you for the day that stretches out before you.  I know exactly what this day will contain, whereas you have only vague ideas about it.  You would like to see a map, showing all the twists and turns of your journey.  You’d feel more prepared if you could somehow visualize what is on the road ahead.  However, there is a better way to be prepared for whatever you will encounter today: Spend quality time with Me.

I will not show you what is on the road ahead, but I will thoroughly equip you for the journey.  My living Presence is your Companion each step of the way.  Stay in continual communication with Me, whispering My Name whenever you need me to redirect your thoughts. Thus, you can walk through this day with your focus on Me.  My abiding Presence is the best road map available.

May this bless you as it did me.

Our Daily Elder Devotional: Death through Christ

Our Daily Elder Devotional
We claim no originality for these devotions. One of our elders searches various sources and finds a daily devotion. Consider this a gift from Clinton Avenue Reformed Church: www.clintonave.org.

Today’s devotional is from my heart to you.

Death Through Adam, Life Through Christ

Romans 5:12 New International Version (NIV)

12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—

Romans 5:18-21 New International Version (NIV)

18 Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

20 The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21 so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

1 Corinthians 15:50-58 New International Version (NIV)

50 I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”[b]

55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
    Where, O death, is your sting?”[c]

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord,because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Footnotes:

  1. 1 Corinthians 15:49 Some early manuscripts so let us
  2. 1 Corinthians 15:54 Isaiah 25:8
  3. 1 Corinthians 15:55 Hosea 13:14

A larger set of passages today.All weave together to explain the way that sin entered the world through the disobedience of Adam and Eve.  Both were responsible for their actions.  Don’t blame Satan and his lies, don’t blame God for allowing it.  It is God’s will that we intentionally choose Him, that we choose good over evil.  That we have the freedom of free will and are not robots doing what we are ordained to do.  But God had a plan for our salvation from the beginning of time, knowing that Adam and Eve would choose the way that they did, because He is all knowing.  He and His Son and the Spirit of God together planned how the Christ would come and save us froim our sins.  Praise God for His mercy and love for us!

 

Psalm 103 New International Version (NIV)

Of David.

Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. 

Monday Ministerial Musings! By Rev. Mark William Ennis Blog Number 30 September 23, 2019 Seeing Gratitude

I write this blog with the consent of the woman whose story I am re-telling. She seemed to appreciate my wanting to tell her story and even posed for the picture of her that I took.

It was less than three weeks ago that a long-time member of my congregation, Daria, was in a tragic accident. While crossing the street, she was struck by a car. Her injuries were substantial. She fractured two vertebrae, two fingers and her jaw. She told me that as soon as she was hit and was knocked to the ground, she quickly said two prayers. The first was asking her late husband to be with her. The second was that Jesus would send her angels to be with her. It seemed to her that in a quick second there was a group of people surrounding her. Was it a coincidence or was that an answer to prayer?

I visited her in the hospital and asked how she was. “Fine,” she told me.

“Fine?” I asked.

“Yes,” she replied. “I’m not paralyzed. I have no brain damage. I’m not dead. I’m grateful.”

I knew that she was a woman of faith but it was rare to find anyone so injured with the ability to feel such gratitude in such circumstances.

Daria is unique among American Christians. She was born in a refugee camp in Europe following World War II. She was raised by hardworking parents who immigrated to New York to give her a better life. Her late husband had a similar story. Both became educated and became high school teachers. She has always been grateful for the life she had and the wonderful family that she created.

Daria knows how difficult life can be. This is why she feels true gratitude for the good things in life. She doesn’t feel “entitled” to anything. Maybe this is something we who were raised in the American Middle Class ought to learn. We aren’t entitled to anything. Let us feel gratitude for every blessing that we receive.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                             #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#PastorMarkAuthor.com                                                     #Gratitude #Angels                                                                                   #Attitude

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