Monday Ministerial Musings By Rev. Mark William Ennis Blog Number 07 February 17, 2020 The Village Has A New Look

It was a joy to celebrate the wedding of my daughter and son-in-law yesterday. Months of planning and preparation ended in a wonderful celebration. It was perfect. A few things did not go as planned but it was a spectacular celebration. In truth, this was their second wedding. The first was a small, private one, set before my son-in-law was deployed by the US army. We knew then that we would be holding a larger one and that time came to be yesterday.

I remember weddings that I attended as a child. Everyone was white and spoke English and most went to Protestant churches. If there was someone not fitting that description, those people stood out as being different. Most of us back then grew up in homogenous areas. Times have changed.

My son-in-law and his family came to this country from Ecuador. Many have good English skills but not all of them do. This wedding was bi-lingual. We relied heavily on Spanish speaking friends to do this well. A number of our friends are Asian and African American. Most don’t identify as “Protestant” or attend church even if they would refer to themselves as Protestant. They honored us by their attendance. The “village” who joined us to bless and honor this new couple was composed looked and sounded very differently than the ones that I remember from my childhood.

The village that we live in has changed yet it is just as important as it ever was. Couples, individuals and children all depend on the support of the broader community. The village is different looking but just as important. At times, we in churches that thrived in homogenous villages forget that the villages have changed. It hurts us when we fail to remember this. I pray that we will really learn this and remember to let this truth guide us.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                 #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                    #BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                    #MultiCultural

#Wedding                                                                   #BiLingual

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 06 February 10, 2020 Princes

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

Blog Number 06

February 10, 2020

Princes

This past week it seems that all I heard about was the Senatorial Impeachment trial of president Trump. Friends of mine on Facebook are both de-crying and celebrating the acquittal. Likewise, I am reading some who applaud Senator Mitt Romney for his stance in crossing party lines and voting for the President’s conviction. Even off social media, wherever I go, I hear people with opposite opinions of the impeachment and it’s outcome. What worries me is that I hear devotion to politicians that almost seems to approach veneration. I cringe when I hear such things. The Bible clearly warns us against trusting politicians.

The psalmist who wrote Psalm 146 says it best:

 
Do not put your trust in princes,
    in mortals, in whom there is no help.
When their breath departs, they return to the earth;
    on that very day their plans perish.

Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
    whose hope is in the Lord their God,
who made heaven and earth,
    the sea, and all that is in them;
who keeps faith forever;
    who executes justice for the oppressed;
    who gives food to the hungry.

No matter who is in elected office, the job of the church is to push for justice and righteousness. Our job as Christ’s body on earth will be to care for those who have less and to encourage those with more to be more open-hearted to those with less. We all called to ministries of reconciliation and to be peacemakers. Our jobs in obeying Jesus do not change no maker who holds what office. 

Many of my friends have asked me what I think of the “impeachment thing.” I told them the truth and I tell you the truth. I ignored the whole thing. My obeying Jesus is not dependent on the actions or inactions of politicians. I had the work of Jesus to do this past week and did not have time to worry about politics.

Let us never put our trust in worldly princes. There is only one prince we need to pay attention to and follow, Jesus the Prince of Peace. Jesus, God on Earth. Jesus, the one who decides who enters heaven and who does not. Let us all do what he tells us to do and not worry about the princes of this world.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                 #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                     #BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                    #Impeachment

#DonaldTrump                                                          #MittRomney

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

Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (R) is endorsed by businessman and real estate developer Donald Trump at the Trump Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada February 2, 2012. REUTERS/Steve Marcus (UNITED STATES – Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS) – RTR2X84T

Monday Ministerial Musings By Rev. Mark William Ennis Blog Number 05 February 3, 2020 Celebrity Idol Worship

Coby Bryant and eight others died a week ago. Among the deceased is Coby’s 13-year old daughter. This is an absolute tragedy. It should not have happened. We should not be having to grieve the loss of people so young. I don’t follow basketball but there are thousands, if not millions, of fans who looked up to Coby and are really feeling that loss. I grieve for all those who feel a loss for these untimely deaths.

I am concerned that Coby’s death overshadowed what I consider even greater tragedies. Tuesday was the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, and Wednesday was the anniversary of the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger. I did hear these stories carried on the news but they were not covered to the same extent that the Coby Bryant tragedy was covered. In our culture have we reached the point where celebrities have become more important than anyone or anything else?

Auschwitz was the largest of the Nazi camps. It is estimated that 1.1 million people were killed in that camp. Certainly, this story needs more attention. It must be a warning to all of us. Hate potentially leads to abuse, violence, and often death. I wish that I had heard more about this, even if the coverage of Coby would have to be shortened. The Challenger was the first shuttle that had civilians on board. We had become naïve to the risks of space travel and that tragedy was a wake-up call than no such adventure is without risk. This is an important lesson.

Yes, we need to mourn Coby and the other victims of the helicopter crash. Yet, compared to other historic tragedies, I believe that it pales. I hope that we will stop elevating celebrities and their activities above more important matters. History teaches us deep lessons that we need to remember lest we make the same mistakes, and allow the same evil that we have allowed in the past.

Coby’s death is sad. Auschwitz and the Challenger are tragedies that we must learn from. 

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                 #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                     #BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                    #CobyBryant

#Auschwitz                                                                #SpaceShuttleChallenger

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

God and Money!

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

Blog Number 04

January 27, 2020

God and Money!

I was struggling for a blog topic when I asked two hostesses at Applebee’s in the Fashion plaza what they would like to read a blog about. I wish I had remembered to write down their names to give them proper credit. But this will have to do. They wanted to read about “business and wall street.” I don’t know a huge amount about those topics but know a bit about what the Bible says about money. I hope that this blog is close enough to what they asked for. 

What the Bible tells us about money:

  1. The Bible tells us that how we manage money is important. If we don’t manage a little bit of money well, God we never entrust us with a lot of money.
  2. The first tenth of our money earned belongs to God. Give the first tenth of your money to the church, or whatever faith community that you belong to. If you don’t belong to a faith community, find one and join it.
  3. We don’t want to test God by being irresponsible. The second tenth of our income needs to go into the bank to be saved for a difficult time. I realize that it is easier for some people than others to save money but we all could do some. If you tell me that it is “impossible” I will ask if you have tried. We all could spend less than we do.
  4. When we have gained prosperity, we have an obligation to help those who have been less blessed than we have been. We must never fall in love with our money. Our money is a tool to do good things to others.

The stock market:

I am a small investor. Here is my own advice on the stock market.

  1. Never invest money that you need.
  2. Never buy stock to sell it. Buy stock that pays a dividend and buy to receive dividends.
  3. If you want to get rich quickly, you will go broke. True wealth takes a long time to accumulate. There are no shortcuts to long-term investments.

God wants us to take money seriously without getting greedy about it. How we manage the money that God gives us is a barometer of how close we are with God. Do it well for God’s glory!

Again, I thank the hostesses at Applebee’s for this blog idea. I hope that they, and everyone who is reading this, will find prosperity in life.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                 #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                     #BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                    #Money

#Stewardship                                                             #Investments

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 03 January 20, 2020 Baptismal Entrance or Exit?

It was a joy to participate in my grandson’s baptism this past Sunday. I remembered the joy that I felt more than thirty years ago when I baptized my daughters. Now, I participated and watched my daughter baptize her son. 

I don’t know how many baptisms I have done in thirty-five years of ministry. It is the entrance into the church of Jesus. Parents, in our tradition, must be members of the congregation in order to have their children baptized. They make promises to God that they will participate in church activities and bring their baptized children also. All too often I have seen parents and children disappear after baptism, never to be seen again. Their promises to God, to the congregation, and to their children become dishonored. Do I dare to say that they are lying to God when they make such promises and do not keep them?

Ministerial colleagues tell me that I take the disappearance of such families too personally. They tell me that every congregation faces these same issues. Yet, I can’t help but take these broken promises personally.  When parents assure me that they will be there, and don’t, it seems a bit personal to me.

I don’t know, in twenty years, if my grandson will be part of the church or not. I rejoiced that he was baptized and will do everything I can to mentor him in the faith. Yet, I don’t know what his Christian future will be. Some things I can’t control. I will pray that he will, indeed, become a disciple of Jesus. While I am praying for him I will be praying for the families whose children I have baptized and who then disappeared. I will continue to pray that they will see baptism as an entrance, not an exit, and keep the vows that they made to God. 

May God make disciples of him and those I have baptized in the name of the Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit. 

#ReformedChurchInAmerica

#ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                    

#BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                   

#Baptism

#ChristianDisciples                                                 

#PromisesToGod

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 02 January 13, 2020 Prayer and Fasting For The Middle East

The news is hot with worries of war again. Seriously, during most of my lifetime I can think of very few years when our nation was not at war. Even when we were not at war, I remember our nation involved in smaller military actions. 

I was young during Vietnam. When that was over, it was not very long until we invaded Grenada, operated covert wars in Central America, sent troops to Lebanon, participated in airstrikes against Libya, fought Operation Desert Storm, invaded Afghanistan, and invaded Iraq. We also were militarily active in Somalia. I think that I left out our cruise missile attack in Kosovo. 

Perhaps I am leaving something out but it seems that we are always at war. Now there are new threats of war after our military forces killed Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, retaliated by firing cruise missiles at our bases in Iraq. Will our military involvement in the middle east never end? Are there no other ways to bring peace and justice? War seems only to cause as many problems as it solves. Often “winning” one war only sets up the next one.

The Commission on Christian Action of our denomination is requesting that we all have a day of prayer and fasting for world peace and justice. The requested date for this is Sunday, January 9th. Will you join in? The whole text of this pleas is posted on the website of the Reformed Church in America. Please join your brother and sisters in our denomination in this day of fasting, prayer, and focus for world peace.

https://www.rca.org/news/rca’s-commission-christian-action-calls-prayer-and-fasting

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                 #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                     #BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                    #War

#Prayer                                                                       #Fasting

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 01 January 6, 2020 A Blessed Year

A Blessed Year

I hear a lot of people still making “New Year’s Resolutions.” I thought that this tradition had died out years ago because no one that I know keeps resolutions more than a week into the new year. The only resolution that I make is the one to make no resolutions. This one I have kept for years.

One of my problems with resolutions is that always looking to improve keeps us distracted from how many blessings we really have. Anyone reading this is more blessed than most of the residents on this planet. I wonder if it is time to end the custom of resolutions and begin instead to start a new custom of “blessings.”

I got this idea from a friend on Facebook who posted a picture that got me thinking of this new tradition. The picture is attached below. What if instead of resolutions we focus on the blessings that we receive. How about weekly, or daily, we write what we are grateful for and put that into a jar. At the end of 2020, we each open our jars and read all the blessings that we were grateful for. I bet that we will forget many of these things that we were once grateful for. Opening the jar will remind us of those things that we were blessed with.

Will you join me in counting blessing rather than making resolutions? The more we pay attention to our blessings, and focus on them, the more we will appreciate them, and the fine lives we live. Our troubles will seem insignificant in comparison. Please, take this challenge and feel gratitude each and every day.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                 #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                     #BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                    #I2020

#Gratitude                                                                  #Blessings

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 44 December 30, 2019 Farewell To Don Imus the Impure Prophet

Don Imus, perhaps the most famous name in radio, died last Friday. Since his retirement in March of 2018 I have hoped that he would come back. Now, these hopes are vanquished. I used to listen to him daily and still have never found a radio station to listen to daily.

He was a recovering drug addict and alcoholic. He has been fired for bigoted rants, has been accused of sexual harassment, and has been discharged for being intoxicated at work. He has been sued in court and has settled several lawsuits out of court. So why was I so attracted to him?

I appreciate his generosity. Published sources claim that he is responsible for raising 40 million dollars to fund the CJ foundation for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. His name is on the pediatric center at Hackensack Medical Center. I don’t know how much he contributed to get his name on the building. For years he ran a ranch for children with cancer. Some would recover, others would not. He did more for charitable causes than anyone else that I have heard of.

What I appreciate most is that he held people of authority to account. When interviewing politicians, he never treated them in a special way but treated them as people who were hired to serve us. Often he asked them questions that I wish I had the chance to ask them. He many ways he was a prophet who would tell politicians what they needed to hear but whom other media members would not dream of asking.

Imus also had prophetic words for Christians as well. In 2012, amid the Vatican Butler scandal, he asked the hard question, “why would the Pope have a butler? Jesus acted as a butler to his disciples, why should the pope not be a butler.” His point is well taken. Christians claim to imitate Jesus and we need to hear about it when we do not.

Imus said things that needed to be said and asked questions that needed to be asked. He spoke important prophet words. I thank God that I had years to hear him and pray that God will raise up another prophet to take his place. He wasn’t perfect but what prophet ever was?

Rest in Christ’s presence, I-man.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                 #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                    #BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                   #ImusInTheMorning

#DonImus                                                                   #Prophets

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 43 December 23, 2019 Working Without Gloves

A few weeks ago, as we were distributing lunches to the day laborers in town, one of our distributers made an important observation. She noticed that many of the laborers had no gloves. I was a bit embarrassed that I had not made this observation myself. Somehow it alluded me, yet when she mentioned it I paid attention. She was correct. Despite the weather, many of them had no gloves and some had no hats either. Despite the cold temperatures, gloves were a luxury that they could not afford.

It seems incredible to us who live middle class lifestyles that anyone could live without gloves. The fact is that there are people who do. Most of us have a surplus of gloves and color coordinate them based on our outfits. We take many things for granted. Yet, living near us are people for whom gloves are unaffordable luxuries.

One of the women who has supported our lunch program could not live with the thought that our area workers lived in such a way. She obtained hats and gloves and brought them to the church for us to distribute. The very next day we gave out hats and gloves with the lunches. The workers looked truly grateful. 

I do feel a bit embarrassed that for the years of distributing lunches, I never noticed the lack of gloves. I became focused on our task and was overlooking other needs of these people. I am so glad that this was pointed out, and our group rose to meet the challenge.  We take a lot for granted but I’m grateful that God gives us these opportunities to see how much we have and grant us the chance to bless those with less.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                 #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                    #BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                    #DayLaborers

#ColdWinters                                                             #Generosity

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