Monday Ministerial Musings By Rev. Mark William Ennis Blog Number 14 April 6, 2020 Heroes in Hard Times Part One

We are inundated with bad and scary news. During this month I will be doing blogs that celebrate heroes in our congregation. I hope that you gain some inspiration from these and receive a respite from the bad news that the media continues to feed us.

One member of our congregation, Bob, was a hospital patient a few months ago. He has had a few trips to the hospital in the past few months. I made sure that I was a frequent visitor. I made a final trip to visit him, as I knew that he would be discharged soon. During this visit he looked a bit odd. There was a rather pensive look on his face. When I asked him what the matter was he told me an amazing story.

His roommate had been quite an annoying person, constantly making noise and calling out. It was difficult for Bob to sleep at night, or get any peace to heal during the day. During the previous day of my visit, something changed. The man was suddenly quiet. Bob instinctively knew that something was wrong and alerted the hospital staff.

The roommate had cardiac-arrested. Soon there was a response team and the man was revived and moved to ICU. His family was summoned and they had a chance to be with him. This man passed on the next day, but not before his family had time to gather and bid him farewell.

Most folks after being annoyed by a roommate would simply be grateful for a quiet roommate. Had Bob done so, the family would have had this time of closure. Bob put his own desires aside for the sake of a stranger and gave a family this gift. Well done, Bob. You are a hero whether you know it or not.

May we all imitate this behavior.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                 #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                    #BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                   #CoronaVirus

#Heros                                                                       #DoingTheRightThing

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

Corona: Some Good News

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

Blog Number 13

March 30, 2020

Corona: Some Good News

“They are only telling one side of the story.”

Have you heard that comment. People of all political beliefs, and people who favor one network over the other, all claim that the other party, or the “wrong” network only tells “one side of the story.” I don’t doubt that every person, and organization, has a point of view, a bias.

Recently I hear from some medical professionals that there really is only one side of a story being told. The story, according to these medical people, only focuses on illnesses and deaths, not recovery. According to these folks, as tragic as it is that people are getting sick and dying, most virus victims don’t die. As a matter of fact, the vast majority of those who get the virus recover. Newsweek magazine recently reported that more than 161,000 people worldwide have recovered after contracting the virus.

Some people simply recover on their own. Something in their constitution helps them survive the disease. Others have no such natural ability. They are alive because of wonderful, professional, dedicated health care workers. I bet there would be many more deaths if it were not for our heroic health care professionals.

I know that I am biased, but I bet the prayers of God’s faithful people had a part in these recoveries. This is a wonderful combination: dedicated professional health care workers, and faithful prayers. I can’t prove it, but I believe that in the course of history, millions of people have been saved through this combination.

If you are feeling depressed or overwhelmed, concentrate on the positive. 161,000 virus victims have recovered. Thanks be to God! Thank God to our health care workers. Thanks be to God for these recoveries.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                 #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                    #BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                   #CoronaVirus

#CoronaVirusSurvivors                                           #HealthCareWorkers

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 12 March 23, 2020 The Fruit of the Disposable

I am hearing reports from people in the health care industry of a critical shortage of protective masks. This has a great many health care workers worried about their own protection as well as the protection of their patients. In some cases, I am told, these masks are having to be reused until new supplies arrive. I think that we are now harvesting the fruit of our disposable world.

The first recorded use of surgical masks was recorded in 1897 by Paul Berger during an operation in Paris. Back then, like everything else, masks were cleaned and reused. I remember the debate in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s as hospitals began to transition from reusable equipment to disposable items. Some felt that throwing things away was a good idea because it would limit germ spread. Other folks felt that it would add costs and would cause problems with our landfill systems.

Now we depend on manufacturers of these masks, and untold other items for a constant supply, instead of cleaning and reusing them. Had we continued to stay away from the disposable, we would not be having a shortage. We are harvesting the fruit of our desire to throw away instead of clean.

My grandmother used to tell me stories of her days running a farm. A cloth was re-used in the outhouse, before the days of tampons other cloths were cleaned and re-used, a cloth towel was used in the kitchen instead of paper towels. Even napkins and diapers were cloth. Bottles were refilled instead of “recycled.” Who knows where they really get put? Were we to live like she did, there would be no such shortages of these items.

In the days of reusable, we had to work harder but we were less dependent on manufacture and supply. We are now reaping what we sowed when chose to be disposable and not eco-friendly reusable. I feel that this was a mistake that has cost us now with full landfills and short supplies of necessary goods.

Perhaps the next generation, those who are growing up in this crazy time of guarantee and shortage will demand that we return to reusable goods. We can only hope. Maybe it is time that we took our mandate to care for the earth a little more seriously.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                 #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                     #BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                    #CoronaVirus

#Reusable                                                                  #Disposable 

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 11 March 16, 2020 Corona Virus: Unintended Consequences

We are inundated by fear of the Corona Virus. My heart goes out to the survivors of those who have died from this illness as well as those who are ill from this. We need to be prudent in guarding people from this.

My reading indicates that for only a few people in certain age/health categories find this illness to be life-threatening. They need to self-isolate. I know people who are doing this and this is a good thing. Sub-acute facilities and hospitals need to screen and/or prevent visitors. We need to protect our most vulnerable people. At our board meeting this evening I will be discussing protocols for keeping our upcoming communion safe and not be potentially transferring this virus. No one wants people to become ill, and we don’t want to contribute to the suffering of anyone.

I do wonder if the recommendations that we are receiving aren’t causing unintended consequences that are hurting other groups of people. Has anyone considered the impact of isolating and closing events on people who are living on the edge of economic survival? Those who are suggesting these acts of isolation are, for the most part, salaried employees. Are they considering the impact on hourly employees or independent contractors.

When a school closes, how do parents get to work and watch children at the same time? Will these parents lose wages?

Recently I heard a PBS interview with a Hudson County educator. This educator expressed concerns over the consideration of closing Hudson County schools. He said that in his school, many students were too poor to have computers or internet. If learning was to be online for two weeks, his students would lose two weeks of learning.

When we cancel sporting events, how do the vendors and cleaners make up the earnings lost from the cancelled events and work?

Recently I received a call from a member of a twelve-step meeting that meets in our church. This person was worried. Other churches were closing down meetings, including twelve-step meetings. People in recovery were worried that they would slip out of sobriety without meetings. I assured this person that They could meet but encouraged the groups to use proper, prudent, safety procedures. The person seemed grateful.

When we stay home and avoid retailers, will hourly salesclerks be laid off or suffer cut hours?

 I have heard people blame “foreigners” for this virus. Will this have a negative impact on our day-laborers.

Yes, the Corona virus is a public-health issue. We need to take prudent steps to prevent the spread of this. If we over-react we are hurting people who are the most economically vulnerable. We need to be prudent but not hysterical. I know that many people disagree with me on this and I expect some negative comments, but I do hope that we begin to think about this and the unintended consequences of what I consider, over-reacting.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                 #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                     #BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                    #CoronaVirus

#Prudence                                                                  #Hysteria

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 10 March 9, 2020 Consistency

Recently I went on a short trip for a commission meeting for the Reformed Church. I love these meetings. They give me chances to do good work for the Reformed Church in America as well as catch up with old friends who are also on the same commission. We work hard, and have time to relax and catch up with one another. That, however, is not the story I wish to tell about. What I would like to discuss is the lack of consistency that I observed from the Transportation Safety Administration.

I prepared to fly to my destination and was going through the safety check point. We all know how annoying that can be. We all have to take out our electronics, remove our shoes, and prepared to be scanned. These are all necessary precautions in the world that we live in. Inside my suitcase was my CPAP machine. My case went through without any problem and soon I was on my plane awaiting take off.

Upon my return trip, my suitcase was flagged because of the CPAP machine. My bag was opened and the CPAP was taken out and examined. My bag was then re-scanned. I was given a stern lecture about leaving my machine inside the bag. I explained that this was not a problem on my last plane trip. The TSA agent contradicted me. He explained that no airport allows CPAP’s to go through without being taken out and scanned separately. I again explained that this is what happened and was told that this could not have happened, even though it had.

I guess that there is less consistency with TSA protocols than we are told. Security is relatively large or relatively small, depending on the airport that is being used. This gives me cause for concern. I would feel more secure if every security post had, and followed, the same level of security. 

During this time of Lent, I do hope that we are consistent with our Lenten disciplines. Is our prayer life consistent or haphazard? Is our participation at worship an occasional activity or a constant discipline? Is our scripture study consistent or irregular? In short, are we consistent Christians or irregular ones? Can you imagine if God was as consistent, or inconsistent as we can be? We would not be pleased with that!

This is a challenge to all of us who seek to be faithful disciples of Christ. Let us be more consistent than we have been. May our prayers and study be daily and constant. May our worship be constant. During this Lent, let us be as consistent toward God as we wish God to be to us.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                 #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                     #BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                    #Lent

#Consistency                                                             #ChristLike

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 09 March 2, 2020 Giving Up Things For Lent

“What are you giving up for Lent?” That was a question that I remember people asking me since grammar school. Usually the answers were very similiar, “candy, sweets, desserts.” I remember in high school religion a priest asked each of us what we were giving up for Lent. One classmate was given several major detentions for giving a rather smart-aleck remark. He said that he was giving up church for Lent. The class was more amused by this comment than was the priest.

The question is still relevant for those of us who strive to be good disciples of Christ. Do we need to give something up for Lent? Recently I am hearing from friends who are deciding to “take on” something for Lent rather than “give something up.” I’m wondering if they have the right idea. Should Lent be taking on more of the Spiritual Disciplines rather than give up something physical and tangible.

A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook a chart of spiritual things to take on and to give up habits and actions that get in our way rather than giving up foods or other physical items. Perhaps we all might gain from using this chart. It might make us more spiritual beings and be focused less on the worldly.

This chart is posted below. May it be a guide to you during this sacred Lenten season.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                 #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                     #BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                    #Lent

#AshWednesday                                                       #ChristLike

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 08 February 24, 2020 A Cocoon is a Deacon

I realize that it is unusual to have a cocoon as a church deacon. Cocoons are usually not baptized, much less made into deacons. In this case a church member was ordained as a deacon and only later became a cocoon. Maybe this needs a bit more of an explanation.

One of our premier deacons has had significant health issues in her life. Many have been orthopedic problems. Several months ago, she had the first of two knee replacements. More recently she has had her second knee replaced. For this, she is still in rehabilitation. On one of my visits with her I asked how she was doing. Usually the answer to such a question is a very simple and short answer. This woman, however, is to bright and articulate to answer so quickly. Her answer was a bit more elaborate. 

“I am in pain,” she explained, “but the pain is good. I’m in a cocoon and the pain means I am breaking free of it. Soon I will be emerging as something better. Then the pain will be over.”

I wish that I could construct words as well as she can. She described the hope that we live in as Christians in a fallen world as well as the varied emotions of Lent. During Lent we feel the pains of knowing that we have not lived up to the standards that Christ has for us, and we lament this. Yet, we know, we are in the process of being redeemed, sanctified, made more Christ-like each and every day.  We are in pain from our sin, but that will not last forever.

God’s deacon that I know is a cocoon. I guess all Christians are. Have a blessed Lent. 

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                 #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                     #BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                    #Lent

#AshWednesday                                                       #ChristLike

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 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/