Going Somewhere or Going Nowhere

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

Blog Number 21

June 24, 2019

Going Somewhere or Going Nowhere

My daughter is moving. Her last call ended and she has not yet received a new one. In the meantime, she  will be moving in with my wife and I. As much as is possible, family members have been driving to her place to help her pack boxes. She is going somewhere but in the long-run we don’t know where.

I wasted two hours of my life waiting in traffic on Friday going nowhere. Usually this trip takes about one hour, not two. An accident, miles ahead on the New Jersey turnpike kept me from moving. I knew where I wanted to go, and why I wanted to go there but despite my best efforts, I was not going anywhere.

This day was, for me, a symbol of God’s callings to us. There are times when we, like the disciples, are called to go somewhere with Jesus. There are also times when God is calling us to stay right where we are. Not everyone who heard Jesus followed him. Some stayed home, reflected on his words and were faithful to him despite their lack of travel.

This week’s lectionary records the story of a man who is filled with demons, so many that he refers to himself as “Legion.” This crazy man lives naked among the tombs, has the strength to break chains, and terrorizes all those around. Jesus heals him and the man wishes to travel with Jesus. Instead, Jesus gives him the task of staying in his home village and testifying to what God has done for him.

Are we called to testify for Jesus in our home towns or become “roadies” and follow Jesus around as part of our testimony? Is God calling us to go somewhere or go nowhere? Such questions are often not easily answered. It takes some spiritual discernment. Yet, whether we are called to go or stay, we are still required to give testimony to the great things that God has done for us. May we do it and do it well! We must be His witnesses.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                             #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#PastorMarkAuthor.com                                                     #Exorcism

#Disciples                                                                              #Testimony

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

The Circle of Seven

Monday Ministerial Musings By Rev. Mark William Ennis Blog Number 19 June 10, 2019 Is Your Child Happy?

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

Blog Number 19

June 10, 2019

Is Your Child Happy?

I grew up in a different era. We were brought to church whether we wanted to go or not. We were taught to say our prayers before going to bed. Although my family did not adhere to the practice of daily devotions, I knew families who did, my wife’s family did each night after dinner. If we wanted to do other activities, they waited until our church obligations had ended. Church was first and all other activities were secondary. We grew up rather happy for the most part.

Better Homes and Gardens recently published an article that summarized a study done by the Harvard School of Public Health. The study demonstrated that Children who attended church or other religious institutions benefited from the religious training were happier, much more likely to participate in volunteer programs, and were less likely to have sex at an early age and less likely to do drugs. The conclusion from Harvard was that weekly church attendance was good for children to experience. 

Are we helping our children be happy? Do we keep them over-booked over competitive and neglect to bring them to worship weekends? We have now raised a generation of children who are competitive and hyper-organized. But are they happy? Have we so over-scheduled our children that we have neglected their happiness? Kids today are so programmed that I wonder if they are happy. 

I am concerned that we have raised a generation of unhappy kids. We forgot the basics of how we were raised to be happy.  Are we raising the next generation to be un-happy? Maybe it is time we challenged ourselves to bring our children back to church. Their happiness is at stake. Do you want your children to be happy? Get them to church! It will them, and you, a great deal of good.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                             #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#PastorMarkAuthor.com                                                     #HappyChildren

#ChurchAttendance                                                            #ChildrenInChurch

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

The Circle of Seven

Monday Ministerial Musings By Rev. Mark William Ennis Blog Number 17 May 27, 2019 Happy Memorial Day?

Monday Ministerial Musings

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

Blog Number 17

May 27, 2019

Happy Memorial Day?

Today is Memorial Day. It is the day that we set aside to remember those members of our military who made the supreme sacrifice and died in our wars. At least that is what it is supposed to be. I wonder if we do spend time reflecting on the sacrifice of others in between our parades picnics and parties. Perhaps we cannot really feel the need for this day of remembrance unless we ourselves know people who have died or are close to friends who have.

My Godfather was a CB on Guam Island in World War II. He survived the war but suffered chronic depression following his was experiences. It was un-diagnosed, but perhaps it might now be called PTSD. His depression waxed and waned over the years be got much worse during retirement. He self-medicated, at times, with alcohol. Ultimately, he committed suicide during the summer of 1980. I believe that he was a casualty of war just as much as any combat casualty. I think of him every Memorial Day.

In the mid-1980’s I first met the Muser family while pastoring a church in Hoboken. They understood Memorial Day. Their son was one of the casualties of Vietnam. He was an only child. This was a family that did not participate in shopping on this day. Instead, they went to their son’s grave to remember. For them, it was not a “holiday” but a “day of remembrance.” They understood this day better than most of us.

Yes, this afternoon I will be at a picnic this afternoon, spending time with friends and celebrating friendships. But first I will be praying at a wreath-laying ceremony and marching in our local parade. All day I will be thinking of Kenneth Kizer, Louis Muser II, and all those who sacrificed for my freedom. I hope that you will join me in remembering our fallen heroes.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                             #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#PastorMarkAuthor.com                                                     #MemorialDay

#CasualtiesOfWar                                                               #SupremeSacrifice

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 16 May 20, 2019 Rain Drops On The Window: How Great Thou Art

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

Blog Number 16

May 20, 2019

Rain Drops On The Window: How Great Thou Art

We in North Jersey have grown quite tired of rain. We are, of course, used to rain every spring, yet, this year many of us have grown tired of it. We are wondering if the sun will ever be seen again. And yet in the midst of weather despair, I heard a woman say how much she was enjoying hearing the ping of raindrops on her windows. 

She is an elder from a nearby Presbyterian church. Our congregation, and hers are planning our yearly Vacation Bible School. We were wrapping up a meeting when she explained how beautiful that sound was. Those of us at the meeting were aghast. How could one tolerate this rainy weather pattern?

She explained that she received her first hearing aid when she was only ten years old. It did not help her any. All it did was amplify background noises. Her second one, she explained, was better.  Over the years, as technology has improved, she has upgraded her hearing aids. She now has a system that links her television set to her hearing system. She is able to hear the television from another room.

Most recently, her latest hearing aid has added new frequencies of sound that she had never heard before. Among them is the sound of raindrops. Until recently, she had never been able to hear the sound of raindrops on windows. Now, she can and she rejoices in hearing this new sound. What sounds annoying to us, is a glorious new sound, just one of the glorious noises of God’s creation.

I’ve been complaining about our rain but I have never thanked God that I had the ability to hear it. I’m now feeling guilty for my lack of gratitude. The next time I do hear rain on my window I hope I’ll show proper gratitude and remember to say, “God, How Great Thou Art.”

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                             #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#PastorMarkAuthor.com                                                     #Hearing

#God’sCreation                                                                    #Gratitude

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: Pope Francis and Clergy Sexual Abuse

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

Blog Number 15

May 13, 2019

Pope Francis and Clergy Sexual Abuse

For decades now, many of us have been saddened by the clergy sexual crisis that has haunted the Roman Catholic Church. Many of us have been waiting and hoping that Pope Francis would be decisive in obtaining justice for victims and preventing future victims. This past week, the Pope has issued orders to establish a new protocol for priests to deal with new reports of abuse. I wonder if he has gone far enough.

This new protocol mandates that any suspicion of abuse be reported to a superior within the church, and that an investigation be started. If I recall correctly, it has frequently been the bishops who have been covering up reports of this abuse. Why did the pope not require that civil authorities be involved in allegations and have arrests made, if appropriate? What the Pope’s orders have done is to keep such investigations “in-house.” It is keeping such cases “in-house” that has led to the scandal continuing for so long.

I am disappointed that the Pope has not gone farther than he has. Why not require the reporting of suspected abuse to the police? Why not have suspected abusers arrested? Why not allow priests who are convicted to be jailed? In-house investigations have, so far, proved ineffective in preventing clergy sexual abuse. It is time to do more. I call on Pope Francis to do much more. The reputation of the Roman church continues to decay. We need the Pope to do something radical so that there will be no more victims and confidence in the church can be restored. 

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                             #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#PastorMarkAuthor.com                                                     #ClergySexualAbuse

#PopeFrancis                                                                       #RomanCatholicChurch

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

Miracles Neededc

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

Blog Number 14

May 6, 2019

Miracles Needed

Miracles. They are unpredictable. I wish that I could call up miracles on demand. Jesus assured his disciples that they could move mountains with just a small amount of faith and yet I’ve never found that ability within me. Likewise, Jesus told his disciples that they could ask anything in his name, and it would be granted them. Is this promise only for these original disciples or does it apply to us? There have been times that I have needed a miracle, have prayed for one, but it never seemed to come.

Several years ago, a young woman in our congregation developed mesothelioma. Things looked hopeless for her, but our congregation prayed for the miracle. A specialist was found who had a unique treatment. This young woman received the treatment, that was a bit harsh, even by cancer treatment standards and we became optimistic. She and her husband adopted a little boy. I had the pleasure of baptizing him. The miracle did not last long. Now three years later, her cancer is back. She has a chance of getting into a new and experimental treatment program. Medically, it is her only chance.

Our congregation, not to mention the woman, her husband, her parents, and her extended family are all having a test of faith. Will she get into this treatment? Will it be effective? Will this woman in her thirties live to see her forties? We are all asking for God in his mercy to show us a miracle. We are depending on the words of Jesus in Luke’s gospel of the persistent widow who is granted justice. We have started a 24 hour a day prayer marathon for her. 

Will you join us? If you are reading  this, I ask you to join in this marathon. Please take time out of your day, and the weeks and months ahead, to pray for Maria, and her healing. We need a miracle. Perhaps God will hear us and, in his mercy, grant us one. 

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                             #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#PastorMarkAuthor.com                                                     #Miracles

#Cancer

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

Suicide is Painless, Not!

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

Blog Number 13

April 29, 2019

Suicide is Painless, Not!

Easter is a wonderful holiday when we celebrate new life, new opportunities, new hope. It was sad that just three days after Easter our town suffered massive traffic jams. A train was stopped, causing east/west traffic to come to a stand-still. The train was stopped because a man from a neighboring town knelt down on the railroad tracks to end his life. The train could not stop in time and the man was killed. I cannot imagine how much pain he was in to make him think that suicide was a good option. Perhaps he remembered the line from the theme song of the TV show MASH, “suicide is painless.” The problem is that suicide is not painless for those around us.

I don’t know who the engineer of the train was who hit the man, but I am certain that he will feel guilty for the rest of his life. I don’t know the family status of the man who wished for death, but I am certain that there must be some family and friends who are now asking “what could I have done for him?” I bet there are co-workers asking the very same thing. When we commit suicide, we inflict pain on those around us. 

This is a plea to anyone who is in such pain that they are contemplating suicide. Please don’t. I know your pain is great, but to kill yourself will only transfer that pain to those around you. I am certain that you really don’t wish to hurt others, but your suicide will do just that. Please find someone to talk to instead. There is a twenty-four hour a day hotline for anyone considering suicide. Please call instead of acting. The number is: 800-273-8255. Suicide is not painless. Please protect those who know you and give the number a call.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                             #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#Suicide                                                                                 #PastorMarkAuthor.com

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

Holy Week Holy Work

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

Blog Number 12

April 22, 2019

Holy Week Holy Work

Holy Week has now ended. Every pastor is tired at the end of this week. It is a time of extra hours, extra visits, and extra worship services. No, I’m not complaining. As a child in church I realized how much time we spent in church during Holy Week. I knew what ministerial requirements were during this season before I was ever ordained. I’m simply pointing out the work that every minister experiences during this time.

Each of these activities greatly moves me. It is a deeply spiritual week for me, perhaps my favorite of the year. Yet, this year was a little different.  Some of us participated in Holy Week Work that I found very rewarding. It involved a weekly ministry that our church regularly engages help for the day laborers in town. We make weekly lunches and distribute them to the corners of town where the laborers gather, hoping for work. Our Spanish language skills are not sufficient to engage these workers in counseling or prayer, but the lunches are a start.                                                                                                                                            

This Holy Week, we were able to distribute more than just lunches. We had palm crosses that were surplus from our Palm Sunday services. These we distributed along with the lunches. We said blessings on them as we passed them out. Many workers crossed themselves in blessing as they accepted these crosses. We had done more than passed out lunches, we gave them tangible reminders of the love of Christ. This was our good Holy Work of Holy Week; bringing Christ to the humble workers who are so often overlooked by the larger society. 

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                             #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#HolyWeek                                                                            #DayLaborers

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

The Circle of Seven