Bergenfield Loves Its Veterans

I have only lived in Bergenfield for eight years. It is my loss that I didn’t live here sooner. I love this town. I consider it to be the most wonderful place that I have ever lived in during the half century of my life.

It was a pleasure to stand next to Norman Schmelz, our may this morning as we honored our veterans at Borough Hall. Prayers were said and a tribute read as we honored our veterans. I greeted some old friends and a few church members.

Later I was a guest on the high school football field. The Board of Education honored our veterans once again. They were then honored with a reception at the school and we were treated to the Internationally Acclaimed Bergenfield High School Marching Band. It was a joy to sit with one of our church families and watch three kids from our church performing in the band.

Perhaps the greatest joy of all was seeing students from our grammar schools in the stands to be part of this ceremony. I don’t remember doing much as a child to celebrate Veteran’s Day. We usually stayed home and watched TV. It was only later that I really began to understand Veteran’s Day. I am thrilled that Bergenfield does much more in teaching the significance of this day.

I honor our veterans and Bergenfield certainly loves our veterans. Thank you, veterans. May God Bless you richly.

When Is Too Much Too Much?

On Sunday night I went to one of my favorite Bergenfield eateries to eat one of my favorite meals. It wasn’t planned but was a rather impulsive decision. I received my usual warm greeting and a wonderful table. I waited for Pam to decide what she would order as I already knew what I was ordering before I arrived.

A singer and guitar player began to perform. The noise was so loud that table conversation was impossible. The waitress was straining to hear us order. The musical duo sounded talented but the noise was so much that it drowned out all else. By the end of the meal my ear was buzzing and I was feeling dizzy. It was a difficult trip home.

How much noise is enough? I would have enjoyed the music and the night much more with lower volume. In this country we often have an attitude “if a little is good, more is better.” Perhaps we need to re-think that mentality. In this case, more volume got in the way. More volume was worse, not better.

When we talk about Jesus to others how loud are we? Do we shout out our faith or do we speak of Jesus more subtly with quiet loving words? Perhaps we need to imitate the sound of God to Elijah in the cave. God was found not in the earthquake but in the still voice of calm. Let us be calm in our witness be in by word or deed.

Diner Evangelism

November 8, 2014

Blog Number 24

Each Saturday night our congregation has a study group of various books. Over the years we have studied a variety of books. Currently we are studying “Unbinding The Gospel.” Our group is made up of anywhere from six to ten people. The group takes place not in the church or in a home but in the Riveredge Diner in Riveredge, NJ, just a few miles from the church.

People ask us at time why we do this? Why not? The meals are good, the price is affordable and the hostess is very accommodating in getting us a round table whenever possible. A round table allows easier conversation than a rectangular one.

Another perk of doing this is that we have a chance to influence those around us. No other customer has asked us about what we are studying but I have seen a number of folks tilt their heads toward as indicating that they are listening. I don’t know how many seeds of faith that we have planted nor do I know what God will do with these seeds. That is not my business. Our business is to plant those seeds.

This is a shout-out to the 6-10 people who join me each Saturday at the Riveredge Diner as we study matters of faith. Thank you. You are doing fine work. Anyone care to join us?

Not All Tears Are Bad

Blog Number Twenty-Two

In the Lord of the Rings movie, “The Return of the King” Gandalf the wizard tells Pippen that “Not all tears are bad.” He is certainly correct. There are times when tears are the only appropriate response. We all endure times of sadness when if we don’t cry one has to wonder why.

This past Monday I had the honor of speaking to the Bergenfield Friends of the Library about my experience of being a Chaplain in the early days of the opening of the New York City 911 Memorial Museum. I was honored to be allowed to minister to the survivors, families of the victims as well as the responders.

During my Library presentation one man in particular was deeply moved. He was a retired New York City firefighter who knew many of the men featured in the 911 movie shot by the two French brothers. Some of the men in the video did not survive. This retired firefighter was moved and apologized for crying. I assured him that he had no reason to apologize. Afterward my wife and I spent time speaking with him.

Crying over death and destruction should never cause us embarrassment. Perhaps we need to apologize for not feeling as much sadness as we could for the suffering that we see. Let us all cry for those in pain. It seems appropriate to me.

“Not all tears are bad!”

Please vote. It is Election Day!

Election Blog Four of Four

Please vote today. Without massive participation in the vote we risk loosing the government that Abraham Lincoln envisioned when he described a government “of the people by the people and for the people,” in his Gettysburg address. We are the people. We do not have a government of the people without our participation.

Each year the voters go to the polls to evaluate the work of our employees in elected office. Without our vote, these employees might feel that their work is acceptable, even at times when it clearly is not. Your evaluation of our employees is needed at the polls today.

Please vote. Voting is one of the activities that makes our nation a great nation but our nation can only stay great with the participation of all of us. The government is “of the people” and we, not the politicians, are the people. Please go vote.

Your influence counts. Use it!

Election Blog Three of Four: White People, Please Vote

It is a commonly held myth that our country was founded by white men who allowed all white men to vote. In fact, when this country began most white men were kept from voting. To vote one had to be white, at least 21 years old, and be an owner of land. Most people did not own land. In other words most white men could not vote when this great nation started.

Non-land owning white men did not begin to receive the right to vote until the 1820’s and 1830’s and state governments, not at the national level, did this. This was a major change in our nation’s thinking, people of lower classes were now allowed to participate more fully in the political process.

So why do so few whites vote? Less than two thirds of registered white voters voted in the last presidential election according to the US census. I don’t pretend to know what percentage of whites is actually registered. Why do we sit on the sidelines and let other people make political decisions for us? If we don’t vote do we have a right to complain when government is not doing as we feel it should?

From one white to other whites, please vote this Tuesday. It took fifty years from the founding of our country to break up the “land-owners only” monopoly on voting, let us show our appreciation by voting. I’m not asking you to vote any particular way, just that you vote.

People of Color, Please Vote

Blog Number 19

Election Blog 2/4

People of Color, Please Vote

It is sad, atrocious, and evil that the power structure of our country deprived blacks the right to vote until 1870 when the 15th amendment was passed. Even the passage of this amendment did not lead to substantive changes in many parts of the country. Jim Crow laws, poll taxes, literacy taxes, and violence kept many people from voting. It was not until the voting rights act of 1965 was passed that black people could easily vote with no obstacles.

What was the point of the marches, petitions, lobbying and passage of that legislation if the right gained by these actions if one third of the people effected stay home and don’t vote? In honor of those efforts, please vote this Tuesday. Your influence counts. Use it.

Native Americas suffered a very similar history in voting in this country. They were here thousands of years before the white Europeans arrived. These Natives were not allowed to vote until 1924 when they were granted citizenship of the United States of America. That is a pretty sad history.

A major nightmare of the white power structure from the founding of the country until the Great Society was the thought of an active population of Black people voting. Whenever you stay home from the polls, you comfort those folks who didn’t want you to vote.

This year, support those who fought for civil rights. Vote!

Women, Please Vote This Tuesday

Blog Number 18

Election Blog One of Four

Women, Please Vote

Tuesday is Election Day. This blog is a pea to get out the vote. No, I will not ask you to vote a certain way. I will, however, ask that you vote.

Women, please vote. No matter how busy you are with jobs, family and socializing please get out and vote. Your foremothers sacrificed a lot to get you the right to vote. Please don’t disrespect their work by not using the right that they fought to get you.

The movie “Iron-Jawed Angels” chronicles the fight to nationalize a woman’s right to vote. This did not happen until 1920. There were states that allowed women to vote prior to 1920, but this right was not nationalized until the 19th amendment was passed at this time. The movie shows the imprisonment, commitment to mental hospitals, force-feeding, and beatings of women suffragists who fought to give women the right to vote. It is a shame that all women don’t vote. I believe that not voting is disrespectful to the women who suffered so much to make the 19th amendment happen.

According to US census website in 2012 only 64% of registered women actually voted. One third of women stayed home and wasted their right that was paid for at such a high price. I encourage, urge, and respectfully ask all women to vote this Tuesday. Please don’t disrespect those who fought to give you this opportunity.

Things Bigger Than We Are

It was two years ago that Hurricane Sandy swept through our area. According to the news more than 180 people were killed by this storm and untold dollars were lost in destruction. There are still people who have not been compensated for their losses and still people whose homes have not yet been repaired. In our area our damage was minor. We were subject to annoyances by Sandy, but not devastated by it.

Unlike our ancient ancestors, we often feel in control of the world. Lights come on at the flick of a button and microwaves help us to avoid waiting for our dinner. Electricity surging through our Internet keeps us connected to people all around the world. We feel powerful and in control but we are not.

God is bigger than we are. Nature is bigger than we are. Sandy humbled us but have we learned anything from her? We are mostly back to our human arrogance thinking that we are the center of the world in control of everything around us. God is bigger than we are and so is nature. When we get proud we only invite trouble. Let us walk humbly before our God.

Bye Bye Bad Times

We had cats for thirty years that lived inside but enjoyed the outdoors most of the day. They wandered, hunted and played. Three summers ago, one by one they disappeared. It was not just my cats that disappeared. Cats all over the neighborhood disappeared. The deer disappeared also. For years the deer that lived in the woods across the street would come to our yard to drink out of the brook. They vanished as well. What was happening?

Coyotes began to be heard at night near the neighborhood golf course. A few sightings followed next. I heard of one report of a small dog and it’s owner getting charged by a coyote. Deer, cats, a dog and a woman all being attacked as the coyotes moved in. There was anger, fear and anxiety on our part of town as people feared to be outside with animals and walker and joggers began to get nervous after dark. I missed my cats and missed seeing the deer in my yard in the morning.

That was then and this is now. Last spring a DPW worker told me that dead coyotes were found next to the golf course when the snow melted. The winter was too severe for them and/or not enough food could be found. This morning I drank my morning coffee and watched six deer graze in my yard. The predetors are gone and things are peaceful and well.

The bad times of a few summers ago are now a memory. Bad times don’t last. If you are having troubles, grief or difficulties don’t give up hope. Pray to God, sing praises. The coyotes will be no more and the deer shall return. Wait for the Lord!

The Friendly Church