Matthew 28: 5-8 “But the angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid; I know you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead and is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.’ So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples.”
Easter and New Life just go together in the Christian imagination. For those of us who live in temperate climates the weather helps make the association. Many of us experience the greening of our natural world in the weeks surrounding Easter. This Easter the promise of New Life has a special poignancy for those of us who work and study at ICS. We live in hope, and we'd be less than honest if we didn't also admit to a little fear. It takes a lot of confidence to continue to hope when there are many good reasons to fear. Confidence in spite of risk and fear—that's kind of the spiritual condition of Christian graduate education as a whole, not just the fragile life of ICS. Graduate education is not just about handling an inheritance from the past with an acolyte's reverence—dusting it lovingly, polishing it to a burnished shine, and passing it ever so gingerly, with white-gloved care to a next generation as undisturbed as possible.
Conservation work has its place, of course, but Christian graduate work, while being rooted in a tradition of thought produced among and in service of the Christian community of faith, is about taking the risk to bring the tradition to bear upon the conundrums of our time. And that involves testing, probing, experimenting, adjusting, and transforming quite as much as conserving the tradition one thinks in and out of. Such work takes a level of confidence capable of spurring one on even in the presence of legitimate fear. It is a fine balance, but when it works there's "heaven to pay"—new life, I suppose you could say. At ICS we long to be worthy to receive the Easter reality of hope and new life even in the midst of legitimate fear. We long for our work to have that quality for us and those we are called to serve. We long and we pray to be an Easter blessing again this March, and invite you to pray and long with us for the good of us all in gratitude to the God whom we together honour and adore.
Taken from Bob Sweetman’s book of meditations Changing to Stay the Same, pp. 58-59
Tuesday, March 1: Today we give thanks for the book launch for Shannon Hoff which took place a few days ago. Please continue to pray for her and her work as an associate professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland.
Wednesday, March 2: We give thanks for our students, alumni, supporters, and friends of ICS and would like to remember them in prayer during our Chapel service on March 23rd. If you have a specific request you would like prayer for at that time, please don't hesitate to let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Chapel starts at 12:00pm on the 23rd, if you’d like to join us!
Thursday, March 3: A wonderful online discussion has been going on at our Ground Motive blog! www.groundmotive.net. Students, faculty, and friends have weighed in on different issues of which are considered in Lambert Zuidervaart’s newest book Religion, Truth, and Social Transformation: Essays in Reformational Philosophy. Join us in thanking God for the fruitful discussion we have seen on the blog.
Friday, March 4: We hold up the relationships between our Faculty Mentors and Student Mentees. Give the mentors clarity of mind and speech as they advise our Junior Members in their studies. Pray also that the students will continue to be inquisitive, and eager to learn from their mentors.
Monday, March 7: The 50th Issue of ICS’s Perspective is in the making! We value your prayers for those contributing articles and presentations to this issue. Pray that God will provide clarity in their presentation and the precious resource of creative space and time. Pray too for those involved in the editing and design processes that the work will go smoothly.
Tuesday, March 8: ICS will welcome new students in the fall. We are excited to see our academic family grow. Join us in praying that the transition to ICS will be smooth for our new Junior Members, especially those who will be relocating.
Wednesday, March 9: Today is another Academic Council meeting. Please pray that the Holy Spirit would guide proceedings, and that good resolutions would be found to all items on our agenda.
Thursday, March 10: We are continually thankful for all the work done by our staff! Our prayers are with them today, that they would be sustained in their work, including serving the administrative, financial, and advancement needs of our school.
Friday, March 11: Phillip Shadd, CPRSE Research Associate, is presenting in Grand Rapids at the conference of the Evangelical Philosophical Society. He will be presenting on his ongoing research around the topic “What Grounds Institutional Rights?” Senior Member Bob Sweetman is presenting "Love and Beatitude According to Thomas Aquinas" at the New College Medieval and Renaissance Studies Conference in Sarasota, FL. We pray for safe travel and blessings on everyone attending.
Monday, March 14: We ask again that you would pray for all those who will be travelling this month in representation of ICS and its work. Pray for grace and strength for Doug Blomberg and Pat Webb as they meet with members of our supporting community. We ask for prayer as well for our Junior Members who assist us in representing ICS and its programs in their own spheres of influence.
Tuesday, March 15: It’s STILL cold and flu season around here! Please pray for the ongoing health of all members of our community; staff, students, and faculty.
We specifically offer prayers for Arvilla Sipma, beloved spouse of Jim Olthius, who has been diagnosed with lymphoma. Please keep Jim and Arvilla in your prayers as they learn more about this diagnosis and possible treatments. Almighty God, please heal and sustain her, bless her and keep her in your tender care.
Wednesday, March 16: Please continue to pray for the continued success of CPRSE’s collaborative research work with a growing number of non-academic community partners on issues of common concern. Please pray today for the funding application for a two-year research partnership with a local mental health care provider that would use a justice lens to explore best practices for helping children and youth with complex needs.
Thursday, March 17: Tricia Groenewold Van Dyk will defend her PhD thesis today, at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Her mentor, Lambert Zuidervaart, and Ron Kuipers will be flying to Amsterdam to participate in her committee. Join us in praying for this happy occasion.
We also celebrate that Ruthanne Crapo successfully defended her thesis at the VU last month. Her promoters, Jim Olthuis (ICS), Willie van der Merve (VU), and Annemie van Halsema (VU) rejoice with her.
Friday, March 18: Please pray today for the spiritual health of our school. The work we do here is only possible because of Christ’s sacrifice. Pray especially for the presence of the Holy Spirit, both in our work and our personal lives. May we be quicker to see God’s work in our community, and may the Scriptures be illumined to us.
Monday, March 21: Hold in prayer the non-teaching work done by our faculty; their research and their interactions with other academic institutions.
Tuesday, March 22: This month, all faith groups in Canada are required to detail how they will implement the United Nations Declarations on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Our school community will join in prayers for a quick and loving implementation in denominations and churches across the country. We pray with thankfulness for the work already done and with hope for deeper reconciliation and embrace between all peoples in our nation.
Wednesday, March 23: Today is another Chapel day at 229 College Street! We are thankful for the work done by Junior Member Jonathon Polce and Senior Member Bob Sweetman to organize these services and lunch. Please pray that it would be a time of renewal and that the Holy Spirit would be present with us during our worship.
Thursday, March 24: Many faculty, staff, and students will be travelling for the Easter weekend. We pray for traveling mercies and blessings in their time with family and friends.
Friday, March 25: Today, Good Friday, is an important day in the liturgical year, and so also for ICS. We acknowledge that Christ’s sacrifice on Good Friday and his Resurrection on Sunday is the root of our Salvation (and our work here at ICS!). Please pray that all members of our community would be freshly reminded of this sacrifice, and that the Easter weekend would be a time of recreation and re-creation.
Monday, March 28: We are busy developing the promotional materials for our new MWS program stream, Wayfinding, to help ensure a successful launch in September. Pray that God will give insight and creativity to our communications team as they continue to work on the webpage, prepare information materials, and connect with potential students. And be sure to check out our website so you can pray along with us as it all unfolds.
Tuesday, March 29: ICS has a new baby in its midst! Two months ago our registrar, Jeff Hocking, and his wife Angie welcomed little Addie to their family. We rejoice in her birth, and pray for health of both mother and baby.
Wednesday, March 30: Today we want to give thanks for Drs. Sylvia Keesmaat, Adrienne Dengerink Chaplin, and Jonathan Chaplin who will be teaching in our on-campus summer intensive program. Pray that all three will experience God’s sustaining grace and strength as they prepare their course materials for presentation in the weeks of June 20-July 1 and July 11-15, 2016.
Thursday, March 31: Today we give thanks for Julia de Boer, a first year Junior Member and our new co-ordinator of our monthly prayer letter. We are blessed by her gracious spirit and willingness to be involved in this important ministry. We pray for her God’s joy and encouragement in her studies here at ICS.