Thursday 30 November 2017

Prayer Letter: December 2017

Isaiah 9:2 “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned.”

December means Advent and Christmas, a time of waiting followed by a time of feasting in the old Christian calendar. Some of the stories that follow involve waiting, whether filled with anxiety or growing excitement. Others really deserve a toast in honour of accomplishment and bright prospects for the future. And that is the funny thing about life in a community -- waiting and feasting, anxiety and the delicious prickle of hopeful anticipation, they are all jumbled together. The pessimist can feel in his rights in saying that there are dark moments even in the brightest of days. But the optimist is equally within her rights to insist that it takes only a small light to transform darkness into light, however dim, by which to see. I tend toward the former; I am working to practice the latter. But the mixture of joy and sadness that calls out for your prayers just means at its most basic that the ICS community is alive, and that means the bearer of all the precious ambiguity that Life gives to life here between the “yes” and “but” this side of Christ’s Ascension, this side of the Eschaton. Read about a few of our joys and sadness, and, please, it would be one of our joys if you joined us in our prayers. Our best wishes go out to you in your waiting and feasting this December.
From Bob Sweetman’s book of meditations Changing to Stay the Same, Week One (Advent)

Friday, December 1:  Please join us in giving thanks to our Lord Jesus Christ for the wonderful celebration of our 50th Anniversary last month. It was a time of great blessing. We regret that so many in our community who live far afield could not join us. We pray for God’s provision that we might have the opportunity to host an event in western Canada in the Spring of next year so.

As mentioned in the November Prayer Letter, Doug Blomberg is hoping to visit an ICS alumnus, currently in prison. Please pray all will go well on the morning of Sunday December 3 and that they will be able to spend a few hours together in fruitful conversation. This person hopes to transfer into our PhD program, so we ask you to pray also that the many details to be sorted out with respect to ICS requirements will proceed as smoothly as can be expected in these unique circumstances.

Monday, December 4:   Please pray for wisdom for Ron Kuipers, Bob Sweetman, and Harley Dekker, as today they embark on a series of meetings at The King's University in Edmonton in order to start determining the scope and nature of the proposed affiliation between ICS and The King's University.

Tuesday, December 5:  On November 30, CPRSE Director Ron Kuipers and Associate Director Hector Acero Ferrer submitted a Partnership Development Grant application to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. The CPRSE is seeking $200,000.00 from SSHRC to fund a two-year research partnership with the Shalem Mental Health Network in Hamilton and the Centre for Community Based Research in Kitchener-Waterloo. The project, titled RESTORING JUSTICE: Restorative Justice as a Path to Building Healthy Relationships in Faith Communities, proposes to research the effectiveness of a restorative justice approach to the work of promoting justice and healing broken relationships in religious communities living through difficult situations. Please pray that the significant time and effort that went into developing the application will bear fruit, so that ICS can continue to engage the church in discussions concerning the relationship of faith and justice.

Wednesday, December 6:   Please take this opportunity today to pray for our Board of Trustees as they continue to serve in their oversight of the mission and vision of ICS. We pray too for our two new Board members, Lynnette Postuma and Marci Frederick. We give thanks for Matt Bonzo who has served so faithfully on both the ICS board and the FICS board as he now retires.

Thursday, December 7:   Please pray today for the success (so that it can be cleared for formal submission) of the latest full draft of Joshua Harris’s PhD thesis Neither Solitary nor Diverse: Transcendental Multitude in Thomas Aquinas. Joshua is one of Bob Sweetman’s PhD students, and the thesis is being co-directed by Wouter Goris (VU).

Friday, December 8:  Today Senior Member Gideon Strauss will be leading a 3-hour workshop on vocational wayfinding at Toronto District Christian High. The workshop is titled Your Next Five Years: Mapping the Adventure. Please uphold Gideon and those participating in your prayers.

Monday, December 11:  Please say a prayer of thanks for the formal submission of of Julia de Boer’s thesis The Allusivity of Grammar: Developing Theory and Pedagogy for Linguistic Aesthetics. Julia is one of Bob Sweetman’s MA students and we also ask for grace and strength for both Julia and Bob as they prepare for her defense scheduled for January 11, 2018.

Tuesday, December 12:  Today we want to give thanks for the successful launch of the CPRSE's new podcast, Critical Faith last month. The podcast explores themes related to the intersection of religion and public life, and is available for free on such platforms as iTunes and Google Play (see ICS News item November 23). Please pray for future episodes, including a 3-part discussion with Kate Hennessy, granddaughter of Dorothy Day and the author of Dorothy Day: The World Will Be Saved by Beauty, a widely acclaimed book that is a family memoir, social history, and intimate biography of Dorothy Day, founder of the Catholic Worker movement.

Wednesday, December 13:  We give thanks today for the Fall 2017 World-Viewing course and all of its participants, including the four ICS Senior Members who participated. Please pray for Gideon Strauss's Research Assistant Grace Carhart, who will be interviewing Nik Ansell, Ron Kuipers, Rebekah Smick, and Bob Sweetman during December for four forthcoming episodes of the new ICS podcast, Critical Faith, which will explore themes from this course.

Thursday, December 14:  Today is the final day of classes for the fall semester at ICS. As is our custom, this evening we will share in a time of fun, fellowship and good food at our annual Christmas Party. We give thanks for and celebrate the gifts we have in one another in this blessed community of learning.

Friday, December 15:  Please pray for Bob Sweetman’s PhD student, Benjamin Groenewold, as he continues the work of revising the full thesis draft of his thesis (as yet untitled) on Technological Creativity and Mystery in Light of the Technology of Reading and View of the Mechanical Arts of Hugh of St. Victor.

Monday, December 18:  Please add Chris and Elaine Gort to your prayers as they live out the reality of his ALS diagnosis this past June. If you wish to be added to the updates he sends out periodically, please advise Kathy Lynch at

Tuesday, December 19:  As the day of celebration of Christmas in the giving and receiving of gifts approaches, we thank God for our committed and faithful friends for their gifts of prayer and financial support. We pray each one of you will receive the amazing gifts of love, joy and peace this Christmas season.

Wednesday, December 20:  Plans are underway to host another "Opening Frames" conference on religion and cinema in partnership with the Toronto International Film Festival's Higher Learning program. Please pray for the success of the planning team's efforts to secure the keynote speaker services of an internationally renowned filmmaker, and also that this conference might become an annual event on ICS' community outreach calendar.

Thursday, December 21:  Please remember Gideon Strauss in prayer as he makes the necessary preparations for the Vocational Wayfinding and Meaning and Method courses he is teaching in the Winter 2018 semester. Pray too for the successful recruitment of students to these courses.

Friday, December 22:  Please pray today for the families of our staff, faculty and students as they spend time together at this special Christmas season. Some of our families are spread far and wide so we ask God for his protective hand on those who will be traveling. We also ask our Lord to comfort our loved ones who because of distance or health reasons will be apart from their families. The Christmas season can be a particularly trying time to be separated from those we hold dear.

Monday, December 25:  And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger. Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those whom he favours.

Tuesday, December 26:  In this Christmas week, we want to remember people who are suffering around the world in areas of conflict and war. We need to hear the angels' call for "Peace on Earth" and so we offer prayers that peace and joy can be realized throughout the world.

Wednesday, December 27:  We pray for stamina and enthusiasm for Senior and Junior Members alike, who are preparing to start their new courses in January, and for our administrative colleagues whose selfless service enables us to function.

Thursday, December 28:  Please give thanks for the Ask More Questions youth ministry training event of the Anglican dioceses of Montreal and Ottawa last month, for which Gideon Strauss facilitated a research workshop. Please pray for Gideon Strauss's continuing education work on everyday world-viewing and vocational wayfinding in collaboration with churches, schools, and other partner organizations.

Friday, December 29:  As 2017 draws to a close, we give thanks for another fruitful year of work at ICS and for all our supporters and friends who made that work possible through their prayers and financial gifts. We especially give thanks to God for the grace and wisdom he gave in bringing closure to the financial difficulties with 229 College. We pray for God's blessing upon our staff, faculty, and students as we work out our mission, in the classroom and beyond, throughout this next year.