Tuesday 22 December 2020

A Christmas Greeting from ICS

Dear friends and supporters of ICS

Last year, ICS hosted our second annual Advent concert, Creator of the Stars of Night, for our wonderful friends and supporters. This year, unfortunately, we were not able to host a third concert. Yet thanks to the efforts of last year’s performers, the non-profit charity Incontra Vocal Ensemble, we are able to offer you this Christmas greeting, with a beautiful rendition of the hymn “O Holy Night” by two of their soloists and Artistic Director Matthew Otto. Please enjoy this performance in the video included below.

On behalf of everyone at ICS, I wish you all a joyous Christmas, and a New Year filled with blessing. A light has shone in the darkness, and in that hope we venture into the New Year, guided by our Redeemer’s glory. May God give us all the strength and resilience to continue our earthly journey, and the ability and energy to respond to our Maker’s call upon our lives.

Shalom, my friends! Shalom!

Ronald A. Kuipers

P.S. There is still time to give to ICS before the end of the year. You can donate online via CanadaHelps. If you're in the US, you can visit the Friends of ICS page and donate via PayPal. If you have any questions about donating, feel free to email donate@icscanada.edu or call us at 416-979-2331 x223, or toll free at 1-888-326-5347 x223

Tuesday 1 December 2020

Living in Advent Hope

And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

—Matthew 28:30

Jesus Christ came into the world over 2000 years ago, yet each Advent we prepare ourselves to receive him anew. Every Advent we look forward in hopeful expectation, a specific sort of expectation that our religious memory teaches us to have. There is something wonderful about this spiritual exercise, something that gets at the difference between the gospel’s time and our time. It reminds us that Christ comes to us in each moment, and that each moment presents us with the possibility of walking in his healing way—the way he revealed to us so long ago, and the way his Holy Spirit continues to reveal to us today.

When we walk this path, we follow our Messiah’s call to live into a different world and prepare for a different, transformed future. Living into that future, we are promised, will make the possibility of redemption real to us now, and will help us shape a world of justice and peace for those who come after us.

As we live into God’s future, then, we also leave our own spiritual legacy. Like a boat cutting into unknown water, we leave a wake that marks a path for those who come after us. As we let ourselves be guided by Jesus, our morning star, we trust that this path will also guide others to safe harbour. And when our wake recedes, our morning star has promised to remain in the sky to light our way.

Through its Christian witness in higher education and the wider public, ICS, too, strives to keep its sights set by our morning star (to echo the title of Hendrik Hart’s 1989 book on biblical interpretation). We trust and hope that our faithful efforts will cut a path that helps others in their attempts to do the same. All our ambitious plans, hopes, and dreams are bent in this direction, and without our morning star we would be lost. We are so deeply encouraged when you join us in our efforts. Through all the forms of spiritual and material support you give us, you enable us to continue to serve and to anticipate God’s kingdom, and to teach others to do the same. Thank you!

As we enter this Advent season, my friends, I wish you God’s shalom, and pray that you have a restorative and safe Christmas!

Ronald A. Kuipers

Prayer Letter: December 2020

Tuesday, December 1 - Friday, December 4:

Please take the opportunity this week to give thanks for our Board of Trustees as they continue to serve in their oversight of the mission and vision of ICS. Please pray for wisdom for John Joosse as Chair, and for Diane Stronks as Vice Chair in their leadership roles. We give thanks for each trustee for their faithful service to and support of ICS.

On December 4th, ICS, under the leadership of Edith van der Boom, will be hosting a virtual Q&A session for MA-EL students to answer their questions about the three upcoming winter courses. Please pray that God will establish the work of our hands as we reach out to potential students that there will be both interest and commitment to sign up for these courses so that our classes will be full.

HENK HART'S 85TH BIRTHDAY — A virtual event is being planned for December 12th to celebrate the life of Hendrik Hart on the occasion of his upcoming 85th birthday. If you wish to join this online event, or submit photos or a tribute to be shared with Henk, please contact the organizing team at henks85th@gmail.com.

On November 13th and 14th, ICS hosted its Fourth Annual Undergraduate Workshop, “Evil, Resistance, and Judgment: Creating a World Fit for Human Habitation.” We pray in thanksgiving for our keynote speaker, Dr. Mary Jo Leddy, and for our guest undergraduates, Matthew, Tanner, Anna, and Tomy, who challenged us with their reflections, inspired us with their insight, and enlivened us with their engagement.

Monday, December 7 - Friday, December 11:

We pray for continued stamina and enthusiasm for our Senior and Junior Members as they finish out the semester and prepare to start their new courses in January. We pray for Gideon Strauss that he might have rhythm and creative energy in his administrative role as Academic Dean, and for strength and inspiration for all our faculty who are teaching in the winter semester.

We ask for prayer for Elizabet Aras, our Registrar, as she makes plans for the Virtual Christmas Party on December 19th. It isn’t always easy to creatively design a party such as this virtually -- this will be the first time that we have had our Christmas Party remotely. We ask for inspiration for Elizabet as she puts all the pieces together. 

During the month of December, ICS’s Hegel Study Group will continue to read Hegel’s seminal work The Phenomenology of Spirit under the leadership of Andrew Tebbutt, CPRSE Postdoctoral Research Associate. We pray in thanksgiving for Andrew, who has provided vital support to many of our learning initiatives and has brought much life to our community. 

Monday, December 14 - Friday, December 18:

On Monday, December 18th at 1:30pm, CPRSE will host ICS’s Fall Term Scripture, Faith and Scholarship Symposium, “Decoloniality, Hermeneutics, and Theo-Ethics: A Conversation with Dr. NĂ©stor Medina.” Please pray for this event to be an opportunity for focused reflection and fruitful dialogue for our community of learning.

This Friday is the final day of classes for the fall semester at ICS. On Saturday, December 19th we will share in a time of fun and fellowship at our annual Christmas Party -- this time held virtually. Pray that it might be a wonderful evening of giving thanks for and celebrating the gifts we have in one another in this blessed community of learning at ICS.

As we look forward to next week which celebrates Christmas by the giving and receiving of gifts, we thank God for our committed and faithful friends for their gifts of encouragement and faithful support in prayer and financial support. We pray for each one of you that you will receive the amazing gifts of love, joy and peace this Christmas season and be filled with hope with what God will do in the new year.

Monday, December 21 - Friday, December 25:

Please pray today for the families of our staff, faculty and students as they find ways to celebrate the birth of our Saviour amidst the restraints of the pandemic. Most of our families are spread far and wide and so it won’t be possible to be together in person. Pray that despite the separation, families can find joy and inspiration in their virtual get-togethers. As well, we ask for special prayer for those families who may be suffering because of illness or grieving a loss in their family. 

May the blessings of love, joy and peace be yours as we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Saviour this Christmas week.

Monday, December 28 - Thursday, December 31:

We sincerely hope that you enjoyed reading our very special issue of Perspective and have been as inspired as we’ve been by the beautiful tributes to Hendrik Hart. For those of you who know Henk but have not received this issue in the mail or by email, you can follow this link (https://tinyurl.com/PerspectiveFa2020) to read the issue for yourself. If you would like to join in this spirit of giving before the year ends, you can find the letter that accompanied the issue and some additional information about ways to donate here.

The 2021 winter semester was scheduled to begin on January 3rd. However, prompted by the fact that the burdens imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic caused added stress, the University of Toronto (which determines our semester timing) decided to delay the start of the semester to January 11th. Please pray along with us that this extra week will enable all of us to rest and recharge, and make the most of the upcoming holiday break.

As 2019 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 strength and wisdom he gave us in this pandemic year to steadfastly pursue our vision. 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.