The IOCS has announced plans for this year’s Summer Institute in Wesley House on Jesus Lane, Cambridge (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)
The Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies in Cambridge has announced its plans for this year’s IOCS Summer Institute, a new format of the Summer Schools, which I took part in over many years.
This year’s programme addresses the theme of ‘Finding God in the Everyday: Faith, Profession, Vocation’. The Summer Institute will take place on Monday and Tuesday, 11 and 12 September 2023. It is being held physically at Wesley House on Jesus Lane, Cambridge, and also with Zoom participation between 9 am and 6:30 pm each day.
The Summer Institute aims to bring together voices from within the wider Church who would speak of how their Christian faith meets their profession, their work, or their vocation.
The range of speakers brought together for this event offer insights into a theological framework of this encounter, rooted in patristic, ascetic, and contemporary perspectives, and offer praxis-based reflection, as practitioners in their various fields of activity, including art, medicine, education, and socio-pastoral work.
The IOCS believes this to be a timely topic for two reasons: firstly, it acknowledges the role of the laity in shaping our awareness of the diversity of Christian experience today, both in the sense of challenges but also of occasions for discernment of God’s presence in the world today. Secondly, as part of our lived negotiation of faith and praxis in the West, we experience the difficulty of ‘finding God in the everyday’, as our society grows increasingly secular and spiritually fragmented.
Nothing could highlight more this challenge than the stark, statistical evidence that Christianity is today a minority in the UK, with 46.2% of the population of England and Wales describing themselves as Christian on the day of the 2021 census, down from 59.3% a decade earlier.
The participation fees are: £100 for on-site participation, including tea and coffee; or £75 for online participation. Discounts for students are: £70 on-site / £50 online; IOCS students: £50 on-site / £25 online. The participation fee includes refreshments (coffee/tea) but does not include meals. To enrol go HERE (bottom of page).
On each of the two days, there will be five talks a day, between 9 am and 6:30 pm, with coffee breaks in between sessions and a longer lunch break in the middle.
The talks at this event are expected to be about 30 minutes in length and they will be followed by discussions, involving participants both onsite and online.
Meanwhile, the confirmed speakers include: Sister Vassa Larin, the Revd Professor Brandon Gallaher, Dr Alexander Lingas, Dr Hermina Nedelescu, Aidan Hart, Dr Petre Maican, Dr Sebastian Koga MD. Other speakers are to be confirmed shortly, and detailed programme of the Summer Institute is to follow soon.
The Summer Institute this year is sponsored by Dr and Mrs Sebastian Koga of New Orleans in loving memory of Dr Christine Mangala Frost, Research Associate and dear friend of IOCS.
For more updates, keep an eye on the Summer Institute page HERE.
12 April 2023
Easter Day on Sunday (9 April 2023) ushered in all our hopes and joys.
This morning I am in Prague on a very brief visit to the Czech capital. But, before this day begins, I am taking some time early this morning for prayer, reflection and reading. In these days of Easter Week, I am reflecting each morning in these ways:
1, Short reflections on the stained-glass windows in Holy Trinity Church, Old Wolverton;
2, the Gospel reading of the day in the lectionary;
3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary.
The East Window, Inner Circle:
The East Window in Holy Trinity Church, Old Wolverton, dominates the chancel and the whole church. This is a spectacular Rose window by Nathaniel Westlake in 1888, with eight lobes around a large central circle and.
This window was the final element in the scheme of decoration in the church carried out from 1870 on under the supervision of the Stony Stratford-born architect Edward Swinfen Harris.
The window provides a magnificent climax to the interior of the church, drawing the attention of worshippers and visitors to the high altar below it.
The central panel window depicts the Crucifixion, with the Virgin Mary and Saint John, Christ standing beside the Cross.
The inner circle surrounding the central panel depicts four scenes:
1 (top), Christ with the Disciples at the Last Supper: this panel draws attention to the Eucharist celebrated at the High Altar below the window. Some descriptions say there are only 10 disciplines in this window. However, closer attention shows there is an eleventh halo, and that the face of a disciple is hidden behind his companions; Judas has already left the table.
2 (left), Moses striking the Rock for water (Exodus 17: 1-7; Numbers 20: 2-13): this scene is linked in Christian theology with Jesus’ description of himself as living water:
Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.’ (John 4: 13-15)
On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, “Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water”.’ Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified. (John 7: 37-39)
3 (right), Moses lifting the brazen serpent (Numbers 21: 4-9; John 3: 14-15):
[Jesus said:] ‘And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.’ (John 3: 14-15)
4 (below), the Destroying Angel passing over the Israelites at the Passover: In the Passover story in Exodus, the Angel of Death slays the firstborn children of Egypt, but spares any Israelite where the lintels and the door posts have been painted with the blood of the lamb during the Passover feast (Exodus 12: 21-32; see Exodus 14: 19-31).
These scenes of the Last Supper and the Passover and Exodus story are intended to emphasise the celebration of the Eucharist at the High Altar beneath the window.
The stained glass artist NHJ Westlake (1833-1921) was a partner and finally the sole proprietor of Lavers, Barraud & Westlake (1855-1920s), a London-based firm that changed its name several times and became Lavers, Westlake and Co, and eventually NHJ Westlake, before closing in the 1920s.
Luke 24: 13-35 (NRSVA):
13 Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16 but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, ‘What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?’ They stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, ‘Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?’ 19 He asked them, ‘What things?’ They replied, ‘The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. 22 Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, 23 and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.’ 25 Then he said to them, ‘Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! 26 Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?’ 27 Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.
28 As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. 29 But they urged him strongly, saying, ‘Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.’ So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?’ 33 That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. 34 They were saying, ‘The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!’ 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
The theme in this week’s prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) is ‘USPG’s Lent Appeal: supporting young mothers affected By HIV.’ This theme was introduced on Sunday by USPG’s Fundraising Manager, Rebecca Allin, who reflected on the 2023 Lent Appeal supporting young mothers affected by HIV, and their children.
The prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary today (12 April 2023, Wednesday of Easter Week) invites us to pray:
Let us pray for pregnant women who lack access to healthcare. May we work towards a fairer world where giving birth is not a major risk to mother and child.
Lord of all life and power,
who through the mighty resurrection of your Son
overcame the old order of sin and death
to make all things new in him:
grant that we, being dead to sin
and alive to you in Jesus Christ,
may reign with him in glory;
to whom with you and the Holy Spirit
be praise and honour, glory and might,
now and in all eternity.
God of Life,
who for our redemption gave your only-begotten Son
to the death of the cross,
and by his glorious resurrection
have delivered us from the power of our enemy:
grant us so to die daily to sin,
that we may evermore live with him in the joy of his risen life;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org