Archive for April, 2012

Prayer of the Optina Elders

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

Some of our staff are taking part in a project exploring aspects of Orthodox theology. Tim found this prayer, which we thought our readers might appreciate:

Grant that with peaceful minds we may face all that this new day is to bring.

Grant us grace to surrender ourselves utterly to Thy Divine Will.

Instruct and prepare us in all things for every hour of this day.

Whatever tidings may come to us this day, may we accept them tranquilly, firmly convinced that everything that happens to us fulfils Thy Divine Will.

Govern our thoughts and feelings in everything we do and say.

When things unforeseen occur, let us not forget that all comes down from Thee.

Teach us to behave sincerely and rationally towards every other human being that we may bring confusion and sorrow to none.

Bestow upon us, O Lord, strength to endure the fatigue of the day, and to bear our part in all its passing events.

Guide Thou our will and teach us to pray, to believe, to hope, to suffer, to forgive, and above all to love.

Amen

Easter and Spring

Monday, April 16th, 2012

IBTS’s been very quiet over Easter! Most of the students were away, either back at home or visiting some friends, and so were a number of the staff.  But those of us who stayed around enjoyed those rather special moments of ‘contracted community’ when one can experience very close connections with the other ‘remnants’, often leading to unexpected sharing times and insights, intimate worship times, and fun… Of course many of our community come from the parts of the world where it’s Easter Monday today – so “Christ is risen; He is risen indeed” has been echoing throughout the campus for over a week now, and is still continuing, especially in the emails we’re receiving from our part-timers in Russia, Ukraine, and elsewhere.

On the first Easter Day eight days ago, it actually snowed here in Prague!.. And yesterday, on the second Easter Day, it rained; as it does today. But winter’s giving its way to spring, even if reluctantly.  This morning I read a poem about spring written some time ago by a Czech poet of a tragic life, who spent much of his life in an exile in Britain, and wanted to share it with those of you who like to savour good poetry.

Ivan Blatný, ‘Spring’:

A cauliflower settles on the roof of a bungalow,
a swallow returns, you watch it in the sky,
and early buds are tight as bronze, they glow,
the dung-cart’s waiting, as in times gone by.

The heavens purr and snore, they are sleeping still,
but it will clear up, but it will be a fine day.
A train whistles in the distance, distance whistles
in the distance, silver drops tap planes in play.

In the playground, boys at goalposts in their tracksuits,
a cauliflower settles on a spruce new basket,
good French sun, come and bless us with your light.

I would love to be off: I am opening the door;
I would love to be off: on the Riviera shore
I’d see the sky and the whole world grow bright.

(tr. Edwin Morgan; and you can find out more about Blatný here)

– Lina

P.S. Those of you who have been at IBTS and have seen our neighbour the farmer whose house and land’s the first thing you walk by when exploring our valley, will know that although boys in tracksuits may not be part of the experience at IBTS, dung-carts are!

Being a baptist voice in our community

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

It’s always nice (REALLY nice!) to hear from our blog followers – and it’s especially nice to realise there are people who read us who we may even not know personally (yet)! Here’s one of them – Jonas from Sweden tells us a little bit about his church in Arvika:

In Arvika in Sweden the baptist church was started 1882. The work of the Church was fruitful and the church prospered for many years and even planted churches in neighbouring villages. Later years the church shrunk, and 2003 the now small baptist church became part of the Mission Covenant Church in Arvika, but still as baptist group with connections to the Baptist Union of Sweden.

It would be tempting for our small baptist community just to live on memories from the glory days in Arvika. Maybe keeping some old traditions, but in practice slowly slip into the broadly evangelical free church Christianity in Sweden and forget our identity as baptists. But, last year we decided to start a website for our small group of baptists. We use the website to describe our history and what it means to be a baptist in Arvika today. The website helps us develop our identity as baptists and it is also our voice as baptists into the city of Arvika.

One of the younger members has taken the Horizons youth leader training from the EBF, a wonderful training that helps us reach the youth of our city. When developing the website books and articles from IBTS has been very useful, showing the way for an up to date baptist identity that helps us being good witnesses for Christ in the culture of a late modern Sweden.

The Dictionary of European Baptist Life and Thought is truly a blessing when trying to navigate trough theological questions from a baptist point of view. Since we do not have a baptist pastor in our community this is an important help for us.

We want to be ecumenically minded, but still with a baptist identity. The European Baptist Federation and the IBTS community has been a good help for us in Arvika. Thanks to you all.

Jonas

On the banks of the River Jordan

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

John 1. 28 tells us John the Baptist was baptizing at “Bethany beyond the Jordan” (1.28) and it is to there that Jesus came to be baptized. Archeologists and Biblical scholars have identified that site as in the Kingdom of Jordan (not the false claims made on the other bank) and this site, now preserved in a natural form (unlike most of the sites elsewhere in the Holy Land) has become a placed visited by those who want to see the supposed cave of John the Baptist, the hill where Elijah was taken up into heaven and, of course, the spot where the early church believed Jesus was baptized.

The Jordanian authorities try to keep it as a wilderness, with the reeds blowing in the wind. It has a naturalness about it which does promote a sense of worship. However, sadly, the churches have pressed the Jordanian government to allow buildings to be erected nearby. Prof. Dr. H.R.H. Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad bin Talal, a renowned Muslim scholar (one of the originators of the Common Word dialogue between Muslims and Christians) encouraged the churches to consider having one Christian building which all could share. That, it seems, is not possible for ecumenical relations have not advanced so much. Today, denominations are rushing to erect their own tabernacles at the site – Armenian Apostolic, Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Russian Orthodox – all on a grand scale. This is disappointing. Apparently we Baptists have our own plot of land on the banks of the Jordan, but perhaps appropriately, there is only a simple, natural, shelter and not even a sign to say we are standing on the property of the Baptist World Alliance. This has a Gospel simplicity about it, which commends the place to me.

– Keith