This year’s Nordenhaugh lectures, delivered by Dr Cathy Ross at the VU University, marked an exciting new beginning in the history of IBTS: the first IBTS event in Amsterdam. Here are some of my impressions.
Firstly, what an amazing place Amsterdam is! The areas I moved around in were looked after, the impressive trains in good condition and the metro and trams so well run; and everyone seems to speak perfect English! Possibly because English is a mandatory part of the curriculum in Dutch schools. People were really helpful when I had to make some unplanned changes to my itinerary.
Our Dutch colleagues are so genuinely enthusiastic about our arrival here. I am fully persuaded that the move over to offering the VU doctorate will work well for our IBTS students. The expanded menu of DMin and Masters degrees provides good alternatives for busy pastors, missionaries and teachers.
Cathy was great. Very practical. Taking us in, through a journey that recognised that all theology is contextual, Cathy addressed the nature of Hospitality as Creating Space for the Other; Hospitality as Seeing the Other and Hospitality as Nourishing the Other. After lunch, she led us into reflections on mission through Attentiveness as Creating Space for Hospitality; Hospitality as Presence and Hospitality from the Margins. The closing panel time, with Keith, Lina, Cathy, Henk and Parush, was a stimulating and creative conclusion.
All of which reinforces a conviction that has been steading growing in me for a long time. Authentically Christian mission must be rooted in authentic ministry: that is, in looking to humbly help and serve the ‘other’ through bearing the presence of God’s kingdom – righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit – through the vehicle of our own humanity. This is what witnessing to the Kingdom of God is anchored in. Without this, any proclamation is no more that a hollow and harsh heckling of others. Jesus did not proclaim without offering practical helps: neither should we.
So, all in all, a good prelude to a full movement! I really look forward to the IBTS Research Intensives here in Amsterdam here in January. May God strengthen our full-time colleagues who labour in Prague towards completing the transfer to Amsterdam.
– Jim (Purves)