The ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus is known for his statement, “All things are flowing”. He thought of life as a river whose water is constantly in motion making it impossible to step into the same water twice. He argued this position against the contrary view that nothing ever changes. Life would suggest that Heraclitus’ view was closer to the truth than the opposing view. This ancient debate comes to my mind on the occasion of being back in Tübingen after returning to the U.S. eighteen years ago. When we arrived a week ago Gill remarked that it feels like coming home. And there certainly are aspects of that feeling that are true. But much has changed. Shops we knew are gone, replaced by other shops; many people we knew are gone; and the Institute itself has moved to a new location.
Change is a part of life. But other things remain. While many people we worked with in the eleven years we lived in Tübingen are gone, many are still here and we are enjoying getting in contact with them again. And, more importantly, the Gospel and its relevance to human life has not changed; the need for the Gospel in our world has not changed; the purpose of the Institute for the Study of Christian Origins has not changed nor has its relevance diminished. It is encouraging to see the Institute still alive and well, and its work continuing under the able leadership of Beth and Birgit. Beth is unfortunately now on sick leave from her work. We encourage you to pray for her complete healing and recovery in the weeks ahead.
The focal point of the Institute’s energy in the immediate future is on the International Symposium which will take place October 1-3. Fourteen scholars from seven countries will gather to present papers on and discuss the Lord’s Prayer.
Some thoughts on the Lord’s Prayer may be an appropriate way to end this brief message. Many of us have memorized the Lord’s Prayer and repeat it regularly in worship services. This is good, but in our repetition, we may fail to notice how relevant some of its petitions are to our world today. Petitions such as “May your kingdom come; may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” leap out with startling sharpness. The third century Church Father Origen proposed that the second part of this twofold petition might perhaps be added after each of the initial petitions in the prayer, so that we would pray, “Hallowed be your name on earth as it is in heaven, may your kingdom come on earth as in heaven, may your will be done on earth as in heaven.” May you bathe the work of the Institute for the Study of Christian Origins with your prayers for, to quote Origen again, “We will only receive if we ask.”