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Hello from Palo Alto!

As I write this, our students have wrapped up Winter Quarter finals, and are enjoying their spring break in locations around the globe. Well, that was the plan at least. As we all are now living with the reality of this global pandemic, we are facing the new reality of change, disappointment, and anxiety. Life interrupted.

I love Jesus’s arguments with the Pharisees. Jesus always wins.

Happy New Year from Palo Alto!

College students often share a common blind spot that we all fall prey to: the tendency to think of life through a very narrow and individual filter. I don’t blame the students—the schools cultivate that brand of individualism, and we as a society certainly model it as well. So even as we draft our own personal goals and resolutions for the new year, allow me to offer some perspective from C.S. Lewis:

Merry Christmas from Palo Alto!

Our meditation as a ministry recently has been on Colossians 3:1-4:

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
What has struck me is that Paul does not say, “Set your mind on ‘the Thing’ above (namely God), not on things that are on earth.” Had he said that, he would be distinguishing between Creator and creation (an admittedly important distinction). But to read the passage this way would be overly simplistic, in part because “the things that are above” which Paul mentions are plural. Therefore, “the things that are above” must include more than God alone.

Grace and peace from Palo Alto!

A common refrain that we hear about this point in the fall quarter is, “Sorry, I’m too busy this week!” or, “I don’t know if I can meet with everything I need to do.” And it’s true, the weeks prior to the end of the fall quarter are rough, and the students—especially the new freshmen—struggle to keep above the waters. Sometimes I’m tempted to break it to them that life doesn’t slow down after college either! But part of our calling as ministers on these campuses is not to compound the issue with more events and more obligation. Our calling is to point them to the One who sustains them, the One who is our very peace in the midst of the storm:

Fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

What a privilege to know a God who enters into our storms and reaches out to us with a strong hand! Join us in prayer this season for the work on this campus:

  • Pray for strength and endurance as the students head into the final stretch of fall.
  • Pray for the upcoming Thanksgiving break, that they are refreshed and reconnect with family.
  • Pray for our ongoing Bible Courses, for community and fellowship to flourish through them.
  • Pray for our CU team at Stanford: Abigail, Garrett, Jim, Justin, and Susan.
  • Pray for Jesus to be lifted up throughout this campus through the words and loving actions of his many followers in Palo Alto!

We remain grateful for your prayers and your partnership.

In Christ,

Garrett Brown
Ministry Director
Christian Union Caritas

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Greetings from Palo Alto!

“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel” (Colossians 1:3-5)

What has struck me most this quarter as we revisit Colossians in Bible courses and one-on-one meetings is the relationship of faith and love to hope which Paul here describes.

God’s grace from Palo Alto!

We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
(Romans 15:1-7).

This passage is our theme as we turn our efforts toward welcoming new students. As I write this 1700 freshmen from around the world are wrapping up several days of orientation and settling in for their first classes this week. We are excited to meet them and welcome them as Christ has received us!

Greetings from Palo Alto!

Students are gearing up to return, or arrive for the first time, to Stanford’s campus toward the end of September. We would love for them to benefit from your prayers!

Greetings from Palo Alto!

“Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them” (Hebrews 13:9).

Students in our Bible courses meditated on this verse recently as we concluded our Bible course on the book of Hebrews. The author’s teaching certainly includes the temple sacrifices which, after the sacrifice of Christ, had become obsolete.

Merry Christmas from Palo Alto!

As I write this, our students are in the final stretch of their fall quarter, laboring over exams and papers, counting the minutes until they can walk away from all of it for a few weeks. For busy students (as well as the rest of us) exerting so much energy and focus on finishing the task during this time of year can certainly take them out of the season of Advent—a season of expectation, waiting, and reflection. In light of this, how refreshing it was recently when one of our students led a prayer time on campus using the words of a great old Christmas hymn to focus our devotion and prayer: