And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you'll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ's love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.—Ephesians 3:17 (The Message)
A Christian’s life does not consist in words, but in experience. No one is a Christian without experience. That doesn’t mean “life experience,” but the experience of God.—Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Mystery of the Holy Night
Advent greetings! Usually we send a Thanksgiving card to you, but we’ve been sending out notes of Thanksgiving for months now as we’ve celebrated New College Berkeley’s 40th anniversary. We continue to celebrate and to be thankful.
Some Christian traditions—like the Eastern Orthodox and the Celtic—observe a 40 day season of Advent which encompasses our time of Thanksgiving in the US. It’s a penitential season, like the 40 days of Lent before Easter, in which the faithful fast and pray while cleansing their hearts for the feast day of Christmas.
Most of us celebrate a shorter form of Advent that includes the four Sundays leading up to Christmas. But we, too, seek to be cleansed and prepared for the great gift of Christ’s coming into the world. As Paul wrote, we want to “take in…the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love” and prepare room in our hearts and lives for that love. We long for “the experience of God.” These are desires we attend to in our programs at New College Berkeley. Through teaching, retreat leading, spiritual direction, and special programs for students at UC Berkeley, we help people follow the desire to “live full lives, full in the fullness of God.”
We are grateful for the support we’ve received for 40 years and ask that you join us in prayer and support, as you’re able, as New College Berkeley continues to invite people into the adventure with Jesus.
May you experience the “extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love,” in this and all seasons!
Susan Phillips is Executive Director, New College Berkeley