As First Congregational UCC celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr’s birthday with a packed house on Sunday, the church received inspiration from Arun Gandhi, the son of Mahatma Gandhi. The visit began with Arun Gandhi joining Pastor Brooks for a dialogue sermon on Mahatma Gandhi and King. After worship, Gandhi then gave a presentation for the general public that featured stories about his grandfather and his advocacy for peace. The event received coverage from the Columbian, the local Fox station, and the national UCC media office.
Arun Gandhi is an internationally renowned nonviolent activist and scholar. On Sunday, January 18th, he will visit First Congregational United Church of Christ in Vancouver as we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr’s birthday. During our 10 am worship, Arun Gandhi will join Pastor Brooks in a dialogue sermon that focuses on the nonviolent philosophies and practices of Mahatma Gandhi and King. From 11 am to 11:30 am, we will transition to a presentation by Arun Gandhi by having refreshments and breakfast breads in our fellowship hall. At 11:30 am, Arun Gandhi will speak on the subject “Stories About My Grandfather Mahatma Gandhi and Educating for Peace.” At the end of his presentation, he will sign copies of his books, including his new children’s book Grandfather Gandhi and his autobiographical Legacy of Love: My Education in the Path of Nonviolence. To attend the presentation, a $15 donation is requested of adults. Children are free. No one will be turned away for lack of funds.
To celebrate the birth of Jesus, we focused on a theme that evokes the special bond of parent and child. We heard four reflections on the theme Christmas Lullabies and Dreams. Many of the songs sung also evoked the soothing qualities of a lullaby. For the children (and adults), Pastor Brooks concluded a five-part story that he began at the start of Advent. This story shares the previously unknown history of how a band of pirates raided the Christmas Village and kidnapped Saint Nick. The story was called Rescuing Saint Nick, and we finally learned how that happened.
As is our tradition, the service ended with the lighting of candles and the singing of Silent Night. The magic of Christmas was truly in the air!
Pastor Brooks just published a new book entitled Gratitude for a Daughter: Fifty Pictures and Fifty Prayers of Thanksgiving. In the introduction, Pastor Brooks writes, “During the process of deciding whether or not to have a child, I recall reading to my wife Eunita a newspaper article that cited a statistic claiming that parents are statistically more likely to be depressed than non-parents. If my wife had not so diligently and persuasively pushed for a child, at this moment we would likely be childless and I would be writing a book on the theological conundrums of 16th century catechisms. Instead, I find myself writing with a different purpose as I share how gratitude for my daughter Danalyn has not only brought joy into my life but has also drawn me closer to God.” Pastor Brooks accomplishes his purpose by sharing 50 photos of his daughter that inspired 50 corresponding prayers. The photos were taken during a sabbatical in which he traveled with his family to London, Cornwall, Paris, and Nice. Short descriptions interspersed throughout the book give a colorful travelogue of the family’s adventures. Copies of the book can be purchased at blurb.com. Proceeds go to the church.