The incarnational work of an artist

by Nathan McDonald | 3-minute read

 

These thoughts are inspired in part by Madeline L’Engle and N.T. Wright, and when I refer to the “Artist,” I am referring to the general sense of the word as someone who creates and holds some skill (or skills) in an art form.

 

“I am the Lord’s servant, ready to serve.
May it be with me as you have said”
–Luke 1:38

 

Mary had just received the most mysterious news. An angel declared that she would give birth to a son by the Holy Spirit. She responded with the humility of a servant and the open heart of an artist: I am the Lord’s servant, ready to serve. May it be with me as you have said. Read More

Finding our place in a larger story

by Jim Killam | 4-minute read

 

When King Solomon had finished praying to dedicate the temple in Jerusalem, he stood and turned toward the people of Israel.

“May the Lord our God be with us as he was with our ancestors; may he never leave us nor forsake us,” he shouted.

That’s 1 Kings 8:57. The whole dedication ceremony was a beautiful picture of reverent worship, but even that single line speaks volumes. Read More

Joy in the presence of fear

by Mary Harker | 3-minute read

 

“But the angel said to them, ‘Don’t be afraid, for look, I bring you great tidings of great joy that will be for all people.’
Luke 2:10 (CSB)

 

When I hear the word fear, joy is not the next word that comes to mind. Read More

Darcie Eklund: A Run to Remember

by Jim Killam | 14-minute read

 

“There’s no greater feeling than winning a race.”
–Jeff Gordon, NASCAR driver

 

This is the story of a beautiful girl who won lots of races. It’s about a close family that grew around that girl and protected her, swords drawn. It’s about unconditional love, and a precious gift disguised to some as a burden. It’s a story that changed more people than we can count. Read More

Bethlehem and basketball

By Jim Killam | 3-minute read

 

Scripture: Micah 5:2
But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.

 

On March 2, 1962, the NBA’s Philadelphia Warriors met the New York Knicks in what looked to be a meaningless, late-season game. Sometimes the league would schedule games in small towns as a way to drum up new fans. This one was in Hershey, Pa., which would be equivalent to the Chicago Bulls playing a game in Belvidere.
History happened that night. Read More

Your 2020 Christmas music sampler

by Jim Killam | 5-minute read

 

We asked First Free’s three musical worship leaders — Renee Cooper, Nathan Fry and Nathan McDonald — for Christmas music recommendations. They came back with quite a variety. Read More

Gratitude

by Jessi Uran | 3-minute read

 

We trailed through whispering, gold grasses,
making our way around the shining lake.

Our cheeks were a mix of dusty rose from the cold,
and dainty pink from the noonday sun. Read More

Your Thanksgiving pregame pep talk

by Jim Killam | 5-minute read

 

Transparency alert: I wrote this article several weeks ago, before Illinois was begging its residents to stay home on Thanksgiving. With increasing numbers of us either sick or under precautionary quarantine, and most others heeding the guidelines (I hope), a traditional Thanksgiving just isn’t in the offing this year.

So, if you’re forging ahead with smaller plans, here’s a walk through a typical Thanksgiving itinerary. If you’re feeling blue about cancellations or Zoom dinners, parts of this might make you feel better about staying home this year.

 

The Warmup

The wardrobe. Unlike Christmas, no one goes out and buys a new Thanksgiving outfit. Business casual is a good bet here, although you’re likely to see everything from suits and ties to sweatpants. Pro Tip: Whatever your level of formality, go for the adjustable waistband.

The coat pile. It’s in the spare bedroom, on a bed with attractive throw pillows from 1976. Read More

Q&R with Pastor Luke

by Jim Killam | 6-minute read

 

At the finish of the Broken Wholeness series, we spoke with Pastor Luke Uran about the response, and what’s next for the holidays. Read More