All posts in “christmas”

Christmas Eve 12/24 – 5p

**Registration opens Monday, Nov. 30.**

Music: Blended Worship led by Renee Cooper and Nathan Fry
Series: It’s a Wonderful Life
When:
5 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 24. Other options: 6:30 p.m. Dec. 23 and 3 p.m. Dec. 24.
Where: Sanctuary
Who: All ages encouraged, but no youth programming at this time.
How do I register? Click on the registration button below. Registration opens Monday, Nov. 30.
Streaming: We will livestream all three Christmas Eve services on our website, Facebook and YouTube. You can also access them on-demand after the livestream through our website or app.

Guidelines (Phase 1):

  • Registration for Christmas Eve services will close at 11:59 p.m. the day before service. If you are unable to register online, call the church office at 815-877-7046 from 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Monday–Friday for assistance. No office assistance available on Saturdays and Sundays.
  • All ages are encouraged to attend, but there will be no other activities or ministries provided during the worship service until Phase 3.
  • We will follow CDC guidelines for face coverings and social distancing. Face coverings will be required at all times while in the building.
  • A household can sit together with three empty seats between them and the next household. There will be two empty rows between each occupied row. Seat yourself by starting with the first open spot near the front moving back.
  • The balcony will be opened if needed. The overflow rooms on the main floor will not be used, because of ventilation issues.
  • Offerings will be received online, by texting, mail, or dropped into a provided container on the way out of the worship service.
  • Attendees should dismiss starting with the rear seats and moving forward. Please do not congregate in the lobby or halls.
  • Restroom will be open with only two people allowed at a time.

 

REGISTRATION OPENS 11/30

Christmas Eve 12/24 – 3p

**Registration opens Monday, Nov. 30.**

Music: Blended Worship led by Renee Cooper and Nathan Fry
Series: It’s a Wonderful Life
When:
3 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 24. Other options: 6:30 p.m. Dec. 23 and 5 p.m. Dec. 24.
Where: Sanctuary
Who: All ages encouraged, but no youth programming at this time.
How do I register? Click on the registration button below. Registration opens Monday, Nov. 30.
Streaming: We will livestream all three Christmas Eve services on our website, Facebook and YouTube. You can also access them on-demand after the livestream through our website or app.

Guidelines (Phase 1):

  • Registration for Christmas Eve services will close at 11:59 p.m. the day before service. If you are unable to register online, call the church office at 815-877-7046 from 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Monday–Friday for assistance. No office assistance available on Saturdays and Sundays.
  • All ages are encouraged to attend, but there will be no other activities or ministries provided during the worship service until Phase 3.
  • We will follow CDC guidelines for face coverings and social distancing. Face coverings will be required at all times while in the building.
  • A household can sit together with three empty seats between them and the next household. There will be two empty rows between each occupied row. Seat yourself by starting with the first open spot near the front moving back.
  • The balcony will be opened if needed. The overflow rooms on the main floor will not be used, because of ventilation issues.
  • Offerings will be received online, by texting, mail, or dropped into a provided container on the way out of the worship service.
  • Attendees should dismiss starting with the rear seats and moving forward. Please do not congregate in the lobby or halls.
  • Restroom will be open with only two people allowed at a time.

 

REGISTRATION OPENS 11/30

Christmas Eve 12/23 – 6:30p

**Registration opens Monday, Nov. 30.**

Music: Blended Worship led by Renee Cooper and Nathan Fry
Series: It’s a Wonderful Life
When:
6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 23. Other options: 3 p.m. Dec. 24 and 5 p.m. Dec. 24.
Where: Sanctuary
Who: All ages encouraged, but no youth programming at this time.
How do I register? Click on the registration button below. Registration opens Monday, Nov. 30.
Streaming: We will livestream all three Christmas Eve services on our website, Facebook and YouTube. You can also access them on-demand after the livestream through our website or app.

Guidelines (Phase 1):

  • Registration for Christmas Eve services will close at 11:59 p.m. the day before service. If you are unable to register online, call the church office at 815-877-7046 from 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Monday–Friday for assistance. No office assistance available on Saturdays and Sundays.
  • All ages are encouraged to attend, but there will be no other activities or ministries provided during the worship service until Phase 3.
  • We will follow CDC guidelines for face coverings and social distancing. Face coverings will be required at all times while in the building.
  • A household can sit together with three empty seats between them and the next household. There will be two empty rows between each occupied row. Seat yourself by starting with the first open spot near the front moving back.
  • The balcony will be opened if needed. The overflow rooms on the main floor will not be used, because of ventilation issues.
  • Offerings will be received online, by texting, mail, or dropped into a provided container on the way out of the worship service.
  • Attendees should dismiss starting with the rear seats and moving forward. Please do not congregate in the lobby or halls.
  • Restroom will be open with only two people allowed at a time.

 

REGISTRATION OPENS 11/30

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

Photo of Pastor Josh Pardee with Q&R title

Q&R with Pastor Josh: Redemption starts with Christmas

A conversation with Pastor Josh Pardee

At the Christmas Eve service, Pastor Josh Pardee used the story of the infant Jesus’ presentation in the temple as an introduction to the theme of redemption. We thought a follow-up conversation might be in order.

 

With this sermon, what were some questions you wanted to help us think about at Christmas?

We talk about how it’s Merry Christmas and how it’s a happy time of year, but yet as we look at our lives, we see brokenness around the world. What enables us to actually say Merry Christmas? Why do we look at this season so differently?

 
Josh Pardee Avatar

Josh Pardee, Pastor of Congregational Life

Focusing on Anna is an unusual approach. How does Anna’s portion of the story speak to you?

Anna was widowed after just seven years of marriage. Now in this passage she is 84. She has spent her whole time in the temple praying and fasting and worshipping. And then as soon as she gets a hold of the child, she is declaring to anyone who will listen that he is the redemption of Jerusalem, and how that story extends to the world. And so the reason that we do celebrate, even amid the brokenness, and amid the pain in life, is knowing that there is redemption to come. It’s already and not yet.

In the sermon I mentioned Revelation 21, the New Jerusalem coming. Now we’re going to see the climax of that story . And that’s why we can experience hope. It’s not that pain and brokenness and suffering aren’t a part of our story. They are just no longer the focus of our story. Redemption is the story that’s being written.


What’s the significance of Anna being highlighted like this? Especially as a woman?

Read More

Christmas Eve Service 2019

Christmas Eve Service 2019

Join us for one of our Christmas weekend services at our main campus. Enjoy music with a full choir and orchestra, a time of singing carols, and an inspiring Christmas message from Pastor Josh Pardee.

Childcare available for kids age 5 and under.

Glimpses of glory

Earthly surprises can point us heavenward

By Jim Killam

On January 30, 1969, the Beatles went to the roof of their Apple Corps studio building in London and began to play. In the film shot that day (hard to find online now because of copyrights), people smile and point five stories above when they realize what’s going on. Some climb fire escapes for a better vantage point. This was, after all, the band’s first concert since 1966.

Others walk resolutely, never looking up or acknowledging what’s going on. Some are ticked off because their predictable day has been interrupted. Almost 51 years later, the whole world remembers that concert, how the London police busted it up when the band might have played much longer … and how it turned out to be the Beatles’ last public performance.

Like everything in popular culture, surprise concerts have been so overdone that they usually feel cliché. Subway platforms are particularly popular venues (U2, John Legend, Elton John, Miley Cyrus), along with fans’ wedding (Ed Sheeran) and even a middle school class (Beyonce).

Former Beatle Paul McCartney did one last year with James Corden on The Late Late Show — a program that almost no one really watches but which has an enormous YouTube following. Toward the end of a “Carpool Karaoke” segment, they sneak into a Liverpool pub. When someone puts a coin in the jukebox, the stage curtain opens and Paul starts playing Beatles songs. It’s pretty great.

• • •

So what does any of this have to do with Christmas Eve? Read More

Staff memories: Our own Christmas Traditions

Seven members of our church staff responded to two questions about their family’s Christmas traditions.

 

What was your family’s most meaningful Christmas tradition?

 

Kendra Johnson AvatarKendra Johnson

As young siblings, the three of us put on a short program for our parents. One of us read the Christmas story from Luke, we all sang a Christmas hymn and one of us prayed. It was the same every year but that is what made it a tradition.

Kari Heckler AvatarKari Heckler

Decorating Christmas cookies with my grandma. We always used the powdered sugar and food coloring to make the frosting. We ate a lot of the cookies as they “accidentally” broke. I love that my kids are keeping that tradition going!

Read More

Christmas in the Congo featured image

Christmas in the Congo

With First Free Rockford’s strong connection to the Congolese church and to Tabitha centers in the capital city of Kinshasa, Christmastime unites us even more.

ReachGlobal missionaries Jim and Ruth Snyder and their family lived in the Democratic Republic of Congo from 1985 to 1996, back when the country was called Zaire. (ReachGlobal is the world mission agency of the Evangelical Free Church of America.) We spoke with Jim via email about his family’s memories of Christmas in the Congo.

From a Nativity play: Herod’s soldiers after receiving the decree from Caesar Augustus. They especially enjoy brandishing the wooden swords. Photos provided by Mike and Julia Anne McCord

Is Christmas a big deal in DRC? It’s a public holiday, right?

Christmas is a VERY big deal. Employers generally give food stuffs (chickens, rice, fish, salt, sugar) to their employees and often have parties in early December which include a meal and the distribution of these. The closer one lives to Kinshasa, the more commercialized it has become. China’s influence (believe it or not) has introduced plastic Christmas trees, lights of all sorts and decorations that are now in many homes and churches. In general, people look forward to the holiday as it affords time off from work and with extended family.

Read More

Christmas Traditions 2019

Christmas Traditions 2019

FREE all ages

First Free Rockford hosts their fourth annual Christmas Traditions event from 4 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 14. Each activity is designed to help families create new holiday traditions and memories while weaving the Christmas story into it all. See below for details, and visit the website at christmastraditions.org.

ACTIVITIES
  • FREE photos with Santa by Bobbi Rose Photography
  • LIVE t-shirt printing by Rockford Art Deli
  • LIVE kids stage show
  • Petting zoo with camels, donkeys and sheep
  • Horse-drawn wagon rides to s’mores at campfire
  • Indoor snowball fight
  • Plus more fun family activities!
FOOD available for purchase
VOLUNTEER