First Free Family,
Today is Good Friday. A day we get up close to death to prepare for the celebration of life in Christ. And this year we don’t have to try very hard to face the reality of death. Its shadow is all around us. We feel an abundance of loss thinking about how different Holy Week is this year. But Sunday’s still coming and the joy to be found in celebrating Christ’s victory over death is greater. It won’t feel like a “normal” Easter Sunday, but that may make its celebration that much sweeter. Take heart, when the world feels uncertain, our hope in Christ is firm.
As our team has been planning what we’ll do for Sunday, we’ve been thinking through how to incorporate some of the traditions that are part of Easter at First Free. We’ll be singing familiar Easter songs and proclaiming the resurrection. We’ll provide links so we can all listen to the same beautiful recordings of the Hallelujah chorus and our postlude, Widor’s Toccata. (It just wouldn’t be the same if we tried to do a video of it!) And if you have the supplies and ingredients on hand, we hope you’ll even make a bundt cake. Here are some recipes, tricks, and tips from our Children’s Ministries Director, Judy Hollander. Trust us, you’d rather have her baking advice than ours. It’s our prayer that all these things will help us to feel a collective sense of celebration even though we’ll be apart on this special day.
Livestream and Resource Update
In order to make sure this week is a smoother experience for everyone, we’ll be recording early and making the video available on our livestream page shortly before 10:45. Join us then and we can watch together! The sermon will be on 1 Corinthians 15:54-58. And if you haven’t already, we hope you’ll use our Good Friday Scripture and Songs Guide to spend some time today reflecting on the passion narrative found in Mark 15. As a reminder, our COVID-19 resource page is where you can find all our resources right now like the Good Friday guide, our Needs forms, weekly Children’s Ministries videos, the First Principles class, and more!
April Giving Goal: $213,048
Still Needed to Meet Goal: $147,170
General Fund Giving Last Week: $65,878
Missions Partner Highlight
Each week, we’ll be highlighting one of our missions partners in our weekly emails so you can learn more about their ministries and be praying for the gospel to go wide through their work.
Riley recently completed a church planting training in New York City to equip future cross-cultural workers with strategies to plant churches among unreached people groups. Riley currently lives in the Bronx in a Bengali neighborhood. She divides her time between coaching new trainees in the program and engaging with the community. Her long-term goal is to work among people where there is no indigenous community of believing Christians who can share the good news of Jesus. Lord willing, she will move to Central Asia this fall! She shared the following prayer requests:
- Riley regularly texts or calls her neighborhood friends and English students. Most of them have friends or relatives who have died or are hospitalized due to the coronavirus. Please pray for discernment and empathy as she shares the hope and light with them during this time, often using the Psalms. Pray for opportunities to share about Jesus’ love, care, and great sacrifice.
- A media project she works on launched a Holy Week campaign on Facebook, Magdalena, using clips of Jesus’ life told through the eyes of Mary Magdalene. Pray that these ads will reach hearts in NYC ready to receive the truth. Pray especially that women will see these ads and respond.
- Riley is unable to get the allergy medicine she needs. Thankfully, she sees God’s hand in the process. Pray for wisdom to know if she should pursue other options or trust God’s provision without the medicine.
What marvelous hope we have in all that we celebrate this week.
Pastors Josh and Ron