Category Archives: Pastor Barb’s Message

Pastor Barb’s Weekly Message 6/18

 Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness.  Matthew 9:35

On June 18, we will have a Service of Healing during the regular morning worship at 9:30.

I’ve been your interim pastor for nearly nine months; in that time we’ve done a lot of work together.  We prayed and ministered and laughed and sometimes cried.  We’ve addressed some difficult issues together with honesty and grace.

Now, before we head into summer schedules, it seems good to have a healing service in which we intentionally offer this church to God, seeking the steady healing that Christ can bring.  There will also be an opportunity for personal anointing for healing and peace.  I have found that this kind of healing ritual, while it doesn’t erase the past, can allow the Spirit’s fresh breath to move among and within us, freeing us for new love and service.

Please join us for prayer and healing this Sunday.  I look forward to worshiping with you!



Pastor Barb’s Weekly Message 6/11

Grace and peace to you all!

This coming Sunday will be full of celebrations!

During worship we’ll be dedicating Trevor Lewis, who just turned one this past week. Just as in baptism, a dedication is when the congregation of WFC commits to help his parents, Heather and Dean Lewis, raise Trevor into a live of faith, joy and love. It takes a congregation to grow a child up in the knowledge of God’s grace!

We’ll also receive thanks for WFC’s support of COW (Color Our World), a wonderful organization that brings art supplies to people in need. COW recognizes that while people’s bodies need food, their spirits need beauty and creativity; COW provides art materials in developing countries as well as in food pantries right here in Vermont.

After worship, we’ll gather for WFC’s Annual Meeting. Some of that meeting with be very “business-y” – receiving reports, passing the budget, approving a list of leaders for next year. We’ll also be amending church policies and we’ll receive updates from the Search Committee and about the upcoming steeple repairs. This might not sound very celebratory … but I believe that an annual meeting is an opportunity to commit ourselves to all that God has in store for us in the future: we dedicate our monies, our building, our meetings, and our ministry together. We’ll have fun, even in the midst of the voting.

Come join the celebrations! Come be part of what God’s creating, right here in Williston.

Pastor Barb’s Weekly Message 6/4

Grace and peace to you all!

This Sunday, June 4, is Pentecost: the birthday of the Christian church! During worship we’ll tell again the story of how the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples, 50 days after Jesus’ resurrection, with a rush of wind and appearing as flames on their heads. We’ll hear again how they spoke the Gospel in many tongues, and how the Good News began to spread to the people and the world around them.

Wear red to worship this Sunday! We’ll show the Spirit’s fire as we gather together.

And do some reflecting: when have you been “on fire”? When have you been filled with a holy energy for a project or a cause that brings life to the world? When have you burned with gratitude for a great happening in your life, or for the ordinary joys of daily living? When has something been kindled in your spirit that’s been an extension of the Spirit – something of God, something that’s undeniably holy, something that you did not create yourself but were simply blessed with? That’s a kind of Pentecost, too: a visitation from the Spirit of Life and Love. It’s one way God continues to move in the world.

May the Spirit’s blessing and energy and joy be yours, this Pentecost and always

Pastor Barb’s Weekly Message 5/28

Grace and peace to you all!

On this Memorial Day weekend, a sonnet by Garrison Keillor:

We’re here to honor those who went to war
Who did not wish to die, but did die, grievously,
In eighteen sixty-one and in two-thousand four
Though they were peaceable as you or me.
Young and innocent, they knew nothing of horror —
Singers and athletes, and all in all well-bred.
Their sergeants, mercifully, made them into warriors,
And at the end, they were moving straight ahead.
As we look at these headstones, row on row on row,
Let us see them as they were, laughing and joking,
On that bright irreverent morning long ago.
And once more, let our hearts be broken.
God have mercy on them for their heroic gift.
May we live the good lives they would have lived.

And this message from Bruce Wyatt and the Stewardship Committee:

“Consecration Sunday provided a wonderful affirmation of WFC and our programs and mission. The celebratory luncheon provided by Community Dinners was a real treat. Early results from the Estimates of Giving are very heartening, as we strive to reach our goal of $130,000 in pledges to fund the church in the year beginning July 1. If you haven’t yet returned your card, please do so at worship, to the church office, or directly to Barb Bristol, Financial Secretary. If you need another card, they are available at Sunday worship or through the church office. The stewardship team appreciates your timely return of the cards, to help the congregation in its vote on the new budget at the annual meeting on June 11.”


Pastor Barb’s Weekly Message 5/21

Grace and peace to you all.

This Sunday’s worship, on May 21, will be one of many celebrations!

The youth of the church will be leading worship, and we’ll recognize the seniors who are finishing their high school education and moving into the next stage of their becoming adults.

We’ll celebrate this year’s Sunday School, giving thanks to Karen Allen for her leadership last fall and offering our appreciation to all those who’ve contributed to Sunday School this winter/spring. What interesting, varied and inspiring experiences all of these volunteers have provided to our children! The older students will also be participating in the worship service.

And it’s Consecration Sunday, when we make our public commitment to the financial support of Williston Federated Church in the coming fiscal year. Please bring the Estimate of Giving card that you received in the mail this week. After worship we’ll share in a meal in the fellowship hall. By the end of that meal, the Stewardship Team will announce the total received.

All of these are celebrations, even our Estimates of Giving: the gifts we offer on Consecration Sunday are one of the ways we celebrate all that God has given to us, and celebrate our partnership with God in creating WFC as a place that nurtures children and youth, that does mission work in the community and world, and creates a church family of caring and spiritual growth for each of us.

So come and join the celebrations this Sunday! It’s going to be a Spirit-filled day.

Pastor Barb’s Weekly Message 5/14

Grace and peace to you all!

Jesus said, “Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do.”

John 14:12

Over the past few weeks, we’ve heard stories in church and received letters from members that describe why Williston Federated is an important part of their faith lives.  Each has been different, and yet there is a common theme that runs through all of them: the community of WFC is a powerful witness to God’s love.  People here uphold one another in hard times, and together we work to make the world a little more graceful, a little more loving.  WFC isn’t just a gathering of random people; it’s a gathering of faithful people who are the hands and feet of Jesus for each other and for the world.

In his last address to the disciples in the Gospel of John, Jesus promised that those who believe in him will do his works.  So often I’ve read these words and thought that Jesus meant that if I believed in him I would be able to do the kinds of miracles that he did: heal the sick, feed a crowd on just a few loaves of bread, walk on water.  I can remember, as a kid, putting out a foot at the end of the dock, testing whether the water would hold me up if I believed really, really hard.  When it didn’t hold me up, did it means that I just didn’t believe enough?

As I’ve heard the WFC stories of these past weeks, it seems to me that Jesus’ promise comes true here:  we who believe in him do his works all the time.  We feed the hungry.  We offer grace and forgiveness to each other (and to ourselves).  We walk with each other through illness and grief, offering the healing of loving presence even when there isn’t healing from disease and death.  We work to make the world a place where all people are valued and loved.  We may not be perfect at it, but together we are the body of Christ.  We are a living witness to Jesus’ promise, day by day.

It’s a great privilege to be part of a faithful church community that is doing the works of Jesus!


Pastor Barb’s Message 5/7/17

Grace and peace to you all!

 “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.  He leads me … He restores my soul.” Psalm 23:1-3

I can tell I’ve been at WFC for awhile, because when I read Psalm 23, in my mind’s eye I see the marvelous banner that hangs in the front of the sanctuary (thank you, Trudy Anderson!).  It beautifully illuminates the hope, peace, and calling of this beloved psalm.

This week you’ll receive a letter from Matt Bliss as part of the Consecration Sunday campaign.  When Matt describes the values of WFC that make a difference in his life and his family’s life – humility, welcome, love, hope – I hear echoes of Psalm 23.  We are beloved by the One who is our Shepherd, and as we follow our Shepherd, we offer love and hope to the world around us.

As you prepare for Consecration Sunday on May 21, I invite you to pray this prayer by Steve Garnaas-Holmes.  What do you hear, when you quiet your soul beside God’s still waters?  How is the Shepherd calling you to share your life, your resources, your love with WFC and with the world?

Gentle shepherd,
you who lead me to abundant life,
to live so others also may follow
and find green pastures:
help me know your voice,
recognize your calling,
hear my name.
Give me grace to listen
for your voice,
deep within,
so quiet, yet so clear,
the voice of One who leads,
leads to still waters,
leads through deathly valleys,
leads through all suffering, all joy,
leads to abundant life,
you whose very life is a leading,
whose love is a voice,
speaking to me,
speaking in me.
I quiet my soul.
I listen.

I listen for you.

Pastor Barb’s Message 4/30/17

Grace and peace to you all.

“Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” Matthew 18:20

Sunday’s gospel reading is the story of two disciples walking to the village of Emmaus, outside Jerusalem, on the evening of the first Easter.  As they walk, dazed and confused by the events of that tumultuous day, they are joined by a third person whom they invite to have dinner with them.  Not until this stranger breaks bread and shares it with them do they recognize that it is Jesus, and that they’ve been blessed with his presence, his teaching, his inspiration, and his peace.

During the next few weeks, the Stewardship Team here at WFC will be bringing us stories, in worship and through the mail, of how this congregation has embodied the presence of Jesus for each other, again and again.  This week’s letter from Larry Pillsbury should arrive in your mailbox tomorrow; last Sunday we heard from Heather Lewis and this Sunday Deb Beckett will speak in worship.

What a joy to hear how our support and our companionship, as we walk our faith journeys, can be the embodiment of Jesus’ love!  What a privilege to hold the Holy for each other.  Often we take this holiness for granted, and it’s only when something opens our eyes – sharing in communion, caring for each other in times of pain, working together to make the world a better place – that we recognize Christ in our midst.

I hope you are enjoying these letters and stories as much as I am.  May these be part of God’s grace-full blessing of our life together at WFC!

(If you are not receiving the letters in the mail and wish to do so, please contact Sally in the church office: or 878-5792.)


Pastor Barb’s Message 4/23/17

Grace and peace to you all.

Today, stay awake. Be alert. Be on the lookout for moments of wonder, signs of grace, revelations of beauty, glimpses into the mystery of life, and of God. Or we may well miss the miracle that is right before our eyes.
-Br. David Vryhof, Society of St. John the Evangelist

“Christ is risen!  Christ is risen indeed!”  Just five days ago, on Easter Sunday, we echoed centuries of Christians in celebrating the amazing news of God’s steadfast and powerful love, even in the face of death.

Where have you seen signs of the Resurrection in your own life?  In the world around you?  What “moments of wonder, signs of grace, revelations of beauty, glimpses into the mystery of life, and of God” have you experienced?  What will you discover today?  Easter reminds us to keep our eyes open, because we never know what God might do!

This isn’t an idle exercise.  I write today’s post as news comes in of violence and threats of violence around the world and close to home.  For us to live as people of faith in a challenging world, we need to be firmly grounded in God’s good news.  Celebrating life and grace – celebrating resurrection! – every day gives us the foundation we need for the challenges of life.

Christ is risen!  Christ is risen indeed!



Pastor Barb’s Good Friday Message

Grace and peace to you on this Good Friday.

How could this Friday be called “good”?  Steve Garnaas-Holmes suggests that it wasn’t that Jesus was killed; it was something about the way he faced his end:

That in love he was free of their anger,

that his tenderness was impervious to their brutality,

that he had become from a world they could not breach,

that aflame with love he was not consumed,

that he had given himself to them more wholly than they could

either fully receive or prevent was already resurrection.