Category Archives: Pastor Barb’s Message

Pastor Barb’s Message 7/16

Grace and peace to you all!

 A sower went out to sow…
—Matthew 13.3

There are two words for time in Greek: chronos means measured time, the time of clocks and calendars; kairos means “expectant time”, waiting time, like a pregnant woman waiting for her child’s birth.  From a chronos point of view, we are in mid-summer:  daylilies bloom in every hollow, the days are long and warm (well, mostly warm).  Lake Champlain is dotted with boats and paddleboards.  It’s mid-summer, and it’s glorious!

We are simultaneously in kairos time, too.  My garden is starting to flower for peas and beans; small green tomatoes promise rich, red fruit in the future.  I’m planning for an upcoming vacation that’s not here yet.  And at WFC, we are preparing for next week’s Candidating Sunday, when the congregation will meet the candidate vetted and selected by the Search Committee.  The air is full of expectation!

It’s all caught up in Jesus’ parable of the sower.  “A sower went out to sow,” Jesus begins, describing something done in a chronos moment, when the time to plant is right.  And it’s also a kairos moment, because the sprouting and flowering and ripening haven’t happened yet.  The rest of his parable describes which seeds sprout, and how, and why.  Chronos and kairos are intertwined.

We live in both of these times, each and every day.  I believe our task, as people of faith, is to discern the chronos moments for acting and loving, and to greet the kairos moments with prayer and hope.  And to come to all of it with unending gratitude for the richness and blessing of the lives God has given us.  Blessings, today, on all you do and on all you look forward to.  May you know God’s presence in all of it!




Pastor Barb’s Message 7/09

Grace and peace to you all!

The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.   Psalm 145:8

God is love.  It’s all over the Bible, in both the Old and New Testaments.  It’s what Jesus taught; it’s what the prophets proclaimed.  God is love.  Abounding love.  Steadfast love.  This is the essential truth of our faith.  This is the good news that can transform our lives!

It’s not that God doesn’t have standards for how we should live (check out the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:1-17; check out the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapters 5-7).  It’s not that God never gets angry or disappointed with us.  I think there must be days when God wonders whether granting us free will was a good idea, after all…

And yet, through it all, God is love.  Jesus demonstrated love.  The Spirit pours love into our hearts, if only we will come in prayer and openness.  No matter what we’ve done.  God is love.  Abounding love.  Steadfast love.

This is the essential truth of our faith.  This is the good news that can transform our lives!  Live today with these words in your heart and on your lips – God is love.  Abounding love.  God is love! – and see what opens, deep inside you.

Blessings on these lovely summer days!


Pastor Barb’s Message 7/2

Grace and peace to you all!

But now that you have been freed from sin …  Romans 6:22

This extended Independence Day weekend there will likely be a lot of talk about freedom – and the Romans reading for this Sunday discusses not only what we are freed from, but also what we are freed for, as people of faith.  So this week I share these words from one of our country’s great poets, Walt Whitman:

This is what you should do:
Love the earth and sun and animals,
despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks,
stand up for the stupid and crazy,
devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants,
argue not concerning God,
have patience and indulgence toward the people…
reexamine all you have been told in school or church
or in any book,
dismiss what insults your very soul,
and your flesh shall become a great poem.

See you at the Old Brick Church on Sunday!



Pastor’s Weekly Message 6/25/17

Pastor Barb’s Weekly Message

Grace and peace!

On Sunday Rev. Paul will be preaching on Genesis 22:8-21, about Abraham banishing Hagar and her young child (his child, too) after the birth of Abraham and Sarah’s son, Isaac.  It’s a difficult story about how our prejudices and fears can lead us to treat others poorly; one of the great gifts of the Bible is that it acknowledges both the positive and negative sides of human nature, seeking redemption in God’s great love.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes explores how this story can reach into our own experience:

Who is she whom we choose to be our Hagar,
our outcast, she who is made invisible,
she whom we thought we could do away with,
could make foreign, make strange,
turn into an other,
but who is truly ours?
How do we take her back?
Where do we find that land
big enough for us both?
How are we healed of our own cruelty,
sending her, of our own heart,
away, always away?
Where do we find those open arms
that await us,
that teach us to open our arms?

Good questions – real-life questions – for all of us who claim to follow Jesus’ example and God’s grace.  Together with each other and together with God, we can find a loving and faithful way forward even through difficult times and situations.

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!