2016 Christmas Pageant

The Christmas pageant at church on Sunday, December 18, was recorded by Dean Lewis.    It is no where near professional quality, but you can see the kids and hear the music.  

Below is a link to the video. If you think anyone would like to see it, you are welcome to share the link. The video is “unlisted” so you have to have the link to view it. It will not show up by a search.

https://youtu.be/GU6S6dLjcIA                                      Courtesy of Heather

 

Pastor Barb’s Message 1/1/17

Grace and peace!

It’s the fifth day of Christmas (“Five go-old rings”).  The songs of the angels are still echoing in the sky as the Christmas story shifts from shepherds to Magi who, according to Christian tradition, show up to worship the baby Jesus on the 12th day of Christmas, January 6th.

My colleague Steve Garnaas-Holmes has imagined this prayer Magi might have pondered in their journey toward the star.  His words describe my own hopes for how I can live my faith in the coming year.  May it spark your own pondering and reflection, too.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

 God of truth, open my eyes to your light
and give me faith to follow,
to seek signs of your grace, to notice,
in nature, in dreams, in people.
Give me devotion to seek your presence,
to come close to you, to drew near.
Give me faith to forsake all else that glitters
and follow the light of your love alone.
Give me resolve to leave the familiar
and make of my life a holy pilgrimage.
Give me humility to ask directions,
to seek help from other seekers.
Give me steadfastness to seek and not turn back,
despite challenges of distance and strangeness.
Give me courage to stand against Empire
and its desire to use me.
Give me generosity to give of my gifts.
Give me insight to bow to holiness
in whomever I may see it.
Give me wisdom and readiness to go by a new road.
God of love, may this day be a new life,
guided by the light of your presence,
led by wonder, trust and love. Amen.

 

 

Pastor Barb’s Message 12/25/16

Grace and peace!

 She told the story slowly, sure of every detail:  The stable had one cow and three sheep.  The shepherds were scared but happy.  The wise men rode camels and only had peanut butter sandwiches to eat.  The woman rode on the donkey, the man walked in front, and the baby was inside the woman.

“And do you know who the baby was?” she asked, her five-year-old eyes growing wide.  “The baby was God!”

Then she spun around in a circle, arms spread wide, and buried her head in the couch cushions.  Which may be the best response to such improbable, wonderful news.                                               from “Alive Now”

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve.  Come to worship to hear the improbable, wonderful news of God’s birth among us, God’s life among us, God’s great love for us, no matter what!  Services at WFC are at 5:00 and 7:30; there is a Community Service at the Old Brick Church at 11:00.  On Christmas morning, Paul Hoffman will lead a casual worship service over breakfast in the fellowship hall at 9:30.

If you can’t make it to Christmas Eve or Christmas services, make sure you take some time to hear or tell the story again: The baby was God!  And may your heart be thrilled and delighted by this astounding Good News.

Blessings to you all!

 

 

Rotary Christmas Party

Every year the Rotary Club holds a meal intended as a Thank You for the Seniors of Williston and Richmond.  For the last 18 years this tradition has been carried out.  This year was no different, the luncheon was held on December 8th,  at the Williston Federated Church Fellowship Hall.

The food has always been prepared by the caterer who prepares the weekly Rotary breakfasts. The current caterer, Deb Ose, prepared ham, turkey, squash, mashed potatoes and gravy in the church kitchen. She also makes candy, cookies and salad at home. WFC members, such as Polly pictured here with Deb in the back ground also provide an additional pair of hands since there were approximately 150 dinners to get ready to serve. The dinners are served to our guests by members of the Rotary Club. It’s truly a time of appreciation.

 

Each year we have some sort of musical entertainment. We are fortunate that for the past several years the Williston School chorus has provided the entertainment. The chorus entertained our guests with some much loved holiday carols and Santa Claus paid us a visit. Poinsetta plants were abundant and at the end of the afternoon a raffle was held and many guests went home with a plant.
Thank you to all our congregation for making the fellowship hall available for these dinners.

Pastor Barb’s Weekly Message 12-18

Grace and peace to you all!

“Joseph, are you sitting down?  I’ve got something to tell you.… I’m pregnant.  But it’s OK, it’s by the Holy Spirit.”

Can you imagine what this conversation must have been like, between Mary and Joseph?  Joseph’s heartbreak at his betrothed’s news?  Mary’s worry that she’d be rejected, even stoned?    The gospel doesn’t give us many details.  It tells us that Joseph was a righteous man who wasn’t willing for Mary to be publicly humiliated for this unprecedented pregnancy.  He stuck by her.  We imagine him nine months later leading a donkey to Bethlehem, his ready-to-give birth fiancée perched on top, and standing protectively over the manger while shepherds and Magi look on adoringly.

What gave him the fortitude to do all this?  Clearly he loved Mary deeply, and he was a good-hearted man.  He had the sense to listen when angels came to him in dreams, and he was committed to doing the right thing, as well as he could figure that out.

This week I came across these lines in a poem by Lynn Bujnak, the Vermont UCC Conference Minister:

Joseph was a carpenter gifted by God with eyes

to look into the grain of a wood and see the

possibilities unfold – a table – a cart –  a stool – a yoke.

Joseph was a carpenter who knew how to

smooth rough edges – make the crooked straight –

 and the uneven level.

 Ah, yes.  Joseph’s trade – his calling – had taught him that how to find the potential in what others saw as an ordinary piece of wood.  He’d learned to work with what was before him, using tools to smooth and shape, making what was needed from what was at hand.  He brought all that experience to this newest challenge of embracing Mary and her unexpected news, to helping birth and then helping raise Jesus to adulthood.  He did the best he could with the skills and tools he had.  As all of us do.

At this Sunday’s worship we’ll be treated to a Christmas pageant by the Sunday School.  Don’t miss it!  And in the midst of the singing and angels and star and sheep, remember the message of Christmas:  God comes to be born in us, ordinary people with ordinary lives and trades.  And as we embrace God’s invitation in our lives, extraordinary things happen.

Come, Lord Jesus!

 

 

Pastor Barb’s Weekly Message 12/11/16

 Grace and peace to you all!

People, look east.  The time in near 
for the crowning of the year.
Make your house fair as you are able, 
trim the hearth and set the table.
People, look east and sing today: 
Love, the Guest, is on the way.

I’ll admit it – I’m very “humbug-y” about Christmas music and decorations when they show up in mid-November.  Even on Thanksgiving weekend.  “It’s not Christmas yet!” I grumble as I make my way through the store.

But by now, mid-way through December, I’m getting ready and getting excited.  More and more houses in my neighborhood – even mine – have lights in the windows and on the trees.  We’ll be cutting a tree this weekend.  My house is full of the smell of Christmas cookies and the sound of Handel’s Messiah.  Soon, three candles will flicker on the Advent wreath in the dining room.  I’m “trimming the hearth and setting the table” as the old French carol directs.

And why?  Become Love is coming to live among us.  Because, as Eugene Peterson puts it, God decided to “move into the neighborhood.”  Of course I get the house ready for such a guest!  And I get my heart ready, too.  I lay a festive table in my heart to welcome the Lord of Love into my life.

So enough “humbug!”  It’s time to join in joyful anticipation of all that God is ready to do in my life, in our church, in the world.  Come, Emmanuel!

Pastor Barb’s Weekly Message 12/4/16

Grace and peace to you all!

Every Who down in Whoville liked Christmas a lot.  But the Grinch, who lived just North of Whoville, did not!

Dr. Seuss, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”

There are many good children’s books about Christmas (look for my article in the December newsletter!) but Dr Seuss’ “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” is my most beloved Christmas tale.  I was given my own copy when I was four years old; I read it to my own children, over and over.  I’ve watched the TV special for so many years that I know it by heart.  I never fail to be delighted by Seuss’ magical animation and Boris Karloff’s marvelous voice that bring to life the Grinch’s transformation from a tight-heated grump into a big-hearted lover of the very Whos he had formerly hated.

That’s the transformation I’m hoping for: that the tight, small parts of my heart would grow large.  That the message of Christmas – that God loves us enough to come and live among us, to show us how to love each other – would open my heart in ways I’d never imagined could be possible.

Romans 15:13 says this in a different way:  “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

In these weeks of Advent, may all of us find space in our hearts to prepare a manger where Jesus can be born again.  May we be transformed in ways we never imagined.  Come, Emmanuel!