Inspiring, educating and nurturing those who minister through music and the arts



EPIPHANIES FROM THE MILL HOUSE
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  • June 01, 2024 7:00 AM | Treva Stose (Administrator)

    JUNE 2024

    Dear Kind and Gentle People,

    Oh My Soul! This morning at “The Mill” all nature is creating a cacophony of sound by incorporating the waterfall with Mr. Bull Frog and his fine feathered friends, the rooster next door, and the occasional chiming in of the sassy sheep across the street. A giant and vibrant smattering of purple, pink, and yellow blossoms lavishly frame the mill pond, it is stunning! The hummingbirds have returned and the ever-elusive muskrat and a pleasantly plump beaver can be seen taking leisurely swims at dawn and dusk. Prayers of thanksgiving are offered for the first cutting of hay yesterday and that it was completed with no broken tines on the equipment, quite miraculous.

    We are entering the month of June when many of us celebrate Pride month—a time to join with our LGBTQ family in rejecting the shame and judgment that has been heaped on them and claiming their sense of self and well-being in an often hostile world. Most of us are keenly aware of the 552 anti-LGBTQ bills that have been introduced since January in 42 states, in which 32 passed, 327 are active and 193 failed. On Pride night we especially acknowledge the courage of transgender women of color, Marcia P. Johnson and Silvia Rivera, in the Stonewall riots of 1969 and all who suffered during the five-day saga. This month let us be keenly vigilant and prayerful.

    The Newfield Community Church held their first Pride Service one year ago and will gather as a community again this year. We were blessed that Amanda Udis-Kessler has given her blessing for us to use her song “Queerly Beloved”—in fact she had the music specially prepared by her engraver just for the Newfield Community Church. Her work as a hymn writer, songwriter, and sacred music composer is outstanding and her gift of music to us is gratefully acknowledged. “Queerly Beloved” will appear in the new hymn resource, Then Let Us Sing, published by the United Church of Canada. Dr. Udis-Kessler will be presenting at our UCCMA conference in July! Be inspired by this song of praise and a perfect pairing of tune and text.

    During this month of June, you are encouraged to practice sabbath and rest in the sounds of nature and wonder of creation. Do share God’s flamboyant and extravagant love with all people. Be vigilant in your prayer life, remembering to offer thanksgivings with great joy from your heart.

    Finally, do embrace the refrains of “Queerly Beloved”:

    “Alleluia, God is Great, God is Love, God is Here!”

    As Always,

    Gobs of Blessings and Heaps of Happiness!

    Petah

    Rev. Dr. Peter Stickney

    Photo by Petah


  • May 01, 2024 7:00 AM | Treva Stose (Administrator)

    MAY 2024

    Dear Kind and Gentle People,

    Here at “The Mill” the sheep are bleating for some breakfast from their new-fangled solar electric fenced area. Calf number 4 was born, a huge heifer calf that needed a bit of help emerging into the world. The hens have secretly hatched three chicks from a hidden clutch and the ducklings have a second set of feathers. Petah has managed to clear lots of the debris from a ghastly April 4 storm of two feet of heavy wet snow and 60 mph winds that climaxed with a tree on “The Mill” blocking the door. Also, there was the 4 am microwave fire (it was stinky) caused by electric pole fire, power surges and the slow death of several appliances, boo hiss! Petah is especially grateful for the light weight chainsaw which is much lighter than the ones of the “energy crisis” of the 1970’s when lots of us went back to burning wood. Please enjoy the photo of “Petah the Giant Tree Elf” as a witness to being a modern-day vine dresser, cutting back what is dead or will no longer serve a positive purpose.

    Photo by Tate Dame

    The Great Mystery works in us to prune what is not bearing the fruit of love to promote what will bear the fruit of love. The Holy One tends each branch within you, the part in each of us that is unloving, ungiving, whatever is attached to that which is dead. The death of what is unkind in us is the pruning by which the resurrection of love may come forth.

    There is a new song called “PUSH” or “Pray Until Something Happens,” by Edmund Stubbs, a trustee of the Newfield Community Church. This song, in a simple country style, is an encouragement to all journeying with the Creator. Are You saying yes to God’s pruning of the pithy and plaguey parts of yourself? Please click on this live and humble gathering recorded on a cell phone with no highfalutin edits. Do skip ahead to minute 20:25 and enjoy. [The video is on Facebook, you may need to log in to Facebook to view it. – Editor]

    Are you showing up in LOVE and not placing impediments on yourself and others? Are you a vinedresser tending to all who are in your garden of life with NO exceptions? Are you receiving the forgiveness that is being offered? Simply get out of the way and embrace the motto PUSH—pray until something happens—it is tried and true! Let God do the pruning! I pray that you will!

    As Always,

    Gobs of Blessings and Heaps of Happiness,

    Petah

  • April 01, 2024 8:00 AM | Treva Stose (Administrator)

    APRIL 2024

    Dear Kind and Gentle People,

    A giant “Oh My Soul!” to everyone! Christ is Risen! Alleluia! “Oh My Soul!” He is risen indeed! What is loved is resurrected.

    One week ago, Palm Sunday worship was cancelled due to the 21 inches of snow and ice that the Almighty sent us. Several parishioners’ doors were iced shut and Petah used the family pickaxe to bless the frozen tundra! Alas and alack Petah did not get to sneakily tickle anyone with a palm frond. Boo Hoo!

    The next day a giant evergreen tree fell across my driveway. Lucky for me my trusty and rusty ancient truck did not get crushed. Unbeknownst to me, neighbors sprang into action texting each other, and I arrived home to a tractor and chainsaw brigade. Surprise! I didn’t even know I had a crisis! You can’t make this stuff up!

    I want to share with you a wonderful Tanzanian Easter song that we used this year for our Easter celebration. The congregants of the Newfield Community Church played a variety of percussion instruments while singing and created an outstanding Jesus Celebration. In this video, it is conducted by the amazing Tom Trenney at First-Plymouth Church, Lincoln, Nebraska.


    Tanzanian Easter Song


    Easter means that no power on earth can destroy the reality that is Christ. God’s love triumphs over every barrier! Jesus will remove the obstacles from your path if you will stop trying to remove them by your own might. It’s like having the entire neighborhood bring on the tractors and chainsaws to remove a huge tree from your driveway even when you were not aware it had fallen.

    The Holy One will give you the grace and strength to continue the journey. The path is open to each of us. There is nothing to fear. You are not alone and the light of the risen Christ is with you. Seize each day as an opportunity to proclaim this fabulous news. The good news is that Christ is a light that overcomes all the shadow that life can entail. The path is open to each of us.

    Truly, what is loved is resurrected.

    As always,

    Gobs of Blessings and Heaps of Happiness!

    Petah

    Rev. Dr. Peter Stickney



    Photo Newfield Community Church—Easter 2024—Peter Stickney

    Photo of the Dam at “The Mill” Easter 2024 — Cynthia Acorace

  • February 29, 2024 1:54 PM | Treva Stose (Administrator)

    MARCH 2024



    Dear Kind and Gentle People,

    Oh My Soul! Here at “The Mill” the trees have been tapped, bluebird scouts are out and about, the hens have resumed offering their “Henny Penny’s,” and calves, lambs and kids are arriving. How marvelous to experience the turning of the great wheel with the heralding signs of Spring.

    Two weeks ago, on Ash Wednesday it was frightfully frigid with horrid winds. Amidst prayerful preparation for “Ash and Dash” from the back of my trusty 2005 Scion XB, known as “The Crack 2 Mobile,” the wind accepted the carefully prepared ashes as a personal offering. Yup, “Gone with the Wind.” In the ghastly cold of the morning a huge laugh of glee came from the depths of my being. What a fabulous reminder that our shortcomings can be forgiven in an instant and that the dust we came from returns gloriously back to the earth. Providence was kind with a generous amount of ashes still available for the day. Everything worked out perfectly.

    We are responsible for the care of our soul and there is a plethora of tools in our toolbox to use as we travel our Lenten pilgrim journey. Let me share several tools that have helped my Spirit to be a bit more mindful and open. Use your creativity and please adapt the following for your most benevolent outcome.

    When arising to greet the day and at its completion, my gong is sounded and a silent prayer of thanksgiving offered. Having a set time to read scripture and actively pray in my trusty prayer chair is truly a blessing. Also to simply sit, breathe and listen each day helps one to be “in-tune” so to speak with what seeks to be unveiled. In the middle of the night, it is wonderful to open the window and howl at the moon. I double-dutch dare you to do this as it is simply exhilarating. The practicing gratitude for our vast abundance and blessings before feasting, shopping or traveling is practically a magic formula for success. Obviously, chanting, singing, drumming and creating music are a must!

    As we travel our pilgrim journey for the remaining of our season of Lent, might you be aware of how the Universe is speaking and guiding you. How your soul is being purified and the tasks you are being quietly guided to execute. Perhaps you will experience a literal “Gone with the Wind” moment followed by pure joy. I pray you will!

    Happy Spring and a Blessed Easter!

    As Always,

    Gobs of Blessings and Heaps of Happiness,

    Your Chaplain,

    Petah

    Rev. Dr. Peter Stickney


    Photo Credits:

    Newfield Kids – Spring 2024 Photo by Tayte Dame

    Newfield Community Church – Lent Photo by Peter Stickney


  • February 01, 2024 8:00 AM | Treva Stose (Administrator)

    FEBRUARY 2024


    Dear Kind and Gentle People,

    Oh My Soul! Here at “The Mill” mother nature has gifted us with holy and divine eye candy in the form of wet sticky snow several times in the last week. This is a blessing! When you have wet sticky snow, as opposed to dry power, you are able to make “snow ice cream.” Simply fill a bowl with the cold sticky stuff from the heavens, add sugar and a dash of vanilla, mix well, and Voila! a tried and true Maine concoction that slides down the gullet with great joy! The other blessing of snow is that it is a grand opportunity to arm yourself with your trusty snow shovel and exercise your entire body. Yes, Petah shoveled “The Mill,” the Newfield Community Church and the Newfield Historical Society. His reward, “snow ice cream!” Eye candy turned into frozen delight. Thank you Holy One!

    Our faith journey through the season of Epiphany has presented many opportunities to reflect on Jesus’ mission and ministry. As sacred musicians we have experienced the forgiveness and healing he offers. We have unlimited potential to serve our congregations and greater community not only with sacred sound but with our lifegiving words, heartfelt joy and unconditional love that flows though us.

    As we look toward Transfiguration Sunday, Ash Wednesday and Lent, perhaps you will be extra mindful of the holy and sacred gift of life that is uniquely yours. Hopefully you will embrace and share the light of truth that has been given to you, much like you might enjoy a giant bowl of Maine “snow ice cream.” That’s correct, it is not to be kept to yourself but shared with everyone. May your music ministry bless and refresh the souls of those you serve and may your journey through Lent cleanse and renew your spirit as pure and clean as the new sticky snow.

    As always,

    Gobs of Blessings and Heaps of Happiness,

    Petah

    Rev. Dr. Peter Stickney, Chaplain


  • December 31, 2023 9:38 PM | Joan Pritchard (Administrator)

    JANUARY 2024

    Dear Kind and Gentle People,

    Oh My Soul! Here at “The Mill” the arrival of the Christ Child has been observed with special prayer, singing with dueling grand pianos, good eats and of course a plethora of decorations. The 10-foot evergreen tree cut down at the edge of the pasture with its 700 lights and 200 glass bulbs are a testimony to good solid Maine balsam and Petah’s escapades on his trusty stepladder. It will display its glory until the Epiphany!


    “Beautiful Star of Bethlehem” by Robert Fisher Boyce is a perfect song of the upcoming Epiphany Celebration. Quite frankly, it has been relentless in my inner hearing the past week and awakened me this morning. Obviously, a message to listen up and pay attention to. Please enjoy the simple traditional story and figurative based retelling of the Epiphany. No need to pick the theology of the text apart -- simply enjoy. Here is a YouTube rendition by The Judds. 


    The light shines in the darkness and the darkness can never overpower it. What are the parts of your life that need to be infused with light? What supersonic troubles have you hidden away into the depths of your soul? The light of Christ is available to illuminate every fiber of your being as you invite it into your everyday life. This includes the back part of your closet, the underwear drawer and the recesses of hurt lingering in the sacred hidden places of your high heart. Make room in your everyday life for the light of Christ to lead and guide you.

    We have been given the gift of a New Year. Let us receive it with great joy and carefully lay down the past while we hope for the future with the Bright and Morning Star.  


    As Always,
    Gobs of Blessings and Heaps of Happiness,

    Chaplain Petah
    Rev. Dr. Peter Stickney

    P.S. ***Happy Epiphany***


  • December 01, 2023 8:00 AM | Treva Stose (Administrator)

    DECEMBER 2023

    Dear Kind and Gentle People,

    Oh My Soul! Here at “The Mill” I have finally finished the quince jelly, the “Rolls Royce of Jelly," with a total of 48 jars of that yummy liquid gold concoction. A dollop on just about anything is the perfect remedy for what ails you!

    In Maine, the season of Advent is upon us with frightfully frigid temperatures. Today while sipping my morning medicine, called coffee, I ventured out to behold my lovely water pump encased in ice. Isn’t it wonderful how our creator can recreate anything at all and give it to us as added eye candy! I am so blessed!

    On Sunday, the Newfield Community Church will observe the beginning of Advent with the fabulous hymn by Geonyong Lee, “Come Now, O Prince of Peace.” Naturally I am adding a lulling improvisation with my gong to underscore the haunting melody, and finger cymbals to mark each stanza and create a shimmer of expectation. Here is an arrangement by Jeremy Burbank. My soul finds it quite mesmerizing. Perhaps you will find it as uplifting as this mere mortal did. I hope so!


    Traditionally during Advent we are admonished to stay alert, watch and respond to the invitation to be found and be loved by God. Petah’s out-of-the-box thought would be, “A New Human who is God Incarnate is coming. Stay alert.” This is an urgent call filled with hope! The coming of the Christ of the past, present and future is unfolding. Our Mysterious God, who came among us as a tiny child, is in our hearts and will be with us always.

    Let us be mindful in our actions and observations as we wait for justice, peace and the healing of all nations and peoples. Let us strive to keep awake and walk in unction with the Universe. Finally, might we all pray the sacred mantra “Come Now, O Prince of Peace.”

    May you all “Keep Awake” and experience a Holy Advent as the Christ child guides you. Finally, may the divine mystery of the Christmas Incarnation fill your entire being with hope, peace, love and joy.

    As Always,

    Gobs of Blessings and Heaps of Happiness!

    Petah

    Rev. Dr. Peter Stickney

  • November 01, 2023 12:00 PM | Treva Stose (Administrator)

    NOVEMBER 2023 BONUS POST

    Dear Kind and Gentle People,

    It’s All Saints Day!

    Tonight, I am holding a service of Lament, Comfort and Hope for the ghastly event of the past week in Lewiston. The intent is to lament what cannot be regained and infuse a glimmer of healing, hope and peace into the loss and sadness we have shared. As we bring the cries of our hearts and angst of our beings, might you, my dear colleagues, cover this in prayer. Thank you so much.

    As a note of interest, last summer a friend of mine, who is the minister where my twin brother creates sound, and I took a long road trip to the border of Vermont to seek candles and supplies for worship. I don't know why I said to Sharon, I said to her, "There is going to be a horrible thing happen and I need a symbol of healing peace -- I am going to purchase a giant plain candle." They did NOT have a plain unadorned candle, but went out back and found one. Sharon's mom had passed at age 92 and as I went to pay for my huge 30-inch candle she insisted on paying for it as a tribute to her mother. (HUGE GIFT!) Last night I emailed her a photo of our tiny sanctuary with the candle -- a bit transformed from its usual. She responded---this is perfect! All Saint’s Day would have been her mother’s 93rd birthday. WOW! Spirit moves so mysteriously and perfectly.


    Love to all!

    And as always,

    Gobs of Blessings and Heaps of Happiness,

    Petah

    NOTE FROM UCCMA: Be sure to read Rev. Dr. Peter Stickney's official November Epiphany from the Mill House: ALL SHALL BE WELL 


  • October 31, 2023 12:03 PM | Treva Stose (Administrator)

    NOVEMBER 2023


    Dear Kind and Gentle People,

    Oh My Soul! Here at “The Mill” several sluiceway boards have been pulled to lower the pond water level and avoid any flooding this spring. Petah usually uses the old Stickney family pick ax and after hooking a board just right has grand success.

    In celebration of the Hunters Moon on October 28, we had a large bonfire to burn brush from clearing 20 acres for more pasture land. It was amazing! Naturally I got to howl with gusto and, voila, there was a response of a cacophony of sound from coyotes, terrifying the cattle. If you have never heard howling coyotes, simply imagine high children’s screaming voices bouncing off a mountain. This can be quite unnerving!

    The Grand State of Maine is now healing from the ghastly tragedy in Lewiston, about an hour from “The Mill.” Evidently Petah becomes dewy-eyed much easier these days. “NO! NO LIKE IT!” Thank you for all your phone calls, emails and prayers. Please use your power and continue your intercessory prayer offerings. In an effort to render healing to our community, the Newfield Community Church will hold a service of “Lament, Comfort and Hope” on All Saints Day, November 1. We will sing a lovely chant that I learned by rote with the text, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well,” by Julian of Norwich, interspersed with adaptations of Psalm 13. It would do us all a good turn to set aside some time to reflect on this powerful affirmation. Perhaps use your sacred gift of music to create your own melody to the text and make it a part of your daily devotion. As a welcome change of mood, several minutes ago I received a call from a friend who was going to host our “Friendsgiving” this Saturday at her house. Evidently our dear old friend Pepe Le Pew has left his calling card and her home is uninhabitable at the moment -- could she host at “The Mill”? Naturally the answer is yes. Might we all have friends that feel free to contact us in their hour of distress and we can say YES! How we treat and love our neighbors is how we treat and love God. I hope that you will choose to share that same amazing love with the people in your life.

    In closing, do remember that “ALL SHALL BE WELL.”

    As Always,

    Gobs of Blessings and Heaps of Happiness!

    Your Chaplain,

    Petah

    Rev. Dr. Peter Stickney

    **Sluiceway photo by Petah

    **Heart in Lewiston Maine-Unknown

  • October 01, 2023 8:00 AM | Treva Stose (Administrator)

    OCTOBER 2023

    Photo by Peter Stickney

    Dear Kind and Gentle People,

    Oh My Soul! Last week we celebrated the Fall Equinox and the first day of Autumn. In addition, the harvest moon was brilliant and at 2 a.m. the mill pond’s reflection was as radiant as the day. About 10 p.m., while I was observing the ritual of howling, there echoed a magnificent surprise response with high pitched howls coming back from the southwest. Perhaps the pack of coyotes that have been pestering the cattle? Nonetheless, it was wicked cool! (As we say in Maine.)

    The season of fall brings many tasks! Pastor Phyllis, who will turn 81 shortly, has just stacked 11, yes eleven, cords of wood for the winter! The second cutting of hay is late this year; however, the quality is quite good. The quince bush is loaded and shortly the fruit will be transformed into prize-winning quince jelly. Yes, fall butchering is upon us, which is made much easier this year by a new band saw and a seal and wrap machine! I still use the family cleaver, kept razor sharp after 150 years. Windows are next, all 53 of them, UGH!


    Today, the Newfield Community Church had an outstanding World Communion Sunday and has planned a fabulous Indigenous Peoples Sunday for next week with a land acknowledgment and beautiful music by First Nation musicians. Our opening hymn, “We are Circling,” by Buffy Sainte-Marie is taken from the sampler of Then Let us Sing, a new hymnal from the United Church of Canada that I have had the honor of working on for the last four years. Here is a YouTube clip to further inspire you! FYI, the complete hymnbook will be published for the 2025 centennial of the United Church of Canada, with new pieces added regularly in a digital form.

    Worldwide Communion Sunday and Indigenous Peoples Sunday bequeath a golden opportunity to examine our community of faith and indeed the care of our soul.

    Are the structures and strictures of the past keeping us captive?

    How may we transform our positions of power and privilege?

    What parts of our common life together need to be reevaluated?

    Ask these questions from a place of discernment, joy and faithfulness and without anxiety, fear and shame. Let us be summoned to new depths of faith, to a new place of divine discovery, and a fresh relationship with the Universe.

    As we circle together may your heart song be strong and may the sacred unity of the Divine be with you. Do sing!

    “We are circling, circling together.”

    As Always,

    Gobs of Blessings and Heaps of Happiness.

    Your Chaplain,

    Petah

    Rev. Dr. Peter Stickney

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