Dear Kind and Gentle People,
Here at “The Mill” the peonies are popping into full bloom and they have been plopped into Gram’s vases; she would have been 129 yesterday. Rhubarb pies have been baked and the abundance shared with neighbors. Each day, we move the cows (28 girls and 5 calves) to a large pasture across the road from the barn. Yesterday the “lead" cow was awesome as a thunder shower was coming, leading the herd to the barn. However, this morning she had quite an attitude and was not being cooperative (understatement); lucky for me I managed to get her calf going forward and she followed!
The Newfield Community Church had its first Pride service this week to affirm our LGBQT+ family. Personally, I was humbled that my Atheist, Agnostic, Wiccan and Shamanic practitioner friends attended. Six clergy cronies came to participate in dispensing candles and offering their life force in prayer.
Let’s face it, gay pride means opposing shame! It’s embracing that the truth will set you free. Gay pride is a way for LGBTQ+ people to overcome the shame they’ve had dumped on their heads from an early age. Sadly, much of that dumping has been done in the name of Jesus, turning many away from the church who now see it as irrelevant. Many have become indifferent. This is sad!
You may remember Princess Leia’s parting words, “You have everything you need.” Petah says it’s true: Just ask! Simply cast your bread upon the water and don’t expect to get moldy bread back. Rainbow stoles arrived as gifts from people across the country who saw our event on Facebook. Gorgeous art was given for our posters and bulletins, once again from people I have never met, but who saw this on the internet. Sometimes we all need to be reminded that the God we serve wants nothing from us other than to receive and walk in the abundance of pure love while reflecting the gift of peace that is freely offered. Everything is supplied according to our need.
As you all know, the power of music can work healing magic and transformation to the core of our being. I believe a miracle of transformation happened to many during our Pride service. Dr. Amanda Udis-Kessler’s “Queerly Beloved” was our opening song and I am so grateful that she had the music engraved for the Newfield Community Church. Look this up with lots of other compositions at queersacredmusic.com. I am still experiencing audiation of both the sound and text. Yippee! Hope it continues.
Mark Miller’s “Christ has broken down the wall” is a wonderful example of inclusive love and what the message of Christ is. There was weeping as the music and text washed over our congregation. Here is a version for you to enjoy. This version uses “Love has broken down the wall” rather than “Christ has broken down the wall.”
As a point of reference, I attended my first gay parade in Bangor, Maine in 1985 -- one year after the murder of Charlie Howard who was beaten up on the State Street Bridge and hurled into the Kenduskeag Stream despite his pleas that he could not swim. I was terrified, but two older militant lesbians put me between them and their two German Shepherds. I managed to dodge flying objects. It’s hard to put into words how empowering it was seeing others marching and other “out” people out on the street. I would describe this as a spiritual experience and a wakeup call! A photo of the march made the front page of the local gay newspaper and my position at the local YMCA camp was threatened by a “do-gooder.” I am grateful that my boss at the time stood up for me and protected me from knowing about this situation until later on. He was a wonderful Christian man. We as Christians need to stand up like my boss Ted did for me! (In essence, he was a Lead Cow.) I pray that we will be faithful in the face of hatred, if and when needed.
As we approach Independence Day, let us be mindful with our actions and prayers for the LGBTQ+ people in Chechnya, Uganda, Zambia, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, etc., and especially our trans and gender diverse people in the United States and Canada. Let us not take for granted the basic rights to worship as we wish. I urge you to be vigilant with the tools in your toolbox, especially the powerful tool of prayer.
Perhaps you can be a leader in following Jesus by radiating unconditional love and acceptance for all of our brothers and sisters. Petah says, “Be a Lead Cow ahead of a thunder shower.” In other words, lead others to a cozy place that includes safety, liberation from shame and plenty of blessings for everyone.
Finally, remember that Christ has broken down the wall and you truly do have everything you need!
Gobs of Blessings and Heaps of Happiness!
Rev. Dr. Peter Stickney
Double Rainbow over the Mill June 2023 — photo by Tate Dame
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