Vision Statement for St. Paul’s, Marfa, Texas
St. Paul’s is an open, loving community
growing in the experience and understanding of the love of God,
acting to share the visible presence and compassion of Christ.
Mission Statement for St. Paul’s, Marfa, Texas:
Our mission is to be a welcoming, prayerful, caring community
actively sharing the love of God.

Values Statement for St. Paul's Marfa, Texas
To accomplish our mission, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church bases its decisions and actions on the following core values:

Love of God and neighbor by honoring the worth and dignity of every human being including ourselves.
Daily relationship with God all through our lives through prayer and service.
The importance of giving and receiving forgiveness through the generosity of the Holy Spirit.
We value continual learning.
We value the Episcopal tradition of communal worship.
Practicing hospitality by welcoming all and serving and sharing with our communities.
The stewardship of God’s creation and all its inhabitants.

I do not know about you but I am finding it difficult to watch the news these days. I would rather read about it and have my own reactions and emotions rather than that of the broadcaster. I have heard from more and more people who find it difficult to watch the news these days. Whatever our political affiliation, we can agree that our leaders could be doing a better job. Whatever our views on any number of vital issues, we can agree that
we have an endemic maybe a pandemic of division.

What are we to do? It seems to me there are three ways we can respond, if we are able to do so. Perhaps just getting through a tough time is enough, and if that’s where you are, do what you can to survive. Ask for help if you need it, and offer help if you have it to give.

Here are three ways to respond:
  1. We can have conversations across lines of division to learn more about others and to work for reconciliation. There are a number of online courses and books about how to do this in a civil manner. Let me know if you would like more information. 
  2. We can pray for our leaders and our nation, especially as the United States heads into an election. We have added to our Tuesday newsletter a set of nine prayers leading up to the election. This novena includes simple prayers from our Book of Common Prayer and a litany to say each day, starting one week before the election and ending the day after. 
  3. We can work to change our world. If we want more justice, we can be more just. If we want more compassion, we can be more compassionate. If we want more truth, we can speak the truth in love.
Despair is an understandable place to find ourselves, but ultimately, we Christians know that death and destruction never have the last word.
Amidst the chaos and confusion of this time, let us all seek the peace of Christ that passes all understanding.
O God of peace, who hast taught us that in returning and rest we shall be saved, in quietness and confidence shall be our strength: By the might of thy Spirit lift us, we pray thee, to thy presence, where we may be still and know that thou art God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


October Hymn of the Month – by Beth Kerzee
When We Are Living (Pues Si Vivimos)

Mexican folk hymn, and Roberto Escamilla
“Pues Si Vivimos”

Pues si vivimos, para El vivimos When we are living, it is in Christ Jesus,
y si morimos para El morimos. And when we’re dying, it is in the Lord.
Sea que vivamos o que muramos, Both in our living and in our dying,
Somos del Señor, somos del Señor. We belong to God, we belong to God.*

This gentle and assuring Mexican folk hymn has quickly become a favorite song in both Spanish and English-speaking churches in a variety of denominations. To date it has been published in over thirteen denominational hymnals or songbooks. While this hymn is lovely in its simplicity of melody and message, its origin is a bit more complicated. The first stanza was recorded and transcribed by Gertrude Suppe, after meeting a Mexican woman in Los Angeles following a worship service. Roberto Escamilla, editor of Celebremos II [A collection intended to incorporate more Mexican American songs into worship], added three additional verses in Spanish. These words were translated into English by George Lockwood, thereby creating the hymn as we know it today. Robert Escamilla is a native of Hidalgo, Mexico, and has served many United Methodist churches in Texas and Oklahoma, both Spanish and English-speaking. He has a distinguished career as a pastor and a teacher that has spanned decades 

This hymn’s first stanza references Romans 14:8 and as we can see it follows the biblical text very closely.

“If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living” (NRSV).

The meaning is clear that whether living of dying, we are not alone, we belong to God. Furthermore, it reminds us of the resurrection promise and heritage that is ours because Christ died for us and lives again. What an amazing assurance that is for all Christians, and what a great reminder we
need every day!

Stanzas 2-4, written by Dr. Escamilla, are based more loosely on John 15:8, “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.” He continues the technique of binary opposition begun in the first stanza, which uses “living or dying.” Stanza two centers on our lives and how we are to live it and finishes by contrasting “giving or receiving.” Stanza three centers on our human feelings of joy and sadness and concludes with contrasting “suffering and rejoicing.” The final stanza looks outward to the whole world and a Christian’s response to the needs of humanity. The contrast here is “help or nurture,” which is not actually a contrast, but two ways to serve a hurting world. While this hymn didn’t start out being a four-stanza theological stance on the way a follower of Jesus Christ believes and acts, it was nevertheless developed into a concise statement doing just




The Big Bend Blanket Ministry (created by our own Kerie van Zeÿst), based in Far West Texas, comes together to provide blankets to people in rural areas along the Borderland.  If you would like to donate a blanket to those in need they are $20 each for thick cotton blend blankets.  Our first 2020 distribution will be in October. With the COVID-19 pandemic and high unemployment our shelters are full and it is more important than ever to get as many blankets out those in need as possible this winter. If you know of anyone in need of a blanket or would like to donate a blanket please let us know! To contribute, put cash in an envelope marked "Blanket" at leave it the collection plate at St. Paul's or write a check to St. Paul's with 'Blanket' in the memo section or go to and put "Blanket" in the note. THANK YOU!


A Weekly Bible Study
Caregivers Support Group
Discussion Group about History and Racism in the Big Bend Region
Confirmation Classes for All Ages 

If any of these groups tickle your curiosity or you have questions or would like to participate,
send an Email to



Coming TODAY at 4:00....

Book Study Group on Zoom
The Book of Joy led by Tricia Seifert
Contact Fr. Mike or Tricia Seifert for Zoom information

or click here




We are planning to have our annual Thanksgiving meal shared with whoever shows up.
This will be done with Covid-modifications.
Watch for details in the weeks to come.
Watch for volunteer opportunities and dish signups.

The needs of paying the the church bills, funding our ministries, and proclaiming the Good News continues during this Pandemic. Please consider making a monthly gift.


THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!---to all of you who have contributed and continue to contribute to our virtual collection plate. Some of you have made it a monthly donation through our "Donate Button. Either way you have done is greatly appreciated. 

For those of you who have not checked out how easy it is to donate on line....
Go to our website-http://stpaulsmarfa.orgGo to the bottom and find the "Donate" --click on it and fill in the blanks.... OR go to and continue to support our mission and ministry.

ALSO---Thank you, thank you, thank you for all who have mailed in pledges and donations.

Things to do to benefit the church and the community during the Coronavirus Restrictions
1. Keep bringing food donations...our doors are open 24 hours and you will find a basket at the back of the church.


The Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost - Proper 23
October 11, 2020

Isaiah 25:1-9
Psalm 23
Philippians 4:1-9
Matthew 22:1-14

Matthew 22:1-14

The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king 
who gave a wedding feast for his son.

O Christ, your father prepared a banquet for us.
He set a table, killed the fattened calf.
He gave us the very finest wine.
And he invited us to come, 
each and every one,
every single 
one, to
of plenty.

Oh Jesus,
what shall we wear?
Would you be our garment?
Let us put on your mind and your heart.
Then we can relish the morsels, savor the wine;
and taste your love, which is the most beloved of all foods. 

Isaiah 25:6-10

The Lord God will wipe away the tears from every face.

We are 
running fast 
to your mountain, Lord.

Wipe away 
tears from our eyes.
Take away the fog of virus, 
of body and soul; and the web of 
destructive chaos that hides you from us. 

Oh Lord, you have called us all here. 
Let us take care of each other, and
the home you have given us, so 
together we can enjoy your 
feast of rich food and
choice wines.

Philippians 4:12-14, 19-20

I can do all things in him who strengthens me.

All thing work together
for those who
 love God. 

Filled up or starving,
in fortune or
 in void,

let these be

Anne Osdieck

Good and bad by Steve Garnaas-Holmes

The servants went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found,           both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests.                     —Matthew 22.10      

The poison ivy in the woods this morning was lovely.
The fall colors sparkled after last night's bath,
     the rocks and trees glistened, everything shone.
Especially the poison ivy.
At the divine wedding banquet, the feast of love and faithfulness,
everyone is invited.

The Creator knows each one's sacred worth and beauty,
the venomous snake, the innocent mosquito.
Even the hurtful ones belong.

At the feast, one who isn't dressed to celebrate,
not ready to dine with “those people,”
or feeling unworthy to wear your finest, will miss out.
Wear a party dress, not a judge's robe.

In the lovely woods of human society everyone shines,
everyone belongs,
both good and bad.
Come to the table.


taking my fears,
i jury rig them
into a juggernaut
of false security
to protect me
but you would
sweep it away,
that I might dangle my feet
in trust's river;

all my anger
is poured into the mold
of my heart,
where it cools and hardens,
unbreakable in the face
of your compassion
for those i know would use me,
but you would soften it
shaping it into grace
we can all feed on;

promoters of platitudes
and sellers of certainties
become the icons
on which my life focuses,
but you would turn
my stiff neck
so i can see Jesus
walking sin's side streets
looking for me;

with such a
bull market on idols,
what shall i do?

Thom M. Shuman

Phlilppians 4.1-9: Of Myrrh, Peace and Rejoicing

The peace of God which passes all understanding. That's what is promised to those who do not worry about anything, but by prayer and supplication let their requests be made known to God [Philippians 4:1-9]. One of the phrases that may be the most meaningful to us today is "which passes all understanding."

After all, the idea that we could look at today's world and not worry seems beyond understanding. Neighbor is taking up - if not always sword - then certainly verbal weapons against neighbor. God's good creation is suffering from neglect and abuse. There is refusal to bear one another's burdens (and sometimes the refusal to bear our own burdens). As Jesus stood and looked over Jerusalem and wept, so we look over our world and weep. For what has already been lost, and for what is being lost right now.

People are often in situations that seem to be incongruent with celebration when they are told to rejoice in scripture. Rejoicing in such situations requires a knowledge - a faith - in something beyond what is visible. And it might be knowledge - faith - that is hard to help someone else understand.

The Orthodox liturgical calendar includes Holy Myrrhbearers Sunday. A hymn (kontakion) for that day includes the text: When you said to the Myrrh-bearers, "Rejoice!", O Christ our God, You ended, by Your Resurrection, the lament of Eve, the first mother. And, You commanded Your Apostles to proclaim, "The Savior has risen from the grave."

Imagine the women going to the tomb, bearing spices so that Jesus would have the honor of a full burial. The image below is by Robert Anning Bell shows six women led in procession by Mary, the mother of Jesus, to the tomb. The cool blue tone of the painting and the frozen movement of the women emphasize the somberness of the scene. For this day, for these women, there are no bright colors, no warm sunshine. At this moment there is seems to be no prospect for rejoicing.

Robert Anning Bell. The Women Going to the Sepulchre. 1912. Collection of the Royal Academy, London. For more information, see:

Many followers of Jesus have seen days where they could not imagine rejoicing. And yet Paul commands the Christians in Philippi to rejoice in the Lord always. He even repeats the instruction: "Again, I will say, Rejoice" (Philippians 4:4). Can we do as Paul instructed, even as we look at our world? Can we Rejoice in the Lord...always? Even when we are carrying myrrh? Can we continue to, by prayer and supplication - even "battering the gates of heaven" with our prayers, let our requests be made known to God and then live in a peace that passes understanding? It may be one of the harder things we are to do as followers of Jesus the Christ.

Wearing Your False Self

When Merton speaks of sin, he has in mind, not primarily a moral lapse whereby I choose what is in conflict with my better instincts, but an ontological laspe whereby I choose what is in conflict with my true being. It is not simply that I make mistakes. I become a mistake. For I become what I am not.

But the mistake can be overcome, I can choose to drop the mask, the illusion, of my false self and achieve my true identity in God. Indeed, from the moment I become capable of conscious acts of love, "[my] life becomes a series of choices between the fiction of [my] false self whom [I] feed with the illusion of passion and selfish appetite and [my] true identity in the peace of God."

-William H. Shannon
Thomas Merton's Dark Path

To Find Our True Selves
(Merton, writing about the Desert Fathers and Mothers)

We must liberate ourselves, in our own way, from involvement in a world that is plunging to disaster. But our world is different from theirs. Our involvement in it is more complete. Our danger is far more desperate. Our time, perhaps, is shorter than we think.
We cannot do exactly what they did, But we must be as thorough and as ruthless in our determination to break all spiritual chains, and cast off the domination of alien compulsions, to find our true selves, to discover and develop our inalienable spiritual liberty and use it to build, on earth, the Kingdom of God.

-Thomas Merton 1915-1968
The Wisdom of The Desert (from the introduction)

The One who tells the story knows both goodness and wickedness, because He is good, consistent and compassionate. He longs to see humans standing in the orbit of God's love. He rejoices to see the speechless and poor, the nobodies, at His table.

In our story, he condemns no one, not even the king. Such a judgment is redundant, the royal behavior being self-condemned.

And to sum up matters, in utter contrast to the worldly king, the storyteller will give His life rather than take life.

-Daniel Berrigan


Thankfulness and Celebration
and News

Thank you to Allison, Joni and Scott who contributed and was present for our Drive Through Blessing of Animals

Thank you to Scott for maintaining our beautiful campus

Thank you to all who have contributed to our blanket drive.
Thank you to the Bishop's Committee who has worked hard to develop and carry out our protocol to be able to allow us to return to worship in person.
Thank you to Shere who comes in faithfully every week to set up the altar.

Thank you to Tricia who leads our Book Study with wisdom, compassion and joy.

Thank you to all who have gone on line to our virtual collection plate and to those who have kept up your pledges and donations through snail mail.

Thank you to everyone who continues to bring food supplies and masks to the church. It is greatly appreciated by the Marfa Food Pantry.








  • Ask yourself whether you currently have any of the following symptoms. If your answer is “yes,” please stay home and watch the service at
    • Fever (99°F or higher)
    • Chills
    • Muscle aches
    • Cough (new)
    • Shortness of breath (new)
    • Unexpected fatigue
    • Sore throat
    • Loss of taste or smell
    • Headache
    • Diarrhea
    • Vomiting
    • Nausea
    • Other cold symptoms
  • Have a mask ready. Everyone must wear a mask in order to enter the building. If you arrive at church without a mask, one will be provided. 
  • Seating in the sanctuary will be limited. Overflow seating will be offered in our hall.


  • Be mindful of physical distancing. Follow posted instructions regarding traffic flow.
  • Enter through the main sanctuary entrance on Highland Avenue.
  • Ushers provide you with a mask if necessary.
  • Ushers will seat you. In order to maintain physical distancing, congregants will be seated six feet apart as the pews are marked, from the front of the sanctuary to the back, and will be dismissed from the back of the sanctuary to the front. Members of the same household will be seated together.
  • Expect changes to the service. 
    • Hymns will be sung by our organist only (Beth has a beautiful voice); there will be no congregational singing although quiet humming would be acceptable.
    • Communion will be brought to you. Instead of the chalice we will have individual communion cups
  • There will be no coffee hour.

As we have done since our pandemic responses have been in place, please let me know if you wish to receive communion at home or wish for a pastoral visit in person or by Zoom. I will look forward to seeing you, one way or another, on Sunday.


The Rev. Michael Wallens
Vicar - Saint Paul's Episcopal Church
P.O. Box 175, Marfa, Texas 79843
Office - 915.239.7409  |  Cell - 214-862-7292

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St. Paul's Episcopal Church · P.O. Box 175 · 101 E. Washington street · Marfa, TX 79843 · USA

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