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.



Speaking to people's fears is something our politicians prey upon to get themselves elected. Fear is a big business, from an endless array of products to keep our homes safe to reminders that bucolic pastimes such as going to the beach are fraught with danger. Scott Bader-Saye in his book Following Jesus in a Culture of Fear notes, “Our anxieties are in the context of a society that pushes us to be afraid.” The problem, he says, is that we suffer from disordered fear: we either fear the wrong things, or fear the right things too much.


Bader-Saye is quick to note that “normal” fear is healthy and necessary, what he calls “a calm prudence that attends to things about us.” The problem with disordered fear, however, is that it turns our attention to external needs—physical safety, health, material wealth—at the expense of internal goods: compassion, moral courage, love.


In a time of rapid and ongoing social change with few shared visions of parenting, safety and security have been seized upon as the one moral good that everyone can agree on. As a result, parents focus more on keeping their children safe than on helping them to become good people. We have developed what Bader-Saye calls an “idolatry of security, an assumption that we can be safe from everything.”

Unfortunately, this fear-based “ethic of security” leads to unforeseen but significant moral consequences to which we are often blind:

  • Suspicion of our neighbor replaces hospitality for the stranger. When security is the foremost moral good, we turn away from Christ’s call to reach out to the stranger and instead seek out those who are most “safe,” that is, those most like ourselves.
  • Pre-emption replaces meaningful engagement with others. If security is our highest moral priority, we attempt to prevent harm even before it occurs. We erect barriers, guard against, or even actively distance ourselves from others who have a perceived potential to disrupt our sense of security. We persecute others based on perceived threats, not real ones. We have many “enemies.”
  • Accumulation of personal wealth replaces radical generosity. Material means and opportunity become seen as the primary means to a secure future for our selves and for our children. We become advocates for our own self-interest and well being, and that of our children, even at the expense of others.


Each of these moral consequences, Bader-Saye asserts, lead us further away from and erode core Christian principles of love, compassion, and hope.

Fear has gotten a free ride in our culture because we never recognized it as one of the capital sins. The Enneagram system of discernment tells us that probably 50 percent of people are fear-based. With that much fear around, it has to be disguised as "prudence," "good stewardship," or "common sense." Politicians, pundits, advertisers, and media moguls all seem invested in ratcheting up people's sense of panic, because they know how well it works.

Unacknowledged fear stifles relationships, openness, and love. It's hard to grow in charity and justice if you're afraid of everything and everybody. You are closed down and defensive and unable to trust the moment. Anxiety is probably a more accurate word for this kind of constant, aimless fear and self-doubt. Such unrecognized turmoil will control us. Thus the New Testament warns us more than eighty times to avoid fear. Jesus is constantly encouraging his followers: "Fear not," "Be not afraid," "Do not let your hearts be troubled." Yet I have never heard of any Christian accused of the "sin" of fear.


Take some time this week and do this practice.  Make a Fear Scale and mark it with lines indicating the numbers from 1 - 10. Acknowledging that we all are afraid of some things, locate your major fears on the scale. How deep are these fears? Have your fears changed over the years? If you made a second scale for when you were 20 years younger or older, how might it look? Contemplating your scale, repeat Jesus' advice: "Fear Not." "Be not afraid." "Do not let your hearts be troubled."


Finally ponder on this litany written by Fran Pratt.


Litany for Fear


God, we are fearful and ill-at-ease,

Noticing everything there is to be afraid of,
Worried for ourselves and our families,

Anxious about the future. 

Help us to take refuge in the present moment,

In the shining radiance of your love,
Here and now,

Covering all,
Reliable and endless,

The Source of All That Is…
So that we may be beacons of peace

In stressful times,
In difficult situations,

In tricky moments,
In disaster and tragedy

In risk and adversity. 

When the collective of humanity is trapped in fear,

May we be free:

Accepting all possibilities and fates,

Engaging in all circumstances,
Attentive to the needs of others,

Creating boundaries for soul-care,
Calmly offering solace,

Embracing Christ-like non-resistance. 

Because we know our lives and livelihood are never guaranteed

And wont go on forever.
And we are happy with the gift of earthly existence

For however long we get it.

And because we have trained ourselves to gratitude’s groove,

To compassion’s hopeful activism,
To silence’s nourishing rhythm,

To love’s enduring promise.

May we be these people to whom each circumstance is an opportunity

To practice peacefulness and peace-making
By way of our connection 

To Divine Love. 



Gift Giving Opportunity Done

Thank you, thank you, thank you to Phil and Judy Turner for their kindness in enabling us to purchase the following:

  • iPod Touch 
  • Tripod Mount 
  • Microphone Adapter 
  • Rode Video Mic NTG 

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

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

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- Go 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 Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost - Proper 17
August 30, 2020

Jeremiah 15:15-21
Psalm 26:1-8
Romans 12: 9-21
Matthew 16:21-28

Large, and without a handle

Discipleship is a many-hued flower
that promises fruitfulness in season.
The blues of silent empathy
in their many dark shades;
the yellows of joy, surprising and soaring;
the gracious whites of hopefulness, a dapple 
of light in the midst of shadows. 
There, amongst the weeds,
the warm orange of patient service
that causes all to smile,
and the green of persistent life, once wakened,
that refuses to give in.
Then there are the purples, mauves
and heliotropes of defiance and struggle
sitting beside the soft greys of uncertainty.
What of the reds? Ah, the crimson achings
and scarlet bleedings of compassion
proclaim the truth and the love
of honest discipleship. 
It has a shape, too; an intersection
heavy and uncomfortable, 
ridiculous and unfashionable.
Large, and without a handle, 
we shall find a way to take it up 
and humbly wear its colours.



purple pills
and online romance;
far-too-casual sex
and binge dating -
is there a more propitious period
to model genuine love?

angry gestures
echoed by hate-filled words;
violence flooding streets,
hate teaching our children -
is there a more apropos age
to feed our enemies with hope,
to offer a cool drink
to those burning with bitterness?

the lost sent around to
the kitchen's backdoor,
the least discounted
by hardened politicians;
the last shoved out of line
by shoppers armed with more credit,
the little squashed underfoot
in the rush to get more -
is there a more timely age
for blessing, not cursing;
for partnering with the oppressed
and not pretending they are not us?

in this stretch of selfishness
and narcissistic narrowness,
in this season of unbridled arrogance
and unchecked injustices -

is there a more opportune
time to simply

(c) 2008 Thom M. Shuman
(* - according to the NRSV, some ancient
authorities translate 'serve the Lord' in
Romans 12:11 as 'serve the opportune time')

flight or fight by Jenn Gordon
Matthew 16:21-28

in the face of intolerable injustice
when everything inside is screaming ‘run’
and the pounding of this hollow heart
makes panic pistons out of muscles
and the reactive response is flight you say ‘get behind me and fight’

when carrying the cause becomes unbearable
and I lay down in the supermarket of life
and toss a tantrum at the way things are taking shape
you step over me and do not stumble and invite me to follow

when I’m quite finished howling
when there seems no relief from the waves of suffering
and grief washing over the world
and we respond by hanging on to whatever comes into our greedy grasp
you say, ‘let go and you will live’ and you will live
not ruled by fear, or bound by death
or nervously glancing at the nearest exit you will live.


Leave Only Footprints...Or Maybe a Little More
 (Art and Faith Matters)

Burning coals (Romans 12:9-21). Another story in scripture that employs some element of fire or flame. There is an interesting fire-related difference in the two, though. When I think about burning coals, I imagine the grill that fired hundreds of family cook-outs and barbeques. I can picture those glowing charcoal briquettes (my dad was in the lumber gas grills for him). Heating up slowly, passing through the flame stage and then becoming a bank of glowing embers ready for the ribs, sausage, corn, portobello mushrooms, and more that might be on the grill on any given occasion.   


       Vincent Van Gogh. Peasant Burning Weeds. 1883. Van Gogh Museum (Amsterdam)/Drents Museum (Drenthe)

After dinner the coals were usually still glowing enough that the coat-hangers-turned-marshmallow-sticks were brought out, sometimes with chocolate and graham crackers, to make dessert. The coals were dealt with before bedtime, and by the next morning there was nothing but a pile of cold ashes. 

Paul's instructions to the Christians in Rome (Romans 12:20) include a quote from Proverbs 25:21-22. Do more for your enemies, he instructs. Give more, love more. As I heard more than once when I was growing up, "Kill 'em with kindness."  Heap burning coals on their heads. The hope seems to be that at the end of such actions as feeding hungry enemies and giving drinks to thirst ones, what will be left isn't just cold ashes, it is a new or restored relationship between former enemies. 

Take only photographs, leave only footprints is good advice for walking through nature. Such attention to detail is important when thinking about the potential for fires. We have all seen what is left (or not) after a wildfire. For  the Christians in Rome, the result of the fire is not destruction. It is growth and transformation. People who are no longer enemies. Those are what is left. Not just footprints. Maybe a little more. 

One With The Timeless Christ

The summation of the life of Jesus in the symbol and the sign of the cross is not meant so much as an act of "taking up" the cross, as it is of "taking the cross inside." The direction of the sign of the cross is inward, which suggests embracing and internalizing the life of Jesus. Nevertheless, this inward direction suggests that, starting with the historical events of the life of Jesus, we live these events here and now, appropriating them outside time and space, as we become one with the timeless Christ.

-Andreas Andreopoulos
The Sign of the Cross


Bear Your Share
(a collection of Seton quotes)

Not only willing to take my cross but to kiss it, too.

The bright and glorious cross which we now drag alone through the mud and dirt, how beautiful and lovely it will appear when we shall find that it opens the door of our eternal happiness for us. Follow on with courage!

If you find that there are any obstacles in your way -- and doubtless you find many, as every Christian does, in the fulfillment of duty -- still persevere with yet more earnestness, and rejoice to bear your share in the cross, which is our passport and seal to the kingdom of our Redeemer.

Meet with joy every contradiction.

In the hour of manifestation when all this cross-working will be explained, we will find that in this period of our poor life we are ripe for the business for which we were sent.

-Elizabeth Ann Seton 1774-182

Radically Obedient

The tragedy of Christianity has been that Christians have left it all to Jesus. There have been a few exceptions, of course. In the main, however, Christians have never tired of seeing the spectacle of Christ Himself upon the Cross -- in some mysterious way He is our stand-in or proxy representative in every age. We love to sing about the Cross, to pray about the Cross, to preach about the Cross. As long as we are so fascinated and mesmerised, humanity troops on to its doom. 

What will save the world is not Christ's suffering and death but ours. It is not His blood which counts but ours. It is not His broken body which matters but ours. In fact, this is what Christianity is all about. It concerns the followers of Christ no less than it concerned Christ Himself. They must be radically obedient to God, Truth and Humanity.
-Ted Noffs 1926-1995
By What Authority?

The Cross possess such power and strength that, whether they will or not, it attracts, draws, and ravishes those who carry it.
-Henry Suso c.1300-1366

Thankfulness and Celebration and News

Congratulations to Beth (our organist) is accepted into UTEP into their Masters of Music program for choral conducting.

 Thank you Janelle and Nick who provided planted more plants to enjoy and aid our contemplations in the prayer garden.

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 Food Pantry.









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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