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.




Here is a wonderful meditation from the Be Still and God Podcast by Diana Butler Bass. It is called "The Stable is Our Heart."

It is Christmas Eve. A couple of days ago, I got an email from a friend who is the pastor of a church in Annapolis, Maryland. She invited me to participate in an event in February, but she got the date wrong. And then she said I don't know what time it is. I don't know what day it is.

This year has been like that. Indeed this year has been like that. Our calendars have meant little and time has stretched long or seemed incredibly short and yet Christmas Eve.

Here it is, again, a familiar time. A time that many of us love and look forward to all year.

But this is a Christmas Eve unlike any other that most of us have spent in our lives. And it's a little hard to know that it's really Christmas Eve.

It doesn't feel right. The calendar has moved either too fast or too slow. We are unprepared. And how can you celebrate Christmas at a time like this?

This particular Advent. I have leaned into the Poetry of Madeleine l'Engle.
As a way of getting through the strangest Advent I have known. And this poem has said much to my heart.

Into the Darkest Hour by Madeleine L’Engle

It was a time like this,
war & tumult of war,
a horror in the air.
Hungry yawned the abyss –
and yet there came the star
and the child most wonderfully there.

It was a time like this
of fear & lust for power,
license & greed and blight –
and yet the Prince of bliss came into the darkest hour
in quiet & silent light.

And in a time like this
how celebrate his birth
when all things fall apart?
Ah! Wonderful it is:
with no room on the earth,
the stable is our heart.


And there it is. Even when Jesus was born the world wasn't ready. It was a time like this: war and tumult of war, the violence of Empire, oppression, slavery and injustice. A horror in the air.

The world was full then of fear and lust for power and licensing greed and blight and yet Jesus came. Came into a world where there was no room. 

And yet room was made. As the story says room in a stable. Room where there was no room.

And so Jesus came. Jesus was born the prince of bliss into the darkest hour and light broke on the horizon and songs of peace began to be heard through the world. It was a time like this a time like this long ago.

And now a time like this. Now when Christmas Eve arrives again, when we hear the announcement of peace, when the songs come to us, not through angelic harold's in the sky but faces on a zoom screen.

A time when fear and lust for power and licensing greed and blight and corruption and injustice and war and tumult of war, disease. A horror in the air. All of those things have pushed away Christmas.

And so how do we celebrate his birth when all things fall apart?

We make room.

How wonderful it is with no room on the earth, this stable is our heart.

When I first read this poem, I thought that was a little bit of a cop-out. That Jesus is born in our hearts may be in some sentimental way. But then I realized that the stable, the place of hospitality, the place of the open door, the place that we only have right now to welcome, the stable is our heart.

Because we can't open our church doors and we cannot open the doors to our home and we cannot sit our families around tables...the doors of our heart stand open and the stable waits to be filled from that place. From that place deep within the place where we can still welcome no matter what

the world is like, no matter what the time is like, no matter how dark the hour, that is the place where we open the door.

And from that deep place of hospitality, love will grow. Light will shine.
Peace will be heard. And when the doors of the World open wider, we will walk through.... changed. Because our hearts are that stable for love.

I wish you in this darkest hour the best of Christmas. We can still celebrate his birth while all has fallen apart. Because the one thing we still can do is welcome Jesus in our heart.



  Presiding Bishop Michael Curry
Christmas Message 2020




5:00 pm - Christmas Eve Lessons and Carols
​Live Streamed at 5:00 pm

~Come worship - 
see people virtually you have not seen in a while!~

Beginning on January 6 @ 7 pm central time

Virtual BIBLE STUDY for Epiphany
It is based upon the Gospel of Mark, using the daily reading schedule from the Good Book Club. 

You will be asked to complete readings in advance of class to prepare for class discussion (Gospel of Mark and other sources). 
Our sessions may be 45-60 minutes or longer, based on the desire of the group. 

If interested, please sign up at or

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- 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. THE MARFA FOOD PANTRY IS EMPTY! -  Keep bringing food donations...our doors are open 24 hours and you will find a basket at the back of the church.

2. Pray for Rudy and Allison.



The First Sunday after Christmas Day
December 27, 2020

Isaiah 61:10-62:3
Psalm 148
Galatians 4:4-7
Luke 2:22-40

Isaiah 61.10-62.3: Off the Top of Your Head
Art and Faith Matters

You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. That is how the Christmas 1B reading from Hebrew scripture (Isaiah 61:10-62:3) ends. Crown and diadem. It's a parallelism like many others in scripture, especially in poetry: The earth is the Lord's and everything in it, the world and those who live in it (Psalm 24:1). But is there a difference between crown and diadem? And do the choices of those words mean something for how we hear that scripture?

Two different words are used in the Hebrew. Crown is עֲטֶ֥רֶת, a feminine noun translated crown across scripture. The word for diadem is וּצְנִ֥יף, a masculine noun that is translated as diademhoodmitre, even turban. The root of both concepts is the same as that for the English words: something worn on, around, or across a person's head. Crown is from the Latin corona "crown," originally "wreath, garland," related to Greek korone "anything curved, kind of crown." Diadem is directly from Latin diadema "cloth band worn around the head as a sign of royalty," from Greek diadema, from diadein "to bind across," from dia- "across" with dein "to bind," related to desmos "band".

Crown, diadem, tiara (headdress worn by Persian kings and by men of rank, from Latin tiara, from Greek tiara, of unknown origin)...who doesn't want one of those? Napoleon Bonaparte decided to give himself a crown. He had demanded the Pope attend the coronation ceremony as Emperor, but when the moment came to put the crown on his head, Napoleon took the crown from the Pope and placed it on his own head. The sketch here was drawn by Jacques Louis David, who attended the coronation and created finished paintings of other episodes of Napoleon's rise to Emperor.

J.-L. David. Napoleon Crowning Himself Emperor. 1805. Drawing. Paris: Musee du Louvre.

There is one not-so-small detail in the scripture that is worth noting. The crown isn't something that the people of God get. It is something the people of God are. The crown - a very visible sign of someone of rank and power isn't going to be ours in this text. We might have expected that with the early verses that described festive wedding attire. We would wear a garland...we would wear a crown. But that is not the case. Instead we - the people of God - will be God's crown. 

Isaiah describes a number of attributes of the time when God's people become God's crown: there is righteousness (tsedakah, translated vindication) paired by turn with salvation and praise. All is right on that day. God's gifts have transformed the world in such a way that everyone can see, and from what God has planted have grown righteousness and praise - the righteousness and praise of the people of God. That's when we are a crown in God's hand. 

At the end of any year, we tend to look back at where we have been and look around at the world as it is now. When we reflect on our own actions, are we seeking crowns for ourselves or are we working to transform this world according to God's will? Do our actions reflect the righteousness (definitely not the same as self-righteousness) that God has planted in our world? Are righteousness and praise of God spring forth in this world? When they do, then we will be a crown in God's hand.


Luke 2.35: Pierced
Art and Faith Matters

"A sword will pierce your own soul also."  --Luke 2:35

When Simeon prophesies that Mary's future holds pain like she's been stabbed, Mary must have been bewildered. What kind of greeting is that for parents who have brought their baby to the Temple for a blessing?

That sword has been literally portrayed in devotional images of Mary as Our Lady of Sorrows, with seven swords pointed directly at her heart. Other artists have been more subtle, but the acknowledgement of Mary's sorrow is still present in pictures of the mother with her infant. The reference may be overlooked because it seems so normal, but as you consider images of the enthroned madonna with her child, look for irises.

The iris family of plants are, in Germany,  known as schwertlilien, literally translated "sword lily", so the iris became a symbol of Christ's passion and a reminder of the sword that Simeon prophesied would pierce Mary's soul.

To spot the irises in art you'll need to spend time with the background of images. Perhaps the best known (because it is in the title) is the Madonna of the Iris, formerly attributed to Albrecht Durer, now attributed to his workshop. Mary and the Christ child sit relaxing while the infant nurses. In the background is the spiky stem of the iris plant, remarkably similar to Durer's botanical study of iris trojana.


(left) Madonna with the Iris. Workshop of Albrecht Durer. 1500-1510. National Gallery of Art, London.
(right) Albrecht Durer. Iris Trojana. 1503. Watercolor and gouache on paper. 
The placement of the iris with Mary and Jesus is a reminder of the future of the child, and the pain of that future for his mother. Artist Marcello Fogolino places  Christ Child as he sits on his mother's lap 

Marcello Fogolino. Madonna con bambino in trono e i SS. Giobbe e Gottardo. 1508. Brera, Milan
The idea that the iris represents the suffering of Christ is reinforced by the accompanying saints in Fogolino's painting. At the left is Job, his skin covered with sores. At the right is St. Gotthard of Hildesheim. Though well-dressed, he, too, is related to suffering, as he is the patron saint of gout sufferers. The Church of San Gottardo in Milan is dedicated to this saint.

Perhaps this week an arrangement of iris would be an appropriate accompaniment to the worship service. Choose white iris to emphasize that the liturgical season has moved from Advent to Christmas. And now that you know the iris as a symbol of pain and suffering, you might understand why the Edwardian-era chromo-lithographed Christmas card below is a little...awkward


Enlarge our hopes 
by Stephen Garnass-Holmes

         Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon;
                  this man was righteous and devout,
                  looking forward to the consolation of Israel.
         There was also a prophet, Anna …
                  looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.

                        —Luke 2.25, 38

The Divine Presence seeps into us
like the quietness that settles on the trees
in the snowy dark.

Geese on the pond
pause in their migration,
a gathering of hopes.

Anna and Simeon see
what others don't; they are looking
for something larger.

O Patient One, you have changed
what we are waiting for,
and how.

Enlarge our hopes and our horizons;
give us both the courage of deeper longings
and the peace of deeper trust.


Luke 2:22-40

in the midst of our rituals
made up of what we feel
and our understanding
of what and who God is
we sometimes encounter
in spite of all that we place in the way
pure and simple
shining like a ray of joy
into our hearts
and our rituals
Our understandings
make sense in a new way
for we have seen
seen the one promised
to save the people
and bring life to the world
Anna and Simeon came to such a moment
a pureness of time
wrapped in a blanket
and they felt complete
so now dismiss you servant in peace
allow not this moment to lapse into a memory
for my eyes have seen salvation
prepared for all people
A light to guide all nations
for the glory of Your people
the memory
the moment
the world
and remembered.

~Dan Bollard~

Radical Freedom
The entire song [the Nunc dimittis, Lk 2:29-32] is sung with the language of freedom. In the original Greek text, it has the connotation of releasing a slave. Simeon is describing his own experience as one of being released. In the song the word "now" is of utmost importance, emphasizing that an experience of profound liberation happened to him at that moment in time upon seeing the Christ Child.
Simeon's song is his way of describing how he was finally "released" truly to live.

-Paul-Gordon Chandler
Songs in Waiting: Spiritual Reflections on Christ's Birth
quoted from Vicki Black's Speaking to the Soul: Daily Readings for the Christian Year
The Presentation, Fra Angelico, 1433-34


A Song for Simeon

Lord, the Roman hyacinths are blooming in bowls and
The winter sun creeps by the snow hills;
The stubborn season has made stand.
My life is light, waiting for the death wind,
Like a feather on the back of my hand.
Dust in sunlight and memory in corners
Wait for the wind that chills towards the dead land.

Grant us thy peace.
I have walked many years in this city,
Kept faith and fast, provided for the poor,
Have taken and given honour and ease.
There went never any rejected from my door.

Who shall remember my house, where shall live my children’s children
When the time of sorrow is come ?
They will take to the goat’s path, and the fox’s home,
Fleeing from the foreign faces and the foreign swords.

Before the time of cords and scourges and lamentation
Grant us thy peace.
Before the stations of the mountain of desolation,
Before the certain hour of maternal sorrow,
Now at this birth season of decease,
Let the Infant, the still unspeaking and unspoken Word,
Grant Israel’s consolation
To one who has eighty years and no to-morrow.

According to thy word,
They shall praise Thee and suffer in every generation
With glory and derision,
Light upon light, mounting the saints’ stair.
Not for me the martyrdom, the ecstasy of thought and prayer,
Not for me the ultimate vision.
Grant me thy peace.

(And a sword shall pierce thy heart,
Thine also).

I am tired with my own life and the lives of those after me,
I am dying in my own death and the deaths of those after me.
Let thy servant depart,
Having seen thy salvation.

T. S. Eliot 1888-1965




He hath abolished the old drouth,
And rivers run where all was dry,
The field is sopp'd with merciful dew.
He hath put a new song in my mouth,
The words are old, the purport new,
And taught my lips to quote this word
That I shall live, I shall not die,
But I shall when the shocks are stored
See the salvation of the Lord.

We meet together, you and I,
Meet in one acre of one land,
And I will turn my looks to you,
And you shall meet me with reply,
We shall be sheaved with one band
In harvest and in garnering,
When heavenly vales so thick shall stand
With corn that they shall laugh and sing.

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)

Presentation in the Temple, Fra Angelico, 1433-34, detail

But At A Cost

The three-fold terror of love: a fallen flare
Through the hollow of an ear;
Wings beating about the room
The terror of all terrors that I bore
The Heavens in my womb.
Had I not found content among the shows
Every common woman knows,
Chimney corner, garden walk,
Or rocky cistern where we tread the clothes
And gather all the talk?
What is this flesh I purchased with my pains,
This fallen star my milk sustains,
This love that makes my heart's blood stop
Or strikes a sudden chill into my bones
And bids my hair stand up?

-W.B. Yeats 1865-1939

Become A Light

Behold then, the candle alight in Simeon's hands. You must light your own candles by enkindling them at his, those lamps which the Lord commanded you to bear in your hands. So come to him and be enlightened that you do not so much bear lamps as become them, shining within yourself and radiating light to your neighbors. May there be a lamp in your heart, in your hand and in your mouth: let the lamp in your heart shine for yourself, the lamp in your hand and mouth shine for your neighbors. The lamp in your heart is a reverence for God inspired by faith; the lamp in your hand is the example of a good life; and the lamp in your mouth are the words of consolation you speak.

-Guerric of Igny c.1070-1157

Last Word

Then, when the lamp of this mortal life is extinguished, there will appear for you who had so many lamps shining within you the light of unquenchable life, and it will shine for you at the evening of your life like the brightness of the noonday sun.

-Guerric of Igny c.1070-1157
quoted from Celebrating the Seasons (Morehouse)

Thankfulness and Celebration
and News 
Thank you to all who contributed and participated in Lessons and Carols.

Thank you to Shere who kept up with the changing seasons around the altar.

Thank you to Marci who kept the candles burning bright.

A big technical thank you to Nick and Dan who made the hybrid live stream possible.
Thank you to Beth who in the midst of studies provided wonderful music on the bench and through her voice.

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







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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