Bishop Rob Wright, the Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of Atlanta wrote the following in his column last week. Please take what he says to your prayers during this election season.
When the church is aflame with bitter political partisanship rather than the fire of the love of God, then functionally we have become atheists. That kind of church is an offense to the example and teachings of Christ. That kind of church is at best a group of religious performance artists or at worst idolaters. There aren’t enough strong words to condemn this culturally preferred and accepted betrayal of Jesus’ vision. When the church forfeits her sacred calling and becomes a pawn and public relations firm for either political party she refuses her spiritual inheritance and she frustrates the grace of God. She becomes like the salt Jesus spoke of, "having lost its saltiness deserves to be crushed underfoot." Not nearly enough of us in the church condemn this behavior for fear of shrinking membership and monetary donations. Political partisanship of one stripe or the other has successfully cowered much of religious leadership. Too often these days the church resembles the prodigal son, running from a loving parent, bankrupt, on his knees, and eating from a pig trough! This behavior has helped to cause the absence of young people in our churches. They are right to call us hypocrites when they notice the gap between our Sunday proclamation of love and our Monday incarnation of contempt. They are right to look for spiritual meaning and depth beyond the doors of our churches if we refuse to be Christ’s church. The church was founded to manifest the timeless truth of God revealed in Jesus of Nazareth. The church was founded to assist God in God’s search and rescue mission to a drowning world. The church was meant to be a brilliant “other” to the world. We were organized to be planned community - a “colony of heaven” - perpetually in the midst of hell so that people would be saved by seeing and choosing the contrast. We were always meant to be a transformed and transformational community. The church was founded to hope in God, not politicians or political systems. We were not founded to join politicians of any party in their craven coveting of power or their ceaseless disparaging of members of the American family. When we find that political rhetoric and political contempt for people who do not share our political views is our norm, even though we have pledged to “…respect the dignity of every human being…,” then it should be clear, we are a part of the problem. Still, even with the depth and severity of our betrayal, there’s still good news, God delights in showing mercy! So we can acknowledge that we have wandered away from our God and God’s purposes. We can repent and ask for God’s forgiveness and we can bend our lives toward the vision Jesus actually modeled. We can replace our regular vocabulary of rancor with one of extraordinary Christian resolve. The hope of the world remains for more of us to choose daily to follow Jesus Christ. So yes, vote. Vote your Baptismal Covenant. But every day leading up to voting and every day after remember you cannot serve both God and partisan politics.
Bishop's Committee News---Four things
1. Congregational Vitality Assessment Results
The Congregational Vitality Assessment is designed to provide a congregation with an assessment of its Vitality (how healthy it is) and its Sustainability (whether it has the people, financial, and contextual resources necessary to survive). Click Here for the results. Let us know if there is something you disagree with or are concerned about.
2. Minutes for the September Bishop's Committee Meeting
This Fall we will be we will be walking together through a process of
spiritual-growth that will depend our biblical understanding of Christian stewardship. We will not be focusing on the need of the church to receive but rather to focus ourselves on there need of every Christian to think through their finances, and what they give to God as part of our own spiritual development.
Will you be willing to serve on the stewardship team for carrying out this program for St. Paul's? I hope so. Let us know.
4. In person worship...
With the every changing active cases of the Covid-19 Virus, the Bishop's Committee will decide every Friday whether to have in person or not on any given Sunday. Make sure you check the announcements which come out every Saturday at 10:00 as to whether we will have both inn person worship and live-stream or worship or just live-stream.
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
BLANKET THE BIG BEND REGION WITH LOVE
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 PayPal.me/StPaulsMarfa 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 email@example.com
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
Nancy Antrim's Ordination to the Diaconate
Saturday, October 17
2:00 Central Time
Live on Diocese of Rio Grande Facebook Page
MARK YOUR CALENDARS
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 it....it 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.org- Go to the bottom and find the "Donate" --click on it and fill in the blanks.... OR go to https://www.dioceserg.org/donate 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.