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 we are this week and next in the midst of political conventions. Here we are with only months to go before we have the privilege and responsibility to vote. Not registered to vote -- and you're a citizen? Don't listen to the news because it takes you outside your comfort zone and might upset you? Please.

Sometimes religious people shy away from politics because politics isn't very spiritual and religion is about spirituality, and besides, crooked things happen in politics. Any ancient Israelite would have greeted such an idea with an incredulous stare -- they all believed that God worked in human history, that revelation came to us primarily through human history, including crooked human history. Read the books of the Kings, and especially the stories of David, and ask yourself if God really waits for someone to come along whose hands are clean before He can go to work. These forebears of ours wouldn't know what to make of someone who had no interest in the workings of human community and yet claimed to follow the God of Israel.

Is faith about spirituality? Yes. But it's not about separation from the world. It is also about ethics. And human love of all kinds. And it is about our oneness with the earth, and the earth's integrity in itself and our stewardship of it. It is about economics -- much of Jesus' teaching has to do with money or with work of some kind: gems, farming, day laborers, home economics, inheritance law, accounting -- there are parables about each of these.

And are all politicians alike? In some ways they are -- they all want to win. But they are not alike in the policies they espouse. Don't let their posturing deflect your rigorous inquiry into what they want to do in the public arena to which they want you to send them, and don't let them get away without telling you how they intend to get there in a way that doesn't insult your intelligence. If something they say sounds too good to be true - say, that we can spend without limit and somehow still have enough money for government to function, while at the same time cutting the taxes upon which government spending depends -- it probably is. Make them or their supporters explain it to you until it makes sense, or don't vote for them.

And pay attention to the matter of interest. I do not refer to the prime rate here; I mean the tendency of all human beings to believe in those ideas that will benefit them in the short term. We all have this tendency to believe what someone will pay us to believe -- however indirectly that payment is made -- and we must make a conscious effort to be aware of that tendency in ourselves and to transcend it, or we will become the puppets of our own darker angels. If you make your living in oil, say, you may or may not be right in what you say about the nation's energy needs and those of the oil industry, but there is one thing you are not: you are not disinterested. Interest must be factored into any political thinking we attempt, or there will be an important piece missing in the end result of our analysis.

Interest, posturing, the short term. The suffering of the innocent and the selling of the powerful. Read I and II Kings. Read the paper. Talk to people. But vote. Remember that, in the end, our world is not like the world of I and II Kings in one very important respect: we elect our leaders. You don't have to tell anybody how you voted if you don't want to, and nobody can tell you for whom to vote. So keep your mind open for as long as it takes you to make it up. You have that right. An undecided voter may be a very wise one.

And then pray. God loves the nations of the world, including our own. Intends -- and wages -- good for all, and wades into the muck with us to begin the cleanup when things go terribly wrong, even when the terrible wrong is largely our own fault.


Gift Giving Opportunity

After almost five months of broadcasting services, we feel it is time to upgrade to better equipment to improve the video and audio quality. We are planning on in-church services soon, and would like to continue broadcasting the service also. This new equipment will improve at-home viewing. This came in consultation with someone who is knowledgeable  and understands our limited resources. 

If you are looking for an opportunity to give, the complete package is $478. Below is a list for the individual pieces if you would like to donate a portion of the cost. Please contact Fr. Wallens if you have any questions and want to make a donation. As always, we are grateful for the continuing support of St. Paul's. 

  • iPod Touch - $199
  • Tripod Mount - $19.99
  • Microphone Adapter - $9.99
  • Rode Video Mic NTG - $249.00

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.

2. See the gift giving opportunity above.

The Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost - Proper 15
August 16, 2020

Isaiah 51: 1-6
Psalm 138
Romans 12: 1-8
Matthew 16: 13-20

The ear and the voice

         Do not be conformed to this world,
                  but be transformed by the renewing of your minds,
         so that you may discern what is the will of God—
                  what is good and acceptable and perfect.

                           —Romans 12.2

Society presses upon you to copy
dress and manner, thought and value,
what will anger or attract you.
Ignore it. It's fear whining for company.
It's a shield against celestial radiation.
Tune out the market's frantic clatter.
Be changed by a new way of thinking:
not thinking: an opened awareness,
a mind of wonder and gratitude
and the strangeness of being loved.
Conform to nothing but the grace of God.
Each moment the Mysterious Blessing
dawns in you, allows a newness,
sings a song their ears can't hear.
Let the Great Love in you make harmony.
The tune is already there,
the ear and the voice.
Let it meld in perfect harmony.
Passersby will hear songs from your door,
from the woods rises music
that's lovely, good and beautiful,
the delight of God.

~~Steven Garnass-Holmes


(Matthew 16: 13-20)

We would have held you in the past, Jesus.
We would have kept you in the jars,
however large, from which we’d already drawn,
the ones with the title of prophet, names
synonymous with speech from the voice of God:

names like Elijah, Jeremiah, John,

and others whose words had rung
through streets and hills,
had challenged our minds and hearts
a while ago.

A little bothersome, those prophets,
thorns to the strong while
comforting the weak,
disruptive to the status quo,
but familiar, understood;
holding few surprises
and therefore somewhat safer
for the following.

We are not easy with the new, Jesus,
we do not readily welcome change.
We prefer our futures to arrive in dress
of the dreams we dreamed in the past,
tomorrow to be today with
freshened dew.

Even the title Messiah,
apparently so daring,
was a word we thought we understood
to mean another David:
the reign of God to mean the reign
of another worldly kingdom.

We were not prepared for the cross.

We were not prepared for the wine
to be new, and to require
such newer skins.

We would have held you in the past, Jesus,
predictable, contained.
But you are not confined by
the fence of our understanding.
You move beyond the boundaries
of preconceptions.

Show us afresh the limits of even
the holiest of labels.
Open us to a God who is
full of surprises.
Show us that there are possibilities
for ourselves
we have not imagined.

Show us anew that there is more,
much more, than we may ever know
about what it can mean,
for ourselves and the world,
that God is really with us:

~~ Andrew King

Romans 12.1-8: Transformed (Art and Faith Matters)

 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds (Romans 12:2a). In his Romans commentary (Interpretation), Paul Achtemeier suggests this translation: Do not let yourself be shaped by what everyone else does, but rather let yourselves be transformed by a whole new way of thinking... (p. 195). 

One of the most ordinary things in the world is a piece of computer paper. 8.5" x 11" is standard in the US. A4 paper is standard in the UK. The paper is plain and smooth so that it can pass through a printer. Until the paper is acted upon in some way, it simply exists with no real meaning on its own. But with the right mind in charge of the paper it is changed into a report on an infinite number of ideas and information. With the right mind in charge of the paper, it is transformed into art.


Peter Callesen transforms A4 paper (in inches 8.3 x 11.7) into complex paper sculptures evoking a variety of responses. In his hands, through his mind, the paper becomes a world of thoughts and ideas. Two examples are above. The works are created from a single piece of A4 paper. Callesen's cuts are made precisely so that the paper from the cut shape is perfectly transformed into the 3-D shape you see. Thus the flat hand shape is crimped and folded into the skeletal structure of a hand (left). The birds are created from the 2-D shapes drawn on the A4 paper.

This is definitely the world (the mundane) transformed by a whole new way of thinking. 

Rocks, Arks, Baskets and Water (Art and Faith Matters)

On this rock I will build the church. That's what Jesus tells Peter (Matthew 16:18). The baptismal font at Coventry Cathedral (England) takes that statement literally, building the church of Jesus Christ one baptism at a time using a rock baptismal font. Though almost completely destroyed by Nazi bombs on 14 November 1940, the cathedral was rebuilt, merging the ruins of the old cathedral with a contemporary expression of the cathedral form in an effort to give physical presence to the ideas of hope for the future and reconciliation.   

For Coventry Cathedral:

The rock, a boulder from near Bethlehem, has a basin on top in the form of a scallop shell on the top. Ralph Beyer, a German-born letter-cutter, sculptor and teacher, designed and carved the shell. Beyer's family left Germany in 1932, but his mother, who was Jewish, returned to Germany during World War II, was incarcerated at Auschwitz and died there in 1945. Among many other commissions, Beyer carved Paul Tillich's gravestone in New Harmony, IN.

This font ties together the texts for Proper 16A/Ordinary 21A/Pentecost+11 remembering that in baptism the community remembers other stories of God's salvation expressed through water:
In the time of Noah, you destroyed evil by the waters of the flood, 
giving righteousness a new beginning.
You led Israel out of slavery, through the waters of the sea,
 into the freedom of the promised land.
Book of Common Worship, Presbyterian Church (USA)
The idea comes full circle in the Hebrew word for "ark" (תֵּבָה - tbh - tebah). This same word is used to describe the "basket" woven by Moses mother when she put him in the water to save him from Pharaoh's decree. Moses is saved when he is put in an "ark" on the waters of the Nile.


Descend Into Your Heart

You must descend from
your head into your heart.
At present your thoughts of God
are in your head. And God Himself is,
as it were, outside you, and
so your prayer and other spiritual
remain exterior. Whilst you are still
in your head,
thoughts will not easily be subdued but
will always be whirling about, like snow
in winter or
clouds of mosquitoes in summer.

-Theopan the Recluse 1815-1894
quoted from For Lovers of God Everywhere, Roger Housden 


Love You For Yourself Alone

O Lord, whatever share of this world
You could give to me,
Give it to your enemies:
Whatever share of the next world
You want to give to me-
Give it to your friends.

You are enough for me.

O God, my whole concern and desire in this world,
Is that I should always remember you
Above all the things of this world,
And that in the next
I should meet with you alone.
That is why I always pray:”Your will be done.”

O my Lord,
if I worship you
from fear of hell, burn me in hell.

If I worship you
from hope of Paradise, bar me from its gates.

But if I worship you
for yourself alone, grant me then the beauty of your Face.

-Rabi'a 717-801
quoted from The Essential Mystics, Andrew Harvey


He alone can make himself known as he really is. But we go on searching in philosophy and science, preferring, it seems, a poor copy to the original that God himself paints in the depths of our souls. 

-Brother Lawrence c.1614-1691


A Psalm of lament and praise in a time of coronavirus

How shall we praise you, Lord, our God?
When we are locked down,
how shall we praise you?
When the doors to your house are barred,
and your people cannot assemble?
When those desperately in need of money and work
cannot even wait in the market-place?
When we have to circle round people in the street,
and to queue for shops maintaining safe distance?
When we can only communicate
by hearing on the phone,
or seeing on the screen;
or digitally messaging,
or even just waving through a window?
When we cannot meet our parents and children,
grandparents and grandchildren,
or other family members and friends?
When we cannot touch them in their flesh and blood,
to know they are really alive?
How shall we praise you?
How, like Thomas, shall we not see yet believe
that your son is raised among us?
How shall we praise you?

How can I praise you, Lord?
Are you plaguing us with this virus
to punish us because we have all done wrong,
or thought wrongly,
or felt wrongly,
or just been wrong?
If so, why do only some die,
and those, apparently, the ones who are the least worst or most caring amongst us?
Or are you trying to teach us a lesson?
If so, why is it so hard to learn?
And how are we to find the answer
when we do not even know the question?
Or are you still the same loving God,
coming to us in our sufferings
and opening up the way to new life in Jesus?

Lord, I will try to praise you.
Through gritted teeth,
I will try to praise you.
I will try to remember that you have created all things,
and this virus is part of your creation.
I will try not to hate it
but seek to mitigate its harm.
I will try to keep myself and others safe.
I will work to pray for them
and seek to help in whatever way I can.

Lord, when I cannot pray or worship
help me be aware of all your people
and your saints and angels
hovering around me,
lifting me up.
When I feel alone,
let me feel you near me,
even if only for a moment that enables me to go on.
Let me hear you say
“Peace be with you”.

Lord, I will praise you.
Let all the peoples praise you.     

©Revd Kenneth Howcroft (Used with permission )[Methodist 50 days Summer Reflections]

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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