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.


How We Get to Bethlehem


Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Louisiana


Mary and Joseph got imperial notice that they had to make their way to Bethlehem. Caesar Augustus had ordered a census. The authorities were forcing everyone to return to their hometown. Magistrates would add their names to the tax roles there.

I imagine Joseph looking at Mary and saying, “How do we get to Bethlehem?” It’s not like they could jump in their car or even hitch up their wagon. In response, Mary shrugged and said, “By foot, of course!”

Walking roughly twenty miles a day, the journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem would have taken Mary and Joseph four grueling days. Over the years readers of Luke’s account of Jesus’ birth have concluded that Joseph must have brought along a donkey for the very pregnant Mary to ride. That’s not how I see it

Set aside the fact that Luke says not one word about a pack animal. Consider who Mary was and who Joseph was. When the Angel Gabriel appeared to tell her about bearing the Son of God, Mary says, “I’m all in! Give me a few details.” When she visited her cousin Elisabeth, Mary said, “This kid and I are on God’s unstoppable mission. We’re going to turn the world upside down.”

This doesn’t sound like a meek and delicate little thing that Joseph would had to pamper. It sounds more like Joy’s Pilate’s instructor who happens also to be a kick boxer. In the eighth month of her pregnancy this young woman made a video of herself hammering away at a heavy bag with chin-high kicks that would lay out an LSU linebacker.

In other words, hardened physically by manual labor and constitutionally bold and courageous, Mary was a force to be reckoned with.

Joseph, by contrast, was considerably older than his bride. A number of Renaissance paintings portray him with a gray beard and a balding head. Tradition tells us that he had older children by a previous marriage. Tragically, many women died in childbirth in that era. This or some other cause had left Joseph widowed.

This Joseph I imagine huffing and puffing along the dirt paths to Bethlehem. Mary would have been pushing ahead, remembering from time to time to pause and let Joseph catch up or stop to give him a breather. If there was a donkey, it was likely Mary who said to Joseph, “Sweetie, you’re looking beat. Why don’t you hop on Bessie for the next few miles. I’ll carry the tools so she won’t be overburdened.”

Strong and fit as I imagine her, Mary would still have struggled to waddle her way to Bethlehem. It is no small thing to walk nearly a hundred miles. Carrying a child in her womb added to the physical and the emotional strain.

She too had asked in her own heart, “How do we get to Bethlehem?” But she had meant something different when she thought of Bethlehem. Something more like you and I may mean as we celebrate the Nativity. Bethlehem stands for where God gathers things earthly and heavenly. Where the divine shines through and illuminates the holy truth imbedded deep within ordinary things.

“How do we get to Bethlehem” means “How do we fulfill our longing for God? How do we draw near to the holy? How do we get to the face, to the very heart of God?”

The Joseph I’ve imagined had heard Caesar’s decree and thought, “How do I get from here to there?” The journey was his to accomplish. It was up to him to reach the required destination. Punishment awaited those who failed to make the trip in the allotted time.

I wonder if Joseph represents how some of us think about how to approach God. We have to pray the right way, think the right way, follow the right rules to get near God. And life is short. We only have so much time to reach our destination. Or else.

A very different idea had dawned on Mary. Bethlehem—the place where heaven bends low to touch the earth—had already come to her. Heaven in its fullness was dwelling in her womb. And in Jesus, the holy has already embraced the earthly. Bethlehem is wherever we are.

That’s the message that a motley group of shepherds heard on the night that Jesus was born. Heaven has shown up right here where you are. This cold and muddy field flooded with the holy. And now, at last, you can see it.

You will find the holy in a barn, wrapped in old rags sleeping in a feed trough, the angels said. And sure enough, that’s just what they found: God bound in scraps of wool and burlap.

Many of us yearn for a breathtaking, life-changing encounter with the Holy One. Oh, sure, our busy-ness and our distraction and our soreheadedness push that yearning aside from time to time. But it is never extinguished. We want to know how to get to Bethlehem.

And we know the answer. We are already there. We need only learn to stop long enough to open our eyes and our heart:

To see a unique, irreplaceable person instead of sizing up someone as one of us or one of them, as black or white, as gay or straight or transgender, as progressive or conservative, as winner or loser.

To feel the hunger and the sorrow, the loneliness and the fear of the poor and the grieving and the marginalized and the oppressed.

Bethlehem, you see, has already come to us.



  Presiding Bishop Michael Curry
Christmas Message 2020




TODAY - December 17 @4:00

A chance encounter with a reproduction of Rembrandt’s The Return of the Prodigal Son catapulted Henri Nouwen on an unforgettable spiritual adventure. Here he shares the deeply personal and resonant meditation that led him to discover the place within where God has chosen to dwell.

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

  click here

December 22 - 7:00 pm - The Longest Night Service
​Live Streamed at 7:00 pm

Join with us in sharing and hearing prayers, scripture, and music that acknowledge that God’s presence is for those who mourn, for those who struggle  - and that God’s Word comes to shine light into our darkness.


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.

3. From our organist, Beth Kerzee: please pray for the town of Marathon.  Covid is rampaging through the town.  We lost a client yesterday, plus others are suspected of having Covid. Most all of the housekeepers at the Gage have Covid now.  Yet, the Gage remains open. Finally, a co-worker of ours may have it.  Martha and I are doing all we can to social distance, mask, hand-wash, etc.  It just was a hard, sad day at the senior citizens center in Alpine.



December 20, 2020

2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16
Luke 1:46b-55
Romans 16:25-27
Luke 1:26-38

Advent 4B: A House in Ruins
Art and Faith Matters

Jesus is born in Bethlehem because Joseph was of the house and lineage of David. Bethlehem is where King David was born and grew up, so it became known as the city of David.  The idea of "house" here has to do with family, similar to the "house" reference in Luke 1:33 (He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end). In 2 Samuel 7, though, "house" really does refer to a structure. Famously, David announced that he would build God a house. Then in a conversation reminiscent of "Who's on First?" God and David have a conversation about house (building) and house (dynasty). Ultimately, of course, it is David's son Solomon who builds God a house (building). Through Joseph, Jesus is born into a family and in a structure - both the house of David and a house in Bethlehem. But what kind of house? 

When you picture a nativity scene, how do you imagine the structure? Barnshed, lean-to, cave? It has been imagined in all those ways. Artists use the structures of their own time and place as the setting for the birth of Jesus. Which means that Martin Schongauer puts the nativity under a Gothic arch and vault (below).

Schongauer, Martin. The Nativity. c. 1470-75. Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art.
Despite the variety of architectural styles, however, the artists of many historical images paint the stable, shed, cathedral, etc., as a ruin. The ruins symbolize humanity in need of redemption. The ruin is the state of the world. This child Jesus, a new thing, comes to us in the midst of life that falls apart, that decays. We may even hear an echo of Jesus' misunderstood (at the time) comment about the temple that he would rebuild in three days (John 2:19). The ruined building may also remind us of Jesus' comment that one day not one stone would be left atop another in the temple complex. (Matthew 24:2; Mark 13:2). 

Do contemporary artists include the ruined house? Does such an inclusion make the work stronger in terms of how it shares the meaning of Christ's birth? Does the ruin detract from the action of the story. Do you have a preference as to whether Jesus is born in(to) a ruin or not? It's another detail to look for on the Christmas cards you give and receive and the art that you consider this time of year. 
Henry Ossawa Tanner, The Annunciation (1898), 
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Luke 1:46-55
From the KJV to "SHAZAM!"
There are two ancient words that are so very cool
In this outburst from Mary - in English, old school;
"He hath holpen his servant" still brings me great joy,
As I wonder at how, over cent'ries, this boy
To be born to this Mary has filled with such awe
All our lives, despite failures, and foibles, and flaws.
Into violence, and cruelty and anger he comes,
While his mother belts out how the Lord won't succumb
To the ways we devise to pretend we don't need
Any help he might give, with a pow'r that exceeds
All the lies and pronouncements that keep the low, small,
For the love of this child soon will reign over all.
Scott L. Barton


No Angel Came by Michael Coffey

Then Mary said, "Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her. - Luke 1:38
She was eight months full and plump 
wrapped in a pink faux fur jacket
sat ringless on the front stoop
reading Seventeen for survival
he was listless in bed tucked in 
by the gravity of his phobic mind
headphones buffering the noise 
of guns and street and mother
unlike timeworn stories of glowing envoys
befuddled virgins unwed
clear signals of holy plans 
and playbooks already drawn
no angel came to make good news
of your plot or mollify your pain
no messages fluttered down 
from the clouds like ticker tape
so here is your Gabriel with the word 
your hushed heart needs from beyond:
fear not, drop shame, stand tall, 
carry on, good courage, sing out
you may not be Maryesque in blue 
and embrace your story loud and strong
but something will be birthed from you 
and only you can labor it to life for this world
God has chosen you for some essential 
tinted dot in the panoramic pointillist canvas
so now let it out, your humble yowl, 
your magnifying, audacious, wanton praise

by Angela Alaimo O'Donnell

From the cave of darkness
    a baby comes to light.

In the nick of time,
    eternity tonight.

In a world of error
    a perfect child is birthed.

In the midst of terror,
    peace arrives on earth.

In the chill of winter
    dawns this blazing son.

To a world of sinners
    comes this sinless one.

In a land of chaos
    speaks this single Word

whose voice can raise the dead,
    whose promise can be heard.

Even as he cries
    sleepers stir beneath the sod

for nothing is impossible
    with God.

Answer Quickly

This is what the whole earth waits for, prostrate at your feet. It is right in doing so, for on your word depends comfort for the wretched, ransom for the captive, freedom for the condemned, indeed salvation for all the children of Adam, the whole of your race. Answer quickly, O Virgin. Reply in haste to the angel, or rather through the angel to the Lord. Answer with a word, receive the word of God. Speak your own word, conceive the divine word. Breathe a passing word, embrace the eternal word.

Bernard of Clairvaux 1090-1153

Conceive the Child

We are all meant to be mothers of God. What good is it to me if this eternal birth of the divine Son takes place unceasingly, but does not take place within myself? And, what good is it to me if Mary is full of grace if I am not also full of grace? What good is it to me for the Creator to give birth to his Son if I do not also give birth to him in my time and my culture? This, then, is the fullness of time: When the Son of Man is begotten in us.

-Meister Eckhart  1260-1328

Since Adam, being free to choose,
Chose to imagine he was free
To choose his own necessity,
Lost in his freedom, Man pursues
The shadow of his images:
Today the Unknown seeks the known;
What I am willed to ask, your own
Will has to answer; child, it lies
Within your power of choosing to
Conceive the Child who chooses you.

-W.H.Auden 1907-1973

You, Yourself

Oh, then, soul, most beautiful among all creatures, so anxious to know the dwelling place of your Beloved so you may go in search of him and be united with him, now we are telling you that you yourself are his dwelling and his secret inner room and hiding place. There is reason for you to be elated and joyful in seeing that all your good and hope is so close as to be within you or better, that you cannot be without him. "Behold," exclaims the Bridegroom "the kingdom of God is within you" [Lk 17:21]. And his servant, the apostle St. Paul declares: "You are the temple of God" [2 Cor. 6:16]

-John of the Cross 1542-158
The Spiritual Canticle

How can I explain the riches and treasures and delights found when the soul is united to God in prayer? Since in some way we can enjoy heaven on earth, be brave in begging the Lord to give us his grace in that he show us the way and strengthen the soul that it may dig until it finds this hidden treasure. The truth is that the treasure lies within our very selves.

-Teresa of Avila 1515-1582
The Interior Castle




Thankfulness and Celebration
and News 

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.







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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