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.



With the church retreat fast approaching (April 17th), I thought this article was timely for us. We will be focusing on being the church post-pandemic. Some things to ponder. Remember to save the date for our retreat on April 17th - 9-4 with lunch provided (in-person and virtual).


Six predictions for the post-pandemic church
It won’t look the same, but there’s potential for renewal.
by Peter W. Marty
March 10, 2021

As COVID infection rates decline and vaccination rates increase, we can envision the pandemic eventually coming to an end. Given that growing hope, it’s a good time to look at what the post-pandemic church might resemble. Here are some predictions.

First, the social and spiritual capital connected with congregational life will be increasingly valuable in a post-pandemic culture. A church’s ministry will need to be spirited and compelling, of course, especially if it’s to compete with the convenience of worship at home in pajamas. But as social gathering places (at least ones where people can meet without paying) get put on the endangered species list and remote work opportunities cocoon more and more people, as anchoring institutions of society move their activities online and plenty of us shift our purchasing, learning, and even medical care to the internet, the gathered church becomes an ever more precious entity.

Thirst will increase for authentic community where moral formation and relationships of meaning can prosper. In social isolation, we have learned the truth of Frederick Buechner’s words: “You can survive on your own; you can grow strong on your own; you can prevail on your own; but you cannot become human on your own.” Congregations will play a heightened role in providing thick human community.

Second, worship during the pandemic has taught us that churches can be liberated from a fixation on counting. Church leaders have worked feverishly over the last year to try to calculate their church rolls and virtual attendance figures. But faith at its center is a transcendent mystery that refuses to be measured. Numbers depersonalize. If denominations and congregations can catch the spirit, there’s refreshing new freedom to be found in leaving religious bean counting behind.

Third, the ability to conduct worthwhile ministry online throughout the pandemic has upended some of our obsessiveness over our church buildings. We’ve learned to live rich lives of faith independent of them. By the same token, we’ve also seen scores of people moved to tears just reentering sacred spaces that have shaped their spiritual and emotional being. Our extended experience with virtual church may allow us to appreciate our buildings as hubs for mission without idolizing them—a healthy reset.

Fourth, there is some outsize work ahead for pastoring in an age of conspiracy and disinformation. We’re seeing “a kind of moral freak show unfolding,” says Peter Wehner, as lies penetrate our national psyche and a common sense of reality fades beneath the blurring of fact with fiction. But at least we know what we’re up against. Churches can be committed to speaking the truth, displaying constancy, addressing paranoia, de­nouncing cults, and elevating the gospel above every nefarious claim that demonizes others or sows chaos.

Fifth, many churches have expanded their virtual reach in innovative ways and enlarged their social media presence. This is exciting. But we shouldn’t forget that the church stands or falls with the doctrine of the incarnation. “Jesus drew near to them,” scripture reports. Intimacy, proximity, and personal presence will carry more genuine authority in a post-pandemic church than touting a large platform.

Finally, the long pandemic gap should have congregations eager to address racial inequity, unconscious bias, and the everyday experiences of Black Americans. The creative joy of face-to-face conversation will be to get as many people around the table as possible thinking spiritually, confessionally, and enthusiastically about what the prophets and Jesus offer us in this journey of humility and reckoning.

Stay safe and well.....Shalom,


Holy Week Schedule

March 28 -
The Sunday of the Passion - Palm Sunday
​Live Streamed at 10:30 am


29th - Monday
​Live Streamed at 6:00 PM

March 29

​Live Streamed at 6:00 PM

31st - Wednesday
​Live Streamed at 6:00 PM

April 1st - Thursday
Maundy Thursday
​Live Streamed at 6:00 PM

April 2nd - Friday
Good Friday
​Live Streamed at NOON

April 3rd - Saturday
Holy Saturday
​Live Streamed at 6:00 PM

April 4 - Easter Sunday
Outdoors-in person and live streamed
Baptisms & Holy Eucharist



Palm Sunday is the first day of Holy Week (the final week of Lent) and honors Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem as depicted in the Gospels. As Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem, crowds gathered in the streets laying coats in his path, thus treating Jesus like royalty. They also laid palm branches, an ancient symbol of victory and peace, in the road. They shouted "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" "Hosanna" is an expression of praise and joy. Palm Sunday is often celebrated by Christians today with processions in churches and in streets which include the waving of palms, singing, and shouts of "Hosanna!" Though it is the beginning of a somber week, Palm Sunday is a day of celebration. 


Matthew 21:1-11: When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, ‘Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, just say this, “The Lord needs them.” And he will send them immediately.’ This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying, 'Tell the daughter of Zion, Look, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’ The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!’ When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, ‘Who is this?’ The crowds were saying, ‘This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.’


Though Palm Sunday is the day before things take a turn and Jesus is arrested and killed, it is a day of rejoicing. Despite all that is to come, Palm Sunday is a day to welcome Jesus with joyful shouts; a reminder that we are grounded in hope and promise, no matter the trials we face. 

To create a personal prayer palm, lay your hand flat on a piece of paper, and trace around it with a pencil or pen. Write or draw a prayer or word of praise in each traced finger. Repeat as inspired. Then cut out your palm tracings, and decorate your space with them, or mail them to friends, family, and faith community members. Revisit them to pray and remember that though hard things happen, through Jesus’ sacred story we are reminded that God is with us and all things will be made new. 

If you have received Palm Sunday palms from your church, consider walking around your neighborhood, yard, or home and waving them. If you do not have palms, consider using branches or foliage from your home, or the traced palms you created. As you process, you might shout "Hosanna!", or sing a Palm Sunday hymn. Imagine the sights, sounds, smells, and noises of Jesus’ procession into Jerusalem. 


Almighty God, on this day Jesus entered the holy city of Jerusalem in triumph, and was proclaimed as King of kings by those who spread their garments and branches of palm along his way. May the branches we wave today be for us signs of his victory, and may we who bear them in his name may ever hail him as our King, and follow him in the way that leads to eternal life; who lives and reigns in glory with you and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen. 

The Book of Common Prayer, Church Publishing, 1979, p. 271, adapted. 




Created by The Rev. Jennifer McNally, priest at Saint Anne's Episcopal Church and convener of dinner church Table 229, St. Paul, Minnesota, and The Rev. Anna V. Ostenso Moore, Associate for Family Ministry at St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral, Minneapolis, and author of the picture books "Today Is a Baptism Day" and "We Gather at This Table." Please share freely!


Book Study
Today @ 4:00





In order to spread awareness and build our network of supporters, Rio Grande Borderland Ministries is hosting an online community art fundraiser titled Canvas of Hope. The event will feature artists passionate about migration, including musical performances, poetry readings, artists talks, and more. 

Please join us for Canvas of Hope on Saturday, May 1, from 1:00 PM MDT to 2:30 PM MDT. Registration required. Questions? Reach out to Nellie Fagan, RGBM Project Coordinator, at

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. Pray for our country.

4. Unaccompanied Children at our borders.



Palm Sunday/Passion Sunday
March 28, 2021

Liturgy of the Palms
Mark 11:1-11
Psalm 118:1-2,19-29

Liturgy of the Passion
Isaiah 50:4-9
Psalm 31:9-16

Philipians 2:5-11
Mark 14:1-15:47



Lift up your heads, O gates!
and be lifted up, O ancient doors!
that the King of glory may come in.
                          -Psalm 24:7


A Prayer for the beginning of Holy Week

Assist us mercifully with your help,
O Lord God of our salvation,
that we may enter with joy
upon the contemplation
of those mighty acts,
whereby you have given us
life and immortality;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

Be watchful, brethren, lest the mysteries of this season pass you by without your gaining from them their due fruit. Abundant is the blessing; you must bring clean vessels to receive it, and offer loving souls and watchful senses, sober affections and pure consciences for such great gifts of grace. … All Christians practise more than usual devotion in these seven days and try to be more humble and more serious than is their wont, so that in some sort they may share Christ's sufferings. And rightly so. For the Passion of the Lord is here in truth, shaking the earth, rending the rocks and opening the tombs; and His Resurrection also is at hand. …

Bernard of Clairvaux 1090-1153
On Keeping Holy Week
De Passione Domini

Steve Garnass - Holmes

A procession through the streets.
Crowd riled up,
peasants crying out.
Lots of symbolism:
royal power, humility.
Chatter among the onlookers.
Who is this? What is his story?
Murmuring of a king.
The One Who Is There.
Momentous, yet promising
more to come.
A current of fear and wonder,
a current of shifting loyalties,
a river changing course.
Shouting. Passion.
An energy moves through the crowd,
a wave, a disturbance,
like ocean waves,
crashing in, washing out.
The feeling of being caught up, carried,
We wield our palm branches,
our crowns of thorns,
shout out with the crowd,
The waves move through us,
the river, sparkling, flows.


Palm/Passion Sunday: Triumphal?
Art and Faith Matters

Plenty of artists have painted the events of what Christians call Palm Sunday (or Passion Sunday). There is usually some kind of urban architectural background. There are throngs of people. There is a donkey. The atmosphere is festive, the air filled with excitement.

Belgian artist James Ensor painted all those things: a city, a crowd, Jesus riding a donkey. But this isn't exactly what you might be used to seeing. Perhaps the skeleton wearing the top hat is different. Perhaps it's the clowns wearing masks. Maybe the oddest thing is the "Viva La Sociale" banner stretched across the roadway. Maybe it's that Jesus is barely distinguishable among the crowd.

Painting in the collection of the Getty Museum:
The painting is titled Christ's Entry into Brussels in 1889. James Ensor painted the wall-sized work (slightly larger than 8' x 14') in 1888. In this work, Christ appears to be in the middle of a carnival parade. Characters abound, activity is everywhere, color riots. And no one appears to be giving Jesus any consideration.
Ensor probably saw himself a little bit like Jesus in this picture - alone in the middle of a crowd. Ensor was a founding member of Les XX (Les Vingt), but this painting was deemed too radical when Ensor submitted it to an exhibition. His style - quite modern in thought - was wildly different from the softer landscapes of the French Impressionists that had been occupying the leading edge of avant-garde art. His colors are much sharper than most of the Impressionists, and where they (and even Seurat and the Neo-Impressionists) used dots and dabs of color, Ensor appears to have broadly slathered on the paint with a palette knife. Undeterred by the lack of acceptance by the wider art community, Ensor was committed to the painting, displaying it prominently in his residence.

How might our observance of Palm Sunday/Passion Sunday be different this year, if we take our lead from this painting? What might we watch for? What might we do differently? What might we work to avoid?

The Donkey
Art and Faith Matters

We have seen a donkey before in the story of Jesus. Long before we get to Palm/Passion Sunday (Luke 19:28-40 or John 12:12-16), the donkey has played a vital role in the life of Jesus. In the Christmas song/poem "The Friendly Beasts", we read this stanza:
"I," said the donkey, shaggy and brown,/"I carried His mother up hill and down;
I carried her safely to Bethlehem town."/ "I," said the donkey, shaggy and brown.

And here we are again. Another donkey. This time bearing Jesus through Jerusalem. Cheering crowds line the street. Cloaks are spread and branches waved. And the "vehicle" that made it possible was the donkey who carried Jesus in fulfillment of scripture. Was it a party atmosphere? Was it a solemn occasion? Two very different pieces of art paint two very different events...and two very different donkeys.

Hippolyte Flandrin's nineteenth-century painting of the subject shows a very balanced, almost rigid event. Strong horizontals (the road, the top of the crowd of heads, the city architecture) are perpendicularly counterpointed by strong verticals (Jesus' body, the crowd of people mostly standing upright, the palm branches, the vertical lines of the city wall). There is balance and measure. It is hard to imagine this crowd shouting anything as they stand so politely, watching Jesus ride by.

The donkey echoes that balance with strong vertical lines (legs) and strong horizontal lines (back). Accompanied by the colt, the donkey walks in measured step. The pace is surely slow. Jesus stares directly ahead, focused on the future. Surely his mind is filled with understanding of what he is riding toward.

Jean-Hippolyte Flandrin. Christ's Entry into Jerusalem.c. 1842.  Fresco. Paris: Church of St. Germain des Pres.
Information on St. Germain des Pres at:
Which is why the manuscript illumination below offers such a contrast. Where Flandrin's understanding of Christ's entry into Jerusalem is one of balance and measure, the illustrator of the Armenian gospel book uses curves and contrast. The colors of the illustration are vivid and saturated. The vertical lines of architecture are minimized, and the vegetation is made of wavy, curvy lines in the leaves and branches and trunks. Even the ferns growing at the base of the center tree have curved ribs and fronds. Garment fabric collects in curves and falls in folds. One young parade-goer is spreading his garment in the street...and it isn't an outer garment. It's the whole outfit! People are waving, and hands are clapping. Complementary colors (red and green, especially) add visual life to the scene. Very unlike Flandrin's version.
Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, miniature from Armenian gospel, folio 7 verso. Armenian Museum, Isfahan, Iran.

But it may be the donkey that is the most different in the two versions. In the manuscript illumination, Jesus - riding sidesaddle - is on a bucking bronco of a donkey. All four of the donkey's feet have left the ground. The placement of the tree and the donkey with all four feet off the ground might even bring to mind a carousel horse (thanks to my friend Amy for that insight...and check the Art&Faith Matters FB page later in the week for more information on that).

The top line of the donkey's form creates a C-curve. The front two legs are also C-curves while the back legs are double-curved. The idea of the Messiah entering Jerusalem riding a donkey may have been foretold in scripture, but it appears that no one asked this particular donkey! Jesus, of course, is up to the challenge. He gives an almost "Look, Ma, no hands!" gesture (not that there are any reins in sight, to be honest). And how would you describe the expression on Jesus' face? It is a completely different picture of the events of the day.

Perhaps you've never considered that Jesus had this kind of ride through Jerusalem. I hadn't before seeing this picture. I had always imagined that the animal carrying Jesus did so with the decorum appropriate to his rider. But maybe not. Perhaps the bucking donkey with a mind of its own helped Jesus remember the stubborn, willful people for whom he came to earth in the first place. 

Carried and Waved
Art and Faith Matters

The re-enactment of Christ's entry into Jerusalem is an annual event around the world. With palm branches (or some kind of branches) in evidence, Christ's church remembers that Jesus came riding into the city on a donkey and a colt, according to the Gospel reading for Palm/Passion Sunday in lectionary year A (Matthew 21:1-11). Matthew's gospel gives us the donkey and the colt, branches being spread on the road (but not waved) and cries of Hosanna!

It is customary that the palms from one year are kept until the following year when the year-old bone-dry palms are burned to create the ashes imposed on the faithful on Ash Wednesday. The palm branches become the symbol of dust from which we came and to which we will return. The practice reminds us that the people's cries of Hosanna! on Sunday will turn to shouts of Crucify him! on Friday. Inconstancy is an eternally human characteristic.

It is this journey from palm to ash as a reminder of sin that makes the photo below especially interesting. The photo was taken as part of an assignment to document Palm Sunday celebrations around the world. These three women sit at a bus stop in Warsaw, Poland, with palm branches taller than they are. Perhaps the photographer was intrigued with the scale of woman to branch or the contrast of the red scarf with the green branch. Maybe it was the sheer ordinariness of the women's postures. The photo would be perfectly ordinary if the palms were edited out of the picture. The women seem almost unaware that they are holding something the height of a small tree.

Alik Keplicz/AP. Women with palm leaves wait at a bus stop after a Palm Sunday procession in Warsaw, Poland, on March 20, 2016.

Do you think the women are on their way to the procession or on their way home? It doesn't matter, of course, but to see them carrying giant palm fronds in such an ordinary setting might kindle some questions. If we consider the palms as symbols of the human inconstancy (frailty? finitude?) that becomes the sin of demanding the death of an innocent man, then these women give us opportunities to consider: the original branch-bearers carried their inconstancy with them to the Jesus parade and on that day they also carried their inconstancy back home.

On this Sunday of palms and parades, may we remember all the ways that we, too, carefully bring our own frailty, finitude and inconstancy to the places we see Jesus. How often is our inconstancy exhibited in how we live our lives, even in times when we shout "Save us!" And Jesus rides on.

"Enough ... For Today"
Anna Murdock

The child who had
picked up
a broken and bent
and trampled-upon
palm branch
found a place to stand
at the edge of the dirt road.
The crowds grew.
Loud “Hosannas”,
growing hopes,
and whispers of great discontent
surrounded the child.
He knew not what to shout …
his palm branch 
was a sad sight to behold.
He was pushed around
as if invisible 
(but that was nothing new to him).

The child’s heart raced
as the man came near,
riding on a lumbering donkey.
The “Hosannas” grew louder.
The child’s words
were only whispers.
“LORD, please look my way.
Please wave at me.
Please let me know
that I am not as
invisible as others
make me to be.”

From the One
who was riding on a donkey
into Jerusalem,
there was eye contact …
there was a smile…
and there were words
from his soon-to-be-parched lips.

And that was enough. 
Enough .... for today.

Thankfulness and Celebration and News  

Thank you to John Bane who keeps making sure our technology needs are met.
Thank you to Joni who is leading our Stewardship program during Lent.

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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