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.


The morning, Susan the dogs and I were on our daily walk. As we walked we heard a meditation on the surprise catch of fish Peter hauled in thanks to Jesus pointing to where to drop his nets.

This then led to a discussion about the many surprises which have happened to us since we came to St. Paul's and Far West Texas. I am sure you have your own list of surprises which have happened at St. Paul's since we arrived.

It started me remembering what Henri Nouwen once said about surprises…"Each day holds a surprise. But only if we expect it can we see, hear, or feel it when it comes to us. Let's not be afraid to receive each day's surprise, whether it comes to us as sorrow or as joy. It will open a new place in our hearts, a place where we can welcome new friends and celebrate more fully our shared humanity."

I also was reminded about a Sufi story which has helped me in my preaching and has to do with allowing yourself to be suprised.
One Friday, Hodja stood up in the pulpit in the mosque to preach a sermon. 

"O ye believers, do you know what I am going to talk about today?" 

"We have no idea," they answered him. 

"Well, if you have no idea at all, then what's the use of my talking to you?" 

With that remark he descended from the pulpit and went home. 

The next Friday he returned to the mosque and once again stood up in the pulpit and asked the congregation, "O ye true believers, do you know what I am going to talk about today?" 

"Yes," they answered. 

"Well, if you already know, then what's the use of my telling you?" And he again descended from the pulpit and went home. 

Again the following Friday, he entered the mosque, mounted the pulpit, and asked the same question: "O ye true believers, do you know what I am going to talk to you about today?" 

The congregation had prepared their answer in advance: "Some of us do, and some of us don't." 

"In that case," Hodja said, "let those who know tell those who don't." And he went home again. 


The greatest surprise is that there is anything at all —that we are here. And because we are here, there is no surprise more magical than the surprise of being loved.

Keep your eyes open, your nets ready, and expect to catch a surprise each day.

Shalom, Y'all,


P.S. BILL SMITH: People have been asking about Bill Smith and how to get in touch with him in order to send him cards and prayers and support. Bill very much looks forward to mail and would greatly enjoy anything you might wish to send his way. He has been transferred to the Life Care Center which is close to the hospital. Bill's mailing address is: 

Life Care Hospital
Room 112
8902 Floyd Curl Dr.
San Antonio, Tx. 78240

Gift Giving Opportunities for St. Paul's
Cleaning once a month - $90.00 per time

One other inquiry --

Over the next month, we will be receiving clothes and donations for people along the border. If you would like to help deliver them, please let me know. Thank you.


Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost - Proper 18
September 8,2019

Jeremiah 18:1-11
Psalm 139: 1-6, 13-18
Philemon 1:1-21
Luke 14:25-33


Jeremiah 18.1-11: The Potter

Jeremiah's visit to the potter's house is a favorite scripture passage of artists, and not just clay artists. This is one of the few times when the visual arts play a major role in a scripture passage. This story, recorded in Jeremiah 18:1-11, is the reading from Hebrew scripture on Proper 18C/Ordinary 23C. The point of the visit is to give a (literally) hands on demonstration of how the nation of Israel - the clay - is in the hand of and ultimately at the mercy of the potter (God). 

Jeremiah's point is broad and talks generically about the relationship between potter and clay, artist and material. In the text there seem to be two extremes: a perfect pot or one that was ruined, destroyed and remade. The potter makes the decision about the acceptability of the pot's form, and the potter decides when the pot is no longer acceptable and must be destroyed.

It matters who the potter is.

Left: George E. Ohr. Vase. c. 1900. NY: Cooper-Hewitt Museum.
Right: George E. Ohr. Vase. Late 1890s - Early 1900s. Biloxi, MS: Ohr-O'Keeffe Museum.
Though Jeremiah's potter demands perfection, I don't know that perfection is required by our God. I would suggest that Jeremiah's God...our God...may share an aesthetic point of view with George Ohr...though the moustache style probably isn't shared. Ohr was a native and resident of Biloxi, Mississippi, and when he stopped making pottery at the age of 52, in 1909, he claimed he had not sold a pot in 25 years.

George E. Ohr. Pitcher. 1893-1906. NY: Cooper-Hewitt Museum.
Ohr's personality set him apart from the general population, and his art set him apart from the art world. His critics said that his work lacked proportion, grace and dignity. He threw pots and vessels with wafer-thin clay walls that he then twisted, pushed, pulled, pinched and crumpled. The crumpling was not in preparation for re-forming the clay into a "perfect" pot, it was to create a unique form. "No two forms alike," the potter bragged. He also claimed that he brooded over each pot "with the same tenderness a mortal child awakens in its parents."

Many consider Ohr to be America's first art potter. Perhaps it was because of his skill at the wheel in throwing such delicate vessels. Perhaps it was due to his skill at manipulating such thin clay. Maybe it was his unique forms and glazes. Some claim that it is the clay Ohr used, much of which he dug himself from the banks of the Tchoutacabouffa River, that enabled him to create his unique pieces. Whatever it was, Ohr saw beauty in the crumpled, the folded, the imperfect. In his eyes those forms became "art" where others saw only oddness and irregularity and difference. That sounds like grace to me.

The clay matters. The potter matters. Because the potter determines what forms are acceptable and what forms will be reshaped. Do you know your potter?

Luke 14.25-33: Part and Parthenon

Oops. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? (Luke 14:28) Oh, I'm sure we'll get enough money to complete it. We should go on and start...the remaining funds will surely come in.

That's probably close to the conversation that happened in Edinburgh in the early 1820s. In 1822 a group of Edinburgh citizens determined to build a monument to honor the Scots killed during the Napoleonic Wars. They chose to construct an exact copy of the Parthenon. Their monument would stand on the "acroplis" of Edinburgh as the Parthenon stands on Athens' Acropolis.

The estimated cost was £42,000. When construction began £24,000 had been raised. Surely the rest of it would come in. The plan for for each stone to be an exact match to the paired stone from the ancient building. Measurements were exactly the same for every stone. A foundation was built, and twelve columns were stacked.

National Monument of Scotland. Begun 1822. Edinburgh, Scotland.
But the money never came in. Construction was halted in just a couple of years. The monument remains unfinished. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, saying, 'This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.' (Luke 14:28-30)

These projects should make us think, though, about the cost of following Jesus. Have you "counted all the funds needed" for your discipleship? Are you willing to toss your life, your livelihood, your family into the pot? Maybe just your livelihood. Maybe just your family. Maybe you've only got enough for a foundation or twelve columns. If you haven't acquired all the "capital" needed for discipleship, you can't be a disciple, Jesus says. Part of the Parthenon won't do.


5th - 6:30 - Book Study in the Casita
5th - Thursday - Gregorio Aglipay, Priest and Founder of the Philippine
Independent Church, 1940

7th - Saturday - Elie Naud, Huguenot Witness to the Faith, 1722
8th Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost - Proper 18
9:15 - Bible Study
10:30 - Holy Eucharist
11:30 - Bishop's Committee
8th - Sunday -  Nikolai Grundtvig, Bishop and Hymnwriter, 1872
Søren Kierkegaard, Teacher and Philosopher, 1855
9th - Monday - Constance, Nun, and Her Companions, 1878

10th-12th - Clergy Conference
Mesilla Park, New Mexico

10th - Tuesday - Alexander Crummell, 1898
11th - Wednesday -  Harry Thacker Burleigh, Composer, 1949

12th - 6:30 - Book Study in the Casita
12th - Thursday -  John Henry Hobart, Bishop of New York, 1830
13th - Friday - John Chrysostom, Bishop of Constantinople, 407
14th - Saturday - Holy Cross Day

15th Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost - Proper 19
9:15 - Bible Study
10:30 - Holy Eucharist
15th - Sunday -  Cyprian, Bishop and Martyr of Carthage, 258 & James Chisholm, Priest, 1855

16th - 11:30 - Men's Hamburger Prayer Lunch
Mando's in Marfa
16th - Monday - Ninian, Bishop in Galloway, c. 430
17th - Tuesday - Hildegard, 1179

18th -6:30 - Taize Worship
St. Paul's, Marfa
18th - Wednesday -  Edward Bouverie Pusey, Priest, 1882

19th - 6:30 - Book Study in the Casita
19th - Thursday - Theodore of Tarsus, Archbishop of Canterbury, 690
20th - Friday - John Coleridge Patteson, Bishop of Melanesia,
and his Companions, Martyrs, 1871

22nd Fifthteenth Sunday after Pentecost - Proper 20
9:15 - Bible Study
10:30 - Holy Eucharist
22nd -Sunday - Philander Chase, Bishop of Ohio, and of Illinois, 1852

24th - 10:30 - Marfa Ministerial Alliance
New Beginnings Church
25th - Wednesday - Theodore of Tarsus, Archbishop of Canterbury, 690

26th - 6:30 - Book Study in the Casita
26th - Thursday - Lancelot Andrewes, Bishop of Winchester, 1626
Wilson Carlile, Priest, 1942
27th - Friday - Vincent de Paul, Religious, and Prophetic Witness, 1660                                                     Thomas Traherne, Priest, 1674

28th - 9:30 - Order of St. Luke
Big Bend Regional Hospital, Alpine
28th - Saturday - Richard Rolle, 1349, Walter Hilton, 1396,
and Margery Kempe, c. 1440, Mystics

29th Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost - Proper 21
9:15 - Bible Study
10:30 - Marfa Ministerial Alliance 5th Sunday Worship
Led by New Beginnings Church at St. Paul's

Here is who we prayed for in church
last Sunday.

Any changes, please let us know.

  12th Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 17, Cycle C (September 1, 2019)

As God’s chosen, invited to the wedding banquet, let us offer our prayers for all who are in need as I pray…We offer to you, O God, a sacrifice of praise and you respond with…we offer the fruit of our lips….

Fill your Church with humble trust and steadfast faith. Give it pastors, bishops, theologians and lay leaders who speak your truth in love. By your Holy Spirit, inspire compassionate deeds and holy lives among all who name Jesus Christ as Lord…and especially this congregation as we live out our mission to be a welcoming, prayerful, caring community actively sharing the love of God…. We offer to you, O God, a sacrifice of praise…we offer the fruit of our lips….

Gracious God, You actually believe that, through the transforming power of your Holy Spirit, we can repent and joyfully show our gratitude to you by lives of gentleness and mercy toward one another. I ask your prayers for what you are thankful for either silently or out loud We offer to you, O God, a sacrifice of praise…we offer the fruit of our lips….

O God, you exalt the humble and humble the exalted. We pray that the leaders of the nations will serve their people in humility and manage their affairs with justice. May the poor and lowly, especially those refugees seeking asylum be treated with respect and mercyO God, We offer to you, O God, a sacrifice of praise…we offer the fruit of our lips…

You have created a beautiful planet, full of wondrous creatures and magnificent works. Open our eyes to see your hand at work in the world about us… We offer to you, O God, a sacrifice of praise…we offer the fruit of our lips

We pray for all laborers: for those who work, that they might be fulfilled; for those in need of work, that they might find meaningful employment; for those who are struggling to make ends meet, that they might receive a fair and livable wage for their labors. In labor and in rest, be glorified by all we do…We offer to you, O God, a sacrifice of praise…we offer the fruit of our lips…

Those who struggle with pain, sorrow, and adversity need the strength and healing that only you can give. We pray on their behalf, especially for: those shot and people living in fear after the shooting in Odessa and others we wish to name at this time …(Pause 15 seconds).… Quiet their fears; heal their bodies, minds and hearts; and renew their hope. Bless all who care for them, especially those who need refreshment, respite, and resources to continue their ministry of loving service…We offer to you, O God, a sacrifice of praise…we offer the fruit of our lips

O God, you invite those who have died to feast at your heavenly banquet. Naming those we wish to remember at this time either silently or out loud…. those people murdered in yesterdays shooting and any others we remember this day….(Pause 15 seconds)…We take great hope in the promise that not even death will cause you to leave us or forsake us… We offer to you, O God, a sacrifice of praise…we offer the fruit of our lips

Celebrant: Lord our trust is in you alone.Lord our trust is in you alone. In a world with much despair and trouble, where people are famished for hope we turn to you. Make us strong to comfort those who are in despair. Give us hope to encourage and strengthen those in trouble. Send your unfailing love to surround those who are in harms way. Comfort the comforters, Mourn with the mourners, Protect the innocent, Draw us all into the shelter of your wings. Amen.

Prayers are asked for…..The Church

Justin, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael, our Presiding Bishop, Michael, our Bishop and Michael, our Vicar….In the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we remember to pray for Province of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan. In our Diocesan cycle of prayer, we pray for Diocesan Center Staff: the Rev. Canon Lee Curtis (CATO),the Rev. Canon Carole McGowan, the Ven. Patricia Soukup, Mary Jewell, Lisa Katz-Ricker, Toye Robertson, Annette Chavez y Delacruz, Church Administrators and Lay Assistants  …We Also pray for St. James, Alpine, St. Stephens, Ft. Stockton, Santa Inez, Terlingua, Chapel of St. Mary & St. Joseph, Lajitas, and the Marfa and Alpine Ministerial Alliances…. For Connor Travis and the ministry of Young Life

For Our Leaders

For Donald, our president, Greg our Governor, Manny our mayor-elect and the mayors and city managers of our surrounding communities…. our elected officials in Washington and all who exercise authority at any level of government. For all who struggle to make a more just society

For the World

…for peace….For refugees and displaced persons, that God will guide to safety all who have fled violence and persecution, and help them find welcome in new communities…, for all who live and work in places of war and violence, For women and men and children who have been victims of sexual assault and sexual exploitation… for those whose lives have been turned upside down by various disasters:…,for all those in the military, especially those who come home broken in body, mind, and spirit …may the hearts of those reporting the news be drawn to what is true and right telling the truth in the most helpful way,…..for the G7 conference…

For St. Paul’s and Prayer Wall

Living out our mission to be a welcoming, prayerful, caring community actively sharing the love of God….On our wallTo day I Pray: People of Odessa-Midland…People get along…Sobriety for my sister…God bring world peace…Someone to have a nice day…Today I Hope: …Today will be fun…nephew finds peace…remain friends with Joe, Larie and Gid forever…Ashley will be my friend…for just one day of peace in the world…Today I Thank: God for Lonn Taylor…spending time with friends…Rudy’s recovery…family together…God to be good to me…For the people of St. Paul’s…

St. Paul’s Prayer List

Bill & Gail, Patty, Holly,  D'Ette, Merit and the Fowlkes family, James, Shere, Kevin and Jay, Lesly, Lila, Linda King, Melodie, Mimi, Pat & Mary, the Vana Family… FOR Jeanie Olivas, Vijaya, Frank, Larry, Jack Risen, Kathryn Anschutz, Sue Ellen, Kelly, Brian Hutchins who have cancer… FOR David in the midst of chemotherapy, …for Michael Simpson, Lee Ann, FOR Helen Bates, Gene, and Rucker who are in Hospice care….. for James and Brian Neal, Jacob, Linda & David, for Jenny, Megan and Elizabeth, for David who has MSA, Frank, Pat Sims (Stroke)…for Ralph…Rudy receiving PT…, Bill Smith recovering from surgery….Kathleen….for Shannon who is having a difficult pregnancy….for people living in fear and recovering from the shooting in Odessa-Midland…

Those who have died

Zachary Dodson, Dale Sherman, people murdered in Odessa


World News This Week in Prayer
Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. – 1 Peter 4:8

God of love, you created the world and everything in it. You created the beautiful rain forests, the colorful sunsets, the innumerable animals and leaving creatures, human beings, and most of all you created the love which flows through all of it. We see your hand in every living thing and we mourn as we see your creation lose life in all of its forms. Help us to be comforted by your incredible love and may it wash over every hurting being in this world.

May your love flow through, Oh Lord

Lord, we ask that you be with your creation in the many places which are being destroyed. We pray for the Amazon rain forest as it burns away causing Brazil to be forever marked by destruction. We pray for all places where fire continually consumes your creation in Siberia, Indonesia, Greece, the United States, Russia, South Africa and so many other places in your world. We ask for your presence to be with your incredible trees, plants, and animals which are dying and in need of your healing. We ask that you be with all of those in the Caribbean and United States who are affected by hurricane Dorian. As your creation fears for the loss of life and homes we ask that you breathe life as well as hope back into your creation.

May your breath flow through, Oh Lord.

God of our hearts, may you release the anxieties which fill our world. Be with the people in Hong Kong as more troops are sent into the streets where your children work, play, and are trying to live. We pray for your people in the Jammu and Kashmir region of India as they contend with detention and as many suffer severe injuries. We ask that your love be spread also to the people at the border in the United States as your dear people suffer and many die as they are turned away. Lord, we ask that your love be spread throughout all regions where your dear people only long for safety and love in a world which is filled with conflict.

May your protection be a shield, Oh Lord.

God of us all, may you open our hearts to be filled with more love than divisiveness. May your love spread out as a calm breath, a protective shield, and a flowing stream. May you teach us all that while we may never know the right thing to do, we always know it is better to share your love rather than spread hate and violence in your creation. As you soothe all of your children’s hearts, may you continually teach us that above all else we shall only spread love which is a comfort to all things in all time. Amen+


Climate Change

O God, Creator of all thats is -
of seas and clouds, rains and rivers,
grass and trees, insects and fish,
humans, animals, birds and reptiles,
of all life connected, sharing this one earth -
we are aware that our way of living
is profoundly affecting the earth's climate,
that many people are in danger of flood and drought,
that some are greatly impoverished,
and the whole fabric of life is in danger.

to those who make international policies,
give wisdom and courage;
to those who direct industry and commerce,
give a concern for the common good;
to those who struggle for justice,
give strength and hope;
and to us all
give the grace and strength to change our ways
for the good of all that lives
and for your glory.

Congratulations to Allison for passing her Superintendents Test!
From Marfa Live Arts:

A card from Bill and Gail Smith:



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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