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.



Good day everyone. This is what I woke up to this morning....

So it looks like I will have plenty of time to contemplate this past year and look into the New Year......

When I think about the past year - the devastation of the coronavirus pandemic around the world, the political and social upheaval, the mental health crisis, the urgent environmental challenges, the difficulties along the border, and so on gratitude might not be my instinctive is where I choose to begin.

Replay the last 12 months and recall some specific events. What were the highlights and encouragements? What did I achieve? When did I experience joy and wonder? Who were the people who e encouraged me? Who was there when I needed help? Whose words or actions inspired me to become a better person? I share these in a prayer of gratitude with God. As I prepare to leave 2020, what do I want to take with me? What good tings have I gained? What have I learned? What holy habits have I begun to develop this year that I want to take into the coming year?

Lament and Repent
Replay the last 12 months and recall some specific events. How has the pandemic and political and social upheaval around the world affected me? What have I found particularly difficult, or even painful this year? I share my laments with God. Where did I get things wrong this year? In what ways have I sinned and fallen short of God's best for me? I talk with God about this as I repent and ask for forgiveness.

Reboot and Resolve
How do I feel about 2021? What am I looking forward to? What am I hoping for? Am I anxious about anything? Talk with God about your answers. Lord, what are You asking of me this year? How do you want me to be different?

Since we are not going anywhere this day, I extend this column and share with you a beautiful piece written by Lynne Babb in going forward into the new year. I have only changed the year.

Two postures for entering into the New Year

What do I need to remember as I enter 2021? What do I need to embrace for a fresh start in a new year? Here are two foundational ideas or postures that I’m hoping will shape 2021 for me. “Posture” implies a way of standing, and I hope I can stand firm in these two truths.

  1. I am beloved. Henri Nouwen talks about being beloved more vividly than anyone else I’ve read. In his wonderful book, The Life of the Beloved, he writes:

Becoming the Beloved means letting the truth of our Belovedness become enfleshed in everything we think, say, or do. . . . What is required is to become the Beloved in the commonplaces of my daily existence and, bit by bit, to close the gap that exists between what I know myself to be and the countless specific realities of everyday life. Becoming the Beloved is pulling the truth revealed to me from above into the ordinariness of what I am, in fact, thinking of, talking about, and doing from hour to hour (pages 45 and 46).

I love that he discusses the “gap that exists between what I know myself to be” as God’s beloved and “the countless specific realities of everyday life.” God’s love is described so vividly in the Bible, and it pours into my life in so many ways, yet so often I don’t feel it or dwell in it. It’s so easy to feel self-critical. The task, according to Nouwen, is to pull “the truth revealed to me from above into the ordinariness” of daily life.

This is not necessarily easy, and I’m so glad he affirms the challenge. In the middle of the quotation above, he writes that this “entails a long and painful process of appropriation or, better, incarnation.” In 2021 I want to grow in beginning each day from a place of belovedness that flows into daily life. I want to see belovedness incarnated in my life more and more each day. I am God’s beloved child and I want to live that way.

  1. I am sent. My second foundational attitude or posture for 2021 comes from the benediction Pastor Doug Kelly says most Sundays at Seattle’s Bethany Presbyterian Church: “You go nowhere by accident. Everywhere you go, God has a purpose for your being there.”

Our word “mission” comes from the Latin “missio,” which means sent. In his prayer for all believers, Jesus says, “As the Father sent me into the world, so I send you into the world” (John 17:18). We have been sent into the world as Jesus was sent, so it’s true that we go nowhere by accident. God has a purpose for us wherever we go, even in the moments when that purpose seems quite small or insignificant.

What is that purpose? Here are some of the ways I would describe it:

To be faithful to God’s call each day.
To show God’s love to the people around me as much as possible.
To be God’s agent of reconciliation in as many settings as possible.
To abide in Christ so that I can bear the lasting fruit God wants me to bear.

I want to go into 2021 knowing I am beloved and knowing I have been sent to exactly the place where I am. I want to follow God’s guidance and fulfill God’s purposes as much as I can, resting in the fact that I am God’s beloved child.

I close with this prayer:

Midnight Prayer 

God of the seasons, Lover of the ages,
Master of every moment:
You who are beyond time yet within all time.
 We return to you what you have given to us —
the moments, the minutes, the hours, the days,
the weeks, the months, and the year of 2020. 

Time has been gracious to us again,
and we thank you for freely giving us these human bodies,
these events, and these relationships.
We have lived another year and we have died another year,
and now you are granting us the beginnings of another.

We now hand over to you the blessed year, 2020,
with all that it gave us and all that it took from us,
knowing that both are necessary, just like our breath.
We trust you in both the givings and the takings,
 the inhalings and the exhalings. 

May every breath of 2021 be a breath of the Holy Spirit,
joyfully received and joyfully returned,
 beginning with this one right now. 


Stay safe, warm and well.....Shalom,


Hymn of the month by Beth Kerzee

January 2021 Hymn of the Month

I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light

Words: Kathleen Thomerson, 1970.

Music: Houston: Kathleen Thomerson

"I want to walk as a child of the light.
I want to follow Jesus.
God set the stars to give light to the world.
The star of my life is Jesus.
Refrain: In him there is no darkness at all.
The night and the day are both alike.
The Lamb is the light of the city of God.
Shine in my heart, Lord Jesus.” 

From time to time, a hymn captures our imagination because of its simplicity and transparency. Such a hymn is “I want to walk as a child of the light.” In singing this hymn, we feel the spirit of Epiphany unfold.

Kathleen Armstrong Thomerson (b. 1934) is a native of Tennessee. She wrote the hymn during the summer of 1966 during a visit to the Church of the Redeemer in Houston, Texas, the location providing the origin for the tune name HOUSTON. Her musical education took place at the University of Texas and Syracuse University, with additional studies at the Flemish Royal Conservatory in Antwerp. She has studied with several of the most noted organists of the twentieth century.

Ms. Thomerson directed music at University United Methodist Church in St. Louis and was on the organ faculties of St. Louis Conservatory and Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville. From 2004 through 2013, she served Mt. Olive Lutheran Church in Austin, Texas. In addition to this hymn, she contributed tunes for hymns by Patricia B. Clark in their joint collection, A Taste of Heaven’s Joys: A Collection of Original Hymns (2005).


A musician with such a distinguished musical pedigree does not usually compose a gospel hymn of such elegant simplicity. A folk-like melody conveys a text based upon a wide range of scriptural allusions and biblical images.  Methodist Hymnal editor, Dr. Carlton Young notes some biblical passages that support the text: Isaiah 42:6c, “I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations.”; Malachi 4:2, “But for you who revere my name the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings”; Revelation 21:25b, “And there will be no night there,” and 22:5b, “They need no light of lamp or sun.”

“I want to walk as a child of the light” communicates deep conviction and personal sincerity, while avoiding any hint of pretense. The first-person perspective invites the singer to join Christ, the Light of the World, in discipleship – a journey of faith. The second line of each stanza deepens this commitment:

Stanza 1: “I want to follow Jesus.”
Stanza 2: “I want to look at Jesus.”
Stanza 3: “I want to be with Jesus.”

The theology of this hymn outlines sanctifying grace, the perspective of the Christians as they move toward perfection in the faith, becoming transformed in the image of Christ. Each stanza adds greater luminosity to this walk. In the first stanza, “God set[s] the stars to give light to the world.” Christ in turn becomes the “star of my life.” References to stars support the hymn’s appropriateness for Epiphany. Stanza two expresses the desire to “see the brightness of God.” The “Sun of Righteousness” illumines “the way to the Father.” The final stanza extends the journey toward the “coming of Christ,” an eschatological direction toward our future hope.

As in most gospel hymns, it is the refrain that carries the essence of its meaning; and in this refrain, with its scriptural allusions that virtually quote from Revelation 21 and 22, this hymn is distinguished from many earlier expressions of discipleship. While a deeply personal expression of piety, the poet roots her devotional expression firmly in Scripture, avoiding the maudlin and simplistic notions of some gospel songs.

The simplicity of the music and text does not imply a simplistic faith. “I want to walk as a child” reminds us of one of the paradoxes of our faith, that we need to become as a child to fully understand the realm of God (Matthew 18:2-4).

Written by: C. Michael Hawn,University Distinguished Professor of Church Music, Perkins School of Theology, SMU.



For January 6 @ 7 pm central time

Mark 1: 21-45

•    Watch (1minute, 23 seconds) “UN Secretary-General António Guterres video call with refugee doctor.”
•    Watch (1 minute, 55 seconds) “Refugee educates future generation of doctors.”
•    Watch (27 minutes) AMA Journal of Ethics EthicsTalk with Holly Cooper, JD: “COVID-19 in U.S. Detention Camps.” “Undocumented immigrants detained during COVID-19: How to help.”

If interested, please sign up at or

Click Here on the 6th

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 people stranded on the roads.


The Second Sunday after Christmas Day
January 3, 2020

Jeremiah 31:7-14
Psalm 147:12-20
Ephesians 1:3-14
John 1:(1-9), 10-18

Ephesians 1:3-14

Anaphora of Basil the Late
by Scott Cairns

O Holy. O Holy Silent Father

O Mother All Compassionate. O Most

and, yea, allegedly, Most Adoring!
       O Most Still!

We deem it proper, meet, and right enough
       to speak to You

more or less directly—duly or not
       assuming some

interest on your part. We speak to You
       concerning much

You must already know. We often praise
       the majesty

of Your holiness, knowing next to naught
       of holiness;

of holiness we possess scant context.
       Regardless, we

dare to praise You for the sometime sweetness
       of the many

gifts apparently bestowed, and—despite
       our more common

habits of complaint—we praise You, giddy,
       and blinking still

at the intermittent, quiet, subtle,

inexplicable pulse of joy rising,

recurrent daily pain. We acknowledge
       that we should yet

exalt Your dear, capacious names, Your One
       and Holy Name.

We hasten yet to bless You, worship You,
       offer meager

thanks to You, and glorify You, the God
       Who is, Who is,

Who alone occasions life, insofar
       as we can say.

We apprehend with contrite heart, humble
       spirit, that we

should pledge to You our will, our wits, our breath,
       for it is You

Who have thus far deigned to bestow on us
       some little bit

of truth. Who among us can speak of all
       Your mighty works

or of your silence? Who make Your praises
       heard? Who can tell

of the odd miracle at sundry times
       or Your famous

disinclination to meddle in ways

O Master of All, of heaven and earth
       and of all dim

created beings, both the apparent
       and undisclosed,

You sit upon the throne of glory, look
       upon all depths.

You are invisible, unknowable,

without beginning, without change,
       Fathering our

Lord Jesus Christ, our God, our Savior, Whom
       we call our Hope,

Who—in Himself—reveals You, our Maker.
       In Himself, He

proves the living, Unwritten Word, true God,
       Wisdom before

time, through Whom has come the Holy Spirit
       to be revealed,

which Spirit remains the Spirit of Truth,
       the Gift of our

late, filial adoption, pledge of an

yet to arrive. Despite our grim, our gloom,
       remember us.


Jeremiah 31:7-14
“Invitation” by Mary Oliver

Oh do you have time
to linger
for just a little while
out of your busy

and very important day
for the goldfinches
that have gathered
in a field of thistles

for a musical battle,
to see who can sing
the highest note,
or the lowest,

or the most expressive of mirth,
or the most tender?
Their strong, blunt beaks
drink the air

as they strive
not for your sake
and not for mine

and not for the sake of winning
but for sheer delight and gratitude –
believe us, they say,
it is a serious thing

just to be alive
on this fresh morning
in the broken world.
I beg of you,

do not walk by
without pausing
to attend to this
rather ridiculous performance.

It could mean something.
It could mean everything.
It could be what Rilke meant, when he wrote:
You must change your life.



word made flesh
By Jim Perkinson on Psalm 147 and John 1:1-18

re-builder of the refuge
for refugees
cloud-tailor for
the heavens when naked
and blazing with fury
feeder of flocks and herds
young raven tender
proud horse ignorer
with all his militant
sword-wielding riders
pleasure-taker in wonder-
whether from sun’s
re-birth after solstice-death
or fungi-feast for fir-tree-
hunger on haida river-bank
offering salmon-nurture
to root-uptake aided by
beaver-dam and insect-keen-and-
drowning and bear-fishing
and otter-scavenging,
with coho teens riding
and nutrient-flushed-streams
to ocean-depths of maturing
and reversing course as salt-
girthed-fish now returning gift
to fresh-water womb back
up the water-shed like
a wild sabbath dance of

resurrection—the word
made flesh indeed, from
seed to spawn to growth-ring
in weathered bark-face, and
even one hidden morn
in palestine showing wiggle-spine
and milk-pheening-cry in jesus-
swaddle on mary’s knee
the wheat-giver
wind-snorter of a deity,
right on time with sirius rising
in line with the astral kings
of orion in three-fold sign
pointing to royal birth of
the great mirth of light
come back to rekindle
earth for the 4 billionth
6oo millionth time.

and we think incarnation
was primarily in a man?


In the Beginning
(Art and Faith Matters)

It's an old art history trivia question that speaks to the gospel reading for Christmas 2B (John 1:1-18). Here's the set up: in Michelangelo's Creation of Adam, we know that God's right hand reaches out to the newly created Adam. (Detail below.) Here's the question: where is God's left hand and arm? Don't look at the full view until you've made a guess.

Michelangelo. Creation of Adam (detail). Sistine Chapel, 1508-1512. Vatican City, Italy.
OK, now look at the bottom of the page for the full view. Was it what you thought? And, actually what is it? Obviously it's God and a number of other figures floating in space on a cloak-like background. God's left arm is around a female figure, and God's left hand is touching an infant. Who are they?

There is no definitive answer, but there are theories. All the theories wind up with the infant as the Christ Child, so it is the identity of the woman that shapes the meaning of the composition. One theory identifies the female figure as Eve, waiting her turn to be created. Eve, whose name means life, will be the mother of all humanity. A second casting of the figures calls the female figure Mary, who will be the literal mother of Jesus. A third option is that the female figure is Wisdom (see Proverbs 8:22ff.). Yet another proposal is that the female figure is the Holy Spirit (ruach, a feminine noun, in the Hebrew). With this interpretation, the figures become the Trinity, all three persons present in the beginning.

Each of the above propositions concludes with the identification of the infant as the Christ Child. The interpretations by turn feature the Christ as the second Adam, the son of God and one person of the Trinity. However it is interpreted, Michelangelo has caused the hand of God to rest eternally on the child. The artist has placed the Word in the beginning, exactly where John's gospel said he was. 

Ephesians 1:3-14: There's Chance and There's Chosen
(Art and Faith Matters)

Christ chose us, destined us, and adopted us, according to Ephesians 1:3-14. Chosen, not chance. In time, the writer of Ephesians goes on to say, all things (including us) will be gathered up in him. Jeremiah 31:8-10 talks about gathering up of the people of God who have been scattered and bringing them back home. This idea of being disordered and reordered, of chance and choice, plays out in an interesting way in the collages of Jean Arp and Ellsworth Kelly. 


Collage itself is a gathering and ordering process. Originally made of paper (papier colle...or pasted paper), collage may include any number of materials and processes, assembled and reassembled, arranged and rearranged, until the desired image or effect is achieved. 

Jean Arp moved in exactly the opposite direction by tearing pieces of paper, dropping them onto a paper support and pasting them where they landed. Arp controlled the pieces to be dropped - their size, color, shape - but he allowed the weight of the paper, any movement in the air, and other physical properties to impact the paper and determine the ultimate composition. The pieces were chosen but then left to their own devices or to the winds of fate.

Ellsworth Kelly also created a collage based on chance. The colored papers were cut into squares and placed in the collage grid through a mathematical system that associated numbers with colors. The mathematical system, rather than the intention of the artist, determined the final composition of the work. Kelly's title - "Spectrum Colors Arranged by Chance" - tells the story.


God's care, outlined in both Ephesians and Jeremiah is the opposite of chance. According to Jeremiah, God's people are not treated like Arp's paper, left to find their own place according to whatever influences may act upon them. Nor are God's people exactly like the papers in Kelly's collage, arranged by the luck of the draw according to some system set in motion. Instead, the people of God are chosen before the foundations of the earth. And though scattered, they are gathered from the farthest parts of the earth and brought home, walking by streams of water in a straight path. That's good news, because while chance may lead to some interesting art, it's not much in terms of a divine plan.

Interior Conversation
Yesterday at dawn, my Friend said, How long
Will this unconsciousness go on?
You fill yourself with the sharp pain of Love,
rather than its fulfillment.
I said, “But I can’t get to You!
You are the whole dark night,
and I am a single candle.
My life is upside-down
because of You!”
The Friend replied, I am your deepest being.
Quit talking about wanting Me!
I said, “Then what is this
The Friend, Does a drop
Stay still in the Ocean?
Move with the Entirety,
and with the tiniest particular:

Be the moisture in an oyster
that helps to form one pearl.

-Rumi  Like This: 43 Odes, Versions by Coleman Barks 


The Smallest Actions of Our Life
As the sun illumines not only the heaven and the whole world, shining on both land and sea, but also sends rays through windows and small chinks into the furthest recesses of a house, so the Word, poured out everywhere, behold the smallest actions of our life.
-Clement of Alexandria  c.150-215


The Last Word
In a flash, at a trumpet crash,
I am all at once what Christ is, since he was what I am.
-Gerard Manley Hopkins  1844-1889
Week of January 1-9

The Gospel of Mark gets right to the point: “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ.” This gospel is the earliest of the four and the foundational document for Matthew and Luke (the other synoptic gospels, meaning they have a similar narrative style and timeline). It’s a Dragnet-Joe Friday style approach, with “Just the facts.” Mark is skimpy on scene-setting details but offers a laser-focus on Jesus as miracle-worker and Messiah.

As a reader, fasten your seatbelt and hold on tight: in these first few chapters, Jesus is baptized, wanders in the wilderness, gathers his disciples, casts out demons, heals lepers, and takes on the Pharisees. But don’t let yourself feel whiplash: remember that this first part of the gospel is all about revealing the nature of Jesus and his ability to defy the earthly powers of imperial Rome and overcome the evil natures of the world. Mark is laying out the case as would a lawyer in court, providing evidence through the life and teaching of Jesus that he is the true Messiah, and through him, our path to salvation.

With this approach, perhaps it’s not surprising that Mark skips over the birth story and jumps right into Jesus’s public ministry, with his baptism by John. The gospel deigns to provide a few telling details about John (he’s dressed in camel’s hair and eats locusts) before showing that John, who some believed to be the messiah, recognizes that “the one who is more powerful” is still to come. When John baptizes Jesus, the heavens are torn apart (as they will be later at his death), and the Holy Spirit descends like a dove. But there’s no time to dawdle with crumpets and tarts for a baptismal reception: the Spirit drives Jesus into the wilderness for forty days where he faces—and resists—temptations from Satan.

Upon Jesus’s return to Galilee, he begins to gather his disciples. We see here an urgency that is a common theme throughout Mark. When Jesus says to, “Follow me,” Simon and Andrew “immediately” leave their nets and follow him. It appears there was no weighing of pros and cons, no succession plan for their fishing enterprise. These men followed faithfully and immediately—an inspiration and challenge to Christians today. In the passages that follow, we witness Jesus’s miracles—“a new teaching—with authority!” Jesus casts out unclean spirits and heals Simon’s mother-in-law; he cures many who are sick with disease and demons and makes well both a leper and a paralytic man. The religious authorities start to take note of this unusual man who heals the sick and forgives the sinners. They begin to talk among themselves: “Why does this fellow speak in this way? It is blasphemy!” Throughout the readings for this week and indeed the entire gospel, the religious leaders question Jesus—about who he eats with, who he heals, and how he treats the sabbath and other laws of the land. Jesus threatens the status quo and upends the power structures of the day. And these leaders do not plan to go gently into that good night.

We end our week with a series of parables that are likely familiar to many Christians today. The sower plants seeds, some on rocky soil and some on good soil. This parable teaches a lesson about fertilizing our soil with prayer, praise, worship, and service so that our faith may grow and flourish. In another parable, Jesus gives us the words to a favorite childhood song, “This Little Light of Mine,” imploring us to let our faith shine as a light to the world, not as a lamp hidden under a basket or bed.

The last parable of the week is one of my personal favorites. Jesus compares the kingdom of God not to a beautiful rose or the fruit of a tree but to the mustard seed. Just as this smallest of all the seeds on earth can grow into the greatest of all shrubs, so too can Jesus pierce the darkness, transforming a spark of faith into a shining light.



1. What is helpful about how Mark jumps straight into Jesus’s ministry? What do you miss about not having the birth story?

2. Pick your favorite healing story from the ones presented in these chapters from Mark. Spend time with it, reading and praying with it throughout the week. What new learnings have you gleaned from this story? (For extra credit, take on a second healing story, perhaps one that you’re unfamiliar with, and spend time with it this week, too).

3. Look at the story about the paralytic whose friends removed the roof, dug through it, and then lowered him through the ceiling so he might be healed by Jesus. Do you have friends who might do that for you? Are you a friend to others in the same way?

4. Jesus is speaking to an agrarian community and embeds his teachings in familiar stories of farming and planting. What types of situations do you think Jesus would use to tell the parables today? Take one of the parables in this week’s reading and recast it using a situation familiar to you and your community.

Thankfulness and Celebration
and News 
Thank you to all who contributed and participated in Lessons and Carols.

Thank you to Shere who kept up with the changing seasons around the altar.

Thank you to Marci who kept the candles burning bright.

A big technical thank you to Nick and Dan who made the hybrid live stream possible.
Thank you to Beth who in the midst of studies provided wonderful music on the bench and through her voice.

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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