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.



Trust is on my mind these days. Apparently, I'm not alone in wondering who to trust, as we grapple with considerable coincident crises, crises of health, economics, racial division and inequity, climate change. Science, politicians, media, election processes, institutional religion, law enforcement are all being questioned, against the background noise of what some call fake news, untruths and alternative facts. We never know what's around the corner, but Covid-tide is a season of heightened anxiety fueled by uncertainty about what, who and how we can trust.

That has led me to think about all the ways that scripture calls us to trust. Easier said than done. The psalms, in a number of places, offer a variation of the following verse: Put not your trust in rulers or in any child of earth, for there is no help in them. (Psalm 146:3) Maybe you're thinking about trust these days as well. Apparently, a lot of people are. If so, join me in working through a few questions guided by Rev. Jay Sidebotham and Jürgen Moltmann:

1. Where do you draw strength? Asked another way: What are reliable sources of nourishment and sustenance for the journey? We live in a world offering lots of spiritual junk food, easy to swallow but not what we really need, not ultimately sustaining. We give our hearts to that which does not satisfy our hearts. It's especially tough when so many Christian leaders reveal the hypocrisy of the church, nothing new under the sun. As one of those church leaders, when I hear the reasonable, verifiable complaint that the church is just filled with hypocrites, all I can say is, "Guilty as charged." Then I revert to the prayer that both sustains and frightens me: "Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me." (Psalm 69:7) What would it mean to draw strength from the God who calls us into relationship?

2. Where do you place your hope? Asked another way: In whom do you place hope? The old hymn affirms: We may not know what the future holds, but we know who holds the future. In many ways, we find ourselves in the midst of storms. Life these days feels like those small glass snow domes that get all shook up. We're waiting for things to settle. Hoping. Jurgen Moltmann based his theology on hope. In a paper called The Spirit of Hope: Theology For A World In Peril, Moltmann wrote (pre-covid): "Terrorist violence, social and economic inequality, and most especially the looming crisis of climate change all contribute to a cultural moment of profound despair." Moltmann reminds us that Christian faith has much to say in response to a despairing world. In "the eternal yes of the living God," we affirm the goodness and ongoing purpose of our fragile humanity. What would it mean to embrace the text of the hymn (#665 in the 1982 Hymnal) "All my hope on God is founded," music written by Herbert Howells after the death of his 9 year-old son?

3. Where do you give your heart? Asked another way: What's love got to do with it? As our Presiding Bishop reminds us, it all boils down to love. If it isn't about love, it isn't about God. Ultimately our trust is an expression of the heart, an expression of love. As in any committed relationship, love is based on the trust that partners seek the best for each other. They seek to honor each other, with all they are and have. More Moltmann: "God's love empowers us to love life and resist a culture of death." What would it mean, in a vindictive season, to let love be our guide in some new and deeper way this week, not giving into fear or fretting but figuring out some way to make it all about love?

As people of faith, we are called to "trust in the Lord with all our hearts, leaning not on our own understanding, confident that God will direct our paths." (A riff on Proverbs 3:5,6) In case you haven't picked it up already, I'm finding that challenging. It's presumptuous of me to suggest a solution, as I navigate a cloud of unknowing. But here's the answer I've decided to go with. I'm going to literally and figuratively take a deep breath and trust that the God of love has the whole world in his hands.

The ultimate reason for our hope is not to be found at all in what we want, wish for and wait for; the ultimate reason is that we are wanted and wished for and waited for. What is it that awaits us? Does anything await us at all, or are we alone? Whenever we base our hope on trust in the divine mystery, we feel deep down in our hearts: there is someone who is waiting for you, who is hoping for you, who believes in you. We are waited for as the prodigal son in the parable is waited for by his father. We are accepted and received, as a mother takes her children into her arms and comforts them. God is our last hope because we are God's first love."
-Jürgen Moltmann from "The Source of Life: The Holy Spirit and the Theology of Life."


October Hymn of the Month – by Beth Kerzee
When We Are Living (Pues Si Vivimos)

Mexican folk hymn, and Roberto Escamilla
“Pues Si Vivimos”

Pues si vivimos, para El vivimos When we are living, it is in Christ Jesus,
y si morimos para El morimos. And when we’re dying, it is in the Lord.
Sea que vivamos o que muramos, Both in our living and in our dying,
Somos del Señor, somos del Señor. We belong to God, we belong to God.*
This gentle and assuring Mexican folk hymn has quickly become a favorite song in both Spanish and English-speaking churches in a variety of denominations. To date it has been published in over thirteen denominational hymnals or songbooks. While this hymn is lovely in its simplicity of melody and message, its origin is a bit more complicated. The first stanza was recorded and transcribed by Gertrude Suppe, after meeting a Mexican woman in Los Angeles following a worship service. Roberto Escamilla, editor of Celebremos II [A collection intended to incorporate more Mexican American songs into worship], added three additional verses in Spanish. These words were translated into English by George Lockwood, thereby creating the hymn as we know it today. Robert Escamilla is a native of Hidalgo, Mexico, and has served many United Methodist churches in Texas and Oklahoma, both Spanish and English-speaking. He has a distinguished career as a pastor and a teacher that has spanned decades 
This hymn’s first stanza references Romans 14:8 and as we can see it follows the biblical text very closely.

“If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living” (NRSV).

The meaning is clear that whether living of dying, we are not alone, we belong to God. Furthermore, it reminds us of the resurrection promise and heritage that is ours because Christ died for us and lives again. What an amazing assurance that is for all Christians, and what a great reminder we
need every day!

Stanzas 2-4, written by Dr. Escamilla, are based more loosely on John 15:8, “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.” He continues the technique of binary opposition begun in the first stanza, which uses “living or dying.” Stanza two centers on our lives and
how we are to live it and finishes by contrasting “giving or receiving.” Stanza three centers on our human feelings of joy and sadness and concludes with contrasting “suffering and rejoicing.” The final stanza looks outward to the whole world and a Christian’s response to the needs of humanity. The
contrast here is “help or nurture,” which is not actually a contrast, but two ways to serve a hurting world. While this hymn didn’t start out being a four-stanza theological stance on the way a follower of Jesus Christ believes and acts, it was nevertheless developed into a concise statement doing just




The Big Bend Blanket Ministry (created by our own Kerie van Zeÿst), based in Far West Texas, comes together to provide blankets to people in rural areas along the Borderland.  If you would like to donate a blanket to those in need they are $20 each for thick cotton blend blankets.  Our first 2020 distribution will be in October. With the COVID-19 pandemic and high unemployment our shelters are full and it is more important than ever to get as many blankets out those in need as possible this winter. If you know of anyone in need of a blanket or would like to donate a blanket please let us know! To contribute, put cash in an envelope marked "Blanket" at leave it the collection plate at St. Paul's or write a check to St. Paul's with 'Blanket' in the memo section or go to and put "Blanket" in the note. THANK YOU!


A Weekly Bible Study
Caregivers Support Group
Discussion Group about History and Racism in the Big Bend Region
Confirmation Classes for All Ages 

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




Nancy Antrim will be ordained to the Diaconate
Saturday, October 17
2:00 Central Time
You can watch it on Facebook Live.
Look for the link here.

and then
Nancy will be leading Morning prayer and Preaching
at our 10:30 service on the 18th.



We are planning to have our annual Thanksgiving meal shared with whoever shows up.
This will be done with Covid-modifications.
Watch for details in the weeks to come.
Watch for volunteer opportunities and dish signups.

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-http://stpaulsmarfa.orgGo 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.


The Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost - Proper 22
October 4, 2020

Isaiah 5:1-7
Psalm 80:7-15
Philippians 3:4b-14
Matthew 21: 33-46


Matthew 21. 33-46: The Son of the Vineyard Owner

Art and Faith Matters

Jesus' parable in Matthew 21 (verses 33-46) tells his own story. Set in a vineyard, the son of the vineyard owner is killed by wicked tenants who are unwilling to give the owner the portion of the harvest that is owed. It doesn't take much to understand the story as a prediction of Jesus' fate. Below is an unidentified image (I'm still trying to identify it) from a medieval manuscript that illustrates the story. 


(Left) Unidentified manuscript illustration of Matthew 21:33-46. (Right) Christus in der Kelter. Gebetbuch des Ulrich von Montfort. c. 1515-1520. Vienna: Osterreichische Nationalbibliothek, cod. 2748, fol. 49v.

It also doesn't take much to understand the implications of the vineyard and Christ's relation to it as a Communion symbol. 

One of the symbolic images for the death of Jesus is the winepress. In those images (above right) Jesus is shown trampling grapes while bearing the weight of the winepress. The implication is that the crushing and juicing of grapes offers a parallel to Jesus' death and subsequent remembrance in the cup of communion. There are other vineyard images that should bring to mind the role and actions of Jesus' life and death. 

In the two images here, the wine press is the screw type that applies pressure from above in order to crush the grapes. In the parable illustration you can see the winepress through the open door of the watchtower. In the illustration with Jesus, he treads on the grapes even as the winepress crushes him. Note that it is the first person of the Trinity who turns, powers, the screw that presses on Jesus. Isaiah 63 and Revelation 14 both refer to the winepress with a tone of punishment or retribution. Here, though, it is not retribution that Christ models, but sacrifice, giving himself to death at the hands of the tenants or the winepress.

In regions that have no winemaking tradition, these images might be harder to understand. And, of course, the artists from these regions depict the equipment they saw in their own winemaking industries, and they make Jesus look like themselves. 

Philippians 3.4b-14: Paul Says 'Not This'

The Epistle reading for Proper 22(27)A/Pentecost 18A is a familiar section of Paul's letter to the Philippians (3:4b-14): Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.

It's a truth that saying 'yes' to one thing means saying 'no' to other things. If we say 'yes' to Paul's example, then (I regret to say) we must say no to emulating one in the pantheon of Roman gods. Paul's focus on the goal that is ahead renders us unable to follow the model of Janus, the two-faced god who looks forward and backward. While there are often equivalents in the Greek and Roman pantheons, the Greeks had no parallel for Janus.

Usually shown with two faces - with one he looks forward and with the other he looks back - Janus is the god of transitions and beginnings. January has a linguistic root with Janus, though the question of  whether the month is named for the god has not been definitively answered. Nevertheless, January, the first month of our year is at a moment of transition.

The presence of ceremonial gateways (jani) throughout Rome reinforced the opportunity to make favorable beginnings by walking through these janus gates. A shrine to Janus was located in the Roman forum. The two doors to the shrine were open when Rome was at war and closed when Rome was at peace.

Italian Renaissance sculptor Donatello included a two-faced, Janus-type figure in one panel of the so-called Passion Pulpit in the Basilica of San Lorenzo. The pulpit is covered with bronze relief images of the episodes of Christ's passion. In this panel Christ appears before Pilate. As Pilate sits on his raised throne, the servant offers him a bowl of water with which to wash his hands of Jesus. The figure may symbolize Pilate's inner conflict or perhaps it is a reminder that Pilate will not be able to separate past and future: his reputation in the future will, for Christians, be defined by his actions here. Jesus said it before - no one can serve two masters - but perhaps Pilate is trying to do just that.

Paul is having none of this. Forgetting what lies behind, Paul presses forward, his eyes only on the goal of the call of God in Christ Jesus. There is no room for Janus in Paul's faith.

Top image: Janus head on Roman Republic coin. 225-214 BCE. Gold. Kunsthistoriches Museum, Vienna.
Second from top: Bust of Janus. Vatican Museums.
Bottom two images: Donatello. Christ Before Pilate (full panel and detail of area in white circle). Relief sculpture from Passion Pulpit. 1460-1465. Basilica di San Lorenzo, Florence, Italy.



Architecture by Michael Coffey

Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the scriptures: 
'The stone that the builders rejected 
has become the cornerstone; 
this was the Lord's doing, 
and it is amazing in our eyes'?
- Mathew 21:42 

Was it Frank Lloyd Wright who said it was
just as desirable to build a chicken house as it was 
a cathedral, and if so did he ever build a coop 
that changed the world like the churches of 
Falling Water or Robie House or the Guggenheim
my guess is no and so I’d say go for cathedrals 
but don’t venerate or praise their immaculateness
they are like the building up of your soul or 
your self if you could construct your temple self
you’ll need a decent plot of ground and a
foundation and a cornerstone to get started
and then there it is staring at you like the dog: 
no matter your effort or fortitude or refutation
every stone you select for your ego project
will have a chip or be out of plumb or fissured 
and skew every door and archway and spire
just hurting the eyeball enough that you will labor
long days anguishing over the faults and the cracks 
your heart will sorrow that you never got it right
this blueprint and fabricating that is you and your 
cathedral of St. Perfection, until you are moved 
to kiss the stone you rejected, yours and God’s
the mortal flaws and unfinished structural promises
and call the chicken house of your ramshackle life 
a basilica of the divine, an architecture of the holy

let's get organized! (Matthew 21:33-46)

maybe we ought 
to form a tenants' rights 
   Owner of the Vineyard; 
after all, 
we seem to be doing 
        a pretty good 
   with what you have 
       given to us: 
what do we need 
with all those 
   you keep sending our way: 
      Mother Theresa, 
           Taize's Roger, 
        Martin Luther King, Jr., 
   and all the others 
   who don't seem to have a 
     as to how to run 
       a vineyard? 
if you aren't careful, 
we might discover that 
   humility is preferred 
      over power; 
   service is more seductive 
      than success; 
   wisdom is to be more treasured 
      than wealth. 
and then what will 
   to what you have 
 Thom M. Shuman 

Thankfulness and Celebration
and News

Thank you to Scott for maintaining our beautiful campus

Thank you to all who have contributed to our blanket drive.

Thank you to the Bishop's Committee who has worked hard to develop and carry out our protocol to be able to allow us to return to worship in person.

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 Marfa Food Pantry.








  • Ask yourself whether you currently have any of the following symptoms. If your answer is “yes,” please stay home and watch the service at
    • Fever (99°F or higher)
    • Chills
    • Muscle aches
    • Cough (new)
    • Shortness of breath (new)
    • Unexpected fatigue
    • Sore throat
    • Loss of taste or smell
    • Headache
    • Diarrhea
    • Vomiting
    • Nausea
    • Other cold symptoms
  • Have a mask ready. Everyone must wear a mask in order to enter the building. If you arrive at church without a mask, one will be provided. 
  • Seating in the sanctuary will be limited. Overflow seating will be offered in our hall.


  • Be mindful of physical distancing. Follow posted instructions regarding traffic flow.
  • Enter through the main sanctuary entrance on Highland Avenue.
  • Ushers provide you with a mask if necessary.
  • Ushers will seat you. In order to maintain physical distancing, congregants will be seated six feet apart as the pews are marked, from the front of the sanctuary to the back, and will be dismissed from the back of the sanctuary to the front. Members of the same household will be seated together.
  • Expect changes to the service. 
    • Hymns will be sung by our organist only (Beth has a beautiful voice); there will be no congregational singing although quiet humming would be acceptable.
    • Communion will be brought to you. Instead of the chalice we will have individual communion cups
  • There will be no coffee hour.

As we have done since our pandemic responses have been in place, please let me know if you wish to receive communion at home or wish for a pastoral visit in person or by Zoom. I will look forward to seeing you, one way or another, on Sunday.


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

Parish website -
Facebook -


This email was sent to <<Email Address>>
why did I get this?    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences
St. Paul's Episcopal Church · P.O. Box 175 · 101 E. Washington street · Marfa, TX 79843 · USA

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp