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.



From the SALT Website
ruth bader ginsburg and the bible

When Ruth Bader was a teenager, her mother, Celia, died of cancer just two days shy of Ruth’s graduation from high school. In keeping with Jewish custom in those days, only men could be counted as part of a minyan or quorum - so Ruth wasn’t allowed to pray the mourner’s prayer for her mother (a rule since changed in both Reform and Conservative Judaism). Ruth was both heartbroken and outraged - and as a result, felt alienated from synagogue membership for much of the rest of her life.

The Bible, however, remained a lifelong touchstone of insight and inspiration. Throughout her childhood, her mother regaled her with biblical stories of “women of valor,” heroes who were ambitious, wise, and successful. Ruth drank deeply from these stories, learning them by heart.

Accordingly, when in 2015 she was asked by the American Jewish World Service to write an insert for the Passover order of service, she enthusiastically agreed. She organized it around what she called “The Heroic and Visionary Women of Passover,” five figures who play pivotal roles in the story, and yet are often overlooked: Moses’ mother, Yocheved; the Hebrew midwives, Shifra and Puah; Moses’ sister, Miriam; and Pharaoh’s daughter, Batya.

On the last of these five, Bader Ginsburg quotes a midrash from the Babylonian Talmud:

“When Pharaoh’s daughter’s handmaidens saw that she intended to rescue Moses, they attempted to dissuade her, and persuade her to heed her father. They said to her: ‘Our mistress, it is the way of the world that when a king issues a decree, it is not heeded by the entire world, but his children and the members of his household do observe it, and you wish to transgress your father’s decree?’”

And then RBG adds: “But transgress she did.”

“These women,” she continues, “had a vision leading out of the darkness shrouding their world. They were women of action, prepared to defy authority to make their vision a reality bathed in the light of the day.”

It’s a description that applies just as well to RBG herself. Framed on a wall in her chambers at the Supreme Court, she kept a quote from Deuteronomy, three Hebrew words in beautiful calligraphy: Tzedek, tzedek tirdof - “Justice, justice, you shall pursue” (Deut 16:20).

In the larger passage from which these three words are taken, the author has just outlined the sacred festivals of Israel (Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot), and now seamlessly turns to the judicial system. Passover, of course, is about the journey from enslavement to freedom, an odyssey that leads to the reception of the law at Mount Sinai. In the ancient Israelite imagination, then, Passover and covenant, freedom and law, are intimately interwoven.

After all, God frees the Israelites for a new life and society characterized by equality and integrity under the law: “You must not distort justice; you must not show partiality; and you must not accept bribes, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and subverts the cause of those who are in the right. Justice, justice, you shall pursue” (Deut 16:19-20).

Is there a prominent American in recent memory who more vividly personifies this kind of integrity, this resistance to corruption, this commitment to equality, this devotion to justice, than the late, great RBG? Let us all take up the mourner’s prayer, in a quorum extending across the country and around the world. We have lost a transformative intellect, a brilliant strategist, a wise jurist, and a fierce pursuer of justice, justice.

We have lost, in other words, a woman of valor. But like Yocheved, Shifra, Puah, Miriam, and Batya, what Ruth Bader Ginsburg left behind - if we do our part to remember and build upon her work - will nourish us and our descendants for generations to come. For she, too, had a vision leading out of the darkness shrouding our world. And we, too, must be prepared to make that vision a reality bathed in the light of the day.

What better way to thank her?

Tzedek, tzedek tirdof!



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



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.

FROM Richard Rohr

Some simple but urgent guidance to get us through these next months.

I awoke on Saturday, September 19, with three sources in my mind for guidance: Etty Hillesum (1914 – 1943), the young Jewish woman who suffered much more injustice in the concentration camp than we are suffering now; Psalm 62, which must have been written in a time of a major oppression of the Jewish people; and the Irish Poet, W.B.Yeats (1965 – 1939), who wrote his “Second Coming” during the horrors of the World War I and the Spanish Flu pandemic. 

These three sources form the core of my invitation. Read each one slowly as your first practice. Let us begin with Etty:

There is a really deep well inside me. And in it dwells God. Sometimes I am there, too … And that is all we can manage these days and also all that really matters: that we safeguard that little piece of You, God, in ourselves.

—Etty Hillesum, Westerbork transit camp

Note her second-person usage, talking to “You, God” quite directly and personally. There is a Presence with her, even as she is surrounded by so much suffering.

Then, the perennial classic wisdom of the Psalms:

In God alone is my soul at rest.
God is the source of my hope.
In God I find shelter, my rock, and my safety.
Men are but a puff of wind,
Men who think themselves important are a delusion.
Put them on a scale,
They are gone in a puff of wind.

—Psalm 62:5–9

What could it mean to find rest like this in a world such as ours? Every day more and more people are facing the catastrophe of extreme weather. The neurotic news cycle is increasingly driven by a single narcissistic leader whose words and deeds incite hatred, sow discord, and amplify the daily chaos. The pandemic that seems to be returning in waves continues to wreak suffering and disorder with no end in sight, and there is no guarantee of the future in an economy designed to protect the rich and powerful at the expense of the poor and those subsisting at the margins of society. 

It’s no wonder the mental and emotional health among a large portion of the American population is in tangible decline! We have wholesale abandoned any sense of truth, objectivity, science or religion in civil conversation; we now recognize we are living with the catastrophic results of several centuries of what philosophers call nihilism or post-modernism (nothing means anything, there are no universal patterns).

We are without doubt in an apocalyptic time (the Latin word apocalypsis refers to an urgent unveiling of an ultimate state of affairs). Yeats’ oft-quoted poem “The Second Coming” then feels like a direct prophecy. See if you do not agree:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Somehow our occupation and vocation as believers in this sad time must be to first restore the Divine Center by holding it and fully occupying it ourselves. If contemplation means anything, it means that we can “safeguard that little piece of You, God,” as Etty Hillesum describes it. What other power do we have now? All else is tearing us apart, inside and out, no matter who wins the election or who is on the Supreme Court. We cannot abide in such a place for any length of time or it will become our prison.

God cannot abide with us in a place of fear.
God cannot abide with us in a place of ill will or hatred.
God cannot abide with us inside a nonstop volley of claim and counterclaim.
God cannot abide with us in an endless flow of online punditry and analysis.
God cannot speak inside of so much angry noise and conscious deceit.
God cannot be found when all sides are so far from “the Falconer.”
God cannot be born except in a womb of Love.
So offer God that womb.

Stand as a sentry at the door of your senses for these coming months, so “the blood-dimmed tide” cannot make its way into your soul.

If you allow it for too long, it will become who you are, and you will no longer have natural access to the “really deep well” that Etty Hillesum returned to so often and that held so much vitality and freedom for her.

If you will allow, I recommend for your spiritual practice for the next four months that you impose a moratorium on exactly how much news you are subject to—hopefully not more than an hour a day of television, social media, internet news, magazine and newspaper commentary, and/or political discussions. It will only tear you apart and pull you into the dualistic world of opinion and counter-opinion, not Divine Truth, which is always found in a bigger place.

Instead, I suggest that you use this time for some form of public service, volunteerism, mystical reading from the masters, prayer—or, preferably, all of the above.

        You have much to gain now and nothing to lose. Nothing at all. 
        And the world—with you as a stable center—has nothing to lose.
        And everything to gain. 

Richard Rohr, September 19, 2020

The Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost - Proper 21
September 27, 2020

Ezekiel 18: 1-4, 25-32
Psalm 25: 1-9
Philippians 2:1-13
Matthew 21: 23-32


Philippians 2.1-13: Empty and Full - Art & Faith Matters

Paul wants the Christians at Philippi to make his joy complete (Philippians 2:2). Apparently, his joy is currently only partially full. Paul also reminds the Philippians that Christ emptied himself (Philippians 2:7). What was full has been voluntarily emptied. 

The whole question of whether you see a glass as half-empty or half-full has become some sort of personality evaluation. Are you an optimist? A pessimist? A surrealist? (See the graphic below.) Paul's play with words considers the polarities of empty and filled.
(Left) Tom Brown. Half Empty, Half Full

Joy? Should be filled to the brim. Jesus? Voluntarily emptied himself. In fact, in just a couple of verses, Jesus will talk about being "poured out." (Philippians 2:17) I wonder if we get sidetracked testing ourselves to see if we are optimists or pessimists. Perhaps a better question is whether you have a glass or a pitcher or anything that can hold joy and will you give Paul a refill? Do you appreciate Jesus' pouring himself out for you? Do you pour out yourself for others as Jesus has done for you? Do you still care for yourself while you are emptying yourself for others? 

Matthew 21:28-32

He said in reply, ‘I will not,’ but afterwards changed his mind
and went.

times we
refuse your asking.
We say no to what you bid, 
later we actually do as you ask.

And at other times 
we say yes, 
alas, our lives 
spell out 
a big 

please change our hearts,
change our minds
to always say

Let feet follow

Ezekiel 18:25-28

But if he turns from the wickedness he has committed,  
and does what is right and just,  
    he shall preserve his life.

Fondest Father, 

have called 
us each by name,
and you ask us to walk, 
step by every step,
Instead of running the other way,
let us go with you always.
with our hand
in yours.

Philippians 2:1-11 or 2:1-5

Have in you the same attitude that is also in Christ Jesus …


let us share in your Spirit,
  and be of one mind  
with you.

in heart,
in your love,
let us work to bring
justice that restores health
to all of our sisters and our brothers 
everywhere, and to the planet that we all call 

Anne Osdieck

A Niemoller Moment circa 2017 (First They Came)

First they came for athletes calling attention to police brutality and racism. I did not speak out.
Because I was never brutalized for being white.
Then they came for the dreamers, bi-lingual achievers, and immigrant families. I did not speak out.
Because I was handed the American dream.
Then they came for anyone who disagreed with their version of reality, religion, and life. I did not speak out.
Because I could not find something to Tweet.
Then one Sunday morning, they came for me.
The church was empty, the streets were bare,
And there was no one left to speak for me.

–Richard Lowell Bryant

The Third Yes by Michael Coffey

What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, 'Son, go and work in the vineyard today.' He answered, 'I will not'; but later he changed his mind and went. The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, 'I go, sir'; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said, "The first."
- Matthew 21:28-31a 

My first yes was eager and earnest and ill-thought
it was spirited and bouncing and saw the whole
world like a Chicago snow globe I could shake into beauty
but I shook nothing and made no magnificence here

My second yes was my ego in search of positioning
and a title and a moment on the dais under lights
so everything I signed up for ended dissonant
and cracked and unfinished like a garage hobby

And then came my honest, exhausted, deflated no
and I merely made my bed and tipped the barista
held the door for the guy with the baby stroller
answered the phone with a helpful thought or two

And then as I held onto no and not me and not now
you uttered the unexpected yes into this slight life of
saving no one and fixing little and mostly walking with
arms and eyes open to the next and tiniest of faithful things


Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though
he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited, but emptied himself.

– Philippians 2.5-7a

Blessing That Becomes Empty
As It Goes

This blessing
keeps nothing
for itself.
You can find it
by following the path
of what it has let go,
of what it has learned
it can live without.

Say this blessing out loud
a few times
and you will hear
the hollow places
within it,
how it echoes
in a way
that gives your voice
back to you
as if you had never
heard it before.

Yet this blessing
would not be mistaken
for any other,
as if,
in its emptying,
it had lost
what makes it
most itself.

It simply desires
to have room enough
to welcome
what comes.

it’s you.

So come and sit
in this place
made holy
by its hollows.
You think you have
too much to do,
too little time,
too great a weight
of responsibility
that none but you
can carry.

I tell you,
lay it down.
Just for a moment,
if that’s what you
can manage at first.
Five minutes.
Lift up your voice—
in laughter,
in weeping,
it does not matter—
and let it ring against
these spacious walls.

Do this
until you can hear
the spaces within
your own breathing.
Do this
until you can feel
the hollow in your heart
where something
is letting go,
where something
is making way.

~~Jan Richardson


Your True Self

Now we begin to see why repentance is a uniquely Christian path of liberation from self. All great religious traditions recognize that the deepest desire of the human heart is for freedom from inner oppression. We feel “conditioned”: bound by the chains of our habits and compulsions, our likes and dislikes, our fears and guilt, our inability to love. Our great tragedy is that we so often mistake these habits and compulsions for our true self. … Our false self must die, so that we can find our true self, the self which God meant us to be and which he created in his image and likeness.

-Irma Zaleski b.1931
The Way of Repentance

Two Ways of Being Church

It is very easy to be servants of the word without disturbing the world: a very spiritualized word, a word without any commitment to history, a word that can sound in any part of the world because it belongs to no part of the world. A word like that creates no problems, starts no conflicts. What starts conflicts and persecutions, what marks the genuine Church, is the word that, burning like the word of the prophets, proclaims and accuses: proclaims to the people God's wonders to be believed and venerated, and accuses of sin those who oppose God's reign, so that they may tear that sin out of their hearts, out of their societies, out of their laws - out of the structures that oppress, that imprison, that violate the rights of God and of humanity.

-Oscar Romero 1917-1880
The Violence of Love

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

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St. Paul's Episcopal Church · P.O. Box 175 · 101 E. Washington street · Marfa, TX 79843 · USA

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