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.



Get ready!
We have a very important meeting coming up
this Sunday at NOON.

We will be gathering virtually by Zoom. Here is the information:

Meeting ID: 813 8540 5327
Passcode: 922118
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Meeting ID: 813 8540 5327
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We will be looking at our budget for 2021, catch up with one another, look at what we have done this past year during the pandemic and look forward to what God might be calling us to.

I urge you to take some time this week leading up to the Annual Meeting and ponder what the words of our Vision, Mission and Values statements are saying (in case you skipped over them, they are above)….how they can and will impact you and this faith community named St. Pauls Episcopal Church/Marfa Texas.


My blessing for St. Pauls:  
God speed. \May God be with us as we continue to explore
and break open new ground during this time of the pandemic. 


I close with this modified prayer for St. Pauls by Ted Loder.

As a church in Marfa, Texas, O Lord,
in the transition 
    and the turbulence
        of our living from day to day
            and night to night,
keep us in touch with our roots,    
so we will remember where we came from
      and with whom;
keep us in touch with our feelings,
    so we will be aware of who we really are
        and what it costs;
keep us in touch with our mind
    so we will know who we are not
        and what that means;
and keep us in touch with our dreams,
    so we will grow toward where we want to go
        and for whom.
O Lord
deliver us
    from the arrogance of assuming
        we know enough to judge others;
deliver us
    from the timidity of presuming
        we don’t know enough to help others;
deliver us
    from the illusion of claiming we have changed enough
        when we have only risked little,
that, so liberated,
    we will make some of the days to come different.
o lord,
we ask not to be delivered
    from the tensions that wind us tight,
but we do ask for
    a sense of direction in which to move once wound,
        a sense of humor about our disappointments,
            a sense of respect for the elegant puzzlement of 
being human,
                and a sense of gladness for your kingdom
which comes in spite of our fretful 
pulling and tugging.
O Lord,
nurture in us
    the song of a lover
        the vision of a poet,
            the questions of a child,
                the boldness of a prophet,
                    the courage of a disciple.
O Lord,
it is said you created people
    because you love stories.
Be with us as we live out our story called 
St. Paul's Episcopal Church - Marfa, Texas


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


P.S. We're preparing the Giving Statements for 2020.  Please email with your current mailing address to ensure we have your address and mail them to the correct address.







February 3
GOSPEL OF Mark 9:33-11:33

Prior to this week’s class, participants should prepare by reading the following:



In advance of today’s class, we encourage participants to:

If interested, please sign up at or

The needs of paying the the church bills, funding our ministries, and proclaiming the Good News continues during this Pandemic. Please consider making a monthly gift.


THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!---to all of you who have contributed and continue to contribute to our virtual collection plate. Some of you have made it a monthly donation through our "Donate Button. Either way you have done is greatly appreciated. 

For those of you who have not checked out how easy it is to donate on line....
Go to our website- Go to the bottom and find the "Donate" --click on it and fill in the blanks.... OR go to and continue to support our mission and ministry. 

ALSO---Thank you, thank you, thank you for all who have mailed in pledges and donations

Things to do to benefit the church and the community during the Coronavirus Restrictions

1. THE MARFA FOOD PANTRY IS EMPTY! -  Keep bringing food donations...our doors are open 24 hours and you will find a basket at the back of the church.

2. Pray for Rudy and Allison.

3. Pray for our country.



The Fourth Sunday after Epiphany
January 31, 2021

Deuteronomy 18:15-20
Psalm 111
1 Corinthians 8:1-13
Mark 1:21-28

Spells and Tricks
Michael Coffey

They went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, "What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God." But Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Be silent, and come out of him!" And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, "What is this? A new teaching — with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him." At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.
I could take a coin from behind your ear
shake a spoon until it bends elastic
make cards spin and float and swing around

but you would know and suspect and guess
there was glue or string or some other trickery
and you would smile and expect nothing else of me

So what of Jesus and the spirit-angst synagogue man
some ancient incantation tossed out like streamers
then release and freedom and the enchantment is done

But say your mind was broken in three places
and I said be healed and know love 
and comfort trickled down from hair to heel as oil

Say your tumor grew from the last banging scan
and I held you and dripped tears on your shoulder
together we stared into the death in both our eyes

until it didn’t matter or it did but not with such aching
then the spell of be healed and of course know love 
and you were whole and embraced even malignancy

then maybe you would know that magic words work
and we are not fools to trust the magnanimous universe
the hidden strings and soulful glue and trickery of love


Blessing for a Whole Heart

You think
if you could just
imagine it,
that would be a beginning;
that if you could envision
what it would look like,
that would be a step
toward a heart
made whole.

This blessing
is for when
you cannot imagine.
This is for when
it is difficult to dream
of what could lie beyond
the fracture, the rupture,
the cleaving through which
has come a life
you do not recognize
as your own.

When all that inhabits you
feels foreign,
your heart made strange
and beating a broken
and unfamiliar cadence,
let there come
a word of solace,
a voice that speaks
into the shattering,

reminding you
that who you are
is here,
every shard
somehow holding
the whole of you
that you cannot see
but is taking shape
even now,
piece joining to piece
in an ancient,
remembered rhythm

that bears you
not toward restoration,
not toward return—
as if you could somehow
become unchanged—
but steadily deeper
into the heart of the one
who has already dreamed you

—Jan Richardson

stumblebum (Ist Corinthians 8:1-13)

at the bi-monthly meeting 
         of the presbytery, 
   there is so much 
     we can go back 2 or 3 
            times (if we 
          wanted) while 
       the hungry homeless 
   continue to scavenge 
               the bins 
      behind the building; 

gathering, chatting, munching 
   peanuts, sipping my pint 
      with colleagues after 
         i catch a face 
         out of the corner 
            of my eye, seeing 
    the college student (whose 
    mother is an alcoholic) 
       staring from a booth 
       across the room, and i 
   stutter-step over to say 

as i head out to lunch 
         with that person 
         who is not my 
   i not-so-carefully 
         tiptoe into 
     that minefield of 
        wrong assumptions 
        that can pop into 
           someone's mind, 
      that idle gossip 
      which can slip too 
         easily from their 

         untangle my freedoms 
     to keep me from sticking 
        them out in front of 
             others, tripping 
        on their way 

(c) Thom M. Shuman



one with authority by Jenn Gordon
Mark 1: 21-28

what is this power
that births new truth from old words
with the intonation of influence
and the weighted note of authority
who speaks even to the dark other within me
and it obeys

for I have heard these words
a hapless hundred times
and yet they have never lived
like they do when I hear them from to you
and I have been in this place
and seen evil meet with good, face to face
but never has the vileness been vanquished
and the darkness extinguished with such delicious, liberating light

and all this comes from you;
what have you to do
with us,
Jesus of Nazareth?


Being Possessed

I have a nagging hunch that the gospel’s power in our own time is about to be manifested in a manner as repugnant to the sensibilities of the society at large, and all of us who have accommodated ourselves to it, as the early Christian message was to Roman paganism. Our society is possessed, Christians as much as anyone. We are possessed by violence, possessed by sex, possessed by money, possessed by drugs. We need to recover forms of collective exorcism as effective as was the early Christian baptism’s renunciation of "the devil and all his works."

-Walter Wink
Engaging the Powers




Exorcism in the synagogue, Limbourg Brothers

Eyes Open

Another of the elders said: When the eyes of an ox or mule are covered, then he goes round and round turning the mill wheel: but if his eyes are uncovered he will not go around in the circle of the mill wheel. So too the devil if he manages to cover the eyes of a man, he can humiliate him in every sin. But if that man's eyes are not closed, he can easily escape from the devil.


-The Wisdom of the Desert
Thomas Merton (trans. and ed.)

Helping Each Other Create Space

The kingdom of God in Mark is good news because it brings liberation at a number of levels. The central thing is enabling people to be how God made them to be. That must involve addressing powers and gods that enslave. The more we understand how they work, the richer our understanding of redemption.... 
...Mark leaves us in no doubt about what constituted good news in his world, what the kingdom means, what happens when the Spirit ‘baptises’ people. The last thing Mark wants is for us or our congregations to be left behind when we encounter his opening scene. One of the skills of the pastor is to create the space, the ‘synagogue’, where our madness can come face to face with the holiness of Jesus. That also means coming to terms with our own madness.

-William Loader
“First Thoughts”Epiphany 4


The Last Word

Desire nothing but God: seek for nothing but God: and you shall taste of peace: you shall taste it in defiance of the world.

-Francois Fenelon (1651-1715)
Pious Reflections, The Seventeenth Day

Week of January 31—February 6
Mark 11:20—13:37

As Jesus and his disciples leave the upturned tables of the temple, they pass the fig tree that Jesus cursed on his way into the temple. Not unexpectedly, the fig tree has withered. Later in Mark, chapter 13, we’ll hear about a fig tree again, one that has learned “its lesson.” So what’s up with fig trees?

Naturally, the fig is more than a fruit filling for a delicious cookie. In the Old Testament, the fig is presented as a symbol of the nation of Israel. When Jesus enters the temple and sees the fig tree, his disdain is not for the barren tree but for a nation unready to receive its savior. The people of Israel know the laws by rote but not by heart, and Jesus’s frustration mounts.

In chapter 12, we read one of the under-est of understatements: “Then he began to speak to them in parables.” Jesus tries every which way to explain the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven to the disciples. These parables of stories and situations familiar to the people of the time offer life-giving lessons about the truth of God’s love, mercy, and grace. We encounter some familiar passages. For instance, the verse, “the stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” is a favorite among capital campaigns (and even etched on the building which houses my son’s gym). Later, we hear the story of the widow’s mite, the woman who gave all she had—two small copper coins—and in so doing, “put in more than all those who are contributing to the charity.” In these passages, Jesus juggles his teachings with the incessant, toddler-like questioning from the religious authorities. Intent on tripping Jesus into misspeaking or heresy, they ask him questions that would require a normal person to do linguistic gymnastics. Do we pay taxes to the emperor—or not? If a woman marries seven brothers, whose wife will she be in the resurrection, they ask. And finally, the ultimate question: “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answers with words simple in phrasing and profound with implication: Love the Lord God with all your heart…and love your neighbor as yourself. This is indeed the chief cornerstone of the faith.

In chapter 13, we encounter what scholars call the Olivet Discourse. The reason: Jesus is talking to his disciples on the Mount of Olives. All three synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) contain this conversation, which is rife with apocalyptic language. Jesus warns of coming destruction, of brother betraying brother, of persecution and suffering. The scholarship is divided about events Jesus is discussing. Is he foreshadowing the destruction of the temple, which will occur in 70 CE, or do his words foretell the second coming of Christ? Whether the great tribulation predicted by Jesus occurred in the first century or in the time to come, Jesus reminds us that no one, “neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son,” but the Father knows. Until that time, whenever it may be, Jesus says to us all: “Keep awake.”

1. Research other times that the Bible talks about the fig tree. What do you think Jesus is trying to say in the three stories mentioned in this weeks’ readings?

2. What is the chief cornerstone in your life of faith? In your family? In your church? What would others say it was?

3. Have you experienced the parable of the widow’s mite—a time when someone gave all they had to the glory of God? Compare it to Jesus’s words in Mark 10:17-27 to the rich man who wants to enter into the kingdom of heaven. What lesson do these stories tell us?

4. How do the words of chapter 13 make you feel? Why do you think Jesus gives some specific details about the coming tribulation—but not a time or place?

5. What spiritual practices can help you “keep awake?”

Thankfulness and Celebration
and News 

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.

 With 723 words, Amanda Gorman opened the door to the transformation we need. Let us remember and hold in our hearts "The Hill We Climb".

When day comes we ask ourselves, where can we find light in this never-ending shade? The loss we carry, a sea we must wade. We’ve braved the belly of the beast. We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace. In the norms and notions of what just is isn’t always justice.

And yet, the dawn is ours before we knew it. Somehow, we do it. Somehow, we’ve weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished.We, the successors of a country and a time where a skinny Black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president, only to find herself reciting for one.

And yes, we are far from polished, far from pristine, but that doesn’t mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect. We are striving to forge our union with purpose, to compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and conditions of man.

And so, we lift our gazes not to what stands between us, but what stands before us. We close the divide because we know, to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside. We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another. We seek harm to none and harmony for all. Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true. That even as we grieved, we grew. That even as we hurt, we hoped; that even as we tired, we tried; that we’ll forever be tied together, victorious. Not because we will never again know defeat, but because we will never again sow division.

Scripture tells us to envision that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid. If we’re to live up to our own time, then victory won’t lie in the blade, but in all the bridges we’ve made. That is the promise to glade, the hill we climb if only we dare it. Because being American is more than a pride we inherit; it’s the past we step into and how we repair it. We’ve seen a forest that would shatter our nation rather than share it, would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy. And this effort very nearly succeeded.

But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated. In this truth, in this faith we trust, for while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us. This is the era of just redemption. We feared it at its inception. We did not feel prepared to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour, but within it, we found the power to author a new chapter, to offer hope and laughter to ourselves.

So, while once we asked: “How could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?” Now we assert, “How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?”

We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be: a country that is bruised, but whole; benevolent, but bold; fierce and free. We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation, because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation. Our blunders become their burdens. But one thing is certain, if we merge mercy with might, and might with right, then love becomes our legacy, and change our children’s birthright.

So, let us leave behind a country better than one we were left. With every breath from my bronze-pounded chest, we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one. We will rise from the gold-limned hills of the West. We will rise from the wind-swept Northeast where our forefathers first realized revolution. We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the Midwestern states. We will rise from the sun-baked South. We will rebuild, reconcile and recover in every known nook of our nation, in every corner called our country our people diverse and beautiful will emerge battered and beautiful.

When day comes, we step out of the shade aflame and unafraid. The new dawn blooms as we free it. For there is always light. If only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.







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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