Vision Statement for St. Paul’s, Marfa, Texas
St. Paul’s is an open, loving community
growing in the experience and understanding of the love of God,
acting to share the visible presence and compassion of Christ.
Mission Statement for St. Paul’s, Marfa, Texas:
Our mission is to be a welcoming, prayerful, caring community
actively sharing the love of God.

Values Statement for St. Paul's Marfa, Texas
To accomplish our mission, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church bases its decisions and actions on the following core values:

Love of God and neighbor by honoring the worth and dignity of every human being including ourselves.
Daily relationship with God all through our lives through prayer and service.
The importance of giving and receiving forgiveness through the generosity of the Holy Spirit.
We value continual learning.
We value the Episcopal tradition of communal worship.
Practicing hospitality by welcoming all and serving and sharing with our communities.
The stewardship of God’s creation and all its inhabitants.




The Common Good

St.Thomas Aquinas a medieval Roman Catholic scholar, was the first to coin the term "common good." He was concerned about the ways governments care for all people, not just those who have privileges or access to power and wealth. Aquinas noted that when rulers make laws that violate what works for the common good, they become tyrants. Auinas went non to conclude,, "A tyrannical government is not just, because it is directed not to the common good, but to the private good of the ruler." What does this say about us? Nothing good, I fear. 

 A recent statistic I read was this: "People in the US spend $56,000 EVERY SECOND on weapons development. I can think of a lot more creative ways to spend that kind of money." Couldn't we all? Instead of building weapons that kill people and destroy our planet, what could we do with $56,000 every second for the common good? We could...

  • Eradicate hunger, 
  • Build a farm to table movement that supports local community economies,
  • Develop treatments and vaccines for diseases impacting people around the world,
  • Give everyone who wants it access to higher education, 
  • Begin the work of reparations, 
  • Provide social services and support to help families thrive,
  • Rebuild our roads, bridges, and critical infrastructure, 
  • Invest in minority and women-owned enterprises,
  • Develop clean energy solutions, 
  • Clean our oceans...

In other words, we could care for the poor, heal the sick (and our planet), honor our children and elders, and protect the weakest among us. If we refused to invest in greed and tyranny, we could invest in a more just and generous world for all. The core teaching of every major religion says that care for the "common good" is the path to God. 

My heart breaks for the hypocrisy of our time. So I find myself clinging to the wisdom of Joanna Macy who reminds us, "The heart that breaks open can contain the whole universe." 

In your prayers and confessions remember the common good. What shared blessings are you thankful for, and what shared sins will you own?

May we all break open for the sake of the common good. 

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


Hymn of the Month by Beth Kerzee

Hymn #700; O love that casts out fear
O love that casts out fear,
O love that casts out sin,
Tarry no more without,
But come and dwell within?

True sunlight of the soul, 
Surround us as we go;
So shall our way be safe, 
Our feet no straying know.

Great love of God, come in!
Wellspring of heavenly peace;
Thou Living Water, come!
Spring up, and never cease.

Love of the living God,
Of Father and of Son;
Love of the Holy Ghost,
Fill thou each needy one.

Composer: Henry Thomas Smart, 1813-1879

Henry Smart (b. Marylebone, London, England, 1813; d. Hampstead, London, 1879), a capable composer of church music who wrote some very fine hymn tunes (REGENT SQUARE, 354, is the best-known).

Smart gave up a career in the legal profession for one in music. Although largely self-taught, he became proficient in organ playing and composition, and he was a music teacher and critic. Organist in a number of London churches, including St. Luke's, Old Street (1844-1864), and St. Pancras (1864-1869), Smart was famous for his extemporizations and for his accompaniment of congregational singing. He became completely blind at the age of fifty-two, but his remarkable memory enabled him to continue playing the organ. Fascinated by organs as a youth, Smart designed organs for important places such as St. Andrew Hall in Glasgow and the Town Hall in Leeds. He composed an opera, oratorios, part-songs, some instrumental music, and many hymn tunes, as well as a large number of works for organ and choir. He edited the Choralebook (1858), the English Presbyterian Psalms and Hymns for Divine Worship (1867), and the Scottish Presbyterian Hymnal (1875). Some of his hymn tunes were first published in Hymns Ancient and Modern (1861).

By: Bert Polman from

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.”
I John 4:18

Love that Casts Out Fear. From Br. Jonathan Maury
We have some fears built into our DNA that have helped preserve us as a species, whether it be a fear of pitch darkness or some other phobia. I believe that the true, deepest fear that we have is that of losing the loving regard of those close to us, or of even God. 

Our human existence is plagued with fears. We have some fears built into our DNA that have helped preserve us as a species, whether it be a fear of pitch darkness or some other phobia. We also deal day to day with our fear of the unknown or the unfamiliar, which comes up again and again in small ways. But it is in these fears that we forget the perfect love which casts out fear.

But I believe that the true, deepest fear that we have, the greatest fear that we have, is that of losing the loving regard of those close to us, or of even God.  When I feel myself to have, by my words or actions, caused my loss of the loving regard of others or of God, I’m already punishing myself with self-inflicted wounds. But what does the letter say? The letter says, “there is no fear in love but perfect love casts out fear, for fear has to do with punishment.” God is by nature that Perfect Love, the perfect love which comes in Jesus. Jesus’ actions and teachings are rooted in this truth. In the twelfth chapter of John’s gospel we read Jesus speaking: “Now is my soul troubled and what should I say: Father save me from this hour? No, it was for this reason that I’ve come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.”

Jesus knows that by keeping up relationship with God in prayer and in openness of heart, his fears will be calmed and dispelled and healed. And Jesus by example teaches us to rely also on relationship with God, who is the perfect love casting out fearLet us pray today for Jesus to grant us memories of those times when our fears have been dispelled by the perfect love which casts out fear, by the remembrance of God which has come to us either in our life of prayer or in our relationships with others. And we might also bring our present fears before the Father, as Jesus brought his fear so that that perfect love which is God, God’s presence, may be imparted to us, that we may glorify God’s name this day in ways great and small, ways particular to us and reflect that perfect love which is without fear, that perfect love which is God.



Ash Wednesday - Beginning of Lent
Noon - Ash Wednesday Liturgy
1:00 - 2:00 - Drive-by Imposition of Ashes

If you wish to have ashes brought to you, please email the church at

This will be an unusual Ash Wednesday. Some churches won’t use ashes to mark the beginning of Lent this year. We at St. Paul's will give those who wish to drive by the opportunity to have ashes imposed. It will be done with a q-tip and of course wearing our masks. 
Fortunately, our Book of Common Prayer does not require ashes. In fact, “The First Day of Lent” is a valid title for what we usually call “Ash Wednesday” according to our prayer book. The primary focus of getting our Lenten journey started is our awareness of our need to repent. And the whole season flows from that.

For more information on the imposition of ashes click here and read about Ash Wednesday and imposition of ashes by by Bishop J. Neil Alexander.

We are deprived of our usual Lenten customs this year. But perhaps there is an invitation for us to focus on our need of repentance, of our need to draw closer to Jesus Christ. Maybe we will have a deeper experience of growing into the full stature of Christ as we depart our comfortable, familiar places.

Lenten Study
Beginning February 24th
Wednesday Nights @ 7 on Zoom
Link and information to come
The topic will coincide with the Stewardship program
during Lent

Mark your calendars

New Book for the Book Study

An extraordinary story set in the first century about a woman who finds her voice and her destiny, from the celebrated number one New York Times bestselling author of The Secret Life of Bees and The Invention of Wings

In her mesmerizing fourth work of fiction, Sue Monk Kidd takes an audacious approach to history and brings her acclaimed narrative gifts to imagine the story of a young woman named Ana. Raised in a wealthy family with ties to the ruler of Galilee, she is rebellious and ambitious, with a brilliant mind and a daring spirit. She engages in furtive scholarly pursuits and writes narratives about neglected and silenced women. Ana is expected to marry an older widower, a prospect that horrifies her. An encounter with eighteen-year-old Jesus changes everything. 

Their marriage evolves with love and conflict, humor and pathos in Nazareth, where Ana makes a home with Jesus, his brothers, and their mother, Mary. Ana's pent-up longings intensify amid the turbulent resistance to Rome's occupation of Israel, partially led by her brother, Judas. She is sustained by her fearless aunt Yaltha, who harbors a compelling secret. When Ana commits a brazen act that puts her in peril, she flees to Alexandria, where startling revelations and greater dangers unfold, and she finds refuge in unexpected surroundings. Ana determines her fate during a stunning convergence of events considered among the most impactful in human history. 

Grounded in meticulous research and written with a reverential approach to Jesus's life that focuses on his humanity, The Book of Longings is an inspiring, unforgettable account of one woman's bold struggle to realize the passion and potential inside her, while living in a time, place and culture devised to silence her. It is a triumph of storytelling both timely and timeless, from a masterful writer at the height of her powers.

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 Fifth Sunday after The Epiphany
February 7, 2021

Isaiah 40:21-31
Psalm 147: 1-11, 20c
1 Corinthians 9:16-23
Mark 1:29-39

Isaiah 40.21-31: God's View (Art and Faith Matters)

How we human beings strive to be seen as important in our world. Some people will trade everything that should matter to them in order to be powerful and important according to the world's assessment. But perhaps we should remember how we look when seen from a different point of view. Isaiah tells us that we look like insects from where God is sitting (Isaiah 40:21-31, Epiphany 5B). God sits above the circle of the earth, and the earth's inhabitants look like grasshoppers. 

With that in mind, you can probably work out the subject matter of the contemporary painting below. 

Nina Brooke. Shoreline. Available as a giclee print.

Painter (and surfer) Nina Brooke has painted the beach from above. This view is closer to what the prophet describes in the lectionary text. The individual people look like small dark smudges against the tan of sand, the white of waves and the blue-green of the water. No individual features are recognizable. No distinctions of class or race are easily evident. The people move as groups and individuals, they move closer together and father apart, echoing the ebb and flow of waves and tides. The view from above can be no more detailed than that.

And yet, God's care is for each of those moving specks. God has promised that each of those little faceless specks can, if they wait on God, renew their strength. Each of those featureless dots can, if they wait on God, mount up with wings like eagles. Each of those indistinguishable blobs can, if they wait on God, run and not be weary. Each of those ant-sized beings can, if they wait on God, walk but not faint. They just have to wait on God. In other words...Patience (but wait eagerly), young grasshopper.

I Corinthians 9.16-23: Marketing Jesus (Art and Faith Matters)

Every marketing website, consultant, handbook, and tip sheet will tell you: Know your own message. Know your own audience. You can't be all things to all people. Apparently no one told Paul. Or Jesus. Because Paul, talking about his calling to preach the gospel, says (or writes) out loud, "I have become all things to all people." (I Corinthians 9:22). 

Wow. No pressure. And to be honest, I don't know that Paul really was all things to all people, though he could certainly reach out to particular audiences because of his own experiences. He could talk about being a Jew. He could talk about being outside the law (now). He could talk about being inside the law, actually. But all things to all people? I think Paul might have been optimistic. 

Jesus is another story. The history of art has shown us that Jesus can, pretty much, be all things to all people. Books like Jaroslav Pelikan's Jesus Through the Centuries show us that Jesus has been rabbi, king, monk, sufferer, prince, poet, liberator, and more. Jesus has been triumphant and tragic, universal and particular. All things. Jesus has been perceived (and depicted) as "like us" by all the "us-es" with a pictorial tradition. 


And it hasn't stopped. We continue to find the Jesus we need: Jesus who stands up for the oppressed, Jesus who can love the unloveable. Jesus who bridges gaps, even gaps we didn't know we had. That's the miracle of the gospel. Humans may be (are) wiser not to try to be all things to all people, but Jesus isn't as limited as we are. That's good news.


Solitude by Steven Garnass-Holmes

         In the morning, while it was still very dark,
         he got up and went out to a deserted place,
         and there he prayed.
         And Simon and his companions hunted for him.

               —Mark 1.35-36

Find your deserted place,
dark and empty,
far from words:
not just solitude,
but soul-itude,
where you are
the I AM within you.

Pour yourself out of yourself
until you are empty.
Abandon what you think;
let the stone be stone, the light light,
wall and window and mountain
be themselves,
and so with you.
Leave behind all you identify with,
all you hang onto to know yourself,
so there is only God,
and God's emptiness you enter,
a night sky full of love.

No one can say where you are, or who.
You are in God.

Beloved, stay there as long as you can,
until you can't be anywhere else.


Have you not known, grasshopper? by Michael Coffey

Have you not known? Have you not heard?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
It is he who sits above the circle of the earth,
and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers;
who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
and spreads them like a tent to live in;
who brings princes to naught,
and makes the rulers of the earth as nothing.
Isaiah 40:21-23
What a relief and what a cause
of humility right down to my exoskeleton.
The shaping of the earth
and the timing of the rains
the rising of the sun
and the spreading of the stars on the sky fabric
the making and crowning of kings
and the dethroning of prideful powers
does not depend on me
a grasshopper in the field of the world.
But the world does depend on me
to hop and nibble on the grass
and stop and take notice with my compound eyes
of the sun, the sky, the muscle and immodesty of kings
and with my mandibles in full song
let praise and protest rise up above me.

The House

That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. 
-Mark 1:32

So the power of God goes forth; it moves out to those beyond the realm of institutional religious practice and worship into the house of the followers of Jesus. This is Jesus, in the words of the prophet Isaiah, who has "called you for the victory of justice" and "grasped you by the hand." This images the work of Jesus, raising us from the dead, saving us from evil, grasping us for the victory of justice, wrenching us away from the violence of evil and the shallowness of selfish ritual. There is no sickness, physical, psychological, or spiritual, that, once touched by Jesus, can stand against the power of God. And Simon's mother-in-law's response to Jesus is immediate: she rises from her bed and begins to wait on them. …

Simon's house, run by his mother-in-law, becomes a household of God, a church, a gathering of those in need of healing and forgiveness. Some older translations use the phrase "the whole world was pressing up against the door." This is the new gathering place, the new company of Jesus. It embraces those in need of healing and those healed and grasped for the victory of justice, helping the multitudes who come to Jesus.

-Megan McKenna
On Your Mark: Reading Mark in the Shadow of the Cross

A Deserted Place


In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. -Mark 1:35

Let me seek, then, the gift of silence, and poverty, and solitude, where everything I touch is turned into prayer: where the sky is my prayer, the birds are my prayer, the wind in the trees is my prayer, for God is all in all.
In true prayer, although every silent moment remains the same, every moment is a new discovery of a new silence, a new penetration into that eternity in which all things are always new. We know, by fresh discovery, the deep reality that is our concrete existence here and now and in the depths of that reality we receive from the Father light, truth, wisdom and peace. These are the reflection of God in our souls which are made to His image and likeness.


-Thomas Merton 1915-1968
Thoughts in Solitude

On The Way

He answered, "Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do." Mark 1:38

(on leaving the desert) And so I found myself back in the world, in the midst of all the confusions, surrounded by my fellow men and women. ...Humanity too is an absolute, and you must seek, love, and serve human beings just as you seek, love, and serve God. Jesus let us in no doubt about this inexorable and simultaneous movement into the two dimensions, the horizontal and the vertical.

The closer you come to God as you ascend the slopes of contemplation, the greater grows your craving to love human beings on the level of action. The perfection of men and women on earth consists in the integration, vital and authentic, of our love for God and our love for human beings.

 -Carlo Carretto 1910-1988
  In Search of the Beyond
  (quoted from Carlo Carretto: Essential Writings, Robert Ellsberg)

Week of January 31—February 6

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 all who participated in our Annual Meeting. 

Thank you to Tricia who kept the minutes which will be in the coming newsletter.

Thank you to Dan who presented our Budget for this year and keeps our books straight.

Thank you to Joni who will be leading our Stewardship program during Lent.

Thank you to Keri and her leadership as Bishop's Warden.

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

Parish website -
Facebook -

This email was sent to 
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

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