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Sermon Sunday January 28, 2024 The Fourth Sunday
after the Epiphany (Annual Meeting St. Paul’s)
Lessons: Deuteronomy 18:15-20
Psalm 111
1 Corinthians 8:1-13
Mark 1:21-28
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy
Spirit, Amen.
Today’s Gospel Lesson from Mark brings to mind an old
song I learned in church in my younger days. It’s the Spirit
is a Movin’. Let’s take a moment to hear this short song and
follow along with the words.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=48RwC9W4EaQ ) How
did today’s Gospel prompt this song?
Jesus is at the beginning of his public ministry as described
in Mark. Jesus has just come from his Baptism in the Jordan
River where the heavens were torn open, and the Spirit
descended upon him as God said, “This is my Son, my
Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” Jesus has been sent
forth with the power of the Spirit. Upon teaching in the
synagogue, Jesus teaches God’s Word with authority, unlike
the scribes, that is, the experts on God’s Word at the time.

Jesus is then immediately confronted by a man who has an
unclean spirit in him. The stage is set. The unclean spirit, or
Jesus with the presence of the Holy Spirit in him will have
more power? The unclean spirit begins to accuse Jesus, but
Jesus simply tells the unclean spirit to be silent and come out
of the man. The unclean spirit is none too happy, screeching
and convulsing, but it has no choice, and comes out of the
man. The unclean spirit recognizes who Jesus is—God’s
Holy One, God’s Son, with whom God is well please. The
folks in the synagogue are amazed at all of this, yet they fail
to recognize who Jesus is, while it is the unclean spirt that
does recognize Jesus.
This made me wonder, do we recognize the power of the
Holy Spirit in our lives as individuals and as a church
community? We might begin by taking a quick look back at
some of the events and happenings that took place within
our community, St. Paul’s, over the past year. ASK
Some of the things that immediately come to mind include
some baptisms. We, as a faith community, committed to the
Baptism of Nancy O’Brien’s grandchild on Easter Sunday,
and to Jonathan’s and Asher’s (and?) Baptism on All Saints

Sunday! And speaking of children, we welcomed Irene and
her three children into our community this past year! We
have had many visitors who we welcomed to St. Paul’s on
Sundays and during the week, as word of our unique
community spread across Texas and across the nation. St.
Paul’s has forged ahead with plans for renovating our
facilities to better serve our church members and the entire
community of Marfa. We have gained several new church
members as well. Along with Irene and her children, Doug
White, our substitute organist is new to us, along with
(OTHERS?) Our online presence continues to grow
throughour Facebook Live broadcasts on Sunday. This is a
blessing for local folks who cannot make our in person
worship for one reason or another, as well as for our friends
and supporters from places father afield such as Austin and
Dalas, and points beyond. We were able to have a lovely
Sunday worship service at Nancy O’Brien’s in September
followed by fantastic fellowship and a potluck, with Nancy
supplying the main dishes. We began Morning Prayer on
Wednesday mornings which has offered God’s presence to
those in the area and beyond in a different way from
Sundays. We continued with lively discussions at Bible

Study before our Sunday Eucharists, offering new and
unexpected insights into God’s Word. We celebrated
Thanksgiving as a faith community and with the wider
Marfa community, as well as with those visiting from other
places. Our fantastically interesting Book Study sessions
continued also. We saw the revival of the Marfa Ministerial
Alliance and a celebration of Fifth Sunday at St. Paul’s on
December 31, 2023. We survived a very hot summer, we
leaned on each other, and we supported and celebrated with
each other in the difficult times and the joyous times.
Yet the question remains. Have we been able to see the Holy
Spirit moving in our lives? Or like the folks in the
synagogue in Capernaum, are we amazed at all we have
accomplished, but don’t quite see the Spirit in it all?
Perhaps, some of us wonder where the Holy Spirit is in a
world where there was the outbreak of the Israeli-Palestinian
War, or the continuation of the war between the Ukraine and
Russia? Or perhaps we fail to see the Spirit at work in a
world where there seems to be such division among
ourselves? Or where we can’t comprehend the devastation
of natural disasters?

Yet, St. Paul’s could not do what it does without the power
of the Holy Spirit in our faith community. ASK
Congregation We have folks dedicated to the preservation
and thriving of God’s creatures, including cats, dogs,
humming birds, and all manner of wildlife! We see the
presence of the Holy Spirit in St. Paul’s support of the Marfa
Food Pantry, whether it be in material or monetary giving,
or helping to distribute food to our brothers and sisters in
Marfa who are experiencing economic pressures. The Holy
Spirit is among us in our service on Boards of Directors
having to do with education, or by supporting our local
students however we can. The Holy Spirit lives in our
service as we care for the infirm and ill. The Spirit is there
as members of the altar guild lovingly prepare St. Paul’s for
worship services. The Spirit is with us as we prepare coffee
hour and fellowship after our Sunday Eucharist. God’s Spirit
is present among us as we support our LGBTQIA church
and community members, and in the presence of those who
meet at St. Paul’s in AA meetings. By our presence in their
lives, they know that the love of God does exist. The Spirit
loudly proclaims to us through our music ministry, through
our services, through our taking of communion, anointing,

and visits to the ill. God’s Spirit is present in our lives and
the lives of our families and friends awe we practice
And while it seems there is so much wrong with the world,
we believe, we know, we experience that the Spirit cannot
be stopped. The presence of the Spirit is spread as evidenced
by Jesus’ resurrection. The world is in for a shock, in the
very best way, through the Spirit’s presence in our very
lives, just like the folks in Capernaum would be in for a
shock through the presence of God’s Spirit in Jesus!
Another sign of the Holy Spirit in our lives is how we seem
to do so much with so little, or how the dollars show up
when we most need them. Folks far and wide have been
touched by the presence of St. Paul’s in their lives in one
way or another. And how have they been touched? It is
because of the Spirit’s presence through each and every one
of us. It is through a word of welcome, through a smile,
through a handshake, through an invitation, through a cup of
coffee, or tea, or a cookie offered. And that love is expressed
through an offering, just when we need it the most.
And that brings us to take a moment to reflect as we
contemplate how the season of stewardship that is coming

upon us is actually an expression of our spiritual seles, or
how God’s Spirit has moved in our lives. Stewardship for us
is a spiritual practice. As our stewardship season
approaches, we are invited to pray about, not think about,
nor perform a rote practice, but to pray about how the Spirit
has worked in our lives over the past year, and how that can
be reflected in our stewardship practice this year. Our
Treasurer, Bishop’s Warden, and Vicar sent a letter detailing
our finances a few weeks back, and even talked about the
debt being a one time thing because of last year’s gas leak.
Well, the Spirit certainly is a movin’ in our lives, in the life
the St. Paul’s faith community, and in the life of Marfa,
Texas. The Spirit is a movin’ through us, and in us, and by
us. The Spirit is a movin’ in ways we can’t see yet. Let this
year be a year of amazement and authority as the Spirit
moves. Let this year be a year of prayer that we recognize
where the Spirit moves, in perhaps the most unexpected
places, hearts, and minds. We can then ask, “Oh Holy Spirit,
where do you want us as St. Paul’s to carry you to the world,
to move over this land?” Amen.