Episcopal Church

of Wichita Falls

All Saints Episcopal Church
Good Shepherd Episcopal Church
St. Stephen's Episcopal Church

Sunday  Morning Worship
with Communion
10:30 AM

905 Church Street
Decatur, TX 76234
Sunday Morning Worship
with Communion
10:00 AM




Blog Index
The journal that this archive was targeting has been deleted. Please update your configuration.

Joyful News Notes

Episcopal Church in Northern Deanery, Dioceses of Fort Worth

All Saints – Good Shepherd – St. Stephens – Wise County


Gospel Reflection on Mark 4:26-34 by Fr. John Payne

Biblical scholar Robert Alter notes that the story of David’s selection instead of one of his older brothers is a delightful tale of the inscrutable instruction of God, so often at variance with what is construed as sensible.  The choice of young David, a nobody, is a metaphor for the choice of the ragtag bunch of nobodies called Israel.  Jesus Christ himself was a good example of the way in which God often commissions those whom the world regards as lowly and of no account to do his will.  Today’s Gospel relates two parables about the inscrutable kingdom of God.  The first one compares the kingdom in our heart to a seed growing secretly.  God is in control of the growth, and certainly the outcome.  All that we’re asked to do is sow the seeds – take care of our families, practice the faith, and trust God.  Years ago the Navy Chief of Chaplains gave this advice to an eager-beaver new chaplain:  “Plant yourself where you are, because there’s plenty of manure to go around.”  The second parable compares the kingdom of God to a tiny seed that burst forth and blossoms into a very large shrub that can shelter birds.  The parable of the Mustard Seed speaks of what is now hidden but will assuredly be revealed – all because God’s choices are inscrutable.  The greatest of all, hidden in the least significant of all, is effective even in the smallest thing.  Jesus seems to be saying in both parables that before experiencing the hidden power of the kingdom of God, we are like fish swimming in the ocean, unaware that we are in water.  We are unaware of the domain of God encompassing the totality of our being.  It’s right under our noses – closer than water to fish.  Close.  Within grasp.  The Very Reverend John D. Payne, Emeritus Dean of the Northern Deanery, Diocese of Fort Worth and Emeritus Rector of All Saints' Episcopal Church,  former Interim Priest-in-Charge of St. Stephens Episcopal Church, and currently, a Supply Priest of Episcopal Church of Wichita Falls



The Ordination of Deacon Rodgers

To all


What an incredible Saturday!  Vicki and I went to St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Dallas.  Anne-Marie Williamson, our ECWF Senior Warden, and her son, Thomas, were also there.  Robert Christopher (AKA Topher) Rodgers along with 4 others were ordained to  order of Deacons by the Rt. Rev. George Sumner, Bishop of Dallas.  In a Cathedral struggling with its air conditioning system, we, along with several 100 folks, witnessed the ordinations.   It was a powerful and spirit-filled service with the voices of hundreds singing and rejoicing.   At communion, each of the deacons distributed the wine at various communion stations.  Anne-Marie, Vicki, and I all received the Bread of Life from Bishop Sumner and the Cup of Salvation from now Deacon Rodgers.   Following the service Bishop Sumner, Deacon Rodgers, Anne-Marie, and I took a group photo with the Cathedral altar in the background.  Bishop Sumner was pleased that folks from Wichita Falls had come for the ordination and teased about Bishop Mayer being a rabid baseball fan, albeit for the Texas Rangers (Bp. Sumner has long been an intense and devoted Boston Red Sox fan).  


At the reception, the support Deacon Rodgers had /has from his home parish of Transfiguration in Dallas was readily apparent.  They all took a group picture with him seated.  I would estimate 75+ folks there for support.  In addition, his wife, Jennifer’s parents and brother, all from The Falls,  were present as well!  While Anne-Marie and Thomas headed back to WF, Vicki and I returned to Rene and Nancy Somodevilla’s home (remember he was the friend of mine who visited ECWF a few weeks back).   As Canon in the Diocese of Dallas for a time, Fr. Rene knows Topher well and is enthusiastic in his support of him and his soon-to-be ministry in The Falls.  We all then went to a party held at the home of one of The Fig’s parishioners.  Again there were many, many folks (and kids) in attendance.  Their stories and best wishes were shared.  When learning we were from WF, we were welcomed and congratulated on receiving such a fine new clergy-person at our small church. 


A point that struck me was the enthusiastic support Deacon Rodgers received from his home parishioners on a hot, humid day in Dallas.  Against the backdrop of Topher and Jennifer attending there infrequently since he has been in seminary in Virginia the past 3 years, they still came in large numbers to support, witness, and celebrate his ordination!  We are getting someone at our little Episcopal Church of Wichita Falls that is much-loved and supported by many, many folks.  That speaks volumes for prior involvement in his parish and the many, many lives he touched as a lay person.  Just think what he can do as an ordained person.  Thanks be to God!






Fr. John Payne's Gospel Reflection on John 3:1-17

We affirm our belief in the Holy Trinity because we have been encountered by the three-person god, not because we completely understand the arcane theological language of the 4th century which articulates the doctrine.  We acknowledge that we have been transformed by a power greater than ourselves, loved by a greater love than any human love could express, embraced by a God who is so large, so rich, so close to us that we could never have thought this god up by ourselves.  We’re told that Trinity Sunday originated in the 9th century in the monasteries of Europe in order to counteract the stratified feudalism of society, the very rigid economic and social structure of king, lords, vassals, and serfs.  The monks’ comprehension of life in community (as well as women religious in convents) gave them a particularly keen sensitivity to the communal nature of god.  Trinity Sunday was born out of the conviction that God is a community of love, and that God chooses to become known to us by offering each a share in the relationship that constitutes the three-person God.  God has come among us to form a “community” where all our gifts and all our needs fit together, and where our great diversity finds unity.  Love and community are the answer to our most basic hunger -- to belong, to be welcomed and cherished as we are in that place of “image and likeness of god.”  When we come out of loneliness into community, we really do model the inner life of Godself, the image and likeness of God the Holy Trinity.  The Very Reverend John D. Payne, Emeritus Dean of the Northern Deanery, Diocese of Fort Worth and Emeritus Rector of All Saints' Episcopal Church,  former Interim Priest-in-Charge of St. Stephens Episcopal Church, and currently, a Supply Priest of Episcopal Church of Wichita Falls




Father Payne's Reflections on John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15

I’m told that the earth’s atmosphere contains all the air that ever was.  No cosmic planet cleansing comes along every hundred years or so to suck out all the old air and pump in the new.  The same air just keeps circulating, which means that every time we breathe, we inhale the same air that Plato, Mozart and Galileo breathed, as well as Atilla the Hun and Osama bin Laden.  Each time we breathe, we take in what was once some baby’s first breath or some dying person’s last.  Imagine that day of crucifixion when Jesus breathed his last for us, that his breath hovered in the air in front of him for a moment and then it was let loose on earth.  It was such a pungent breath -- so full of passion, full of energy -- that it did not simply dissipate.  It grew in strength and in volume, until it was a mighty wind, which God sent spinning through an upper room in Jerusalem on that day at Pentecost.  About 120 of Jesus’ friends are there, moping around and wondering what they are going to do without Jesus, when a mighty wind blew through the house and filled everyone up to the gills with God’s own breath.  Then the air came out of them in languages that they didn’t know, which drew outsiders from disparate parts of the world together to hear the gospel of Christ proclaimed in their particular language.  The Holy Spirit conspiracy was in full swing.  Shy people became bold, scared people became gutsy, and lost people found a sure sense of direction.  They dared to inhale on that day of Pentecost and were sucked into God’s own breath and were transformed by it.  The Very Reverend John D. Payne, Emeritus Dean of the Northern Deanery, Diocese of Fort Worth and Emeritus Rector of All Saints' Episcopal Church,  former Interim Priest-in-Charge of St. Stephens Episcopal Church, and currently, a Supply Priest of Episcopal Church of Wichita Falls