Archive for December, 2009

“Giving Thanks”

December 31, 2009

John 1:1-5

At the end of the calendar year we go back to the beginning of St. John’s Gospel, and to the beginning of time. As we cross the bridge to 2010, we recall that the greatest thing of all happened at the beginning, and that God is eternal.  I give thanks for the years of my life–for the journey that continues, and for the God in Jesus who has walked  and walks with me.  I look back and I see the very negative aspects of my life, but I also see God working in them, and continuing to work in them, and I am thankful.  I am learning to be thankful for each moment, and to live in the moment, and I am thankful for all who have supported me this past year. I am thankful I can forgiven and let go of past hurts and move in the Light of of God’s presence. “Rejoice in the Lord! Again I say Rejoice!

Last night I did outreach and it was a great time.  Today I am cooking and will serve the meal and do outreach. Deo Gratis! Thanks be t0 God!

“Wasting Time With God”

December 30, 2009

Luke 2:36-40–in a few words scripture captures thirty years of the life of  Jesus:  “The child grew and became strong . . .”

For many years in the ministry I was too damn busy to find time to pray, to say the offices, to celebrate the Eucharist every day.  I have friends who half way make fun of me for the time I take to read the Bible–they have more important things to do–these are ministers mind you.  But in the past few years I have found that the time I take each take to say the offices, to pray, to celebrate the Eucharist fuel me for each day, for the moments of frustration, doubt, and fatigue ahead. They keep me centered on Jesus, they keep me focused, they keep things in perspective. And so I waste time with God, and in so doing I find strength and focus.

Yesterday I spent the afternoon cooking, Ken came in and helped me with my computer, and I served the meal last night.  Before I went to the Castro I took and old pair of pants and some food to an old homeless guy, he was grateful and in those moments there was peace in his eyes, I felt the presence of Christ. In fact I felt the presence of Jesus during the whole meal last night–giving food, blankets, socks, on a rainy night.  I said the “Jesus Prayer” as I was serving the meal, it kept me centered and focused. I came home and did outreach. One old guy, a drunk, was passed out and I put a blanket over him, and I felt a closeness and I thought how sad it is that we spend so much on the military but so little on ordinary human beings. Our shelters are full, it takes months to get into drug treatment and our military is strong–it is sad. And so the day begins. Deo Gratis! Thanks be to God!

“The Greatest of these Is Love”

December 29, 2009

I John 2:3-11; Luke 2:22-35

All over the news last night was the arrest of the young terroist who tried to blow up a plane in the “name of Allah”. I have a young friend who is an activist who says: “do not forgive anyone.”  The Bible is clear:  God is a God of love. Through the years that is the God who has won out over the the “gods” in the Old Testament.   Simeon welcomed Jesus as a light to the gentlies, and it is that Light that Jesus brings–of love, of peace, of care.  The way of violence, of war–even of “just war” does not work, it never has, but the way of love has always worked.  Teresa of Avila says: “To have courage for whatever comes in life–everything lies in that.” For me to face each day witnessing to the God of peace is to have courage, to witness for Jesus in the midst of a society that sees him in so many differernt facets rather than the One of Love, and Peace. As we enter the New Year may we do so in peace and love.  I went to the food bank, to get blankets, and stayed in last night. Deo Gratis! Thanks beo to God!”

“Family” and “Fighting”

December 28, 2009

December 27 and 28

Luke 2:41-50–Feat of the Holy Family Matthew 2:13-18–Feast of the Holy Innocents

Yesterday was the Feast of the Holy Family. The church tends to portray the family of Jesus as a nuclear, homey, family. But in the midst of the picture we see Jesus rebelling against that  concept. The concept of the “family” as being biological, as simply being about whom you were born to for for him the whole world is one family. He seeks to break the down the stereotypes of the family then and now to cross all divides, to have us see each other as family. Today is the Feast of  the Holy Innocents–and we remember the slaughter of youth by Herod, a slaughter that continues to day across the world and in the Holy Land.. A slaughter that is about power, about land. Jesus calls us to love each other. Religion for him is about relationships not about beliefs and about property. He calls us to love each other as children of God. Meister Eckhart wrote: “What good is it if Mary gave birth to the son of God centuries ago, if I do not also give birth to God’s son in my time and culture?”  We are called to give birth to Jesus–the Jesus who loved and cared for his neighbors now.

I have taken the last two days off. I spent Saturday night in Pacifica, yesterday at home, and will probably take it easy today. I am exhausted, just terribly exhausted. Deo Gratis! Thanks be to God!

“God In the Rags”

December 26, 2009

Christmas, 2009. It has been a great, an awesome Christmas.   I cooked the meal, and then went to the Haight to serve with Amith and his family. Amith’s mother commented that people seemed happy, and I believe that they are happy, they live their lives one day at a time, with little money, little support. Oppie was hurting from an abscess. I gave him money to get his medication and his Christmas present.  We gave out over three hundred gifts and fed eighty people.  Today Christ is born, and Christ we saw in rags, but he was content. I have been asked several times when I am going to see my family, and again, I have spent the holidays with my family.  For family are those who want me, who care about me.  My biological family seems to care very little. Unless I call them I never hear from them, and so through the years my family has evolved into my friends and those I serve day in and day out.

Feast of St. Stephen Acts 6:8-10; 7:54-59

Today we celebrate the martyrdom of the Stephen. He died for preaching the Gospel, but the Gospel of love. In looking at the story one sees that those who killed him were afraid to look at worshipping God in any different form.  He was not saying they were wrong–just they might be open to more loving way. Today across the world people are killing each other in the name in religion. In our own country people condemn and hate each other over religion and the right way to worship. Our fight over health care is being torn a part over religious values. Rather then showing others  respect in their various beliefs–and being open to different ways–people destroy each other, and they are destroying the world in the same manner. The child born whose birth we celebrated yesterday respects life, respects what others believe and offers a a way of love not judgment.  This is the Jesus of the Gospels.  Deo Gratis! Thanks be to God!

“Jesus Is Born”

December 25, 2009

Luke 2:1-14-Christmas Day

Christ Is Born!  Yesterday I cooked a meal, and served 55 people, and did outreach with gifts to forty others and celebrated the Eucharist. It has been an awesome day.  I was thinking about family today. People often asked me if I am going to spend time with my family. Well–I do.  For the guys on the street are my family.  They are the one’s I give my time, and my life to.  I am with family during the holidays, I am surrounded by family.  In reading the Christmas story I was struck by how poor the family of Jesus was.  We fail to see the poverty, and see how Jesus was always poor.  In the poverty was his strength. I think of agencies that spend thousands of dollars on their programs, and we spend less then 60,000 a year. I live on personally around 20-25,000.  It is what you do with your life that matters–not how much you have.  And so the night ends for me, and I will begin a new day in a few hours, preparing a meal and serving it on the Haight, giving out gifts–what joy that is! Deo Gratis! Thanks be to God!

“Hope”

December 24, 2009

Luke 1:67-79

Zechariah offers us hope in this passage. As I get older this passage means a lot to me for it points out that unless you are willing to change, to grow, to look to new horizons then you stay the same, you  become hardened, embittered. I have  a friend who is in his mid sixties, he is basically stuck in where he is, and he constantly talks about the past, and his freinds are dying.  Life is very dark for him at times, but Zechariah reminds us it is in the  hope that we can rejoice. For fifteen years I have walked these streets, and I still have hope, and the hope will not be realized in my life time, but ultimately God will bring everything into sync, and that is my hope.

I spent yesterday morning moving blankets with the Innes. The Innes are my family, they have long ceased being my friends, and they are dedicated to the Gospel.  I am more and more impressed.  I began my relationship with Peter and I was enveloped by the family in sickness and in health.  They have been a blessing.

Last night I did outreach, it was great having the blankets, it made me feel really good to cover some one up sleeping without any cover on a cold night. Four people came by and hung out and got their Christmas gifts.  A great night, and now I begin a long day, cooking, and going out with gifts, but it will be awesome.  People often wonder how I can take some of the negative responses from people when I give them a gift and it is not what they want, but it is not for me about their appreciation, it is about the giving, and the knowledge that they react from their situation, their bitterness of being on the street and their loneliness and for a few minutes they are not alone. Deo Gratis! Thanks be to God!

Christmas Letter, 2009–December 23, 2009

December 24, 2009

Dear Friends,

Today we are celebrating the birth of John the Baptist and in two days we will celebrate the birth of  Jesus.  Both will die violent deaths, both will suffer much.  For me in the celebration of Christmas I am always reminded of the suffering Jesus in our midst.  As I walk the streets the next three nights, as I celebrate the Eucharist the next two days,  as I feed those who have so little, I am reminded of the Suffering Jesus, but in the midst of that suffering I am also reminded that Christ was born to bring hope, to bring the hope of a life far better and in that hope I live, move, and have my being.

Someone commented several days ago that I have seemed to be happier, more at ease, more at peace with life.  And she is right I am.  The past few years I have come to understand that as humans we all suffer, and we will all die, and that it is living in the moment, trusting in the One whose birth we celebrate  this week that real joy comes.  Life is not easy period.  And I have found that in embracing life in all of its fullness with the presence of the Christ that there is much joy.  For me it is not about having material things, in fact the older I become, the less I desire, but it is in reaching out and walking with the people who have so little, and who need so much both spiritually and materially that I find real joy.  I walk the journey to which I was called before I was born in my mother’s womb, and I give praise to God for that call.

And so this my fifteenth Christmas on Polk and the Haight, on this year of our Lord, 2009, I wish each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas!  May Christ being joy, meaning, and hope in your life.

In Jesus, Street, Person, and Rebel,

Father River Damien Sims

“Blessed Are You Among Women”

December 22, 2009

Lk. 1:39-45

Elisabeth calls Mary blessed.  It appears that Mary is bathed in glory, but I wonder if in the back ground Mary has suffered must gossip and  verbal abuse for being pregnant out of wedlock.  I have had girls on the street tell me they were pregnant by the Holy Spirit–did I believe them? No.  So what would Mary go through at that time, in that era?  Mary was a woman of faith, and it is her faith that carried her through the birth and the crucifixion–she had complete trust in God.

I went out and picked out site for blankets, a lot of money, but needed.  Money is hellar low, but as always I trust that it will come. During outreach on Polk socks, and food, some grateful, some wanted more and demanded more.  I am glad I give out of the goodness of my heart not expecting anything in return because I do not often get much back. It is about giving, giving without expecting anything. I am far happier now then when I received a salary from a church. One of the guys, 40 year old Terry was upset. I had told him where to go to begin the process of getting in treatment–it is going to take three months–again cheapen human life, and he is not getting what he needs, and will give up hope. His girlfriend was crying–upset with the rain, with life.  In the Haight I saw around sixty people, all appreicative of socks and food.  It has been an excellent day! Deo Gratis! Thanks be to God!

“Get Away from the Nicey, Nice Christmas”

December 21, 2009

DECEMBER 20, 2009

Michah 5:2-12

Micah spoke passionately about the poor against the exploitation of the rich and corrupt.  Alone among the prophets he names Bethlehem the place the Messiah will be born.  He will come from among the poorest of the poorest.  He will represent their cause. He is one of them.  I think of the kids on the street at Christmas time, and of the middle age and older people on the street, and of the people who are so poor they have so little and how little they have. I look at our advertisements and they are pointed towards those with money. I think of friends who have a beautiful tree and all the gifts. I wonder where Christ is in all of this and I know he is on the street and with the poor. That is where his heart is, that is where he is welcome.   If we but would see the real message of Jesus, our society would change, and would be more equal.

Jim, 20, on speed, came by to use phone and get needles, he was simply out of it, seems he has a house he can buy for 10.00 in the city. “Rabbitt stopped by for needles, and some food, out trying to get a “date”–Jesus stopped by in their presence.  Stephen and I had dinner.  I watched TV and went to bed early. Deo Gratis! Thanks be to God!