Archive for July, 2016

Balancing Wisdom and Justice

July 30, 2016


Matthew 14:1-12

Herod’s generous promise was not balanced by wisdom and justice. He lost sight of his true balance and acted out of injustice and for his own desires.  This is a story of negative emotions–fear, passion, hatred, lack of human respect.  These can so overwhelm us that we ignore their consequences.  Self-control isn’t popular in our world. But it is a gift of the Spirit.

Jesus taught that his greatest commandment was to “Love the Lord our God with all of our mind, strength, and soul and our neighbor as our self.” He teaches us to live a life of balance.

Our lives are off balance when we judge people because of their sexual orientation, gender, race, creed, or political persuasion. We are just as destructive and fatal as Herod when we hurl our own self righteous judgments against others.

I witness every day of my life that destructiveness in the lives of people, people on the street, because of the hatred and judgment of others. I see physical and verbal abuse, I see them denied the use of rest rooms, and of shelter–all because they are homeless–they are different. 

Almost every funeral I have had in the past twenty years have been with people who have suffered at the hands of the Herod’s of the world–they have been judged because of their sexual orientation, their race, their poverty, their mental illness, their religion and thrown aside as “nobodies”.

Our political climate is filled with people who are far off balance–calling each other names, threatening people of color and other faith beliefs.

Our lives are off balance when we fail to see people as children of God, as our equals.  Friends tell me that we are not all equal. Every time I stand at a hospital bed, every time I stand at the foot of a grave I know we are equal. Some of my best friends are far younger than I am, but they are more mature than many people far older than they are–they are my equals. When we face that reality we are open to share of our own bounty so that others might have.

So let us look at ourselves and rekindle a balance in our lives, and not be like Herod, who let his own selfishness get him off balance. For being off balance leads to our own self destruction as well as that of others. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

Into Galilee

July 29, 2016



Several weeks ago I had a memorial service for twenty four year old Sean, he died of cancer. I met Sean when he ran away at 13. He was gay, his dad in particular could not handle it.  And so began a journey with Sean and his family. His father agreed to keep his mouth shut, and let Sean be Sean, and focused his anger and homophobia on me. But a change took place, God works in mysterious ways, and Brad moved from being a homophobic father to a straight ally. He walked in the Pride Parade this year in Sean’s honor. Brad remained active in his church, his minister would have nothing to do with Sean and began calling me “Lucifer”, and so when I send Brad thank you notes for his donations I always signed them “Lucifer”.  It has become a joke between Brad and I. Sean’s memorial service was in a park in the East Bay, a beautiful setting. I used the service from the Prayer Book of New Zealand and the words became the living Word. Sean wanted his ashes scattered during the “Rave” in Joshua Tree. And so his two brothers, who are twins and 18, and I  are going to take them to the “Rave”. We will have a service with the family before we leave. And that is Sean, he wants to go out partying.

For me it has been a difficult two weeks. This morning I bought breakfast for two guys who have been on the street for years, and as I did I thought of the passage from Mark where the young man told Mary Magdalene: . . .”Go tell his disciples. .that he is going ahead of you into Galilee”. Sean has now gone ahead, and until my time comes I will  continue to do what I have now done for so long and call others to do the same:

“Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.”
John Wesley

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Fr. River Damien Sims, D.S.T., D.Min. Candidate

Do All the Good That You Can

July 28, 2016



Jeremiah 18-1-6 Stanley Rother Mathew 13:37-43

“Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.”
John Wesley

These words of John Wesley were embedded in our psyche for as long as we can remember.  We were taught that these words were summed up in the Great Commandment of Jesus: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with all thy mind, thy soul and and thy strength.”  We entered the ministry with these words as the shining light of our theology, and we have continued through the years believing that Christ calls us to love people with out thought to race, creed, color, sexual orientation or religious expression.

Two days ago as we stood out side of McDonald’s in the Haight we witnessed a security guard  hassle  a young man who was urinating behind a car, threatening him. Telling him to Go p… ss somewhere else.” We saw the young man urinate all over himself and break down and cry. The one out door restroom was out of order.  He had no money.  We carry $5.00 in cash with us at all times in case we have to use the bathroom.  This young man is a non-person–he had no money to buy his way into a rest room.

Today we remember Servant of God Stanley Rother a Jesuit priest who volunteered in Guatemala to work with the  Tzutuhil Indians. He worked with them in the fields and advocated for them against the authorities. His prayer was “Pray for us that we may be a sign of the love of Christ for our people.”  He worked with them where they were, without expectation.  Ultimately he was murdered by the authorities for his advocacy. Fr. Stanely lived out Wesley’s words:

Our Gospel today calls us to sort out all that baggage of prejudice, bias, and judgment and than reach out and:

“Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.”
John Wesley

Temenos Catholic Worker

P. O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164



July 27, 2016
“Where Jacob Wrestled With God And Survived!”
August, 2016
Newsletter of Temenos Catholic Worker
P.O. Box 642656
San Francisco, CA 94164


We enter August and we remember the days August as being called the “dog days of summer,” where we were raised in the South. They were so hot and humid that we stayed in the shade, and simply hung out, and drank a lot of iced tea. We remember going skinny dipping in the “Washout,” an enclosed body of water fed by springs, created by the 1812 New Madrid Earthquake, and neighbors stopping by at night as we sat on our porch outside. It was in the summer that our parents became sick and died, and it was the caring of neighbors, sitting with us, feeding us, that got us through.


What we learned from that period was hospitality–sharing, and caring.  We learned how to be a pastor through being pastored by neighbors and our minister.


It was during those hot days of summer that we met Norma in our last year of seminary. She was in her thirties with two daughters, and her husband had died suddenly a few weeks before our appointment to the parish. We were in a small town, a hundred miles away from medical care. Through the summer, Norma would remind me that she needed to “hear the Gospel in real life.”  She taught me to share of my own experience of Christ, for it is in our sharing that others can find hope and comfort; she taught me about boundaries.  In that small town, for a single minister to visit a woman late at night, it went against all boundaries.  Norma went through periods of suicidal thoughts, and grief, and there were nights when she would call and we would sit on her porch late, outside, for hours, as she lived through her pain. There were many who criticized us for being “improper.”  We learned that care crosses all of our false boundaries.  We have held the hands of people dying of all kinds of contagious diseases, without gloves, because they had not felt the human touch in days, and doctors, nurses, and clergy would criticize us–but pastoral care crosses all boundaries.


We have learned that in ministry we are always second; the needs of people come first, and, in the end, our own lives are fulfilled, and have meaning.


We have learned that God is a God of many faces, God comes to us in different expressions. When he was about to be assassinated, the Trappist Abbot in Algeria expressed this in written form to his prospective assassin:  “Thank you, my friend of the last moment, who will not know what you are doing. . .May we meet in heaven, like happy thieves, if it pleases God our common Father.” We meet people where they are, and respect their beliefs or non-beliefs.


Finally we hear the words of Mother Teresa and do our best to practice them:


“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.”


The dog days of summer are our favorite time of the year, for we have time to relax and meditate, and we have learned some of the greatest lessons of life during these days. Our invitation to you is to take time and reflect upon what shapes the focus of your life.  Take the time to allow God to move in your life in the heat of the summer afternoons, where the best thing to do is to sit on your porch and drink iced tea. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God.!





The Philip Workman Memorial Banquet–Franciscans Against the Death Penalty


This fall there will be an initiative on the ballot to eliminate the death penalty and have those on death row work in prison and their salaries be used to pay the victims.  We will focus on supporting this measure in the following ways:


1.  Through  blog.


2. Tabling at various community events.


3, October 7:  We will have our annual Philip Workman Memorial Banquet at 5:00 p.m. on Haight and Stanyan, where we will celebrate the Eucharist, feed our youth a vegan meal, and distribute literature.


4. October 31: Noon-2:00 p.m.: Vigil at State Capitol in Sacramento.


5. Vigil Each Week at Earl Warren Office Building. If interested please send email to


Sponsored by: Franciscans Against the Death Penalty





We Are Beggars:


At the beginning of summer we are always low on finances. People are busy, they are vacationing, but our needs continue. There are more homeless people, more homeless youth come to San Francisco, and we give out three to four thousand pairs of socks a month, sometimes more. We continue to provide food and pastoral care to nearly 2000 each month.  So please remember we are beggars. Thank you.


You may send your donation via check to the following address or make your donation online through PayPal at


By Mail:

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


All donations go for the work of providing for the needs of those we serve.


Cooking with the Forgotten One’s

July 26, 2016


Today I have been putting together Brunswick Stew (vegan):

2 cups diced onions

3 cloves diced

2 tsp. sage

4 cups tomato juice

1 pound of unpeeled potatoes choed

1 1/2 cups of canned or stewed carrots

2 cups of canned diced tomatoes (not drained)

2 cups  cut corn–frozen or drained canned

1 tablespoon of soy sauses

2 tsp’s. red or white vinegar

serves 8-10  cook in crock pot for seven hours–this was made ten times over to feed a hundred


This stew will be boxed in Chinese food boxes. We will walk the Haight and Polk tomorrow and give them to people who for many will have  had no hot meal during the day, some no meal.

Each week as we make one or two hot meals where we spend four or five hours in preparation, and as we do we experience the sacramental presence of Christ in the food, that is shared with the young men and women we serve.

Our ministry has been cooking with the forgotten ones for it is in the sharing of hospitality that boundaries are broken down, and people share their lives.

Our measure of success is not how many people we feed, how many get off the street or with any numerical figure but in our faithfulness.  For in that faithfulness we have formed relationships that extend back 22 years, and in that relationship we have provided sacramental and pastoral care, we have been friend and support.  Our food is trans formative for it brings love and care.

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


For All the Queer Saints Outside the Gates

July 21, 2016


Hebrews 13: 13: “So now let’s go to him outside the camp.”

“We believe in the authoritative, inerrant, infallible Word of God. His name is Jesus.” Bruxy Cavey

Through the years when we have spoken we have frustrated people, in particular adults, who want to argue with us about what Scriptures say about homosexuality, because for us there is no argument.  Jesus sums it up in his word of love.

Queers are a part of the fabric of the church.  We have been in the Church  since the beginning, for we have encountered that Word of love in Christ. Through the past twenty two years we have come to know those who have open their lives to persecution and possible martyrdom in seeking to bring the church into the light of the
Gospel of inclusive love.  They have suffered much hate, threats, and in their own lives they have struggled immensely, but in that struggle has come a witness for Christ that shines through the ages. Their lives are parables of the heart, which tell a story of faith, struggled, and most importantly of the transforming God. We would like to share a few of those we know personally, and lift them up as heroes of the faith:

Rt. Reverend Craig Bettendorf;  Craig founded the Evangelical
Anglican Church in 1989, as a branch of Anglicanism that would ordain queers.

Pastor Maria Caruna, pastor of Freedom in Christ Evangelical Church.  Her church is an evangelical church that proclaims the Gospel in its evangelical context and inclusive love.  She is a lesbian who has been out long before it was “cool”, and has endured much.

Reverend Danny Cortez–Danny is queer in spirit–He is a straight man whose teen son came out, and Danny had been struggling himself with his understanding of Scripture around the “homosexual” issue, and he came to the conclusion that those passages were out of context. He presented this to his Southern Baptist Convention where he was removed. He founded the Third Way Church which welcomes all. He is a man of courage who risked all, and continues to risk all.

The Rt.  Reverend Dr. Yvette Flunder, pastor of City of Refuge United Church of Christ.  She is black woman who has fought the good fight for many years. She meets opposition with the grace of God always proclaiming the inclusive love of Jesus.

The Rt.Reverend Dr. Karen Oliveri, recently elected first out United Methodist Bishop has born witness to the inclusive love of Christ in the United Methodist Church for many years.  She begins a journey now of being the first out Bishop in a church that is struggling with the question of ordaining queers, and she is a target, and will stand in the middle of that storm as the winds of struggle whirl around her. She is a courageous and brave woman. She is truly a woman of our time.

The Reverend Janie Spahr is a Lesbian Presbyterian minister we met over twenty years a go when she spoke in Minneapolis. She was on the front lines of the queer struggle in the Presbyterian Church from the beginning, and has been a pioneer. She has endured persecution,  but she  maintained her faith, and is  a leader in the transformation of the  of the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A.

The Rt. Reverend Gene Robinson, first out Episcopal Bishop. Gene has lead the fight in the Episcopal Church with courage and grace, and he has faced death threats, and the abuse of many. He is a man of courage.

These are running the race set out before them fixing their eyes on Jesus. They are the models of the the Church that is inclusive.

Mychal Copeland recently wrote a book entitled; Struggling in Good Faith, these individuals have struggled and are struggling in good faith, becoming the bright beacons of God to the world. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Fr. C.River Damien Sims, D.S.T., D.Min. candidate, John Knox Seminary


Pride Stole and Socks


July 17, 2016


Romans 5:1-11

There are so many arguments about who is right or wrong.  The reality is that when we are justified by faith, we become children of God who have been redeemed by Christ and we journey on a path growing in faith and knowledge–we are never done. All of us are imperfect, we are goof- ups and it is in working towards the goal of perfection–perfection in love of our neighbor that we grow.  Below is an article that illustrates that growing towards perfection. Life is messy, painful, and never perfect, Scott Peck says that “Life is difficult, and when you learn that you will grow.”

There’s a wonderful series of books – The Path to Power by Robert A. Caro – on Lyndon Johnson, the 36th President of the United States.

By all accounts, LBJ was not someone you’d like to marry into your family. He was a relentless politician, a climber, a habitual liar, and treated many people like dirt, including his wife Lady Bird. He also embroiled the country in Vietnam, for which many never forgave him.

On the other hand, LBJ was a deep Southerner who cared deeply about the rights of the poor and the rights of people of color, at a time when few whites did, and even fewer whites in power did.

He used his political power to enact Civil Rights legislation that seemingly no one else could get through, and with his Great Society programs, gave millions of poor and elderly people dignity, both of which we basically take for granted today, but were an enormous struggle to enact.

LBJ was not popular in his time, though history has been a bit more friendly to him.

But the question stands…was he a good guy? Do we admire him or can we barely contain our hatred?

To an ideologue, LBJ fits into some category or another. He’s despicable, and his crimes cannot be made up for. His lies and his personal reputation make him unforgivable.

Alternatively, by passing Civil Rights, maybe LBJ is something of a dark hero – a flawed, Batman-like figure who we needed but couldn’t appreciate in his time.

The truth is, of course, in between. He’s all of these things.

The problem lies with us, the categorizers. We want to place him somewhere and move on.

You may fairly, on balance, think LBJ detracted more than he added. That’s fine. But that’s not what most people want to do – they want to put the black hat or the white hat on him. Villain or hero.

This is a special case of a broader mental phenomenon that we’re doing all the time. “This music sucks! This music is the best thing ever created!” “Yoga is for weirdoes.” “Yoga is the only way to achieve mental peace.” 

It’s only once you can begin divorcing yourself from good-and-bad, black-and-white, category X&Y type thinking that your understanding of reality starts to fit together properly.

Putting things on a continuum, assessing the scale of their importance and quantifying their effects, understanding both the good and the bad, is the way to do it.

Understanding the other side of the argument better than your own, a theme we hammer on ad nauseum, is the way to do it.

Because truth always lies somewhere in between, and the discomfort of being uncertain is preferable to the certainty of being wrong.

It isn’t easy, but it’s not supposed to be.

Shane Parrish


Shadow Lands

July 16, 2016


“. . .he want break a bent stalk, and he won’t snuff out a smoldering wick, until he makes justice win. . . Matthew 12:14-21

C. S. Lewis wrote a book entitled Shadow Lands  describing his time of grief after his wife’s death. The title describes my experience.

April 20th I was accidentally given in water a hallucinogenic which was poisoned, three weeks later a well dressed couple came to my door asking for information about  their son. I told them I did not know him, and the man pulled a gun and pointed it at me and said: “He calls you his friend on face book,” and I looked at him and said, “I am his priest–I will not share any information.”  We stared at each other, with me looking at the gun for who knows how long, and I urinated all over myself. The wife was begging her husband to stop and he broke down and started crying. I simply laid my hand on his shoulder and prayed, and than as they were leaving the wife said: “Are you going to call the cops?” I said, “Go in peace.” In reality I wanted to take my walking stick and beat the SOB to pulp.  They left. Since than I have been overwhelmed with depression. I have  simply done  my work.  Along with that has come the daily face book comments, and not so nice emails. But in talking to my therapist this may have been the best thing that could have happened, because it knocked me into looking at my life.

My therapist gave me a quote along time ago by Ta-Nehsi Coates which reads:

“The streets transform every ordinary day into a series of trick questions and every incorrect answer risks a beat down, shooting, or a pregnancy.  None survive unscathed.”

The streets for me began in an environment of wealth and privilege where the only word known for being gay was “fag”; they continued as I entered the church, where I remember a District Superintendent saying to us ministers”If anyone says you are a fag, you will be gone that day.” And I was gone and totally cut off from my friends, and my family.  The streets continued in Hollywood where every day was a series of quick questions and every incorrect answer a beat down, shooting, or rape.  You never survive unscathed. My life has not survived unscathed, and those scars simply heal and ultimately become more beautiful, but you can never go back, only forward.

I have chosen the streets of San Francisco, I have chosen a life “outside the gates” that bring with it the risks, and I do so each day because it is my call and it makes me supremely content.  My whole life has been a call to the streets.  One of the things that each day, teaches me is that I have plenty of judgment, and I do my best not to let it out–I with hold it, because my judgment can “break a bent stalk.” We have to walk with people where they are–our judgments from our own cultural experience can destroy lives. People’s judgments almost destroyed my life, and continue to try to beat me down, and hurt–but I have learned there is only One for whose judgment I am accountable to, and Christ will not “bend the stalk”.

Several nights ago a possible seminary intern went out on the streets with me. At the end of the night she told me “You scare me.  Frankly you talked a language like pig Latin all night.  I believe you bring people up to your language so you can change their lives.” I could not keep from laughing, which made things worse.   And I said: “Only God changes lives, and “pig Latin” I talk every day–from one social strata to the other, for  all of us have our own pig Latin, we simply need to talk each others language.” Needless to say I am not number one on her list.
What I am learning from the past couple of months is that I will listen to any one’s pig Latin, but when they start imposing their way of looking at life on me personally, I will “dust my feet off.” When they have the “right answer”–it is time to move on.  We are all called to listen to each other, and can disagree, but when we have the “right answer”, we are in danger of “breaking a bent stalk.” We close our minds, we close ourselves off from people. For example I literally hate alcohol and tobacco, because of the lives of my family members they have destroyed, but I will never tell anyone not to use them, they have to come to that choice themselves.  It tears me up to see the damage done to the lives of my guys by street drugs–but it is their choice and their decision. I have to respect their decisions–influenced by hurt, rejection, and pain I have no idea of.

We all walk in our own shadow lands, let us go about  not breaking the bent stalk,” so that we can help each other on the journey.

I affirm that Jesus is Lord because he is the Sun that has beamed throughout my life and whether there is life after death–that does not matter–what matters is the Sun shines now.

Soul Food – by Gloria Klinger

Soul food
the food that blesses us
when we sit at table in communion
when we hold out a hand to a stranger
when we walk in another’s shoes
when we practice compassion.

Soul food
the food that nourishes us
when we act from our hearts
when we join with others for a cause
when we rise to meet adversity
when we celebrate abundance around us.

Soul food
the food that connects us
when we prepare meals to mend broken hearts
when we sit in stillness with another’s grief
when we give laughter to the aching world
when we choose to live from our essence.

Soul food
the food that enlivens us
when we nurture others on the path
when we recognize our gifts and use them
when we give and receive joy
when we feed the world with our light.

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Fr. River Damien Sims, D.S.T., D.Min. candidate

The Flexible Heart

July 15, 2016


Matthew 12:1-14–The Message: “I prefer a flexible heart to an inflexible ritual. (6-8).

Jo Jo in our photo has been treated with an inflexible ritual through out her life; she comes from a home were being “male” is the law; she has been abused by her family; the system–because she can not follow their expectations; men and women have abused her. She simply does not fit in.

Growing up I witnessed several aunts and uncles literally kill themselves through alcoholism, and my parents dying from lung cancer as a result of smoking. I literally hate both substances–but I do not, and will not bring my own judgment into the lives of others because of my experience.  My witness is I do not drink or smoke and am happy and satisfied in life.

I witness every day of my life both  men and women of all ages destroying their lives from drugs; and I witness our capitalistic society  being an indirect cause through its lack of providing for the basic needs of individuals.

What Jesus did throughout his ministry was listen–without judgment, and in that listening people heard his message of love and hope. Others heard  him differently and crucified him.

In seminary I was trained in pastoral care to be a listener. My professor said: ‘If you can not listen without loving unconditionally you do not belong in the ministry.” Through experience I have learned we can only listen, and walk with people where they are, without bringing our on judgments on others. 

The overall positive for me–that counters the criticism and judgment of my way of listening–is I relate to people where they are, hear their stories, walk with them as friends, and occasionally, and I mean occasionally see them  find a better way of life. Doing that is not easy–and as my friend said once: “all the trains come at you.,” but believe me there is so much joy. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Fr. River Damien Sims, D.S.T., D.Min. Candidate, John Knox Seminary

What If?

July 14, 2016

What If?

Matt. 11:28-30

“Are you tired?  Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest.  Walk with me and work with me–watch how I do it.  Learn the unforced rhythms of grace, I won’t lay anything heavy or ill fitting on you.  Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

We look back and ask “What if?”  What if I had not been gay, what would my life have been like?  What if I had met moved or chosen another job, what would my life had been like?  What if I had not had cancer, what would my life had been like?  What if I was not old, what would my life be like?

Today Perry Williams in Texas and John Connor of Georgia are scheduled to be executed.  They have many “what ifs”, and the families of their victims have been suffering from so many “what ifs” through the years.

From my own theology I believe that Jesus fulfilled the law and the prophets, and that fulfillment came in the form of love. He invites all of us to come unto him and put our “what if’s aside,” and to find strength in him and to move forth in new life.

Today I as I pray for the victims, and their families, I  pray for John and Perry, and pray that all those “what if’s” may turn into avenues of freedom from their past.  I pray at the beginning of this day that John and Perry may be freed from the chains of death by mercy from the State, but if that does not happen that they   enter into God’s presence being freed from death and the chains of the past; I pray that the families of the victims can move into new lives freed from the the what ifs of the past. If the executions go forward I pray that these will be the last executions and that State will move into restorative justice.

Jesus frees us from the “What if’s” but we must choose:

“Are you tired?  Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest.  Walk with me and work with me–watch how I do it.  Learn the unforced rhythms of grace, I won’t lay anything heavy or ill fitting on you.  Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” ”

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Fr. River Damien Sims, D.S.T., D.Min. candidate