Archive for April, 2017

An Invitation to Paradise

April 9, 2017
 Father River

Monday, April 11, 2017

The Invitation to Come Alive!

John 12:1-11

Howard Thurman wrote, “Don’t ask what the world needs.  Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it.  Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” These words echo the second word of Jesus on the cross to the thief: “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Luke 23:39-43

Paradise is more than being in a place where you will be served by beautiful women or men, Paradise for Jesus is entering into his way of life–of loving our neighbor as ourselves, and of bringing the reign of God to earth. The thief recognized Jesus as the One who brings healing and wholeness.

In my own life what makes me come alive, even when I am in pain, is the giving of myself to another person.  People often criticize me for giving money without asking what it is going to be used for, giving  nice clothes, and other items, after all “you should keep those for yourself,” but like the woman I am giving this to Jesus–and for me that is what is important. I come alive in the sharing. I will be really alive tomorrow morning early when I take one young guy to get his State ID, another to work on getting his social security, and so on. This is Paradise for me.

And the question I asked any one is: “What brings you into Paradise here on earth?”

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164




Death With Dignity

April 9, 2017


The Feral One’s

April 8, 2017

Jesus the Homeless



“Journeys are not hard when they are fulfillment of hopes.”

Ezekiel 37:21-28; John 11:45-56

Chris is 22 and comes from a good family in southern California.  He has been on the streets for six years, and one social worker described him as “feral”–wild–unable to fit into the system.

We sat in McDonald’s early yesterday morning.  He insisted on buying me coffee. We talked about where he camped, where his tent was located, and  his computer. He commented that “Money sucks, it seeks to control people. People want to make so much money they forget about every one else. Jobs and apartments take you away from people. Money makes people go to war and destroy the environment.”  My thoughts were the words of another Feral One–“The root of evil is money.”

Chris will not fit into the system, I do not fit into the system, I am on the edge, using it to support my ministry. Besides I do not want to live in a tent in the Park.  Chris reminds me of the people in the past who farmed small pieces of land, sold crafts, and lived simply. Kids in the park sell their crafts, I have many on my desk, and wall. The City charges large license fees for shows–so they sneak around and do it. They sell them illegal. And when marijuana becomes truly legal, they will still be illegal while the large companies make a fortune. The system is not fair. It is all about money.

This Lent I see my life as a journey that is “the fulfillment of hope,” in that in its ups and downs I give myself away.  When people asked me if I have any regrets–I have none.  Presently Chris has no regrets. 

Lent calls us to walk with people where they are–not to judge by using labels like “feral”, and just be with people. We are called to asked ourselves “How do we use our money–does it control us–what would happen if we gave away all accept what we need?”

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!”


Adoration Economy

April 7, 2017

318 words


Jeremiah 20:10-13; John 10:31-42

Jesus and Jeremiah were both threatened and both hurt by their focus on God’s love for humanity.  What they teach us is that were we pay attention, we lend our power. What we focus on gives power to our lives.

This is a time of enthusiasms, of all-absorbing demands on our attention.  From whatever direction we look, it is an especially hard moment to keep our eyes on the center, on the God of love, the body of the Criminal; but for us to have decent politics we must.

Decent politics can be found in the Great Commandment of Jesus: “You shall love the Lord your God, with all your heart, mind, soul and strength and your neighbor as yourself.” 

Several weeks ago an older woman came up to me at our Vigil Against the Death Penalty, angry, for her son and his wife were murdered, and the man was on death row. She wanted him dead. For two hours I sat with her, and we talked, and I prayed with her. She may never change her mind, but she did hear that I cared, and we parted with a hug. Decent politics is for us to meet each other whether we agree or not, and talk, and in that talking come to an understanding of love.

Let us participate in the Adoration Economy of God–and find our center in the love of God and our neighbor.

Come join me tomorrow, Friday, April 7, 2017 at 12 Noon at the Earl Warren Supreme Court Building where we will Vigil Against the Death Penalty. In walking and talking we will remember the greatest Criminal in the world who hung on the cross with his arms outstretched in love. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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

Franciscans Against the Death Penalty

Temenos Catholic Worker


The World Keeps God Away

April 6, 2017

dwight (more…)

Simon of Cyrene

April 5, 2017

SIMON OF CYRENE-Matthew 27:32–8th Station of the Cross

“As they went out, they came upon a man from Cyrene named Simon; they compelled this man to carry his cross.”

Simon did not want to carry the cross, but he was forced into carrying it by the soldiers. In carrying the cross, a heavy piece of wood, he gave relief to Jesus.

Yesterday afternoon I was tired, not feeling well, and twenty one year old Gunnar showed me an infection on his arm, and I knew he needed to get to the hospital. So I took him. Gunnar is from Texas. His mother died of cancer two years ago, he is on social security disability, and needs to get hooked up here with the system. He has few skills to make connections. He refuses to go to a shelter because he has been raped twice.  So this week I will spend probably hours helping him get connections here.  And so it goes.

We are all called to be Simon to people. It is not fun most of the time, it is boring, it is tedious, but our calling is to help Christ with his burden.  And in doing so we find much joy.

Pandita Ramabi, Indian Christian and reformer once summed up her Christian creed in these words: “To love God and our neighbor.. . .”People must not only hear about the kingdom of God but must see it in actual operation, on a small scale perhaps. .but a real demonstration..”  Through the years my Christology has evolved down to the one commandment–“Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, mind, and soul, and your neighbor as yourself.”  It is not about what we believe, how we dress, but about how we live our lives–our actions.

I close with this beautiful statement of Catherine of Siena in which she summarizes what it means to follow Christ, and it is a perfect mediation for Lent:

“At the end of Jesus’ life, he was stripped naked, scourged at the pillar, dehydrated, and so poor neither the earth nor the wood of the cross offered him a place to lay his head. God was homeless. Christ had nowhere to rest his head except on his own shoulder. That’s because Jesus was drunk with love.” Let us let God force us to be Simon and carry the cross of Jesus in serving our brothers and sisters. Let us become drunk with love!

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Father River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min. candidate, D.S.T.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164



Life and Death

April 4, 2017



Numbers 21:4-9; John 8:21-30

Facebook, and all social media are tools we can use to  work with people.  But when they become tools of our own self-gratification; tools of spewing out our own bitterness and anger, and means of avoiding the human touch they become destructive and are a form of evil.  I have had one young man commit suicide because of his interactions on social media; others have spiraled into depression and suicide attempts.  On the other hand many have found support and friendship. The two halves of the same coin, dependent upon the heart of humanity.
Jean Goss said: “When our primary concern becomes the human person our methods change radically.  No longer will I wish to attack another man’s body; but rather look into his heart and conscience. Everyone has a heart and a conscience.”
It is when we look into the heart and conscience  of people do we see their humanity.  Neil Postman summarizes what a computer way of life at its worst can do:
“The computer and its information cannot answer any of the fundamental questions we need to address to make our lives more meaningful and humane.
The computer cannot provide an organizing moral framework.
It cannot tell us what questions are worth asking.
It cannot provide a means of understanding why we are here or why we fight each other or why decency eludes us so often, especially when we need it the most.
The computer is a magnificent toy that distracts us from facing what we most need to confront – spiritual emptiness, knowledge of ourselves, usable conceptions of the past and future.”
Neil Postman
This Lent the challenge is to  move out of our heads and act with our hearts–stop demonizing people of different political parties, race and religious creeds, gender and sexual orientation, homeless and housed, and  see people for who they are, struggling individuals on the same journey and the call of each one of us is  to help one another on that journey.  It is hard as hell to live out this call, but it is in living it out that we find our full humanity and enter into the presence of the Divine.
Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!
Fr. C. River Damien Sims, sfw, D.S.T., D.Min. candidate
P.O. Box 642656
San Francisco, CA 94164



April 3, 2017


Daniel 13:1-9; 15-17; 19-30, 33-62; John 8:1-11

“Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone.”

Yesterday as I was coming back from the Opera Plaza on Van Ness, someone called my name, and I turned around and in a wheel chair was a young man of 30.  I have know James since he was 15, when he ran away from home and began hustling. James is a young man who is gay, and was not welcome at home, and was questioning.  He disappeared from Polk several years ago.

James shared that he was in a car accident up north in 2015 and was parallelized from the waste down and was now living in a group home in the East Bay. We talked of his faith, his struggles. He shared of how his fundamentalist friends disowned him once he shared he was gay, and he asked me “Am I really going to hell?”  I looked deep into his eyes and said “Never, God loves you, and God has redeemed you in Christ, you are loved.” I anointed him, and pronounced a benediction. He hugged me.  James has been broken by people judging him because of his sexuality.  Judged in the name of the Christ who cares not about sexual orientation–only that we love God and our neighbor.  Christ is blind to all things accept our common humanity.

Like the Pharisees in our story we Christians hurt so many people, we bring them so much pain, rather than offering them the love of Christ, we offer them our own questions, our own doubts.  This Lent let us remember that God is love, and that on the cross Christ  opened his arms in love, without judgment to all of us.  Let us remember the words of  Jesus:

“Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone.”

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Resurrection: Recovering From PTSD

April 2, 2017


“Jesus told her: “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me even if he dies he will live.. ..John 11:1-45

I am in recovery from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which  the Mayo Clinic defines as “a disorder characterized by failure to recover after experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event.”

I have been recovering most of my life. From the time as a child I saw a black man beaten because he invited a white woman out on a date; as an adolescent when I saw friends made fun of, and hated, and beaten, because they appeared “queer,”–and drove me so deep into the closet it took being thrown out on the streets to face my sexuality,  to my life as a minister in a denomination where being queer is “an intrinsic disorder” (still is), and participating in the persecution of fellow queers by not being open to them in their pain of being gay, having them commit suicide, and turn away from the church and their families, without saying a word to protect my position in the church, to the present events in the last twenty years of being stabbed, shot and raped.

I am “outside the gates”, or “feral” because I have no trust in a system that always protects itself.

But in Jesus I find healing and recovery. I have experienced the resurrection, the presence of the healing Christ who brings hope, and redemption. People joke with me that I read my Bible because of my Methodist background, but I read my Bible because in it I find the words of life in Christ. Those words bring Jesus into my  life daily,  they bring resurrection, they bring recovery.

I preach, baptize, confirm, celebrate the Eucharist, and bury, outside the gates on the street, where outcasts have found a home, and where the Church is as present as in any building, without any name. I believe in the Church, I love the Church, and will die for the Church, but like Dorothy Day once said, “Holy Mother Church is both a whore and the Holy Mother.”

We are all fallen human beings, and we are called to recovery in the resurrection that opens our eyes and our lives to a life of love of all people, of caring for them where they are, regardless of what they believe, and opens our eyes to our own worth in the eyes of God.  We are all in recovery, a recovery that will not end until we enter into the Presence of the One God. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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

P.O.Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164



Reformed by Jesus

April 1, 2017


“Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. . all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord”. 2 Corinthians 3:4, 18

Recently a person asked me about a certain street youth, “What can we do to help him?”  I laughed, because these guys have helped me far more than I have helped them, for they have shown me the true meaning of the Gospel, they have shown me the face of Christ.  They embody the teaching of Jesus, to “Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, mind, and strength, and your neighbor as yourself.” Caring for each other is what counts, as Teresa of Avila tells us:

“We can not know whether we love God although there may be strong reason for thinking so, but there can be no doubt about whether we love our neighbor or not. Be sure that, in proportion as you advance in affection for sisters and brothers you are increasing your love of God.”

In my years on the street I have learned one thing–that God comes in love–it does not matter what you believe, what you wear, how often you bathe, where you live-it is in the embodiment of love that one finds God’s presence. It is in showing each person kindness, sharing of one’s food, bedding, and being with them in sickness and in health where God is made manifest. 

This Lent let’s  move away from our creeds, our judgments and love our neighbors–and we will see  Christ  revealed in our actions! Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164