Archive for October, 2018

The Hate We Give Transformed Into Love

October 31, 2018

Holy Communion and the Streets

The Hate We Give–Transformed Into The Love We Give

All Souls and All Saints

Revelation 7:9-17 Common English Bible (CEB)

The great crowd and seventh seal

After this I looked, and there was a great crowd that no one could number. They were from every nation, tribe, people, and language. They were standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They wore white robes and held palm branches in their hands. 10 They cried out with a loud voice:

“Victory belongs to our God
        who sits on the throne,
            and to the Lamb.”

11 All the angels stood in a circle around the throne, and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell facedown before the throne and worshipped God, 12 saying,

“Amen! Blessing and glory
        and wisdom and thanksgiving
        and honor and power and might
            be to our God forever and always. Amen.”

13 Then one of the elders said to me, “Who are these people wearing white robes, and where did they come from?”

14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.”

Then he said to me, “These people have come out of great hardship. They have washed their robes and made them white in the Lamb’s blood. 15 This is the reason they are before God’s throne. They worship him day and night in his temple, and the one seated on the throne will shelter them. 16 They won’t hunger or thirst anymore. No sun or scorching heat will beat down on them, 17 because the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them. He will lead them to the springs of life-giving water,[a] and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”


On All Saints and All Soul’s-November 1 and 2, we remember the saints, and all who have fought the good fight on earth and now surround us in that Great Cloud of Witnesses. They are a reminder that we too will enter into that number, where there will be no more tears. It is also a reminder that those who have fought the good fight of justice and faith on earth surround us, and  envelop us as we continue the fight, cheering us onward.

They also remind us that the hate that we give, that is within us, can be transformed into a love that endures, and transforms our daily lives and that of others.

 Last week a young guy full of anger struck me in the side, which remains painful, and I grabbed him, and held him as tight as I could in the middle of Haight Street. He started sobbing, and he expressed his fear, his anger, and his hopelessness of life on the streets, and of the way people treat him.  I had never met him, he struck a stranger, and we ended up friends sharing with each other.

In the last couple of weeks I have had lunch with two sets of friends who are well off, and live in upper middle class neighborhoods.  Neither fully grasp homeliness , or poverty in the real sense.  I have struggled in the past not getting angry because of their lack of understanding, and have gradually realized they are not exposed to the reality of homelessness and violence. It was my bad to even feel anger.  One of their sons is going to law school and hung out with me and worked with me in the City the years of when he was 14, 15, 16, 17, and 18, and wrote me when he entered law school that one of the reasons he wants to practice social justice law is because he experienced the pain of the streets with me. His eyes were opened in walking the under belly of San Francisco.   I would never have experienced poverty and violence if I had not been on the streets. We are separated by the color of our skin, our economic situation, and our fear of entering into the worlds of other people. From that separation we develop a hate and fear of each other.

What I am learning is that the hatred we see and express in our daily news, in our streets, and in our lives, can only be transformed into love, acceptance, when we go deep into ourselves, and face our own pain, our own fears, and look into the face of the God of love as seen in each person we meet,  who calls us to care, and to love each other. We can move out in loving the individuals around us–and change will take place, ever so slowly, like the mustard seed. In each person that is fed, in each person who volunteers with us, in each person I sit with in joy, sickness, and death, I personally experience a transformation from hate to love. I am the biggest screw up in the world, but I try, and that is all we can do is to TRY. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


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Stop and Listen!

October 26, 2018

Cale and Anthony

Stop and Listen!

Mark 10:46-52 Common English Bible (CEB)

Healing of blind Bartimaeus

46 Jesus and his followers came into Jericho. As Jesus was leaving Jericho, together with his disciples and a sizable crowd, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus, Timaeus’ son, was sitting beside the road. 47 When he heard that Jesus of Nazareth was there, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, show me mercy!” 48 Many scolded him, telling him to be quiet, but he shouted even louder, “Son of David, show me mercy!”

49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him forward.”

They called the blind man, “Be encouraged! Get up! He’s calling you.”

50 Throwing his coat to the side, he jumped up and came to Jesus.

51 Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?”

The blind man said, “Teacher, I want to see.”

52 Jesus said, “Go, your faith has healed you.” At once he was able to see, and he began to follow Jesus on the way.


Theologian Michel de Verteuil has a wonderful prayer in connection with this story: “Lord, there are many people sitting at the side of the road, shouting to us to have pity on them, but they often shout in strange ways: by behaving badly in the classroom; by taking drugs and alcohol; by sulking, remaining silent or locked up up in their rooms; sometimes by insisting that they are happy to be at the side of the road while others pass by.  Lord like Jesus, we need to stop all that we are doing so that we can hear them express their deep longing to have their sight restored.”

Jesus called the blind beggar forward and asked “What do you want me to do for you?” He did not say, “You have to get a job, you have to get off the street, you have to take a bath, you have to stop doing drugs,  he asked “What can I do for you?” Rather than telling someone what to do, maybe we should just stop and sit and listen, and let them talk, and in talking find their way, through our love and compassion.

Henri Nouwen once said:

“The Church often wounds us deeply. People with religious authority often wound us by their words, attitudes, and demands. Precisely because our religion brings us in touch with the questions of life and death, our religious sensibilities can get hurt most easily. Ministers and priests seldom fully realize how a critical remark, a gesture of rejection, or an act of impatience can be remembered for life by those to whom it is directed.

There is such an enormous hunger for meaning in life, for comfort and consolation, for forgiveness and reconciliation, for restoration and healing, that anyone who has any authority in the Church should constantly be reminded that the best word to characterize religious authority is compassion. Let’s keep looking at Jesus whose authority was expressed in compassion.” Henri Nouwen

Personally I am not very bright, I really do not make good decisions about a lot of things, I am very immature, doubt and question myself, get depressed a lot, scared for the future, so what do I have to offer, that is the question what do I have to offer?  The only thing is  I can sit and listen, put myself second to that person, and in staying out of their way  he or she finds healing , and the healing for myself that results in simply being present to another in those moments.

So as we sit and listen we hear the words of Jesus, “Go your faith has healed you.” Healing comes in letting each other express our needs, and walking with each other in finding our way, not in being the source of authority. For the only authority that Jesus had was compassion–loving us for who we are, caring for us in the moment, and walking with us into the future.

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


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October 22, 2018

Peniel “Where Jacob Wrestled With God and Survived”

Newsletter of Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

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

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Journal of An Alien Street Priest:

The first Thanksgiving was a time in which Native Americans and settlers from Europe came together in unity. Dr. Karen Oliveto, in her book: Together at the Table: Diversity without Division in the United Methodist Church, points out that “unity does not erase differences and disagreements. It requires a willingness to live with ambiguity as we come together for a greater purpose than our individual agendas.”

On Sunday, October 21, we had our annual celebration of the anniversary of Temenos at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church.  As people greeted me after the service   I felt felt loved, appreciated, and more than anything else respected.  Our differences are more than our similarities but for the past eight years we have worked together in unity, and in that working together we have shared a ministry and a deepening friendship.  St. Luke’s is the one place I find home, and will be buried within her walls.

One of my sixteen year old friends worked with me and this was the first time he had seen me in a clerical collar. For a long time Sean has experienced me as his friend, the one he hung out with, argued with, and shared his life with.  He is not a Christian, and really does not know what the Church is about. And Sean never thinks of me in the role of a priest. What we both bring to each other is our loyalty, and our appreciation for each other in our sharing. Again in age, ethnic, and economic back grounds we are far different, yet we are close friends in loyalty, in caring , and in being there for one another.  We have fun together.

One  verse in our lectionary reading for today, Luke 12:15 says:   “After all one’s life isn’t determined by one’s possessions, even when someone is very wealthy,”

telling  us that all of us are wealthy in one way or another–our ethnic back grounds, our religious backgrounds, and the ways in which we excel: sports, academic, cooking, and political differences. We are all wealthy  maybe not in material possessions, but in other ways.   And   those differences should bring us together in unity to share with everyone and in so doing we each are richer for it, and we can use those differences to create a way of living that is equal for all of us.

So this Thanksgiving let’s bring people who are different from us, whom we really don’t like or choose to be with –the Republican, the Democrat, the homeless person, the person of color, the white person, the person without material wealth, and people of other religious beliefs, to our table, and in breaking bread together , see our unity and oneness, and that we are all simply children of the loving and caring God, whom we will all join  with  one day as brothers and sisters in  the Communion of Saints.

May the grace of Almighty God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, bless, preserve, and keep you today, and all the days of your life. Amen.

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God! Happy Thanksgiving!



Thanksgiving Activities:

We will be hosting a brunch on Thanksgiving Day, November 22,  at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church at 2:00 P.M., 1755 Clay Street, San Francisco, CA, for parishioners, and any one who is alone or has no place to go. Our menu will be Turkey and dressing, with the trimmings, vegetarian turkey and trimmings, green bean casserole, salad, and any other side dish you would wish to bring, and pie.

At 6:00 p.m. we will take food to Polk Street and the Haight.

Come join us! We would love for you to let us know at or 415-305-2124.


We Are Beggars!

We are truly begging this year. Our finances are really down, and our needs have increased.  So know that our hands are open with our begging basket and hope you will give, to provide food to the hungry, socks to the bare footed, and pastoral care to the one’s who are suffering spiritually and emotionally.

Please send to P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

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“Evolution implies not only change but transformation. In world mythology, when heroes refuse the call to leave home to take the evolutionary journey, they become sick. For us as a culture it is the same.”

Dr. Will Tuttle

What Matters? Faith Working Through Love!

October 16, 2018

What Matters? “Faith Working Through Love!”

“Being circumcised (being rich or poor, white, red, brown or black; being Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Christian) or uncircumcised doesn’t matter, but faith working through love. Galatians 5:6”

Spirit Day
Thursday, October 18, 2018
Support LGTBQ Youth, Straight Youth, and Adults
by Speaking out Against Bullying
Do So by wearing Purple, putting Avatars on Social Media, and get involved in other Activities
More Info:
The ability of so many people to live comfortably with the idea of homelessness, and bullying  is perhaps a clue to how so many Europeans were able to live with the idea of the Holocaust: Once you turn your eyes away from the streets, from the alleys, from your neighbors, and once you turn yourself so inward  that what is so  important is only yourself, you are  halfway there.  We have an empathy deficit in our society.  Homelessness is a number, and we hold on to what we have, and turn our eyes away and our eyes become blind to the humanity of people.
Faith unites us in love. All of the great religions tell us to love one another, and Jesus lived out that love in his life to the point of going to the cross.
Faith unites us in love of our fellow human beings. Dr. Will Tuttle tells us that “Evolution implies not only change but transformation. In world mythology, when heroes refuse the call to leave home to take the evolutionary journey, they become sick. For us as a culture it is the same.”  
We are in need of a “Kindness Movement” an “Our Too Movement”, where we come together in empathy for all and in doing so  changing our attitude from numbers to people, from fear to courage, from ourselves to others,  and in so doing we would see the ripples of caring and love flow into a mighty river.
Thursday, October 18 is “Spirit Day” designated during National Bullying Prevention month (October)  as a day to show support for LGTBQ youth and to speak out against bullying. I see this as a day for us to show support for all youth, and as a day to speak out against bullying in all areas of our society.
Let our faith work through love to bring us out of our “empathy deficit”, and see the pain, the fear, and the need on our door steps, our alleys, and let us not walk by with blinders on our eyes, but with love in our actions and mouth. Let us become the hands, the voice, and the feet of Christ moving in service. Let us become Christ on the streets, in our schools, our homes, churches, and places we work. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!
Fr. River Damien Sims, D.Min.
P.O. Box 642656
San Francisco, CA 94164

Active Love

October 14, 2018

Active Love

Hebrews 4:12-13 Common English Bible (CEB)

12″ because God’s word is living, active, and sharper than any two-edged sword. It penetrates to the point that it separates the soul from the spirit and the joints from the marrow. It’s able to judge the heart’s thoughts and intentions. 13 No creature is hidden from it, but rather everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of the one to whom we have to give an answer”

Leo Tolstoy  summarizes the way life  should be viewed.

“The most difficult thing, but an essential one

is to love life, to love it even while one suffers.

Because life is all. Life is God.

And to love life means to love God.”

To love life means to respect life in all of its forms, and  to give our lives away by loving others.

When I was twelve years old I felt my heart strangely touched, warmed during a campfire, and in that moment I heard the voice of God calling me to ministry, and promising to be there with me through all that was to come. I placed my hand on the plow, and I never looked back.

And he has kept his promise. Through years of doubt, pain, through the attempts on my life the threats that come regularly, and through the pain of rejection, God remains present. I do not expect God to keep me from pain, from fear, from rejection, from hate, and the anger so often expressed towards me. What God provides is my daily bread, sometimes one meal, other days three. 

God will not erase homelessness, but I see God’s love presence, as each person shows their love for another, caring, and taking care of each other.  God journeys with the fifty boys and girls who will be sleeping in the doorways I saw today.  God journeys with a young man who sleeps in his car every night, who works at Sub way, and struggles each day with his doubts, fears, and rejection by his family. I talk with him on snap chat every day and he wonders why I expect nothing from him.

We are given today, and that is all we are accountable for. In my darkest times I remember the fire in my heart  on that cool summer night, and hear the voice, “Go preach,” and I continue to preach through walking with my friends  in school, out of school, on the streets.. The word of God is active, and pushes me on. And my heart still burns with fire.

Dr. Will Tuttle wrote: “Our love, to actually be love, must be acted upon and lived. Developing our capacity for love is not only the means of evolution; it is the end as well, and when we fully embody love, we will know the truth of our oneness with all life. This makes us free.”

Only in active love will we find wholeness. Only by moving from our own dependence on boundaries and labels for giving money, for loving the poor, for loving people of different colors, sexual orientation, creeds, and religions, will we be truly. By love Will means our actions of care and concern. Our giving to others, talking to others.There are people, who have truly hurt me emotionally and physically, and I have found only in loving them, biting my tongue as I do, that there is wholeness. Letting go of the past we move into the future. Hell, none of this is  easy, it is the hardest work we ever do.  Life is not easy, life is hell, but in living to our fullest we love God and God works through us to show love for others.  In loving others we see the face of God, we find wholeness. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


you may give through pay pal on the website.

Remembering Matthew Shepherd

October 13, 2018

Remembering Matthew Shepherd

“Jesus looking at him, loved him and said to him, “You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come follow me.” At that statement his face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.” Mark 10:17-30

Twenty years ago today Matthew Shepherd was beaten, and tied to a fence, and died the next morning. He has been immortalized, demonized, glorified, and and hated through the years since his death. Matthew Shepherd  has become every man

The shadow within each one of us is a vital and a force we cannot deny, or repress. The tremendous psychological forces required to kill a person, to avoid the pain in human beings on the street, and in the animals around us works in two ways. First it numbs, desensitizes, and armors us, which decreases our intelligence and ability to make connections. Secondly it forces us to act exactly as what we are oppressing through our projection on others. We create a target with the very qualities we refuse to acknowledge in ourselves. (Adapted from  from Will Tuttle).

The life of Matthew Shepherd calls us to examine ourselves and at the shadow we each carry within us. When we project our anger on people homeless, different from ourselves, what are we really saying about our selves? When we refuse to forgive others for their hurting us, and demonize them, and carry the pain around for years, what are we saying about ourselves?

Matthew represents the hundreds of mostly young men, I have served through the years, whose lives were twisted and destroyed by the shadows that  others placed on them in dealing with their sexual orientation, their race, and their place in the world. 

I look at Matthew, and then I look at myself, and see where my shadow hurts, and has hurt people. Today as we remember Matthew Shepherd let us hear his voice on the windswept prairie as he is dying, crying out, “Look at me, love me, accept me.” and open our hearts to selling everything we have and opening our hearts to everyone and give to the poor in spirit, in material need, and in spiritual need. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

you may give through pay pal on the website


Walking Our Path

October 9, 2018

Walking Our Path

“We make our path by walking it.” Latin American Church quote.

“All the Law has been fulfilled in a single statement: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour each other, be careful that you don’t get eaten up by each other.” Galatians 4:17-18

Over the weekend I was hanging with some friends, and they are Hispanic, and one made a statement he thought might have offended me, and apologized, a statement that we might take as racist– directed toward us whites. I laughed, because the reality is I feel at home with them, and they with me.They can say anything to me and I will not take it personally.They see me as a part of their “team” and talk freely.  I see in their daily lives, at school, on the sport teams, and in social gatherings they often experience racism, all underneath. The same with prejudice towards homeless people, hid, but the prejudice comes out.

The words that we speak, our gestures, our attitude, our lack of  recognition makes “our paths.”  In the words of the Eucharistic invitation: “See who you are Become who you see.”

“We make our paths by walking it.”  So if we walk a path in which we use words of compassion, rather than hatred, have actions of care, and concern towards all we encounter, and embrace the words: “Love your neighbor as yourself,” we will find wholeness in our lives, but if  we live our lives spewing words of anger, hatred, and promote violence in word and deed, if we live our lives based on racial, political division, we will “devour each other”, be eaten by each other.” We are all a creation of the love of God. We are not black or white, red, brown, or in between, we are not Democrat or Republican, we are not rich or poor, but sons of daughters of God, and in that relationship we expect only our daily bread, we forgive, and we share with each other so that none go homeless or without food and care. God’s creation comes first!

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos. org


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Breaking Bread Together

October 4, 2018

The Breaking of Bread

Luke 9:57-62 Common English Bible (CEB)

Following Jesus

57 As Jesus and his disciples traveled along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”

58 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and the birds in the sky have nests, but the Human One[a] has no place to lay his head.”

59 Then Jesus said to someone else, “Follow me.”

He replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”

60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead. But you go and spread the news of God’s kingdom.”

61 Someone else said to Jesus, “I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say good-bye to those in my house.”

62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts a hand on the plow and looks back is fit for God’s kingdom.”


Henri Nouwen wrote: “”The two disciples whom Jesus joined on the road to Emmaus recognized him in the breaking of bread.  What is a more common, ordinary gesture than breaking bread? It may be the most human of all human gestures: a gesture of hospitality, friendship, care, and the desire to be together. Taking a loaf of bread, blessing it, breaking it, and giving it to those seated around the table signifies unity, community, and peace. When Jesus does this he does the most ordinary as well as the most ordinary. It is the most human as well as the most divine gesture. The great mystery is that this daily and most human gesture is the way we recognize the presence of Christ among us. God becomes most present when we are most human.”

People are so divided on the “homeless issue,” but what about when the homeless cease being the “homeless”, and become our neighbor. Pearl Buck wrote: “You can not make yourself feel something you do not feel, but you can make yourself do right in-spite of your feelings.,” and Pema Chodron wrote: “True compassion does not  come from wanting to help out those less fortunate  than ourselves (“the down trodden”) but from realizing our kinship with all beings.”

One way of looking at our Gospel for today, is that we are called to give up our fear of losing everything, and share what we have, and in so doing we all will have what we need.

Secondly when we see each other as simply human beings on the same journey with the same fears and struggles, we let go and embrace each other as brothers and sisters. I have a friend, whom most people would think we would not have anything in common. He is not a believer, he is of a different ethnic background, he does martial arts and loves fighting, but there is a bond that can not be broken.  The bond is in the commonality of both being adopted, and both being outsiders in what we do. The bond is that we look through the garbage of our lives and see the beauty in each one. We break bread together and in that breaking we come together.

Let us break bread together as people on the journey, remembering the words of Jesus in the Gospel of John: “Whoever hasn’t sin should throw the first stone,” and in so doing see ourselves as brothers and sisters.

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164