Archive for October, 2019

Call and Response: Litanies for Congregational Prayer by Fran Pratt

October 12, 2019

Call and Response

Litanies for Congregational Prayer

by Fran Pratt

A Book Review

October 12, 2019

The Reverend Fran Pratt in her book Call and Response: Litanies for Congregational Prayer puts together a book of liturgy that is contemporary, beautiful, inclusive, and speaks to people from all backgrounds–the doubters, the non-believers, and offers the hope of the God in Christ who welcomes everyone.

One of her litanies entitled Bonus: Litany for Heretics reads:

“God we lift up to you the courageous who go against the grain of the present age:

The Heretics: The ones who flout traditions or expectations; . . .

May there faith never falter,

Their feet never stumble,

Their resources never run out,

Their hope never die….”

This is a beautiful contemporary and inclusive book of liturgy that speaks to the contemporary Church and non-church people, and we invite you to pick it up, read it little by little, and savor   its beauty.

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

Not My Jesus

October 12, 2019

October 12, 2019

Indigenous Peoples Day



By Bob Fabey


“If I give away all that I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” I Corinthians 13:3

On this day in 1492, Columbus and his soldiers approached the Native Americans on their first meeting with these words:

“I implore you to recognize the Church as our lady and in the name of the Pope take the King as lord of this land and obey his mandates. If you do not do it, I tell you that with the help of God I will enter powerfully against you all. I will make war everywhere and every way that I can. I will subject ;you to the yoke and obedience to the Church and to his majesty. I will take your women and children and make them slaves. .The deaths and injuries that you will receive from here on will be your fault and mot that of his majesty nor of the gentleman that accompany me.” from Lies My People Tell Me, James W. Loewen

In Not My Jesus, The Reverend Bob Farley, describes the evolution of of Jesus into the view points of our American consciousness, view points that justify racism, hatred, discrimination, wealth building, antisemitism, homophobia, and so on.

From the very beginning of the coming of the Europeans the foundation of the New World has been based on building wealth, power, and racial superiority of the white majority. War across the globe for this justification continues–against minority people’s, people of color.

Farley describes these images, and sums up the book in the image of the Crucified Christ who died, that we might have life through love. The Christ who calls us to love one another simply as  human beings. Farley calls us to see Jesus as the One who calls us to inclusive love.

I wear on my left hand a class ring, which has the initials KTS, 2017, and inside the band engraved, “Doctor of Ministry,” it is symbolic of the Doctor of Ministry Degree which was earned, but more it is symbolic of an experience of growth, in diversity, understanding, and faith, in a school that is theologically conservative. Of all the schools that I have attended, and of all my degrees, this degree symbolizes for me  the Jesus who is all inclusive, and holds his arms open to meeting everyone with their views, and biases on the common ground of love. The faculty remain my closest friends and confidants, because we stand in the love of  Jesus. They do not agree with me on anything for the most part–accept we stand in the love of Jesus, who loves us, and calls us to dialogue, and to see each other for who we are. I grew more in those two years at Knox ‘Theological Seminary, than I did in the other three schools, because of the dialogue. In the differences we found solidarity. Several of my friends warned me when I applied that “they will crucify you,” and instead we found resurrection, and new life.

Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared at a time when the Spanish had basically destroyed the original inhabitants of Mexico, and the wealthy controlled everything. In her appearance she signaled that God was alive in the mixed race that had evolved, and in the original people, and identified and loved the poor. She continues to lead in that struggle against wealth and the discrimination and prejudice of immigrants. 

God is alive, and well in the face of those who stand against oppression, war, discrimination of all types, and racism. We simply need to embrace the Christ who stands with his arms open, inviting us to meet as equals, to dialogue, and to see each other as children of God, entitled to be loved as those children. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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

Gospel Fidelity

October 11, 2019

Jesus the Homeless

Gospel Fidelity

I Corinthians 12:12-26

Reflections from the Interim Rector of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church

1755 Clay Street

San Francisco, CA 94109


“I had the opportunity to participate in the anniversary celebration of Rev. River Sims that was hosted at St. Luke’s on Saturday of this past week. It was a celebration of, not just the work of River, but of the ministry of the Catholic Temenos Worker, of which River is a part. A work that perhaps many at St. Luke’s aren’t as familiar with.

When River asked me to offer a welcome message to those in attendance I wasn’t sure what I would say. What I know about River and what he does is simple: River ministers to and with people that would probably frighten me; his work is often done in the evening hours and he meets the many folks who live on the streets – well, right where they are. River’s embrace of the great diversity of humankind is evident by the company he keeps.

After all, he hangs out with me.

So, as I contemplated what I could possibly say, I found myself making a comparison to what I do in ministry. River and I are both ordained and presumably we also both are following that call to the “work” that we do. I don’t under- or over-value one from the other; the press to follow a call that we feel is coming from God is important. Like many ordained, I have sometimes questioned what I’m doing and is it helpful; is it really ministry?

What I know is that we each of us play a part. And this is where it’s always important to recall the body of Christ, and to understand that this body is made up of so many different parts – each part vitally important; there is no part that is unimportant.

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church can be seen as the body of Christ, a body that cannot function effectively or efficiently without each part. Every ministry, whether we see it that way or even call it ministry, is vital to the body and her health. Ministry is everything from Altar Guild to ushering to signing up to help clean up, to volunteering at the Food Pantry, to folding service sheets, to calling on a parishioner you haven’t’ seen lately, to serving on vestry, to showing up.

And so much more.

The health of the body is dependent upon the activity of the ministry and the activity of the ministry is directly dependent upon the generosity of the body. This is circular – isn’t it.

Here is a truth that I have come to understand clearly: I am a paid part of the body, as are others, and the paid parts of the body are important. However, they are not reflective of the health or survival of the body. The health and survival of the body is directly dependent upon the volunteer ministry – aka you.


Audrey hits upon the division of talents and opportunities within the body of Christ. We are all called to ministry, in  our own way.

These past twenty five years I have found these words true:

“Love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared to love in dreams.”
Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

I  walk the roads that few go down, the roads of letting young adults, of all stripes, enter into our life, being their brother and friend.

I  walk where they walk, I  walk with out judgment. Many years ago, an intern from Old First Presbyterian, was standing with me on the corner of Polk and Sacramento, and a new car drove up,  a young man of nineteen proudly showed me his new car, which he had recently “creatively acquired,” (stole). I  complemented him on its beauty and Shane drove off, and my friend said, “Aren’t you going to call the police?’ I  laughed and said: “The police will catch him soon enough, and than it will be my place to listen and work with him on the consequences of his actions, for it is not my place to judge, others do that, I help him look at those consequences, and their affects on his life and the lives of others.”

I  make no judgments, others will judge, I  walk with people in working with them on the affects of those consequences on themselves and others. I  love them despite their actions. I  leave the judgment to God–for she will show much more compassion. I walk with them where they are and I  do not apologize for our ministry.

Aubrey points out we are all called to ministry, each in his or her own way, the task is to act on that call to live out that call. One way we can live out our call is from another Dostoevsky quote:

“Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things. Once you perceive it, you will begin to comprehend it better every day. And you will come at last to love the whole world with an all-embracing love”.

All of us are called, we have to choose to act, let us embrace our being  chosen, and move into a wondrous life! Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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

Post Office Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


P.S. Audrey hangs out with me and that is wondrous because she is really an awesome and magnificent lady with a heart and passion for ministry–I am honored!


October 8, 2019


“When I was in trouble, I called to the Lord, and he answered me.” Psalm 120:1

Growing up my mom always listened to me, when help was needed, I asked, she heard me; There were two pastors through my adolescence who always listened to me. And through the years I learned to listen, I sit for hours with people and listen, and find healing taking place. If I am asked what my I do for a living–I reply: listen.

Today we are surrounded by social media, we run into each other on the street, we get in our cars and travel with others and not a word is said, because we are on our social media. No one listens, no one takes time away from snap chat and text messaging to listen. People suffer, loneliness, and depression is increasing, and the words of -Br. Geoffrey Tristram speaks to us:

‘What you choose to think about, to read, to look at will have an effect on you. What we look at, what we gaze at, what we listen to, what we imagine effects our souls. In our world of social media and information technology, Paul’s words are particularly instructive: “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is pure, think about these things.” If you have no guard, no discipline about which images and how many images you allow to bombard your imagination, this can do violence to your soul, and can take away your joy.’

Let us look at the violence we are doing to our soul, at the joy that is being taken away. Let us begin to listen to others, let us put our technology away, and simply listen. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Little by Little

October 4, 2019

The Feast of St. Francis

Little by Little


“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new person in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.” Ephesians 2:13-16

There were two incidents in my childhood which  have guided my life.  They transformed my life.

One evening at sunset when  I was six, my family and I were driving through Sequoia  Park in Southern California,   on the edge of the road we viewed a  person sitting, looking worn out. My dad finding  him homeless, took the gentleman  to a nearby motel and paid for his room,  and the second was in Memphis when I was nine, we were coming out of a down town hotel, and another homeless person approached my dad for money. Again my dad fed her.

These two incidents haunted me as I attended seminary,  ordained, and served middle class churches; and suddenly  I found myself on the streets, because of being “intrinsically evil” as the Church described being queer, and  in that journey encountered St. Francis, and Dorothy Day,  both of them seeped into my very being, their words of living a life of simplicity, seeing everyone as equals, without reference to any of our man made guidelines, respect for nature, and of living with  those who have so little.

My  call to ministry  began at six in Sequoia Park,   I was reminded of that call at nine in Memphis, and at twelve, the call was confirmed in the warming of my heart at camp, and through the years since each day little by little am  reminded  that being a priest is “being a keeper of the mysteries”, not about prestige, nice clothes, but about little by little moving into the presence of God. It is not a job, but  at the heart of who I am, shaped by God from birth.

To me being a priest means to walk with people where they are, to suffer with them, and to remind them of the God who loves them for who they are, and for no matter what they do. It means getting my hands dirty and not worrying about my reputation. Reputation, praise, being known, comes and goes, but in the words of a friend “There is no integrity in compromise.”

For in my journey we have learned the meaning of the unknown author:

“The street transforms every ordinary day into a series of quick questions and every incorrect answer risks a beat down, shooting or pregnancy.”

This is where the ministry of Temenos Catholic Worker walks, and this is where our ministry lives and breathes. There are risks, beat downs, pain, but in all of it there is so much joy and fulfillment.

St. Francis taught that Christmas was our primary holiday because when Jesus was born, the incarnation became one with humanity, the poorest of the poorest, and Easter was the triumph of his humanity in that through his suffering he walked with humanity to his fullest. Little by little Jesus showed us the glory of God’s love. Jesus knows what it is to be homeless, because he was homeless,  he knows what it is to hurt, and to suffer, and to die, because he has had  those experiences. Jesus walks with us in people like Dorothy, Francis, and all who touch the lives of people without judgment.

On this Feast Day of St. Francis, we came to San Francisco, and handed out our first piece of piazza, which has now become thousands, and we continue to walk little by little, and our prayer is that we can become as Dorothy, and Francis, and that we can become like the “Velveteen Rabbit”, torn, worn out, as we give our lives to people.

“Glory to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, world without end, as it is now and forever shall be. Amen.”


“Saint Francis freely gave himself – all that he had and all that he was – to God, asking only to be an instrument of God’s peace in the world. He wanted nothing for himself, all for God. Never have we seen such devotion, never have we witnessed such profound joy, never have we been touched by so deep a love.We recall him with thanksgiving today, and ask God for the grace to be shining lights to our own generation, as Francis was to his”

-Br. David Vryhof

“Your true identity is as a child of God. This is the identity you have to accept. Once you have claimed it and settled in it, you can live in a world that gives you much joy as well as pain. You can receive the praise as well as the blame that comes to you as an opportunity for strengthening your basic identity, because the identity that makes you free is anchored beyond all human praise and blame. You belong to God, and it is as a child of God that you are sent into the world.” Fr. Henri Nouwen Father Henri Nouwen


Home Coming-Twenty Fifth Anniversary Celebration of the Ministry of Temenos Worker and   Father River Damien Sims

Saturday, October 6, 2019

6:30 p.m.

Celebration of Holy Communion-Open to all–Saints and Sinners–most especially Sinners (Non-Alcoholic Wine/Gluten Free Wafers)

Followed by a Banquet of

Slow Cooker Brown Sugar Ham

Southern Green Beans

Sweet Potato Casserole

Memphis Style Coleslaw



Sara Solis, Daughter of Sue Haines who is the author of ARE YOU SUSAN? will give a short presentation


Auction of an autographed copy of Sister Helen Prejean’s new book: River of Fire to be held through December 15.

If you would like to make a bid of no less than $50.00 please email or text us.

Money to go to the St. Luke’s Episcopal Discretionary Fund, which provides for people in need who come to their door.


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164



Living In the Shadow of the Rock

October 3, 2019

Living in the Shadow of the Rock–October 3, 2019

Matthew 7:25: “The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on the house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock.”

Yesterday I spent an hour with a woman who was fearful because of all that is happening in our country; tonight I listened to a young man who was having nightmares, living in the shadow of a building. He was awaken by a man urinating on him. It is not easy living at this time in our society, especially for those without housing.

I spend 95% of my time with young adults, whose main concerns are school, their girl friends or boy friends, their appearance, and the ones who live day by day for food and a place to sleep. They deal with the basic issues of humanity–food, clothing, social life, having fun, and survival. I hear little of the political situation because it is irrelevant to them. Frankly I am at home with them, where with most adults, I am on edge, because if you disagree with them, God help you.

In today’s devotion in the Forward devotional one of the writers who lives in Houston writes this one of the hurricanes :

“But there is one thing we know, even when we are confused. . Faith and love lend a hand, united we face the truth. We are strong, we survive. And we hold on as we try: We are strong, we survived.”

And Father Henri Nouwen writes:

“How can we live in the midst of a world marked by fear, hatred, and violence, and not be destroyed by it? When Jesus prays to his Father for his disciples he responds to this question by saying, “I am not asking you to remove them from the world but to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world” (John 17:15–16).

To live in the world without belonging to the world summarizes the essence of the spiritual life. The spiritual life keeps us aware that our true house is not the house of fear, in which the powers of hatred and violence rule, but the house of love, where God resides.”

The young adults I hang with, Scripture, and my experience of living life on the edge   have confirmed what both men have said, that when we belong where God resides, in faith and love we will survive. We do not belong to the world, but to God and  live from the  shadow of the Rock– a life of love and compassion. 

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


Home Coming

A Celebration of 25 years of Service of Temenos Catholic Worker and Father River Damien Sims

Saturday, October 5, 2019, 6:30 p.m.

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church

1755 Clay Street

San Francisco, CA 94109



Slow Cooker Brown Sugar Ham

Vegan Sweet Potato Casselrole

Vegan Southern Green Beans

Memphis Coleslaw

Fruit Punch



In Our Smallness We Bear Fruit

October 2, 2019

In Our Smallness We Bare Fruit

Matthew 7:21

“You will recognize them by their fruits!”

Fr. Richard Rohr writes: “It’s a gift to joyfully recognize and accept our own smallness and ordinariness. Then you are free with nothing to live up to, nothing to prove, and nothing to protest. Such freedom is my best description of Christian maturity, because once you know that your “I” is great and one with God, you can ironically be quite content with a small and ordinary “I”.”

In seeing ourselves with a “a small and ordinary I”, we can bare the fruit of love and care for one another. The guiding question for seeing our smallness and our humanness is one that we need to ask daily:

How do we treat people? Do we welcome them as God tells us to do or do we judge and dismiss them? Do we label, and place our own boundaries upon them and in so doing harm them?  That question demands our attention if we hope to gaze on the face of God.

There was a time that when we believed we had all the answers–we knew what people needed,  to live a higher quality of life and now we are embarrassed, in our pride, and arrogance.

For the greatest lesson that we have learned is to be as a little child–simply to take people in all of their wonderment, beauty, pain, and love them without judgment. And that Jesus teaches us to be uniquely aware of our own poverty–of our inability to save ourselves–asking God to meet our needs one day at a time. Give us this day our daily bread!  Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


Home Coming

An Invitation to the 25th Anniversary of Temenos Catholic Worker

October 5, 2019, 6:30 p.m.

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church

1755 Clay Street

San Francisco, CA 94109

We would like to express thanks to St. Luke’s Episcopal Church for her love, support, and care these past eight years, and to the her Rectors
Dana and Audrey who have been our friend and pastors.

You have been the incarnation of the body of Christ to us and to so many!

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


The Little Way

October 1, 2019

“The Little Way”

St. Teresa of Lisieux

Luke 9:46-50; Matthew 7:1-12; Luke 9:51-56

“Ask and you shall receive”, and through the years I have found this to be true. Prayer, Scripture, and being close to God’s people have provided the foundation for the past 25 years.

In this past year and a half, We have found God taking care of us through our then  sixteen year old, and eighteen year old friends, and the donors and others who prayed and provided support.  The same in all the years before–no matter what–God provided care.

My char-ism is Franciscan and that of Therese of Lisieux. We came to San Francisco expecting to do great things and be famous, and instead, our life has been given something greater, that of practicing  the “little way”, and of seeking to be “perfect as my Father is perfect”, which in Franciscan theology means being merciful and compassionate. For Francis Christmas was more important than Easter because God was incarnated in Jesus, born in the stable, born poor, becoming the most human of humans, and in so doing telling us the importance of our humanity. The Incarnation was the living proof of God’s love.

We are told often that we are  different, and most of the times not in a complimentary way,  and that we act  like a child, and hopefully we  do, because in being a child one is open to life, not prejudice, rejoices in nature, and loves all who are around him or her, with no labels. And its a act of a lot more fun going to Raves than sitting around in a bar.

So Saturday as we celebrate our time here we give thanks to God for giving us this twenty five years!

And when asked what we have learned:

“Keep Praying, Keep Reading Your Bible, and Keep being Involved with God’s People!” And you will have the most abundant life!

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


You are cordially Invited to Our


25 Years of Service–Temenos Catholic Worker, Fr. River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min., D.S.T.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

6:30 p.m.

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church

1755 Clay Street

San Francisco, CA 94164

Holy Eucharist open to All. Non-Alcoholic, Gluten Free Wafers


Cranberry Orange Chicken

Slow Cooker Brown Sugar Ham

Vegan Corn Chowder

Memphis Style Coleslaw (My mom’s recipe)


Non-Alcoholic Punch

Come Let us Celebrate!