Archive for December, 2019

Thanks be to God!

December 30, 2019

Thanks Be to God!

Luke 2:36-40 English Standard Version (ESV)

36 And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, 37 and then as a widow until she was eighty-four.[a] She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him (Jesus) to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.


    This morning I dressed in clerical s for a meeting and as  I walked to the Holiday Inn, giving out food, socks, it hit me, that whether I am wearing a collar or not, I am always a priest, from the moment I began at 17, until now so many years later. And people never let me forget it.

    Yesterday as I attended a candle light service for three teens, one of which I knew, and this morning met to plan one for Jim Gleason in the picture above, my thoughts went to the reality like Anna, I am near the end of my journey, and I have done by best to witness to the One brought to the Temple.  God has never let me go, but has chased me through the cotton fields of the south, the industrial areas of the north, and brought me to streets of San Francisco, the Temple into which I am called to minister. Someone was once telling me how stupid, and how inadequate I am for this ministry, and my response was: “Great, take my place, I am more than willing to leave,” and the person walked away.

    I have known Jim since he was twenty two, have seen him as a young man, full of life, struggling with drugs, and in that struggle show kindness and love to others, and in dying, leave many grieving, he lived a worthy life; the young teens whose candle light service I attended last night had just begun to live, and their lives were worthy, with a shining witness of care for   others.

    And so as we come to the cusp of this new year, I know I will not depart from this Temple, but will continue to witness in my own way to the One, who calls each one of us to love each other, to walk with one another and lift the burdens we carry, so that we can sing in the Temple together.

    Father Henri Nouwen, who struggled throughout his life, but was faithful in his ministry,  gives us that invitation to sing in the Temple, with words that ring out to the heavens:

Love is Stronger than Death

God is Spirit and the Source of all love. Our spiritual journey calls us to seek and find this living God of love in prayer, worship, spiritual reading, spiritual mentoring, compassionate service to the poor, and good friends. Let us claim the truth that we are loved and open our hearts to receive God’s overflowing love poured out for us. And living fully each day let us share that love in all our wonderful and difficult relationships, responsibilities, and passages.

The seeds of death are at work in us, but love is stronger than death. Your death and mine are our final passage, our exodus to the full realization of our identity as God’s beloved children and to full communion with the God of Love. Jesus walked the path ahead of us and invites us to choose the same path during our lifetime. He calls to us, “Follow me.” He assures us, “Do not be afraid.” This is our faith.

Deus Meus et Omnia, “My God and all things.” Amen.


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164



Our Greatest Gift

December 28, 2019

Our Greatest Gift

The Feast of the Holy Innocents

Herod Kills the Children

16 Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:

18 “A voice was heard in Ramah,
weeping and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.” ESV

    Yesterday a woman asked for food for her two children, living in their automobile, and was telling me how she works sixty hours a week at $15.00 an hour and can not afford food and housing; In the afternoon spent time and gave food to five fourteen and fifteen year old’s living on the street; all of these are Holy Innocents. We all have blood on our hands from the our consumerist way of life.

    In 1999 Diarmuid O’Murchu called for a radical way of living non-violently. In his book Poverty, Celibacy, and Obedience, he explains a different way of relating to the different types of violence–the violence of patriarchy, consumerism, racism, homophobia, poverty, and sexual repression or aggression.

“It is a call to see ourselves through the prism of relatedness as we interact with both human and non-human life forms, living the values of dignity, respect, asceticism, humility, and cooperation. It consists of reviewing all interactions with compassion and kindness, including one’s self. Non-violent living fosters gratitude for the gift of all things coming from God.”

    So on this Feast of the Holy Innocents let us remember the young men and women who suffer from hunger on our streets, and who die so young, and in particular we would like to remember three teens, killed in a car crash Christmas Day, Mark Anthony, Michael Angelo Uriista, and Javier Ramirez, and reflect on the words of Father Henri Nouwen:

“As I grow older, I discover more and more that the greatest gift I have to offer is my own joy of living, my own inner peace, my own silence and solitude, my own sense of well-being. When I ask myself, “Who helps me the most?” I must answer, “The one who is willing to share his or her life with me.”

Deus Meus et Omnia, “My God and all things!” Amen.


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164



December 27, 2019


The Feast of St.John

John 20:1-8-ESV

20 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.”

“It is remarkable how easy it is to bless others, to speak good things to and about them, to call forth their beauty and truth, when you yourself are in touch with your own blessedness. The blessed one always blesses. And people want to be blessed! This is so apparent wherever you go. No one is brought to life through curses, gossip, accusations, or blaming. There is so much taking place around us all the time. And it calls forth only darkness, destruction, and death. As the “blessed ones,” we can walk through this world and offer blessings. It doesn’t require much effort. It flows naturally from our hearts. When we hear within ourselves the voice calling us by name and blessing us, the darkness no longer distracts us. The voice that calls us the Beloved will give us words to bless others and reveal to them that they are no less blessed than we.” Father Henri Nouwen

    From Thanksgiving through New Year’s we hear a lot about family. Always the perfect family. T.V. movies of Christmas are humorous–the perfect families. Ha!     

    Snap chat and I have become old friends this season as we have talked to so many for whom their biological families have rejected  judged, or simply do not  give a damn. They talk of suicide, and the most intimate of subjects, and we become family in that sharing. These young men and women, the youth and older adults on the street with  whom we share food and socks , and simply listen to, all are “family.”

    Yesterday three friends who are 18  and I walked into the bank, and all three are of Hispanic origin, and a person asked me, “Who are they?”, and I simply said, “family,” and she said, but “you are white”, and in reply–“really, I never noticed, they are family–you ever think about getting your eyes examined.” She walked away.

    For Jesus “family” has no biological origins, he loved John most of all, and they were not biologically related.

    It has only been six months since I have come  back to full functioning, psychologically and physically, from the accident two years ago. I have worked, put on a front, and  have struggled immensely. During the past two years I have experienced the love of “family”:

“Family” of donors, who have faithfully supported us and our ministry, placing faith in us, pushing us onward;

“Family” of friends whom we stayed in contact with  through email and through Facebook; and took us out to eat and simply hung  out; A  “Family” of doctors who live in Albuquerque, who paid our health insurance, always available by telephone to listen, to support, and “family”  in other places across the country who sent cards, texts, and phone calls;

    And the “family” of Matthew, who came to volunteer at 15 and simply stayed in my life; and at 18 right after surgery, and I was alone  skipped school, and work, and made me comfortable in my pain, and sat with me, we became “family” that night as he continued to care, and check in, making sure all was well;  and there was Brandon, Cale, Aaron, one 18, the other two 16,  who on a humid summer night two and a half years ago, walked into my life at Matt’s house where I was recuperating, and they too stayed, and now they are “adults”,  and supported me in so many ways these two years. Their parents came with them, and stayed as well, and as we celebrated over Christmas brunch Sunday a week ago, laughed at all the craziness of the past two years. These guys know me better than anyone else, and yet they love me spots and all. They have never seen me as a priest, but their brother, their friend, the greatest gift one can give.

    J. Philip Newell, comments, “. . .Grace is like a cleansing rain over the landscape of life, followed by a sunlight that restores our vision.”

    The “cleansing rain of grace”, comes as we move beyond our prejudices, our biases, our false boundaries, and let people enter in our lives, spots and all. We let people become “family”, and so much around us that is negative fades away as we care for them simply as family, recognizing their warts as well as our own, and most importantly recognizing the Divine Presence within each one of us.

    I am thankful for all of you who in one way or another have been “family” to me all these years. And on this Feast of St. John, I see the face of Jesus smiling at  each  of us. We are his family. Amen! Amen! 

Deus Meus et Omnia-“My God and All Things”! Amen.

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164



Being A Christian Ain’t for Sissies

December 26, 2019

Being A Christian Is Not for Sissies!

The Feast of St. Stephen

Reading 1 Acts 6:8-10; 7:54-59

Stephen, filled with grace and power,
was working great wonders and signs among the people.
Certain members of the so-called Synagogue of Freedmen,
Cyrenians, and Alexandrians,
and people from Cilicia and Asia,
came forward and debated with Stephen,
but they could not withstand the wisdom and the spirit with which he spoke.

When they heard this, they were infuriated,
and they ground their teeth at him.
But he, filled with the Holy Spirit,
looked up intently to heaven
and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God,
and he said,
“Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man
standing at the right hand of God.”
But they cried out in a loud voice, covered their ears,
and rushed upon him together.
They threw him out of the city, and began to stone him.
The witnesses laid down their cloaks
at the feet of a young man named Saul.
As they were stoning Stephen, he called out
“Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”

We have a friend who once told us, “Growing old ain’t for  sissies,” and she was right, it certainly is not, as your body breaks down, you can not sleep, your muscles ache.  But  ‘being a Christian is ain’t sissies’ either.

A young man in Syria was asked by a friend, “Why are you a Christian?” He replied: ‘Jesus is for peace, for love, for caring for your neighbor.” When he arrived home a crowd was milling about his house, and he found his parents and siblings murdered  by ISIS. ‘Being a Christian ain’t for sissies.’
    Bishop Karen Oliveto, Reverend Janie Spah, stand  in the breach for LGBTQ rights in their respective church denominations, both being persecuted, and they can tell you that ‘being a Christian ain’t for sissies.”
    Reverend Glenda Hope and Sister Bernie Gavin have stood in the breach for the homeless and the poor, and each one can tell you that ‘being a Christian ain’t for sissies”.
    Father Louie Vitalie, Larry Purcell, and Catholic Workers, have stood in the breach opposing war, and government abuse, and they can tell you that ‘being Christian ain’t for sissies.”
    People always put on Facebook a quote which basically says that religion is at the heart of our problems with humanity. They are correct–religion are  the institution, and the groups of people who have organized themselves around dogma, and legalistic laws that are destructive.     They have nothing to do with the person of Jesus who call us to love our neighbors. The Spirit of whom fanned out across the Roman Empire with acts of love, care, and that spans in the organizations to day who reach out in love without judgment to others. The early Christians set the tone for our love of people in our acts of love and all aspects of charity. They followed the Spirit of Jesus, as those who continue those works do today.
Stephen knew that “being a Christian ain’t for sissies” as he forgave those who stoned him to death. We are called to stand in the breach and love without judgment, provide health care, housing, and care without judgment; we are called to love, to  live in peace with all. “Being a Christian ain’t for sissies.” Deus Menus et Omnia, “My God and All Things.”
Father Christian River Damien Sims,sfw, D.Min, D.S.T.
P.O. Box 642656
San Francisco, CA 94164

Peniel, January, 2020

December 26, 2019

Xmas 2019 3


“Where Jacob Wrestled With God”

Newsletter of Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

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


Deus Meus et Omnia—My God and all things.”


Journal of An Alien Street Priest:

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son, from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

This verse is read from the Bible that is autographed by our many friends and sometimes enemies, who have had faith in our ministry through the years. There is a story with each signature. We have fought, hated, and loved each other, but when it comes down to it we have been faithful to one another, and we are faithful in our own way to the One who goes before us into Galilee.

    On the margins of this verse we have written, “Faith keeps us firm in our commitment to love God and our neighbor. Without faith we sink deep into quick sand.” Without faith we would have been dead a long time ago, for in season and out of season, we see Jesus before us, going before us into Galilee.

    Those who autographed this Bible are symbols of that faith in which we behold the face of Jesus. And they are examples of the faith which keeps us firm.

     As we enter the New Year and the Feast of Epiphany we are reminded that we all have our unique vocations, and Richard Meux Benson reminds us of how our vocations are always changing as we encounter the Christ:

“The wise men cannot return to their own country by the same way they used to come to Bethlehem. While they cannot go the same route because of Herod, we cannot go the same way once we have met Christ. We emerge from our encounter with Christ as changed people. We cannot follow the same path as before. Like the wise men, we must seek out Christ, but we will always leave as transformed people.”

One of the ways in which our  ministry has been transformed is the acknowledgment that we will never be large, we will never be well known, but the our call is to follow the One who tells us “to give a cup of cold water” in his name. Christmas Eve and Day we hung out in the Haight and on Polk, giving gifts, snacks, socks, and the simple presence  of listening.

In the year ahead we will continue to give “a cup of cold water,” in the name of Jesus, and we invite you to follow giving cups of cold water in any way you can. Deus Meus et Omnia-“My God and all things! Amen.

A Gift in Memory of Sarah Townsend has been given by the Reverene’s Sherman and Lorrie Skinner

Sarah had a real heart for the homeless. She had worked in a homeless shelter in Ashville, N.C., and then for four years until her death after retirement.

Memorial Service

Jim Gleason

2:00 p.m., January 11, 2020

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church

Reception to Follow.

Father River Sims’s Officiating.

Thank You:

A special thank you to William and Dina Tiedje for the gift of a van

And a special thank you to St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and her pastor, The Reverend Jason Cox for their support this past year.

We Are Beggars!

Your Gifts are Tax Deductible!

Please Give, and Help Us
To Serve Our Brothers and Sisters on the Street!

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

Pay Pal: Can be found on

Volunteer Position

Editor of Peniel, our Newsletter

Six Times A Year


The Memory of God

December 25, 2019


The Memory of God

“Arise, Jerusalem, and take your stand on high; look to the east, and you will see your children gathering, rejoicing in the memory of God.” Baruch 5:5

Reading this verse it is impossible not to see the children crossing the deserts, the valley’s, and the wildernesses, of Central and South America, seeking freedom in our country; this passage reminds me of the young faces I am encountering tonight and tomorrow on Polk and Haight Street, sleeping in the doors, the alleys, and in the Park, shivering, and hungry; I hear what politicians say about their treatment, and I hear what Baruch, and Jesus tells us: “Bring the little children to me,” where no judgment is pronounced, for all of us are homeless, in one way or the other, and all of us stand on the edge of homelessness–an earthquake, a fire, an illness–all of us stand on the edge.

    William Stringfellow says: Holiness is the restoration of integrity and wholeness to a person.” Each of us can tonight, tomorrow, and throughout the rest of our days “restore integrity and wholeness,” simply by seeing each person we meet, both friend, and foe, as human beings struggling to live, to have wholeness, and to bring integrity and wholeness into their lives by a kind word, simply taking time to listen, giving them food, water, clothing, and fighting for healthcare and housing for all, without prejudice, but with the openness of the One whose birthday we celebrate tonight.

““Into this world, this demented inn
in which there is absolutely no room for him at all,
Christ comes uninvited.
But because he cannot be at home in it,
because he is out of place in it,
and yet he must be in it,
His place is with the others for whom
there is no room.
His place is with those who do not belong,
who are rejected by power, because
they are regarded as weak,
those who are discredited,
who are denied status of persons,
who are tortured, bombed and exterminated.
With those for whom there is no room,
Christ is present in this world.”
– Thomas Merton

Deus Meus et Omnia


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


The Growing Good in the World

December 22, 2019


The Growing Good in the World!

“Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz. Ask a sign of the Lord your God. . .”Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold the virgin shall conceive and bear a son and shall call his name Emmanuel”. Isa. 7:10, 14. ESV

    This verse is read from the Bible that is autographed by my many friends and sometimes enemies, who have had faith in our ministry through the years. There is a story with each signature. We have fought, hated, and loved each other, but when it comes down to it we are faithful to each other, and we are faithful in our own way to  the One who goes before us into Galilee.

    On the margins of this verse I have written, “Faith keeps us firm in our commitment to love God and our neighbor. With out faith we sink deep into quick sand.” Without faith I would have been dead along time ago, for in season and out of season, I see Jesus before me, leading me into Galilee.

    Those who autographed this Bible are symbols of that faith in which I behold the face of Jesus. Each step of the way he  says, “Follow me!”. When I am asked, “Are you ever in danger?”, my only answer is, “Never”–for I am following Jesus, he is all that matters, and I see Galilee ahead.

    George Elliot wrote: “The growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”

    My tomb at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church will be unvisited, and after a while all of the tombs of those who signed my Bible, too, will no longer have visitors, but in living faithfully in our unhistoric acts we have given the world, a good that continues to grow in the faces of those whose lives we have touched.

    On this Sunday before Christmas let us sing: “Glory to the Father, the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen! Amen! Amen!”


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Brothers and Sisters

December 21, 2019


Matthew 25:31-46

In our parable Jesus points out that we choose our own judgment in the way we treat our brothers and sisters. When we turn our backs on others, we close ourselves off from relationship and from true life, we become dead.

I have chosen to use my Christmas money given this year as a personal gift to have an urn prepared. It will sit on my desk  as a means of reflection on:

First, our time is short. No matter how hard we try, we have only a certain amount of days. And so we want to use every minute to remember that:

“Life is short.

We do not  have too much time to gladden the hearts

of those who travel the way with us.

So be swift to love.

Make haste to be kind.

Be kind, feed , nurture , provide comfort, and be a brother, even to our enemies.

Secondly it is a reminder  that our  call, our  task in life is simply to listen, to walk with others on the journey, the rest is in the hands of God, for He  is the Divine Therapist, She is in the driver’s seat:

“The purpose of the divine therapy is the healing of the roots of all our problems and to transform our attitudes and, indeed, the whole of our human nature into the mind and heart of Christ. —Thomas Keating”

And so the urn will be a reminder that life is short, we are all brothers and sisters, and to “make haste” and be kind. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


How Can This Be?

December 20, 2019

How Can This Be!

Luke 1:26-38 English Standard Version (ESV)

Birth of Jesus Foretold

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed[a] to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”[b] 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”[c]

35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born[d] will be called holy—the Son of God. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant[e] of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.


    A therapist friend gave me some advice as I began this ministry, so long ago, in the mists of time, “You will be standing in the middle of a rail road, and will have twenty three trains coming at you, and remember, look to the Light.”

    The trains are always coming, and in looking to the light I remember the people I sat with during the fires in Santa Rosa, and simply listened to, and in them I saw the Light; A friend in Marin was telling me of the the loneliness she experienced during the black outs, late at night with no light to be seen  any where, and yet she found comfort in the Light; there is a family in grief, whose son has died, and we will have his memorial service in January, they look to the Light. I am wrapping the treats that will be handed out on the street, and as I encounter each day so many that all they have is the clothes they wear-and they are ragged–we look to the Light.

    So “How can this be?” The only answer I have found is in the cross that hangs over my desk, and the Light that shines from it.. Look to the Light! Find strength and hope. Look to the Light!


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Learning from the Language of Dreams

December 18, 2019


“. .the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. .Matthew 1:20”

    John Sanford tells us that “Dreams are God’s forgotten language.” Dreams put us in touch with a form of communication that is both deeply personal and universal at the same time. They remove the chaos from our vision and open our vision to fullness.

    Mary is pregnant in a society where out of wed lock pregnancy leads to death, and Joseph was going to put her aside, but God opened up the fullness of his vision, and Joseph married her. God moves beyond our faults, and works  miracles.

    One of my favorite scripture verses is found in Philippians where Paul shares he is “working out his salvation.”  We are working out our salvation and will continue to work out our salvation in eternity—we do not suddenly become “perfect little angels.” Last night a friend  on snap-chat was praising me for a gift I had given him, and we  reminded him we were not “perfect”, and he replied, “hell no, you are a f. . k up like me, that is what I like about you.” And as I look at the tattoos on my arms I see those who spent their lives “working out their salvation,” and continue to do so in eternity. They too were “f. .k ups”, but they learned from their dreams.

    St. Francis, play boy, racist, warrior, whose experience with God  shaped him into an example  of love in a society where there was little love or faith; Damien of Molokai, loved lepers, accused of sleeping with women; Dorothy Day, had an illegitimate child, not the most charming woman in the world, and yet she loved the poorest of the poor, Treyvon Martin, a black kid, murdered, and in that death  became a symbol of the evil of racism, and hope for many; Matthew Shepherd, a queer kid, murdered, and in his death symbolizes homophobia at it’s worst, and raises the issue of equality for all; Juniper Serra, Franciscan, who in his time was a symbol of compassion; none of these people were perfect, but they were all “working out their salvation,” and in doing so touched the lives of many. Each “learned from their dreams.”  They all had their dark side, but the light shined through their lives. None of us are “perfect little angels,” we are all “working out our salvation.”

    Today I look around San Francisco, and see Glide, St. Anthony’s, St. Boniface, St. John’s, and many more who are “working out their salvation,” none perfect, but so many lives have been changed through their work.

     The institutional churches are under fire for being irrelevant, out of touch, and harbingers of abuse, and yet as Dorothy Day said, “The Church is both a whore and our Mother.” God works through her human followers to bring light into the dark. She leads us in “working out our salvation.” None of us are “perfect little angels.” Let us “learn from our dreams.”

    And so in this next week, as we “Slough towards Bethlehem,” let us treat everyone around us, as we wish to be treated, for in our own way, we are all “working out our salvation.” Treat each one kindly! Let us dream our dreams of justice, and love! Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

“Lord, give me a heart that helps people realize their dreams and the wisdom to understand my own. Grant me the discernment to understand the language of my soul and the ways you guide me through my dreams. Through them, may I find healing, wholeness, and guidance in my life. Amen.”


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164