Archive for February, 2021

Stations Six and Seven–The Feast of the Transfiguration

February 28, 2021

   Today is the Feast of Transfiguration (Mark 9:2-13).  We are on the mountain with Jesus, we see him transfigured in glory, and that is the Jesus we want to stay with.   

   We want to sit with the three disciples and stay there, not go down the hill. It is too scary, too many people are hurting, and we may be hurt.

   The truth Jesus confronts us with is that we must go back down the mountain, we must walk with people, suffer with them, and, to be hurt, and yes be crucified. . We must walk in the Tenderloin, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, walk in the midst of the dirt, and tents surrounding us. We must walk up to the person in the doorway and care for them. As they say, “There is no gain without pain!”  We are called to carry the cross!

Station 6: Jesus is Scourged and Crowned with Thorns

“Then Pilate had Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip. The soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they put a purple robe on him. “Hail, King of the Jews” they mocked, as they slapped him across the face.” John 19:1-3.

——

WE SHAKE WITH JOY

“We shake with joy, we shake with grief.

What a time they have, these two

housed as they are in the same body.”

     We hear the cries of those who are homeless, sexually and physically abused; we hear the cries of the “dispossessed”, and their words penetrate our hearts: “The pain is so intense I do not want to live.”

     Let us pray:

     We sit smug in our apartments and homes, we have plenty to eat, clothes to wear, and we fail to see Jesus being scourged before our very eyes in the person in our doorways; we fail to listen to young men and women who cry out in their pain of hunger, loneliness, and pain of abuse; we flog you each time we fail to listen.

     O flogged and mocked Jesus let us acknowledge both the pain and the joy in our bodies, and work to bring joy for others out of that pain so that others may live. Amen.

Station 7: Jesus Bears the Cross

“When they saw him, the leading priests and Temple guards began shouting, “Crucify him, crucify him.”…….”Away with him,” they yelled. “Away with him!” “What crucify your king?” Pilate asked. “We have no king but Caesar,” the leading priests shouted back. Then Pilate turned Jesus over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus away. Carrying the cross by himself. .”

——————————–

“If God exists he isn’t just churches and mathematics.

He’s the forest, He’s the desert.

He’s the ice caps, that are dying.

He’s the ghetto and the Museum of Fine Arts… . ..

And still, pressed into my mind, the river

keeps coming, touching me, passing on its

long journey, its pale, infallible voice

singing. From: AT THE RIVER CLARION”

   We are to love everyone, to exclude no one. The rich man must love the poor man, but the poor man must love the rich man.

     We are to love those who hate us-those who are indifferent to us. Most baffling of all—those whom we do not know, whom we shall never meet on this earth.

      This intense self-giving love is to be given to them. The mystery deepens when we think of who those people are, the mystery deepens-when called to love:

   -Criminals— regardless of their crime

   -homeless, the thousands ignored on our streets; the many known by the name “displaced persons”;

   -peopled forced into labor camps, and slavery.

   We have difficulty thinking of them, we put them out of our minds.

   Jesus carries the cross for all of them, for all who suffer, the displaced, the homeless—He carries that cross for us. Jesus carries the cross to enable change us, to give us the ability to give self-giving love, not expecting anything in return.

   He calls us into a closer and more real identification with him.

The Examin

The Word

And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

—Matthew 6:5-8

Reflect

I am created in the image of a God who is One. I am unique. The Father loves me personally. I thank God for who I am.

1. Give Thanks. I thank God for this day, for my life, for all I am and have, and for His Word.

2. Pray for Light. I ask the Father to let me see my day as the Holy Spirit sees it, and to show me what I need to see.

3. Find God. I look at my day in the light of the Spirit.

What I have done?
Did I do what I had planned?
What happened that wasn’t planned? How did I respond?
What did my heart tell me?

4. Anything Wrong?

Have I been anxious? Sad? Focused on myself?
Does something in a relationship need to be addressed?
Have I been ungrateful?

5. What Now?

What do I need from God today?
What do I need to do today? Tomorrow?

Prayer

When I go now to my inner room,
God my Father, Creator of my inmost self,
I go with ashes on my forehead and in my soul
for what I have done
and for the little love, I return to You.
Is it repentance enough that I accept as mine
the burden laid on all of us by all of us?
May I embrace as my own and offer to You
the sufferings of the world that invade my day—
the child in terror, the man without work,
the woman wrapped in oppression and disdain?
Let me feel the grief that weighed like lead on Jesus’ heart
and know His unyielding love for me.
Amen.

————-

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

Station 5: Jesus Before Pilate

February 26, 2021

Station 5: Jesus is Judged by Pilate

THREE THINGS TO REMEMBER

As long as you’re dancing, you can

   break the rules.

Sometimes breaking the rules is just

   Extending the rules.

Sometimes there are no rules

——————————————————————-

Jesus’ Trial before Pilate

Mark

15:1-5; 15: Very early in the morning the leading priests, the elders, and the teachers of religious law—the entire high council[a]—met to discuss their next step. They bound Jesus, led him away, and took him to Pilate, the Roman governor.

Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

Jesus replied, “You have said it.”

Then the leading priests kept accusing him of many crimes, and Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer them? What about all these charges they are bringing against you?” But Jesus said nothing, much to Pilate’s surprise.. . . .

15 So to pacify the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He ordered Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip, then turned him over to the Roman soldiers to be crucified.”

————————————

    Pilate is “everyman”–for all of us will turn Jesus over to be crucified at one time or another. Like Pilate, we all know what is right, and yet we choose to please the crowd and do the wrong thing.

    –We fail to feed a person sitting on the street saying that it is the government’s or a non-profit’s responsibility;

    –We fail to speak to someone different than we are–because they are of a different color, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, or economic status;

    –We fail to acknowledge that homelessness has many different tenants and it will grow until we cut back on our own way of living and advocate for more involvement by our churches, government, and ourselves.;

     –We fail to acknowledge the culture of “nomads”-senior citizens who live in campers on the road because they can not afford any other way of living due to our society’s high costs.

    Let us pray:

     O, God, no one defended your son, Jesus, while others lied about him. We confess our silence in the face of homelessness that crucifies the Body of Christ–open our hearts that we too may speak the Truth to Power for homelessness, and others in need, and that in speaking that truth we may move out into the world in service. Amen.

———————

YOUR TURN:

IGNATIAN EXAMIN:

The Word

The Spirit drove Jesus out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts, and the angels waited on him.

—Mark 1:12-1

Reflect

In the desert, Jesus could see the stars and thank the Father for them. We are called out of the world in this season of Lent, so that we can give thanks too. In time, Jesus was called out of the dry desert to a busy life. So too are we called to love and serve God in a busy life. Let us live with hearts full of thanksgiving.

1. Give Thanks. I thank God for this day, for my life, for all I am and have, and for His Word.

2. Pray for Light. I ask the Father to let me see my day as the Holy Spirit sees it, and to show me what I need to see.

3. Find God. I look at my day in the light of the Spirit.

I look back over the morning, the afternoon, and the evening.

Who talked with me or worked with me?

Did I get done what I meant to do or leave things out?

4. Anything Wrong?

Do I trust that God is with me when I fail?

Where I was ungrateful, I repent and offer thanks.

5. What Now?

I look forward in hope.

What have I to do now? What have I to avoid?

Prayer

I seem to give little, Lord Jesus,
to anyone, I know in need.
Is it enough to contribute to causes
that help the suffering,
or do I have to help
with my own hands?
Show me others to help.
I will thank You for it—and ask for the courage
to tackle what You lead me to.
Amen.

————————————-

    We do not like talking about “sin”, it makes us uncomfortable, for admitting that we “sin” tells us that we have responsibility for our actions. It is so much easier for us to say, “O we are homo-sapiens, what else can we expect?”

    The truth is each of us is responsible for our actions, we each have a part to play in what goes on around us.

    When I hear confessions there are three questions asked:

    1. What have you done for God today?

    2. What are you doing for God today?

    3. What will you do for God in the future?

Acknowledging our sins, asking for forgiveness, and accepting that forgiveness allows us to move on to new life, and new ways of serving others. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

———-

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

Jesus Betrayed By Peter

February 23, 2021

Station 4: Jesus Is Denied by Peter

Matthew 26:69-75

Peter Disowns Jesus

69 Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. “You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said.

70 But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said.

71 Then he went out to the gateway, where another servant girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.”

72 He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!”

73 After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.”

74 Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!”

Immediately a rooster crowed. 75 Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.

THE POET COMPARES HUMAN NATURE TO

THE OCEAN FROM WHICH HE CAME

“The sea can do craziness, it can do smooth,

it can lie down like silk breathing

or toss havoc shoreward; it can give

gifts or withhold all; it can rise, ebb, froth

like an incoming frenzy of fountains, or it can

sweet-talk entirely. As I can too,

and so, no doubt, can you and you.”

Mary Oliver

As Mary Oliver points out in her poem we “Peter”, we are indecisive, moving from one point of view to another, dependent up on our moods, and whether or not it is in our best interests. We deny Jesus all the time.

We deny Jesus when we judge others by their race, creed, color, economic status, where they live, what they believe, and age;

We deny Jesus each time we walk by a homeless person on the street and pay no attention;

We deny Jesus when we allow our church buildings and institutional buildings be shut in the face of housing those who have no room in which to sleep;

We deny Jesus when we fail to provide health care for the homeless;

We deny Jesus when we fail to see beyond ourselves to the needs of all people around us.

We are all Peter’s, and the question is do we open our hearts, see our sins of denial and like Peter: “weep bitterly?”
===================================================

Your Turn:

Enter into the story, become Peter, feel faced with fear of reprisal for knowing Jesus, feel fear with letting yourself argue for the opening up of your church building/or institutional building for letting the homeless sleep; fear of speaking and offering food to a homeless person; fear of their age, race, religion; and most importantly fear of their humanity. Awake to your denial and weep. Sit for ten minutes as Peter. Sit for ten minutes as Jesus. What words do you hear from Jesus? What does ask you to do?

Fr. River Damien Sims

http://www.temenos.org

Station 4: Peter Denys Jesus

February 23, 2021

Station 4: Jesus Is Denied by Peter

Matthew 26:69-75

Peter Disowns Jesus

69 Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. “You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said.

70 But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said.

71 Then he went out to the gateway, where another servant girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.”

72 He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!”

73 After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.”

74 Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!”

Immediately a rooster crowed. 75 Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.

THE POET COMPARES HUMAN NATURE TO

THE OCEAN FROM WHICH HE CAME

“The sea can do craziness, it can do smooth,

it can lie down like silk breathing

or toss havoc shoreward; it can give

gifts or withhold all; it can rise, ebb, froth

like an incoming frenzy of fountains, or it can

sweet-talk entirely. As I can too,

and so, no doubt, can you and you.”

Mary Oliver

As Mary Oliver points out in her poem we “Peter”, we are indecisive, moving from one point of view to another, dependent up on our moods, and whether or not it is in our best interests. We deny Jesus all the time.

We deny Jesus when we judge others by their race, creed, color, economic status, where they live, what they believe, and age;

We deny Jesus each time we walk by a homeless person on the street and pay no attention;

We deny Jesus when we allow our church buildings and institutional buildings be shut in the face of housing those who have no room in which to sleep;

We deny Jesus when we fail to provide health care for the homeless;

We deny Jesus when we fail to see beyond ourselves to the needs of all people around us.

We are all Peter’s, and the question is do we open our hearts, see our sins of denial and like Peter: “weep bitterly?”
===================================================

Your Turn:

Enter into the story, become Peter, feel faced with fear of reprisal for knowing Jesus, feel fear with letting yourself argue for the opening up of your church building/or institutional building for letting the homeless sleep; fear of speaking and offering food to a homeless person; fear of their age, race, religion; and most importantly fear of their humanity. Awake to your denial and weep. Sit for ten minutes as Peter. Sit for ten minutes as Jesus. What words do you hear from Jesus? What does ask you to do?

————————————————————————–

The Third Station: Jesus Condemned by the Sanhedrin

February 21, 2021

Station 3: Jesus is Condemned by the Sanhedrin

     “At daybreak all the elders of the people assembled including the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. Jesus was led before this high council, and they said, “Tell us are you the Messiah?”

     “But he replied, “If I tell you, you won’t believe me. And if I ask you a question, you want answer. But from now on the Son of Man will be seated in the place of power at God’s right hand.”

     They all shouted, “So you are claiming to be the Son of God?”

            “And he replied, “You say that I am.”

            “Why do we need other witnesses?” they said, “We ourselves heard him say it.” (Luke 22:66-71)  

I WORRIED

I worried a lot. Will the garden grow, will the

rivers flow in the right direction will the earth turn

as it was taught, and if not, how shall I correct it?

Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven,

can I do better?

Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows

can do it and I am, well,

hopeless.

Is my eyesight fading or am I just imaging it,

am I going to get rheumatism,

lockjaw, dementia?

Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing.

And I gave it up. And took my old body

and went out into the morning and sang.

            I have been having a  recurring dream these weeks. I am in the hospital, an aged and useless man, a waiting to receive the drug that will end my misery, and die in peace. Papers are signed, now I a wait. I am counting the minutes.

            And I dream of Zach, Lake, Cindy, the hundreds of homeless youth, I have loved and care for through the years. Around me are people who have reminded me of failure, not being successful—not making bread out of stones, not being spectacular—not leaving a legacy of a great organization, and being powerful, having others under me. I will die, and be forgotten.

            And in the dream the face of Jesus appears, saying: “You serve me, you are mine, get up, follow me.

            And I see myself arising, and speaking for all of us saying to those making the accusations: “No,” Because God’s way is not to be relevant, or spectacular, or powerful. God’s way is downward. Blessed are the humble. Blessed are the poor of heart. Blessed are the peacemakers. I choose the way of Jesus. He invites us to create the Table of Intimacy” described by Henri Nouwen, and so condemn me, so be it,  I choose this way and invite others to follow:

“The table is the place of intimacy. Around the table we discover each other. It’s the place where we pray. It’s the place where we ask: “How was your day?” It’s the place where we eat and drink together and say: “Come on, take some more!” It is the place of old and new stories. It is the place of smiles and tears. This table, to, is the place were distance is most painfully felt. It is the place where tension between parents, where brothers and sisters express their anger and jealousies; where accusations are made, and where plates and cups become instruments of violence. Around the table, we know whether there is friendship and community or hatred and division. Precisely because the table is the place of intimacy for all the members of the household, it is also the place where the absence of that intimacy is most painfully revealed.”

O God, let my worries of failure, age, death, and not being liked go, and enable me to choose to sit at the “The Table of Intimacy” where the condemnation of the Sanhedrin matters not. I will rise from the bed, and look the culture of death in the eye and say loudly “Go to hell!”. For we choose to suffer until all are brought into the intimacy of friendship with you through the Crucified One, and all are brothers and sisters, in community together. In the name of Jesus, Street Person and Rebel, we pray. Amen and Amen!

You Turn:

In your imagination enter into the story of Jesus being condemned. Choose being a member of the Sanhedrin, feel their anger, disgust, and their fear of change, and new life. Look at the face of Jesus, and see his courage, his steadfastness, and condemn him; Switch places:  enter into being Jesus, looking back at the past three years, and in your heart you hear the voice of your Father, “all will be well,”  knowing that in the resurrection you will bring new life.  Choose which road you will take, the one to death or to new life. Take your old body out into the morning and sing.”

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

www.temenos.org

Stations of the Cross: Jesus, Betrayed by Judas, Is Arrested

February 21, 2021

Station 2: Jesus, Betrayed by Judas, Is Arrested

Mark 14:43-46

Jesus Is Betrayed and Arrested

43 And immediately, even as Jesus said this, Judas, one of the twelve disciples, arrived with a crowd of men armed with swords and clubs. They had been sent by the leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders. 44 The traitor, Judas, had given them a prearranged signal: “You will know which one to arrest when I greet him with a kiss. Then you can take him away under guard.” 45 As soon as they arrived, Judas walked up to Jesus. “Rabbi!” he exclaimed, and gave him the kiss.

46 Then the others grabbed Jesus and arrested him.

DON’T HESITATE

If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy,

don’t hesitate. Give into it. There are plenty

of lives and whole towns destroyed or about to be.

We are not wise, and not very often kind. And much can

never be redeemed. Still, life has some possibility left.

Perhaps this is its way of fighting back, that sometimes

something happens better than all the

riches and power in the world. It could be

anything, but very likely you notice it in the very

instant when love begins. Anyway, that is often

the case. Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid

of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb.

At first their attention made me feel special, giving me a Bible, they talked to me, gave me food, then walked on, promising to come back again. And later passing again me did not speak, laughing with each other. I was erased from their world.

O God, friends of your Son Jesus betrayed him with a sign reserved for love. We confess the times we have confused our promises with true love. Lord Jesus Christ, betrayed by the one you trusted, look upon your broken people. Let us be mindful of our words, for those words represent you. Amen.

One night, walking by a young man I had known for a number of years he called out. Shane was obviously suffering from over dosing. I called 911, administered Nar can, and the final rites. He died on his way to the hospital. Many people walked by him happy, laughing those last hours as he lay in the doorway, no one noticing, or when they did, simply walked on. I am reminded of those moments as I walk the streets in any city and someone calls out, and remember our call is to hear and respond regardless of how we feel at the moment. For a betrayal of anyone is a betrayal of Jesus. Amen.

Pray the first two stations each day, entering into the moment, taking the part of one person or another, in your imagination become one person, see yourself responding, feel the fear, and then do the same with imaging walking down the street viewing a homeless person in the door.

Fr. River Sims, D.Min.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

Stations of the Cross-Station 1

February 19, 2021

Twentieth Anniversary

Tenderloin Stations of the Cross

2021

 Connecting With the Stations of the Cross

We are all standing in front of a life-size image of Christ on the cross. For most of my life, the stations in churches I’ve visited have been small paintings or wall carvings placed at intervals, but at Xavier they’re much larger panels, and I find myself connecting with the scenes in a new way. In the spirit of St. Ignatius, I imagine all of us as extensions of the image before us, truly present at the foot of the cross, standing beside those depicted in the scene, wondering what it means and what is in store. We are all at different places in our journeys, but united somehow, true companions. The stations of the cross no longer seem like boring repetition but like something closer to a journey. Perhaps what’s always frustrated me about the stations is that they cut too close to some of the struggles in my own spiritual life: the desire to keep moving forward rather than be still; the desire to skip the process and try to jump straight to the end, to that resurrection moment, where we get to celebrate; the desire to ignore or avoid the suffering along the way.

At the fourteenth station, the image of Jesus being placed in the tomb, my eyes are drawn up, to a separate image high above the stations. It is one of dozens of people being crucified, stretched out along a road toward the horizon. It is the first time I’ve noticed it, as I rarely stand in this part of the church. The juxtaposition of these images is striking. As Christ is being taken down from the cross, below, in the image above, those who have chosen to follow him continue to suffer. They are taking up his work, taking on the cross. And as we stand there, our own group is included in that tradition, all of us part of a long line of people in love with, pained by, suffering for, and taking part in the church. There can be a strange beauty in suffering, but, more important, there is beauty in having a community that helps us overcome it, to move forward toward that resurrection.

—Excerpted from Mercy in the City by Kerry Weber

How to do the Stations of the Cross. First, contemplate the image of each station unhurriedly, with a willingness to enter with heart and mind into such a mysterious drama.

Station I: Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane:

36 Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.” 37 He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed. 38 He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

39 He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

40 Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? 41 Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!”

—————————————————————

Loneliness

I too have known loneliness.

I too have known what it is to feel

misunderstood

rejected, and suddenly

not at all beautiful.

Oh, mother earth,

your comfort is great, your arms never

withhold.

It has saved my life to know this.

Your rivers flowing, your roses opening in

the morning.

Oh, motions of tenderness!

……………………………………………………………….

My name is Jamie, I sleep on the street, wherever I can find a spot. I have been sleeping on the street for years. People simply walk by me, not even giving me a glimpse; Churches are always locked, and shun me as well. I am always turned away. I feel totally alone.

Let us pray: (Moment of Silence): O God in your Son’s time of trial, he trusted in his apostles, his chosen religious leaders, his best friends, but they turned away; around him were people he had healed and love, and they turned away. We confess the number of times we have not heard the voice of Jesus in the cry of those who suffer in our alleys, doorways, parks, and our friends and neighbors.

            Lord Jesus Christ, abused, abandoned, hear the cries of your wounded Universal Church, and strengthen us in our trial. We sometimes feel alone in the garden of life. Save us from disillusion and despair. Amen.

————————————————————————-

            It is a frightening prospect. To be entirely dispossessed of everything. One day, many years ago, we were told to leave our parish.  I had nothing, an outcast, friends turned their backs. It was confusing that the church would completely turn its back over our struggles with our sexual orientation.

            There are thousands of homeless throughout our country, seventeen thousand in San Francisco alone. They are dispossessed of everything. I was recently asked, “Give me a success story,” and my answer was the quote from Elizabeth Gilbert, “You can measure your worth bu upir dedication to your path, not by your successes or failures,” for me success is the faithfulness of the twenty six years in ministry in San Francisco. Success is being present to people in in their struggles, listening and caring. Dispossession is ingrained deeply within me by my own experiences with others and myself. I have learned what it means to live  the Scripture in the Book of Hebrews: 13:13:”So let us go outside to him, outside the camp, and bore the disgrace he bore.”

            For me dispossession has lead to a greater intimacy with God in Christ. The path of dispossession  became the path of a greater union, the body broken by suffering becomes the bread of a new intoxicating intimacy. We began to taste and see what mystics and saints have promised: a hidden wholeness, a font of living water, an intimate indwelling in the very life of God.

            Until we enter into that full intimacy, we hear the words of Jesus, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me,” and so we pick it up, daily, and we follow. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

——————————————————

Sit in a quiet space.

Go into the garden, and see Jesus struggling, enter into that time.

Imagine yourself as Jesus, feel his feelings, his loneliness, feelings of abandonment. Feel your own feelings. Read Mary Oliver’s poem, and take up your cross and follow Jesus! Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

____________________________________________________

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

www.temenos.org

415-305-2124

Personal Reflection

February 17, 2021

Personal Reflection: Zigzacking On the Journey to Galilee

Psalm 51:3-4


New Living Translation

For I recognize my rebellion;
    it haunts me day and night.
Against you, and you alone, have I sinned;
    I have done what is evil in your sight.
You will be proved right in what you say,
    and your judgment against me is just.[a]

Since the first time I used email (an eternity ago, but really not so) I have had a personal email, only used for my street youth and some housed youth-entitled “Lost Boys”, for by society’s standards they are “Lost”, and –and from my youth, I have often felt the same way.  That is one of the reasons I hang out with the “Lost Boys”.

    On a misty summer evening, around the campfire at church camp, my heartfelt strangely warmed, and I knew, I was called to ministry. I was twelve years old.

    From that time forward people have pointed out all my sins, and they change with where I have lived as well–from “my sexuality, drinking, smoking pot, partying, not wearing the right clothes and many, many more–too many to count” and they left scars that have lead to low-self esteem, feeling lost, needing to be loved at any cost.     We like to tear other people down with our own biases. We do not look beneath those biases into the heart to see the real person.

    What I know personally is I have never been lost, but found by the Crucified Jesus in my mother’s womb at the moment of conception, and all that matters is we love each other, forgive each other, regardless of race, creed, sexual orientation, or any other label, and do our damnest to in giving grace to one another.

    I invite you to join me in the Ash Wednesday Examine some time today:

The Word

And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

—Matthew 6:5-8

Reflect

I am created in the image of a God who is One. I am unique. The Father loves me personally. I thank God for who I am.

1. Give Thanks. I thank God for this day, for my life, for all I am and have, and for His Word.

2. Pray for Light. I ask the Father to let me see my day as the Holy Spirit sees it, and to show me what I need to see.

3. Find God. I look at my day in the light of the Spirit.

What I have done?
Did I do what I had planned?
What happened that wasn’t planned? How did I respond?
What did my heart tell me?

4. Anything Wrong?

Have I been anxious? Sad? Focused on myself?
Does something in a relationship need to be addressed?
Have I been ungrateful?

5. What Now?

What do I need from God today?
What do I need to do today? Tomorrow?

Prayer

When I go now to my inner room,
God my Father, Creator of my inmost self,
I go with ashes on my forehead and in my soul
for what I have done
and for the little love I return to You.
Is it repentance enough that I accept as mine
the burden laid on all of us by all of us?
May I embrace as my own and offer to You
the sufferings of the world that invade my day—
the child in terror, the man without work,
the woman wrapped in oppression and disdain?
Let me feel the grief that weighed like lead on Jesus’ heart
and know His unyielding love for me.
Amen.

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

415-305-2124

A Story of Christmas

February 17, 2021

A Story of Forgiveness

(Outline Taken from writings of Reverend Gregory Weeks)

Joel 2:12-18; 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2; Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

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    Today is the time for us to reflect on why personal sacrifice is so important.

    By imitating the sacrifices during the journey of Jesus into the desert and meditating on His journey to Golgotha, we “tear-out” those things keeping us from Jesus in order to grow closer to Him and better understand the transformational power of sacrifice.

    On my desk there is always a red rose, reminding me of the blood of Christ. A reminder that Jesus dies each day for our wrongs, not simply my personal wrongs, but our communal wrongs of homelessness, war, extreme poverty, racism, and sexism.

    It is a crucial reminder that we realize that our worth and value do not depend on anyone else. We have to claim our own inner truth. Each of us is a person worth being loved and called to give love, not because anyone says so but because we are created out of love and live in the embrace of a God who did not hesitate to send his only son to die for us.

    This afternoon, and tonight I will be out on the streets offering the imposition of ashes, with the words, “Remember you are dust and to dust you will return.”  Sounds beautiful, romantic, being on the street, and it is, but it is also harrowing at times for I will be spit upon, called every name in the book, and threatened, the nature of human beings.

    And so through the years, the lesson learned has been that the greatest human act is forgiveness: “Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who have sinned against us.” 

     Forgiveness stands at the center of God’s love for us and also at the center of our love for each other. Loving one another means forgiving one another over and over again.

    Why Is Forgiving So Important?

    Forgiving puts us in our place. We are no better nor worse than the other person, we are simply human beings on the same journey. We remember that when we point a finger at another, we have four pointing back at us.

    Secondly, we honor God. The God who in Jesus, journeyed to the cross as a result of the betrayal of the people around him, and of us today.  In the resurrection, he affirmed he would give all to bring us back into his fold. He offered the hope that we can come into the wholeness of life. And in forgiving we offer the same hope, the same promise, for in forgiving we release people from their wrongs.

    Thirdly forgiving frees us, opens the door to new life.  Through these years in ministry, I have learned that for my own survival that carrying around anger and hatred towards others would weigh me down, and eventually destroy my inner being and physical being. Frankly forgiving is from a selfish point of view–to free us, to let us live without hatred, anger, and regret.    

     And from that selfish purpose, we move out into loving and caring for others.

What Actions Help Us To Forgive?

    There are three actions that help us in forgiving:

    The first is to emphasize, to have compassion for the other. It means to “walk in their moccasins,” to let others enter into our lives in order to feel their pain, and see why they are hurting. Things are said to me, that frankly, God would not repeat; I have had supporters walk away and misunderstand me and have been hit, knifed, and shot at. One learns to enter into their lives and understand where they are coming from–and to forgive and let go of the anger.

    In my first full-time parish out of seminary, there was a man, a bully in a small town near me. He was murdered in broad daylight. To this day no one saw a thing–but on the main street in the middle of the day(one wonders!). I was the only minister in town willing to do the funeral.     As a result, I was hated, and unspeakable things were said and done, simply because of empathizing and caring for a family, and there are no regrets, and it shortened my pastorate.

    Secondly, we need to let go:

    I remember two women in my second church, both 70 plus, who had a deep hatred for one another, and when one died, the other spit upon her grave. They could never seem to remember the reason, it had gone on for years. Their lives were miserable. We need to let go. Let go, forget it, and look for the new.

    Finally, tonight as the ashes are placed upon your forehead either figuratively or literally, remember it is a sign of our mortality–“You are dust, and to dust, you shall return”, and it is a call to take risks.

    Take risks in loving the one who is different, take risks in loving the one who has hurt you, and take a risk in loving yourself.

The time will come

when, with elation

you will greet yourself arriving

at your own door, in your own mirror

and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.

You will love again the stranger who was yourself.

Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart

to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored

for another, who knows you by heart.

Takedown the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,

peel your own image from the mirror.

Sit. Feast on your life.

Derek Walcott.

     Take the bread offered by Jesus, remembering we become what we eat, my favorite phrase in the Eucharistic Liturgy is, “See who you are! Become whom you See! spiritually as well as physically. Eat sour bittered bread and become a disgruntled bitter person. But choose the Eucharist, the Bread of Life, and we might even give ourselves away, as Jesus himself did–to the needs of the homeless person on our street, to the desperate desires of the lonely, or to everybody’s dreams of the Kingdom.

    Lent calls us to give of ourselves to others–feed a homeless person, telephone or zoom a friend, a shut-in, touch the life of another. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

415-305-2124

Connection With The Stations of the Cross

February 14, 2021

Connecting With the Stations of the Cross

I Corinthians 10: 31-40

“We are all standing in front of a life-size image of Christ on the cross. For most of my life, the stations in churches I’ve visited have been small paintings or wall carvings placed at intervals, but at Xavier, they’re much larger panels, and I find myself connecting with the scenes in a new way. In the spirit of St. Ignatius, I imagine all of us as extensions of the image before us, truly present at the foot of the cross, standing beside those depicted in the scene, wondering what it means and what is in store. We are all at different places in our journeys but united somehow, true companions. The stations of the cross no longer seem like boring repetition but like something closer to a journey. Perhaps what’s always frustrated me about the stations is that they cut too close to some of the struggles in my own spiritual life: the desire to keep moving forward rather than be still; the desire to skip the process and try to jump straight to the end, to that resurrection moment, where we get to celebrate; the desire to ignore or avoid the suffering along the way.

At the fourteenth station, the image of Jesus being placed in the tomb, my eyes are drawn up, to a separate image high above the stations. It is one of dozens of people being crucified, stretched out along a road toward the horizon. It is the first time I’ve noticed it, as I rarely stand in this part of the church. The juxtaposition of these images is striking. As Christ is being taken down from the cross, below, in the image above, those who have chosen to follow him continue to suffer. They are taking up his work, taking on the cross. And as we stand there, our own group is included in that tradition, all of us part of a long line of people in love with, pained by, suffering for, and taking part in the church. There can be a strange beauty in suffering, but, more important, there is beauty in having a community that helps us overcome it, to move forward toward that resurrection.”

—Excerpted from Mercy in the City by Kerry Weber

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    Lent begins this Wednesday with the imposition of ashes on our foreheads. In that instance of imposition, we are reminded of our mortality and that we are sinners.

    As we begin our Lenten journey with the Stations of the Cross, it is a reminder that we as sinners are redeemed through Jesus,  but are still broken human beings called to suffer with others on their journey.

    Secondly, the Stations is a reminder that we who call ourselves the Church hurt others, the majority of the time unintentionally through our divisions, and biases. We continue to hurt when we fail to acknowledge our wrongs and open our arms to those who are hurt so that they may find healing.

    Thirdly the Stations of the Cross reminds us we are an inclusive body–all are welcome, everyone, and welcome in love. It is not our place to judge but God’s. Let us remember the words of Paul: “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God. Just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, they may be saved.”  I Corinthians 10:31-40

    Fourthly, the Station calls us to continue to try, to aim for the mark of perfection, always missing but getting closer. Continue to try, and in continuing to try we become more and more “imitators of Christ.”

Finally, in the words of Henri Nouwen the Stations of the Cross calls us to a new way of being human:

“The love of God is unconditional love, and only that love can empower us to live together without violence. When we know that God loves us deeply and will always go on loving us, whoever we are and whatever we do, it becomes possible to expect no more of our fellow men and women than they are able to give, to forgive them generously when they have offended us, and always to respond to their hostility with love. By doing so we make visible a new way of being human and a new way of responding to our world problems.

     Nouwen expressed the core meaning of the Stations of the Cross, which Jesus summed up more succinctly:

“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all of your heart, mind, and heart and your neighbor as yourself.”

    Happiness, contentment is letting go and letting God!

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org