Archive for September, 2021

Eternal Presence

September 29, 2021

Eternal Presence!

Feast Of St’s. Michael, Gabriel,and
Rafael, archangels

Daniel 7: 9-10

Revelation 12:7-12

John 1:47-51


    A question that a minister is asked often is “What is heaven like?” I have friends who often mark the anniversary of a friend’s death, with the words, “I am thinking about you, wherever you are?” And there are friends who believe that at death we simply are no more.

    Many think of final judgment day and of a  fiery hell.

    One of my seminary professors describes the last judgment as a “great therapeutic session where we are brought  together with God,  and hash out our differences.” This is my concept of the final judgment.

    Fr. Henri Nouwen also describes my understanding of the  concept of eternal life, where we are living in the Kingdom now, and the way we live determines our attitude towards life:

The In-Dwelling of God Here and Now

Eternal life. Where is it? When is it? For a long time, I have thought about eternal life as life after all my birthdays have run out. For most of my years, I have spoken about eternal life as the “afterlife,” as “life after death.” But the older I become, the less interest my “afterlife” holds for me. Worrying not only about tomorrow, next year, and the next decade, but even about the next life, seems a false preoccupation. Wondering how things will be for me after I die seems, for the most part, a distraction. When my clear goal is the eternal life, that life must be reachable right now, where I am, because eternal life is life in and with God, and God is where I am here and now.

The great mystery of the spiritual life—the life in God—is that we don’t have to wait for it as something that will happen later. Jesus says: “Dwell in me as I dwell in you.” It is this divine in-dwelling that is eternal life. It is the active presence of God at the center of my living—the movement of God’s Spirit within us—that gives us eternal life.
Fr. River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min., D.S.T.
P.O. Box 642656
San Francisco, CA 94164
Feast of St. Francis
October 4, 2021
A Time of Remembering
the Sanctity of Life,
a Peaceful Protest Against the
Death Penalty at Earl Warren Court
House, 400 McAlister Street
San  Francisco, CA

Sponsor A Meal for $10.00!
Thanksgiving Day, 2021
Haight Street
Purchased from Whole Foods
Make a note on your check and
we will remember you in the December Newsletter!

The Road Less Traveled

September 29, 2021

The Road Less Traveled!!

The Road Not Taken

By Robert Frost Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,And sorry I could not travel bothAnd be one traveler, long I stoodAnd looked down one as far as I couldTo where it bent in the undergrowth;Then took the other, as just as fair,And having perhaps the better claim,Because it was grassy and wanted wear;Though as for that the passing thereHad worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally layIn leaves no step had trodden black.Oh, I kept the first for another day!Yet knowing how way leads on to way,I doubted if I should ever come back.I shall be telling this with a sighSomewhere ages and ages hence:Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,And that has made all the difference.
    Recently I went on a journey through time, by going back to Southeast Missouri, where I was raised, and to Reelfoot Lake, where my youth group would go for swimming, and family for cookouts and have a meal of crappie and catfish. I visited two old friends, the mother of some friends, and a United Methodist minister, I have known for many years.
    I have not returned to my childhood home for years, or been to Reelfoot.
    My hometown is declining, my dad’s store that provided for my college and seminary was unrecognizable, and my home church is no more.
    As I stood before Marston(photo above), my first church, which is simply a vacant building now, I remember my excitement and my enthusiasm in that first appointment.
    My passion for ministry has only grown through the years, through whatever has been thrown in my way. Ultimately found being lead to the road less traveled:

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,And that has made all the difference.”
    It is that “road less traveled,” which has been a gift, and a gift that continues to remind me 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.
And the peace of God–The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit-will bless you and be with you always.”
Fr. River Damien Sims,sfw, D.Min.. D.S.T
P.O. Box 646256
San Francisco, CA 94164

Following Jesus Into Galilee

September 20, 2021

Following Jesus into Galilee!

    Yesterday I was in the Haight for six hours. I was surrounded by youth and older homeless people, touching and telling me, hello, I finally gave up worrying about the virus.

    I spent my time listening, being a presence.

    Today I celebrated the Eucharist in the Park with the guys, and as always I felt the very presence of Christ.

    Several of these guys refer to me as the “renegade” priest, (LOL), and the truth is I am.

    My years on the streets have been transforming years, my theology, ministry, and my views on life has been shaped, and carved by this never-ending experience.
    The street is not pretty, it is ugly, filthy, dangerous, and offers death,  but what I and these guys have  learned, is best described in a quote from  Rose Kennedy:

The birds sing after a storm; why can’t people be as free to sing after the storms that come their way.”

    I will continue to follow Jesus into Galilee, and be a renegade priest, with all that comes with it, for I will continue to sing after the storm. Glory be the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Feast of St. Francis

October 4, 2021

A Day of Remembrance

of the All Who have Died

this Year on Haight Street

Service of Holy Eucharist

and Reading of Names


Golden Gate Park

Stanyan and Haight

Across from Whole Foods


The Search for Belonging

September 18, 2021

The Search for Belonging

. .”Taking a child, he placed him in their midst, and putting is arms around the child, he said, “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me receives not me but the One who sent me. Mark 9:37.”

    Friday, we tabled at the “Reentry Restoration Conference” a day of looking at how people just out of prison can reenter society. It got me thinking of how we are always walking with death enfleshed.

    It is difficult anywhere for ex-prisoners to get back on their feet, and especially in San Francisco. In the stories told, there was a sense of death being enfleshed in the lives of many.

    Walking on the street last night, talking to people, there were so many elderly men in the doorways, wrapped in blankets, simply staring, not talking, not moving. They should be in retirement homes and have social security. Each one is death enfleshed.

    Every day I walk through the Tenderloin seeing drug dealers, and giving needles, hanging with homeless individuals who are addicted, we see death enfleshed in their lives.

    On the Haight talking to young men and women struggling to survive, again there is death enfleshed.

    Each one of us is on a journey of seeking to belong. When our productivity is our main way of overcoming our self-doubts, our cravings for meaning, and we find ourselves vulnerable to rejection, criticism, depression, and anxiety, we too are being enfleshed by death.

    The more we produce, the more we realize that successes and results can not give us the experience of “at-homeness”. In fact, our productivity reveals to us that we are driven by fear.

    Friday, several men stopped by our table, and each one said similarly, “River, do you remember me, you helped me find my way, you were a real friend when I needed one, thank you.”    

    I struggle as I near the end of my life’s journey, with that sense of failing in accomplishment, largely reinforced by society’s expectation of productiveness, I find death often enfleshed in myself as well,  and in letting that go, life becomes more glorious in living, for being present is all I need to do.

    Simply being there, enjoying each person on our walk together, being their friend is all we are called to do.

    Fr. Henri Nouwen tells us that “the cross on which Jesus died is the sign of this oneness of defeat and victory. Jesus speaks about his death as being “lifted up.”

    Each of us can be “lifted up” through being present to the aged gentlemen in our doorways, the homeless youth on our streets, and those striving to reenter society. Living a life of non-judgment and presence brings new life to ourselves and to others. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


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

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


A Trinity of Gazes

September 15, 2021

A Trinity of Gazes

The Martyrs of Birmingham

Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows

John 19:25-27

     On the morning of September 15, 1963, someone tossed a packet of dynamite through the basement window of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, and moments later four little girls were killed, and twenty others wounded.

    In this incident and all incidents of violence, we see around us is the continuing crucifixion of Jesus.

    In the celebration of Our Lady of Sorrows, we are reminded of Mary at the foot of the cross, and Jesus, asking the Beloved Disciple to take care of her–a Trinity of Gazes-mother, Jesus, and Beloved Disciple.

    They all three look at each other in love, and then Jesus turns his gaze out towards the world.

    God made a gamble in offering up Jesus to die, for in that death God was saying that there was a spark of herself/himself in each person, and that spark when enflamed could transform a broken world into one of love.

    We can see each other as simply a human being, an animal, that lives and dies, which means there is no hope of change, or we can see the spark of the divine in one another and nurture the flame within ourselves and others, and enflame the world with love. There is hope! Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


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

P.O. Box 6426456

San Francisco, CA 94164

Freedom Is Our Goal

September 13, 2021

Freedom is Our Goal!

St. Andrew Kim and the Korean Martyrs

“No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand so that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is hidden that will not be made known and come to light. . . Luke 8: 16-17”.

“Though the forces of evil infecting whole nations and peoples are often hidden, complex, and elusive, we are called, as Christians, to unmask and expel them in the Name of the God of Love. . . .
As long as national security is our primary concern and national survival more important than preserving life on this planet, we continue to live in the house of fear. Ultimately, we must choose between security—individual, social, or national— and freedom.
Freedom is the true human goal. Life is only true if it is free. An obsessive concern for security freezes us; it leads us to rigidity, fixation, and eventually death. The more preoccupied we are with security the more visible the force of death becomes, whether in the form of a pistol beside our bed, a rifle in our house, or a Trident submarine in our port. . . .
We must find a way to go beyond our national security obsession and reach out and foster life for all people, whatever their nationality, race, or religion.” Fr. Henri Nouwen—————-     Fr. Henri struggled for freedom throughout his life. He was a gay man, in the Roman Catholic Church, and called by God to the priesthood. So throughout his ministry, his call and his struggle with his sexuality were in conflict, and even though he chose his call he struggled for freedom. Towards the end of his life in service to the disabled, he found freedom.     
     Nouen’s quote illustrates the struggles we all wrestle with throughout our lives.
    As a young minister, at a time when I believed my denomination was coming to openness around sexuality, I approached my District Superintendent with my own struggle, and all hell broke loose.    I was sent to two psychologists, who after listening to me, gave me a horrible label from the DSM 3, (homosexuality or the questioning of one’s sexuality was considered a dysfunctional diagnosis). I was sent to a “mental health facility” for those who needed to be “straightened” out. I stayed a week and ran as far as I could to Hollywood.    From this experience, I never trusted psychology again, and with my street kids, not at all.    I work with a psychiatrist who spent a number of years in Africa and “they” too learned not to trust labeling individuals with a diagnosis.
    When one labels another, they set in the back of their mind a view that determines they are treated.     In our society, we do that. Due to all the literature, and social media influence we all tend to become armchair therapists,  who label others. It is fun and interesting to do. Professionals do the same, from their cultural point of view. We are simply human beings.
    I can not tell you how many diagnoses have been thrown at me. People get angry and use a diagnosis or tell them they need to see a psychiatrist as revenge or a way of pushing people away.
    I have been asked to review the cases of adolescents over 18 on the street, and I strongly refuse to place any label on anyone and insist on the removal of negative diagnoses. The reality is street youth live in a different world, and many diagnoses do not fit. And when people are using the DSMV to diagnose others, I get nervous, very nervous, and sometimes respond in a negative manner, and hate myself afterward.
     Let’s watch whatwe  say about one another, and be a lamp on the hill reflecting the light.
    Bishop John Shelby Spong has died, at 90. Reading his writings, and one other minister brought me back to the ministry. In particular, his writings saved my faith in Jesus.    One particular quote that I memorized stays with me, and saved my ass:
“Whatever it was that people experience in Jesus has today come to be identified with medieval doctrines based on premodern assumptions that are no longer believable. That identification means that serious theological discussion seems to accomplish little more than to erect a division between the shouters and the disinterested.Jesus becomes the captive of the hysterically religious, the chronically fearful, the insecure, and even the neurotic among us, or he becomes little more than a fading memory, the symbol of an age that is no more and a nostalgic reminder of our believing past. To me, neither option is worth pursuing.Yet even understanding these things, I am still attracted to this Jesus and I will pursue him both relentlessly and passionately. I will not surrender the truth I believe I find in him either to those who seek to defend the indefensible or to those who want to be freed finally from premodern ideas that no longer make sense.”
    I pursue Jesus “relentlessly and passionately, and freedom is my goal which will not be fulfilled until I enter Galilee following Jesus.     And so in the invitation to Holy Communion all are invited to the Jesus of freedom, and the Jesus of love of all:
“Sisters and Brothers this is the joyful feast of the people of God! They will come from east and west, from north and south, from the highways and the byways, from wealth and from poverty, from the Tenderloin and Market Street, from the benches of Golden Gate Park and the Castro, and sit at Table in the grace-filled reign of God. We are told in the Scriptures that when the risen Lord was at table with the disciples, He took the bread and blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eye were opened and they recognized him. This is the Lord’s table, mysterious in its grace and transparent in its hospitality, caring not for gender, race, class, sexual orientation, faith tradition, or marital status, exclusive only in its fierce commitment to all people.  We are invited to share the feast prepared by the One who loves us without condition”Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!===========================Fr. C. River Damien Sims, D.Min., D.S.T.P.O. Box 642656San Francisco, CA 94164www. temenos.org415-305-2124

The Ants and Grasshopper

September 9, 2021

Reflections on the film The Ants and the Grasshopper!

I Corinthians 3-12-17 Luke 6:27-38

St. Peter Claver

         The documentary film, “The Ants and the Grasshopper” offers an important story about what missionary work looks like in a time of climate change. The film also addresses themes such as hunger, climate change, and race.

    Both of our Scripture readings have the theme of loving one another; St. Peter Claver worked with the slaves in the seventeenth century and treated them as equals. St. Peter Claver did his work “little by little,” as our Scriptures call us to do.

    This film follows the journey of three African women on their journey across the United States listening to Americans talk about climate change, racism, and hunger.

    Their summary was we are apathetic and very privileged without much awareness of what is going on around us. And they return convinced that all that can be done is for those who are aware is simply continuing doing the work “little by little.”

    My young friend Tommy, whom I met last week,  has such hopes in changing the course of the entrenching pipelines and other issues; and so did I a century ago it seems. I worked on every issue from Queer rights to climate change, and hopefully, Tommy will have better results.

    Ultimately my ego has been knocked down, my hopes for great changes have been simply knocked aside and I simply work “little by little.”

    Many people who give money want to our ministry want large numbers as results, they want results that eliminate the problem. One church eliminated support with the reason, “we are seeking systemic change.”

    We have learned to simply do it “little by little”, give out socks, harm reduction supplies, a candy bar, or another snack, and to simply listen, give each person the presence of care.

    A counselor once told me that 60 percent of the population does not give a damn, 30 percent will be negative, and the other ten percent truly care.

    The invitation given is to care, to care for your neighbor, and in caring for your neighbor to advocate for changes in our dealings with climate change– be one of the ten percent. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


Fr. River Damien Sims, sfw

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164




September 7, 2021

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Matthew 1:18-23

English Standard Version

The Birth of Jesus Christ

18″ Now the birth of Jesus Christ[a] took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed[b] to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
    and they shall call his name Immanuel”

(which means, God with us).”


    There was a priest, named Fr. Bernardine, who worked in South America as a missionary for many years, he endured jail, beatings, and hunger, and was always happy.     He was asked what gave him hope, and he answered: “Open Hands!”  With open hands, you can give and receive freely with God and with those you care about.

    Mary embodied the same hope, her hands were open to whatever would come, poverty, the persecution of her son, his death, and ultimately resurrection.

    I have found there are two types of hope: “Losers Hope” and “Unprecedented Hope.”

    In the first part of my ministry, when all was well, I preached and promoted “Loser’s Hope.”

    It is the hope of sunshine.

    Hope that some evangelists preach which will give us wealth, fancy houses, and perfect health.

    Hope that God will cure us of a fatal illness, restore us to perfect health after a crippling illness,  or prevent us from dying when we have aged.

    And suddenly I was removed from my church, friends turned their backs, and found myself totally alone on the streets of Hollywood. It was there that my theology was transformed into “Unprecedented Hope.” At my second ordination, to the priesthood, one of the vows taken was not to preach “Loser Hope”, instead “Unprecedented Hope.”

    “Unprecedented Hope,” is the hope of Mary, the disciples, Paul, John Wesley, Martin Luther, Martin Luther King Jr. Rosa Parks, the Philadelphia Eleven (the first female Episcopal priests), and Bishop Megan Rhor, the first Transgender Bishop.

    It is the hope which says to us, “All will be well!”

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1.”


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164



Dying Leads to Love

September 6, 2021

Dying Leads to Love!

“Dear Friends, to believe in Jesus today. .demands of us, just as it did in the past, that we take a stand for him, almost to the point at times of a new martyrdom: the martyrdom of those who today, as yesterday, are called to go against the tide in order to follow the divine Master, to follow “the Lamb wherever he goes. Pope John Paul II

Luke 6:12-19

“And he chose the twelve. .”


   The photos above are of Dorothy Day and  22-year-old Tommy from Atlanta, following in her footsteps of protesting and being arrested. He is “a bad boy and troublemaker”. Tommy spent the night on his way to Minnesota for protests.

    Both demonstrate what eternal life means, that dying to self leads to love. We are seduced by the noisy voices of our world telling us that our little lives are all we have and advising us to cling to it with all our might. But when we let those voices move to the background, we hear the still small voice of God telling us there’s nothing to fear and leading us to offer our lives in love, and in doing so we enter the eternal embrace of our God whose love is everlasting.

    On this Labor Day, I am thinking of several articles recently read, one by a wealthy woman telling us that “poor” people meaning the homeless and those who make minimum wage, deserve what they receive resulting from their laziness; ( I wondered if we were all rich who would do the gardening and serve food in restaurants); the second named twenty-five occupations which will be out of existence in thirty years, three are librarians, taxi drivers, and restaurant servers. Where is the dignity of human contact, and service?

    Dorothy offered a vision of labor. She was committed to the dignity of the worker and appalled at the materialism and greed of unbridled capitalism. Dorothy believed that the “distribution of wealth was a shocking travesty and offense,” and that it was immoral for Christians to settle blissfully into middle-class lives.

    The disciples that Jesus called were a group of various occupations, fishermen, tax collectors, and so on. They left their occupations, to follow Jesus and like Paul, the tentmaker worked various working-class jobs.

    Dorothy did not offer a comprehensive social program to solve society’s ills, instead, she had a vision of self-sacrificial faithfulness, loving our neighbor, and trusting the mystery of God with results. She summed up her philosophy when she said: “I don’t have the answers to solve everything. Be faithful today.”

    Be faithful, and trust in God!

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God.”


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Apertures of Grace

September 5, 2021

Apertures Grace

Colossians 1:24-23; Luke 6:6-11

A friend sent me a letter talking about the apertures of grace. An aperture is a hole or an opening through which light transmits.

    She pointed out how our pain can be seen as apertures of grace. I have a friend in the East Bay who has suffered pain for many years, and she has been an aperture of grace for me. During this time of pain, she has taught me a lot.

    We often think of pain as being something wrong with us, something that has can be repaired or fixed. Or we may think of pain with others as something wrong with them and we need to impose our will on them to fix that pain.

    The one thing learned from hanging out with many in pain, and from my own pain, there is nothing wrong with pain. Maybe we can come and understand pain as a means of God poking holes in us for love to flow.

    Such an understanding does not relieve the suffering we feel or remove our sense of abandonment, but it does give us a vision of a future that includes eternity. We come to understand there is something more at stake here than what we can see. We come to know our Shepherd who is leading us into Galilee, and we live that life on behalf of those who do not recognize the shepherd.

    For the world to change we do not need politics but a willingness to wear our wounds without shame and to allow them to serve God and creation as an apertures of grace, as an opening through which light shines.

    In the face of homelessness, violence, a pandemic, and all forms of evil instead of blaming, and attacking we show ourselves to be pierced through by evil, following the Shepherd all the way to the cross and becoming channels for the urgent love of God on behalf of all people.


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164