Rich and Suffering

March 22, 2020

Lesson 8—James 5:1-12


      Many times throughout our  ministry we  have preached and written on this passage. Looking  back we are ashamed. One Sunday, one lady  approached and asked: “I am poor to, I have money, but I am poor in other ways, in a lot of pain, what can you say to me.” Our face turned beet red with embarrassment.    

Frankly we are embarrassed by our manner of looking at this passage, and  apologize to any one that has been offended.

       Today we  are  in our  room, watching  T.V., writing, praying, cooking. Thinking of gifts that we are  buying for the graduations of four  friends, and then  we go out on the street and encounter Shane (not his real name).

      Shane sits in front of the post office panhandling, and we sit down and we talk. He tells us how he is afraid to go to a shelter, to go to the soup kitchens, and sleeps away from people. The epidemic terrifies him. We talk for an hour. Giving him socks, food, and a blanket we leave for  our  warm home, and the questioned raised: Are we  being  hypocritical?  What is the brother of Jesus saying to us?


      And  our answer is: that while physical shelter was something that could not be offered in those  moments  we gave him shelter by listening to him as he shared his pain.  When someone listens, we find shelter, for we are allowed to express our feelings, our needs, and most importantly we feel loved. This is our ministry.

      Giving ourselves to others in whatever way we can is the ministry to which we are called: listening, food, clothes, praying with and for them,  and many other ways is all that we are asked to do.

Read the Word: James 5:1-12

“Warning to the Rich

5 Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you.

Patience in Suffering

Be patient, therefore, brothers,[a] until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. 10 As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.

12 But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.”

Let us reflect upon how rich we are.

Let us reflect on the ways we can give back.

Our primary gift is listening, what is yours?

     Mark Van Steenwdk has a ministry in Minneapolis and is very prophetic in his writings. Below is a piece written yesterday for our times:

Reflection: The Story Deepens

“We are all aware, or are becoming aware, that this pandemic is a big deal. But, for me, it is really only now sinking in how much of a bigger deal this will be for our social consciousness than 9/11. Maybe even more significant than WW2, since it is effecting everyone. Every society on earth is having to adjust and respond. And, more than any other event in my lifetime or my father’s lifetime, it is exposing the problems of our society and, perhaps, creating space in our collective capacity to imagine a better world.

The climate crisis is, no doubt, the crisis of the modern era. But this pandemic is a sharper reminder of human fragility, the utter incapacity for us to solve these natural crises within our capitalist framework.

I think this is just the beginning of a much deeper story of our civilization. It is a tipping point that will intensify the various forces already at play in our world. Some nations will go deeper down the path of neofascism. Others will imagine a bolder post-capitalist way forward. New religious movements will emerge. Many will be stuck in the past, hoping things go back to the way they were.

But this is a rupture. A rupture in our constructed realities, exposing what lies underneath. May we discern, together, the movement of the Spirit of Life so that we might create a new, more compassionate world, with one another.

What are you discerning? What new possibilities do you see emerging?”

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


“Why am I compelled to write?… Because the world I create in the writing compensates for what the real world does not give me. By writing I put order in the world, give it a handle so I can grasp it. I write because life does not appease my appetites and anger… To become more intimate with myself and you. To discover myself, to preserve myself, to make myself, to achieve self-autonomy. To dispel the myths that I am a mad prophet or a poor suffering soul. To convince myself that I am worthy and that what I have to say is not a pile of shit… Finally I write because I’m scared of writing, but I’m more scared of not writing.”  -Gloria E. Anzaldúa

Tenderloin Stations of the Cross

Good Friday, April 10, 2020

Noon-2:00 p.m.

Polk Street side of City Hall

We will have the Stations of the Cross. Our plans are to do it alone, and have people go through the Stations at home. .

Holy Communion

We have taken Holy Communion to individuals who request the Sacrament. We administer the Sacrament outside, and have plastic gloves on, standing six feet away. We give only use only the host. We take all precautions.

Humility and Faith

March 21, 2020

Session 7: Humility and Faith–James 4:1-17


Interpreted With Love

March 20, 2020

Interpreted With Love

    From time to time someone will send us a face book post telling us that “you live in a fantasy world, there is no God, grow up,” and there are the comments about us being careless etc. Honestly one learns more from the negative responses than the positive, they are God speaking to us, raising questions to grapple with and grow in looking at issues from different perspectives. We have learned we live in the gray areas of life, and the only black and white certainty is loving God, and loving our neighbor.

                Today Fr. Richard Rhor summed up for me my journey:

..” There are only two major paths by which the human soul comes to God: the path of great love, and the one of great suffering. Both finally come down to great suffering—because if we love anything greatly, we will eventually suffer for it. When we’re young, God hides this from us. We think it won’t have to be true for us. But to love anything in depth and over the long term, we eventually must suffer. 

The disciples first respond to the Transfigured Christ with fear. In our global time of crisis, this is where many of us are today. The disciples mirror the itinerary of the spiritual journey: we start out with many concerns, fears, and worries. Our minds and hearts are all over the place. But Jesus comes, touches them, and says, “Get up and do not be afraid.” When the three disciples raise their eyes, they see nothing but one image: Jesus. Their lives have become fully focused and simplified on the one thing that is good, the one thing they desire, and the one thing that is necessary. What a moment of grace and encouragement!

” Religious experience has to be experienced firsthand. We can’t believe it because someone else talked about it. Sooner or later, we have to go to our own mountaintop. We have to have our own transfiguration, and we have to walk down the mountaintop into the ordinary world, on the path of suffering, and the path of love—which are, in the end, the same. As we experience a suffering world together, I pray that this community will be drawn to center itself on the cross and bring Jesus’ teaching to life. “

                My religious journey began on the mountain top, and going down the mountain into great suffering, and in that suffering has come a great love for people. And the words of Jesus become  reality more and more each day:

“Which commandment,” he asked,”is the first one of all?” “ The first one” replied Jesus, is this: “ Listenen, Israel: the Lord your God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your understanding, and with all your strength,’ And this is the second one: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” Mark 12:28-311 (The Kingdom New Testament: A Contemporay Translation.

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


“Why am I compelled to write?… Because the world I create in the writing compensates for what the real world does not give me. By writing I put order in the world, give it a handle so I can grasp it. I write because life does not appease my appetites and anger… To become more intimate with myself and you. To discover myself, to preserve myself, to make myself, to achieve self-autonomy. To dispel the myths that I am a mad prophet or a poor suffering soul. To convince myself that I am worthy and that what I have to say is not a pile of shit… Finally I write because I’m scared of writing, but I’m more scared of not writing.”  -Gloria E. Anzaldúa

Tenderloin Stations of the Cross

Good Friday, April 10, 2020

Noon-2:00 p.m.

Polk Street side of City Hall

We will have the Stations of the Cross. Our plans are to do it alone, and have people go through the Stations at home. .

Holy Communion

We have taken Holy Communion to individuals who request the Sacrament. We administer the Sacrament outside, and have plastic gloves on, standing six feet away. We give only use only the host. We take all precautions.

Choosing to Trust

March 19, 2020

Choosing to Trust

Matthew 1:16-24 English Standard Version (ESV)

“16 and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.

17 So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.

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). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife into his home.”


Joseph was a man of faith and compassion. Our story tells us of his anger, he first thought of divorcing her, but God in his own way, asked Joseph to trust him, and marry Mary. My guess is that Joseph had his doubts, but he trusted that inner voice, and embraced Mary, and Jesus.

    I had two dad’s. One was my biological dead, Duncan, whom I like who  signed over the papers to my mother granting my adopted dad Wade his new son. My adopted dad had a business, and Duncan understood he was giving me a good life.

    Both dad’s gave me a great gift, Duncan life, and a chance for a good life. Wade loved me, and gave me two gifts–to love people, to give from the bottom of  your heart without expectation of anything in return,  to put your life on the line for another, he gave me compassion and love for others.

    When he died instructions were given that all of his bills for credit to people be destroyed. These bills came from mostly black, poor people, whom he gave credit to so they could eat. Many were year’s old. People would pay $20.00 down or less, all they had, and buy $100.00 on credit at the same time. No one who came to him ever went hungry. Those bills were destroyed. 

    Secondly Wade gave his son faith in God, in Jesus. There have been times on a train, or bus, I pull out my Bible, and at one time,  would look around to see what people were thinking, but Wade read his Bible in public, and began every morning at 5:00 a.m. with prayer and Bible study. He introduced me to the living Jesus. I will be forever grateful both my dad’s. Jesus had two dad’s the first gave him to Joseph to nurture, to care for, and then Jesus returned to him in glory.

    At the heart of both these instances was love, and Fr. Richard Rhor reminds us that:

Love Alone Overcomes Fear 
Thursday, March 19, 2020

Fr. Richard Rhor


“It is shocking to think how much the world has changed in such a brief time. Each of us has had our lives and communities disrupted. Of course, I am here in this with you. I feel that I’m in no position to tell you how to feel or how to think, but there are a few things that come to mind I will share.

A few days ago I was encouraged by the Franciscans and by the leadership team here at the CAC to self-quarantine, so I’ve been in my little hermitage now for three or four days. I’ve had years of practice, literally, how to do what we are calling “social distancing.” I have a nice, large yard behind me where there are four huge, beautiful cottonwood trees, and so I walk my dog Opie every few hours.

Right now I’m trying to take in psychologically, spiritually, and personally, what is God trying to say? When I use that phrase, I’m not saying that God causes suffering to teach us good things. But God does use everything, and if God wanted us to experience global solidarity, I can’t think of a better way. We all have access to this suffering, and it bypasses race, gender, religion, and nation. 

We are in the midst of a highly teachable moment. There’s no doubt that this period will be referred to for the rest of our lifetimes. We have a chance to go deep, and to go broad. Globally, we’re in this together. Depth is being forced on us by great suffering, which as I like to say, always leads to great love. 

But for God to reach us, we have to allow suffering to wound us. Now is no time for an academic solidarity with the world. Real solidarity needs to be felt and suffered. That’s the real meaning of the word “suffer” – to allow someone else’s pain to influence us in a real way. We need to move beyond our own personal feelings and take in the whole. This, I must say, is one of the gifts of television: we can turn it on and see how people in countries other than our own are hurting. What is going to happen to those living in isolated places or for those who don’t have health care? Imagine the fragility of the most marginalized, of people in prisons, the homeless, or even the people performing necessary services, such as ambulance drivers, nurses, and doctors, risking their lives to keep society together? Our feelings of urgency and devastation are not exaggeration: they are responding to the real human situation. We’re not pushing the panic button; we are the panic button. And we have to allow these feelings, and invite God’s presence to hold and sustain us in a time of collective prayer and lament. 

I hope this experience will force our attention outwards to the suffering of the most vulnerable. Love always means going beyond yourself to otherness. It takes two. There has to be the lover and the beloved. We must be stretched to an encounter with otherness, and only then do we know it’s love. This is what we call the subject-subject relationship. Love alone overcomes fear and is the true foundation that lasts (1 Corinthians 13:13).

Gateway to Action & Contemplation:
What word or phrase resonates with or challenges me? What sensations do I notice in my body? What is mine to do?

Prayer for Our Community:
O Great Love, thank you for living and loving in us and through us. May all that we do flow from our deep connection with you and all beings. Help us become a community that vulnerably shares each other’s burdens and the weight of glory. Listen to our hearts’ longings for the healing of our world. [Please add your own intentions.] . . . Knowing you are hearing us better than we are speaking, we offer these prayers in all the holy names of God, amen.”


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

Mery At the Crossroads

March 18, 2020

Mercy in the Crosshairs

Matthew 5:17-19

Matthew 5:15-17 English Standard Version (ESV)

“15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that[a] they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Christ Came to Fulfill the Law

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”

My favorite television shows are the Law and Order Franchise. I can sit and watch reruns for hours. I always make sure I am home to watch the newest Special Victims episode. Law and order can be black and white, and we all want order, but we all want mercy as well.

    When Jesus said that he came to uphold and fulfill the law, we should be shaken to the core. Not with fear, but with hope. Jesus fulfilling the law offers us a vision of life changed in ways that transcend our imagination but that are not beyond the power of Jesus. The law is love, and it is in that love that law and order are found in Christ.

    My friend the Reverend Ken Howard gives us an example of that law at this time of anxiety:

“The COVID19 pandemic is not the first time Christianity has been faced with the moral question of how to respond in the face of pandemic. In fact, the question is nearly as old as the Church itself. One of the first times was during the third century Roman plague. Something likely akin to Ebola, the so-called Cyprian plague (after Bishop Cyprian of Carthage) which ravaged the Empire from 250-270 CE.


Just as they had in the Antonin plague of the second century, the powerful and well-to-do of the Empire fled the cities for the relative safety of their countryside villas, leaving the rest of the populace to fend for themselves. As attested to by both Christian and secular writers of the time, just as they did in the previous plague, the Galileans (as they were called) did the opposite, staying behind and even coming in from the countryside to feed the poor, care for the afflicted, comfort the dying, bury the dead, and to attend to public hygiene, doing this not just for the faithful but for their entire communities, Christian and non-Christian alike. It was, as Bishop Cyprian put it, their burden of care. Two remarkable things happened: they helped curb the contagiousness of the plague (the death rate was as much as 50% lower in cities with Christian communities) and the plague (or rather their response to it) helped make Christianity extremely contagious, so that it spread rapidly throughout the Empire.

Today we are faced with a modern plague but the question is the same: how are we called to live in the face of it. And our answers may ultimately lead to our congregations and the communities they serve surviving and thriving together.  Reverend Ken Howard, FaithX”.

       Ken raises the question, how are we going to respond at this time.  For me personally I will continue to reach out to the youth I hang with on the street and off the street, and my friends who are housed, older,  and at home,  giving them the words of Paul:

“Keep alert, stand firm in the faith, be brave, be strong. Whatever you do , do it in love.” I Corinthians 16:13.

    I will continue in every post, in every person I speak to remind them that there are people on the street, who will not go into shelter, and we need to continue to provide for them.

        On a day to day  level my response is going to be to buy what I need at the store. To remember that there are others who are in need of supplies. To give respect to people in traffic, and in walking, not shout at them, push them aside, to treat them with love.

And reminding myself moment by moment of the words of Franklin

Roosevelt: “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.” Love always casts out fear, so love your friends, your neighbors, and those who have nothing with all your heart, for in the words of Jeremy Taylor, “Love is friendship set on fire.”Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!”


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

P. O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164




Taming the Tongue

March 17, 2020

Session 6: Taming the Tongue: James 3:1-18

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.

How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life,[a] and set on fire by hell.[b] For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers,[c] these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.

Wisdom from Above

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

I am often asked about my early life. In thinking about those first eighteen years the key moments had to do with my three pastors (teachers): David, Claude, and Bill. All three were pastors who nourished and supported me through the trials of adolescence. I learned how to be a pastor through their example–to listen, to care, and to support. None of them pretended to be perfect, they showed their faults, their weaknesses, but each one continued to love, and show an example of the face of Jesus. All three are in that Great Cloud of Witnesses now, and I hear their voices, see their smiles, and feel their love.     For each one loved me in season and out of season.  Each one taught me that when  someone you trust says one or two sentences, doors to new worlds can be opened.


How have one or two teachers had a significant impact on you, perhaps even affecting directions you have taken?


1.  Read James 3:1-12.  Having begun with a somber warning about how difficult it is to come up to the mark as a teacher, James expands the point of taming the tongue in general: taming the tongue in general, for anyone, is so difficult as to be almost impossible. Get that right and you’ve obviously got your entire self under control. The tongue, it seems, is the last bit of a human being to learn its lesson.

How does James say in verses 3-4 that the tongue is like a bit and a rudder?

Each time I read this passage I feel guilty, for the times I let stuff slip, the items written on social media when I was sick, depressed, or angry, and the reality we will continue to slip, and the tongue will burn like a fire. In my dealings with others and with myself I am reminded of Matthew 18:21-22: “Then Peter came to Jesus. “Master,” he said, “how many times must I forgive my brother and sister, when he or she sins against me? As many as seven times” “I wouldn’t say seven times”, replied Jesus. “Why not seventy times seven?’

2. We know only too well how the tongue is a fire (v. 5), ready to set things a blaze, from the way the media, social media, fake mail, eagerly trips up people in public life.

We know that one word out of place can ruin a career, or bring down a government. One unwise remark, reported and circulated on the internet and through social media can cause riots on the other side of the world. So, says James, the tongue is like a little world all of its own, a country within a country: the larger area, the person as a whole, may well be governed, but in this smaller region corruption and wickedness reign unchecked.

When have you seen or experienced significant damage by words?

3. How does James explain the outrageousness of the inconsistencies of the tongue? (vv. 9-12).

4. What James is after, then, is consistency. He wants people to follow Jesus through and through, to be a blessing- -only people rather than blessing–and–cursing people. It is a high standard, we should expect no less if the gospel is indeed the message of salvation. The danger, as always, is that people will take the bits of the message they want, and quietly leave the real challenges to one side. But it can’t be done. The spring must be cleansed so that only fresh, sweet water comes out. For this we need help. That, fortunately, is what the gospel offers.

In what specific ways could you bless friends, enemies, family, coworkers, fellow Christians, those of other faiths, and those who do not believe more consistently?

5. How does this passage motivate you to be more careful about how you use your tongue?

6. Read James 3:13-18. Why does James connect humility and wisdom?

7. How does James distinguish the wisdom that is earthly and the wisdom that comes from demons?

8. When have you experienced the results of bitter jealously and contention with your community? Within yourself?

9. It is no accident that James follows his teaching on the tongue with a teaching on true and false wisdom. When he talks about “bitter jealously and contention”, a spirit which is always carping and criticizing, he speaks of one which cannot let a nice word go by without adding a nasty one. This problem goes deeper. He has already said that the tongue is a fire set aflame by hell; now he says that a mindset like that comes from the world of demons.

How might such an attitude of cynicism give the appearance of wisdom?

10. The challenge for God’s people that James lays out in verse 17 is to be able to tell the truth about the way the world is, and about the way wicked people are behaving, without turning into a perpetual grumble, and in particular without becoming someone whose appearance of “wisdom” consists in being able to find a cutting word to say about everyone and everything.

Offer some examples of speaking in a way that lights a candle rather than curses the darkness.

11.  Why would this wisdom that comes from above produce the fruit of righteousness that is sown in peace?

12.  What needs to happen for this fruit of righteousness that is sown in peace to thrive in your community? What is necessary in this time of distancing  for this fruit of righteousness to thrive? What in particular can we do to nurture this fruit of righteousness at this time?


James paints a picture of the tongue and the evil that comes from it. He takes the tongue seriously and says that it is impossible for us to tame our tongue. He also describes the horror of false wisdom and the beauty of true wisdom. Ask the Holy Spirit to impress upon you the sin and damage that comes from the tongue. Now confess the sins to God that the Holy Spirit has brought to mind.

Talk to him about “false wisdom” that is in you.

Take time now to work slowly, one by one, through the characteristics of true wisdom that James mentions. Review your life in light of them.

Humbly ask the Holy Spirit to grow in you true wisdom.

Finally, praise God for his love and forgiveness and for the fact that you are always invited to turn to him to be forgiven.


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


“Keep alert, stand firm in the faith, be brave, be strong!

Whatever you do, do it with love.” I Corinthians 13: 16


The Beauty of Standing Up

March 16, 2020

The Beauty of Standing Up!

Mark 5:21-43

Mark 5:21-43 English Standard Version (ESV)

Jesus Heals a Woman and Jairus’s Daughter

21 And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about him, and he was beside the sea. 22 Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet 23 and implored him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.” 24 And he went with him.

And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. 25 And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, 26 and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. 27 She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. 28 For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” 29 And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30 And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” 31 And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’” 32 And he looked around to see who had done it. 33 But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. 34 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

35 While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler’s house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” 36 But overhearing[a] what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” 37 And he allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. 38 They came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and Jesus[b] saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. 39 And when he had entered, he said to them, “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping.” 40 And they laughed at him. But he put them all outside and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him and went in where the child was. 41 Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” 42 And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement. 43 And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.”


    In reading this story about the privileged and the poorest we can comprehend the power of God in Jesus as one who heals and nurtures.

    Another perspective is as one woman said: “The beauty of standing up is that others see you standing and  are encouraged to stand as well.”

    In this story both women are healed by Jesus and we have compassion upon them. They are both defined  by their social status, need, and  the healing power of Jesus. They are healed and RESTORED TO THE COMMUNITY.

    One woman claims the healing for herself, she asks Jesus because she has no one else to ask, and the other is healed because Jesus responds to her father’s request.

    There is a poem by Lynn Ungar we received in our  email today which talks of community in this time of stress and fear:


What if you thought of it

as the Jews  consider the Sabbath–

the most sacred of times?

Cease from travel.

Cease from buying and selling.

Give up just for now,

on trying to make the world

different than it is.

Sing, pray. Touch only those to whom you commit your life.

Center down.

And when your body has become still,

reach out your heart.

Know that we are connected

in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.

(You could hardly deny it now.)

Know that our lives

are in one another’s hands.

(Surely, that has become clear.)

Do not reach out your hands.

Reach out your heart.

Reach out your words.

Reach out all the tendrils,

of compassion that move, invisibly,

where we cannot touch.

Promise this world your love–

for better or for worse,

in sickness and in health

so long as all shall live.

        Each one of us can serve God, and love others, through taking Lynn’s attitude. We each can serve in our own way.   

    My personal way, and the way of Temenos Catholic Worker  is to continue connecting to  youth and others who do not have housing, on the Haight and on Polk.

     We will listen, comfort and support. Our news outlets and social media talk  of the “homeless”, all in one category. The reality people who are homeless are individuals who respond in different ways–some do not want government help.

    We serve the bottom one percent who will not seek shelter or support from the City.

    We will take food, socks, and  pastoral care and continue to move on the street and into Golden Gate Park,  and we can use your help through your financial support. So please consider a donation. And in your consideration remember: “The beauty of standing up is that others see you standing and  are encouraged to stand as well.” We invite you to stand with us:

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

    Our ministry is one of personal connection, and of support. Thank you for listening!

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



How Do You Know God?

March 14, 2020

How Do You Know God?

Session 5: Faith and Works–James 2:14-26-Book of James

“But mercy triumphs over judgment. . .In the same way faith, all by itself and without works is dead.” (James 2: 13, 17).

“They came to Jesus; and there they saw the man who had been demon possessed, who had the “legion”, seated, clothed, and stone sober. They were afraid.”

    People often ask me “How can you have such strong faith? “How can you believe?” Or  the question for all of us “How do we know Jesus?”

    This morning I gave a blanket, food, socks, to Gary sleeping outside my door–in that moment I viewed the face of Christ;

    I have seen Jesus in the face of the man who many years ago tried to kill me, infected me with malaria, long gone, and as he lay dying ask for forgiveness–in those moments was Jesus;

    I see Jesus in each person I hang out with in the rain, giving them  food, etc;

    I see Jesus in the faces of my two friends named Matt, Aaron, Brandon, Cale, Chase, Jessica, Karen, Cynthia, and  Anthony, for they have walked with me in the good times, and the bad times of illness–never wavering; and I see Jesus in the photo of the note given on the blanket I gave  this morning from a young person in a local school saying “You are an important person;” and I see Jesus in those of you who give money, so that you might walk with us in our ministry. “Faith without works is dead.”


    Teresa of Avila wrote:

“We cannot know whether we love God although there may be strong reason for thinking so, but there can be no doubt about whether we love our neighbor or not. Be sure that, in proportion as you advance in affection for sisters and brothers, you are increasing your love of God.”

    In the famous prayer known as the Suscipe:

“Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,my memory,

my understanding,and my entire will. All I have and call my own.

You have given all to me. To you, Lord, I return it.

Everything is yours; do with it what you will.

Give me only your love and your grace,that is enough for me.

St. Ignatius begins with the line, “Take, O Lord, and receive. . .my memory.” I once found this is a curious beginning to a prayer, but now I understand it to mean that we hope God will transform the self understanding we have gained over our lives so that we remember ourselves differently. For by giving our memory to God, we release our hold on the limited self-image or “reputation” we have built and enter freely into loving service to the world. My past no longer limits me; I am here to serve, to wash the feet of others.

    As you reflect on the passage from  James pay attention to what feelings stir in you? And look at the Gospel for the day, and ask yourself the questions: Are you surprised? Overjoyed? Angry? Frustrated? Be honest and note these stirrings in a journal, and bring them into prayer. Which stories, verses are staying with you during the day? Return in prayer to a story that elicits the strongest feelings from you?, and ask God how you are to understand it in the concrete situation of your life right now. Write about your experience. Take a look at the past week, the past month when you gave direct service to a person. Take note of the feelings that such service elicits good or bad. Remember that not all service is wholly good.

    Personally I know that my friends on the street, my housed friends can take advantage of my service and manipulate me.  What does our seeking the good in service really demand, as we remember that “Faith without works is dead.” Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164



19th Annual Tenderloin Stations of the Cross

Friday, April 10, 2020

City Hall, Polk Street side

Noon-2:00 p.m.

Rubber Gloves, hand sanitizer, and masks will be available.

If you want to volunteer please contact us.

No Favorites–A Revolution of the Heart

March 12, 2020

No Favorites–A Revolution of the Heart”

James 2:1-13

“My brothers and sisters, as you practice the faith of our Lord Jesus, the anointed king of glory, you do so without favortism. What I mean is this: if somone comes into  your assmembly wearing gold rings, all dressed up, and a poor person comes in wearing shabby clothes, you cast your eyes over the person wearing fine clothes and say,

“Please have a seat!” but then you turn to the poor person and say, “Stand there!” or “Get down there by my footstool!” When you do this, are you not discriminating among yourselves? Are you not turning into judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my dear brothers and sisters. Isn’t it the case that God has chosen the poor (as the world sees it) to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom which he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor man. After all, who are the rich?The rich are the one’s who lord it over you and drag you into court, aren’t they? The rich are the ones who blaspheme the wonderful named which has been pronounced over you,  aren’t they?

Supposing, however, you keep the royal law, as it is written, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself”; if you do this, you will do well. But if you show favoritism, you are committing sin, and you will be convicted by the law as a law breaker.

Anyone who keeps the whole law, you see, but fails in one point, has become guilty of all of it. For the one who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” Sof if ;you do not commit adultery, but do murder, you have become a law breaker. Speak and act in such a way as people who are going to be judged by the law of freedom. Judgment is without mercy, you see, for those who have shown no mercy. But mercy triumphs over judgment.”  (The Kingdom New Testament)


        Through the years we have been seated at the head table of honor;  we attend a function, and always given first seats; and than there was my time on the street,  we were ignored, pushed aside, shunned. Looking at this section of scripture we invite you to remember the places you have been honored and shunned. (Reflect upon those times, your feelings.)

    Dorthy Day reflected and lived out her ministry, believing in  a “Revolution of the Heart”, meaning that real revolution comes when our hearts are changed, when we let God touch our lives and moves us beyond thinking of “socialism”, “communism”, etc, into seeing the needs of others, and putting them first. Each day, I embrace people who are hungry, young and old, sit in the waiting room of the hospital for hours for them to be seen, see them sleeping in doorways and in tents in the cold of the night.     Personally I  believe our system is “dirty and rotten to its core,” as did Dorothy,  and  change comes from the bottom up, that it comes in our hearts being transformed and in seeing that health care, housing, college education, and providing food, as a right, that all people should have.

    Yesterday I went to three stores looking for toilet paper, and wound up paying a woman in line $20.00 for a pack of four.  This hoarding toilet paper and other items is a sign of our fear, and emotionally provides comfort. I find myself hoarding food, when I am depressed because being on the streets for three years, and than working at minimum wage for two years after getting off the street there were times when there was little food. We have to put ourselves in the lives of others. In giving, in caring, those needs go away, fear goes away, and we all become one in the struggle of life.


Read James 1:1-13 in several versions of the Bible. Think of what it means to be “rich”. Personally I know I am very “rich”–I have a place to sleep, clothes on my back, change in my pocket, health insurance and stable friends–that is being wealthy. I live in one room, share a bath room and shower room–I am “rich”. How “rich” are you?

    One in four children go hungry every night in the Bay Area. There are thirty five thousand who are homeless in the Bay Area; One in four individuals have health insurance in our area–poverty is at our feet. Do you think of this poverty? Reflect upon what actions we can take?

    In James 2:7 he hints that the “rich” are likely to be oppressors.  Oppression comes in walking by people, not looking at them, not recognizing them. It comes in not giving of what you have to provide for them, and it comes in not advocating for their needs. Oppression come in ignoring people in need. I often wonder what would happen if my position was switched–if I was not “rich” and lived on the street, and in so doing my “richness” disappears? How many “friends” would I have? Would I just fade away into being “homeless”?

    Jesus emphasized one of the most central passages of Israel’s ancient law: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” It is at the heart of his teaching (Matthew 22:36-40), and it’s centrality for early Christianity drew people to Jesus.

    We are confronted in these days with fears of a new virus, we are confronted with homelessness growing in our midst, with no end in sight, reflect upon what you can do as an individual to provide comfort. Reflect upon your being “rich” and how your friends would react if you you suddenly find yourself living on the street.


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164



Fear Not

March 11, 2020

Fear Not!

“Do not fear, for I am with you,

do not be afraid, for I am your God!

I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” (Isaiah 4:1-10

    The maxim of illusory religion runs, “Fear not; trust in God and He will see that none of the things you fear will happen to you;” that of real religion, on the contrary, “Fear not; the things that you are afraid of may  happen to you, but they are nothing to be afraid of.” Illness and death will ultimately come to all of us, but in all probability when we least expect it, so why worry about it.

    Fear is rampant over the COVID-19 infection. Franklin Roosevelt  once said: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”  Remember take precautions, but  fear, destroys relationships, and one’s  inner well being.

    Basically to prevent its spread one should wash one’s hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer if a sink is not available. the World Health Organization says that people should wear face masks only if they are sick or caring for someone who is. “For most people the virus  will cause mild illness; however it can make some people very ill and in some people can be fatal.” There is still much to be learned, so simply take precautions.

    We are taking the following precautions–wearing gloves and masks when doing outreach. We will not shake hands or hug or drink after anyone. We will use the “bump” with our fists.  This is probably to the extreme, but it is for our safety and the safety of others.

    We are not afraid. We are reminded that as Christians our vocation is a vocation to serve those who are poor, in need, marginalized, to serve those who are poor in spirit. Our challenge is to discover what people most need and use our unique gifts.

    The corporal works of mercy are to: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the sick, visit those in prison, bury the dead.

    What is clear from the Gospels is that Jesus moved with purpose in his ministry reaching out to those on the margins, to the poor, both those without money and those without knowledge of God. He did these things without concern for himself. Jesus abandoned himself to God’s grace, approached death with equanimity, and then showed that God could over come death itself. May we do so as well! Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco,  CA 94164