The Great Cloud of Witnesses

December 14, 2021

The Great Cloud of Witnesses!!

In Memory and In Honor of Richard Melick!

On Saturday, December 11, 2021, 4:30 in the afternoon, at Stanford Medical Center, Palo Alto, our friend, and supporter, Richard Melick,54,  entered into the Great Cloud of Witnesses!

Richard’s life was a journey of a soul united in love with God, that was marked by stripping and desolation, as much as in periods of joy.

From being victimized for being gay as a young man, Richard moved into an understanding of our equality with God, each one as brothers and sisters of one another.  Through this journey, he came to the love of those living on the streets leading him in sharing with his brothers and sisters. He incarnated the love of Jesus.

Memories flood my heart today, three weeks ago, not feeling well, Richard arrived, bringing a ton of Christmas gifts, so many that we will not have to buy gifts this year.

Thanksgiving Day, we had brunch, and he and his partner Nicki joined me on the street serving food.
Richard was in a lot of pain, and later Nicki shared that Rick did not wish me to know how much he was suffering, for he wanted to share this day serving others on Haight Street. Later Rick texted: “Happiest Thanksgiving I can remember!!

Today reading the words of the Apostle Paul: “Your task now is to work at bringing about your own salvation; and naturally you will be taking this with utter seriousness After all God is the one who is at work among us, who provides both the will and the energy to enable you to do what pleases him,”  I smile for a favorite vision of Richard is seeing him under the bridges of the East Bay providing food, and all sorts of gifts to those living in their sleeping bags, and tents, without much more. He talked of their smiling and giving their love in return.

    In pleasing God of taking care of the “least of these,” seeing them as his equals, and as brothers and sisters, Richard entered into the Great Cloud of Witnesses, surrounding us in joy! Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

————————–

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA  94109

http://www.temenos.org

http://www.temenos.org

snapchat: Riodamien2

415-305-2124

Christ is Here Now–Within Each of Us!

December 4, 2021

12-5-2021

Christ Is Here Now–Within Each of Us!

For the last few days, my hip has been in pain, and will soon have a cortisone shot. As I walked the street last night, that pain became insignificant, it became nothing.

In the doorways, there are older people, dirty, basically out of it from their fear, and pain of the street; chasing a kid up the Polk another was proclaiming the gospel, Jesus was sending this young man to hell, all drug-induced, of course; another was afraid, her insulin almost gone, she had no way to go to the pharmacy at San Francisco General.

John the Baptist reminds us that God judges us at this moment:

“You brood of vipers,” John used to say to the crowds who came out to be baptized by him. “Who told you to escape from the coming anger? You’d better prove your repentance by bearing the proper fruit! “Don’t start saying to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father;’ let me tell you, God can raise up children for Abraham from these stones! The ax is already standing by the roots of the tree–so every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”

“What shall we do?” asked the crowds.

“Anyone who has two cloaks,” replied John,”should give one to someone who hasn’t got one. The same applies to anyone who has plenty of food.” Luke 37-11.(The Kingdom New Testament: A Contemporary Translation N.T. Wright

Anyone who has two coats”, and walking down the street and seeing a homeless person, should give her one. The same applies to food, if you have plenty of food, give the gentleman outside the restaurant half of it.”

Tim Hughes reminds us of where God is, and in remembering that presence we find people being fed, clothed, comforted, housed, and loved:

“God in my living, there in my breathing. God in my waking. God in my sleeping.

God in my resting, there in my working. God in my thinking, God in my speaking

Be my everything…

God in my hoping, there in my dreaming, God in my watching,

God in my waiting

God in my laughing, there in my weeping, God in my hurting,

God in my healing.

——————————————————

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

415-305-2124

http://www.temenos.org

—————————

Christmas Gifts!

We have enough Christmas gifts this year for our guys, our storage space is getting full! They are presently being wrapped, will be ready for Christmas Eve! We always have financial needs!

As for me personally, and fearing  I may have offended several by telling them not to send me fruit or candy, there is a reason,  I have diabetes and have to watch what eat. I know exactly what I can have and can not so pleased do not take offense. I also have plenty, more than enough of everything else. 

But if you really would like to give me a gift, there are two things:

1. Two parakeets, pre-examined by a vet, cage, etc and you come and set up everything, That way I receive two gifts–your presence and the birds. (LOL).

2. A small van or truck with less than 40, 000 miles on the odometer. This will last me until the day I die, a great gift.  You bring it and have dinner with me as well. (LOL).

3. Or better yet your presence for a meal–I am tested every week, and have one booster and will soon receive another. The best gift of all. Your presence!

The truth is I really have all I personally need–the love of you guys who have provided for our ministry and have nurtured and cared for me these past nearly two years during this pandemic. In sickness, and in health, I know you are present.  That is really more than enough! Thank you! Of course, the first two are awesome as well. Ha!

Bloom–a review

December 2, 2021

“What would your spirituality sound like if it was infused with boundless joy and unflinching honesty? 

Starchild is a queer autistic pastor, electronic music producer, and spoken word artist who uses a pseudonym for his art to stay out of trouble with his denomination. Starchild just dropped an album of 24 prophetic Christian spoken word poetry tracks called Bloom just in time for Advent!

He would love to hear your honest feedback in the form of a song or album review, in conversation with his work.

Starchild’s spoken-word poetry is based on the following seven provocative, prophetic hypotheses:

1) The Bible is the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, allegorically represented in the Eden story—while the serpent represents religious authority itself. Turning the sacred poetry of scripture into legalistic black and white moral knowledge curses humanity and destroys our intuitive connection to the divine, which every other creature has.

2) The Tower of Babel today represents a white capitalist empire in which there is one language and a single path to heaven controlled by the men who built the tower; Pentecost is the Holy Spirit’s repudiation of the attempt to reduce all spirituality to a monolithic tower reaching up to heaven.

3) Queer and autistic Christians are the “despised ones who bring to nothing the things that are” in Paul’s prophecy in 1 Corinthians 1:28, because we are overthrowing the authoritarian moral puritanism and obsession with enforcing normativity of all kinds which have sabotaged the church’s gospel for so long.

4) Our ancestors inhabit our souls; the cloud of witnesses described in Hebrews 12:1 can interface directly with our conscious thought, and we can hone our ability to listen directly to these witnesses and share prophetically what they say.

5) Grace is an embodied experience, not an intellectual concept, which is why treating our bodies well and listening to their intuition is way more responsible discipleship for Christians than trying to repress our embodiment which creates secret taboo shame cycles.

6) God desires mercy not sacrifice (Matthew 9:13) because sacrifice makes people into entitled, resentful, transactional misers; mercy, on the other hand, melts our self-righteousness so that we can love unconditionally.

7) The seventh day of creation in which everything rests describes the age of the spirit we are entering; our relationship with the divine will shift radically as we remove ourselves from authoritarian hierarchical models of religious leadership and trust the reality that God is dwelling in our midst (Revelation 21:3).

    In his album, “Bloom” Starchild expresses a theology that challenges societal expectations. In the fact, this piece is produced under a pseudonym that signifies the oppression that Starchild and millions experience through the institutional Church, in order to remain a part of it.

    Starchild demonstrates in their work how we have let institutions, wealth, and power, inflame prejudices, and divide our humanity for the sake of power and control

    Our musician calls us to a new awareness of the humanity of people, the sacredness of creation, and away from our prejudices. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

———————————

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

The Gift of Matthew!

December 1, 2021

World AIDS DAY

December 1, 2021

The Gift of Matthew!

“. . .And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces. . .Isa. 25:7-8.

Matthew Shepherd was born on this day in 1976. Matt  came to know at an early age that he was gay, and throughout his teen years until his death at 21, he struggled with his sexuality.

He was no saint, for like so many on this journey he used drugs, rebelled against his parents, struggled to make grades, and in the end was murdered as a result of his sexuality.

His journey is one that is experienced, by many, including me –denial, rejection by family, friends, emotionally damaged, drugs, sexually acting out, and for many AIDS.

Matthew is a gift is in his calling us to see the face of the pain of homophobia, and HIV prejudice.

Matthew is a gift in that he calls churches to see their failure and the pain and death caused by their homophobia. He calls churches to talk openly about sexuality in their youth groups. Matt calls ministers to move away from their fear and walk with queer youth.

Matthew is a gift in his calling us to move out of our blindness about sexuality, and see the  rainbow of sexual orientations: LBGT?.

As I walk the street, hear the stories of each young person on their journey, see them struggle with drugs, sexuality, rejection by family and friends, the face of Matthew Shepherd is always before me, representing Christ crucified, and remember the promise that:

He will swallow up death forever, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces. . .Isa. 25:7-8.

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

——————–

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

Thank you to all who donated to Giving Tuesday, we received $4,750.00, exceeding our goal of 2000.00 thank you. river+

World AIDS DAY EVENT

“Am Evening of Lights and Rememberance

In the Grove of the National AIDS Memorial

In Golden Gate Park

4:30 p.m-9:00 p.m.

Giving Tuesday!

November 30, 2021

Giving Tuesday was created in 2012 as a simple idea: a day that encourages people to do good. Over the past nine years, this idea has grown into a year-round global movement that inspires hundreds of millions of people to give, collaborate, and celebrate generosity.

You can think of it as a special day to practice charity–love of God and love of neighbor. One concrete way to do this is to support a worthy charitable organization.

We invite you to support Temenos Catholic Worker today, Tuesday, November 30. We provide care for homeless youth and homeless adults by walking with them providing pastoral counseling, food,  socks, and harm reduction supplies.

One example is last week a young man was injured in a fight, and at two in the morning we came to him on Haight Street, bandaged his wound, and provided him a hotel room for the night.

We pledge to continue our ministry of caring for the poorest of the poor, as we invite you to join us in our ministry:

Gratitude goes beyond the ‘mine’ and ‘thine’ and claims the truth that all of life is a pure gift.” Fr. Henri Nouwen

Mail Your Gift to:
Temenos Catholic Worker
P.O. Box 642656
San Francisco, CA 94164
http://www.temenos.org

or through Pay Pal: on our website www. temenos.org
———————————–
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

Hospitality in the Midst of Waiting!

November 29, 2021

Hospitality in the Midst of Waiting!

Jeremiah 33:14-16:

“Behold the days are coming says the Lord when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David and he shall execute righteousness and justice in the land.. . .”

    Over the past year and a half, there have been several companions with which I have journeyed.

    On is Julian of Norwich. She too lived through a time of much worry and fear. The Black Death struck shortly after her birth, leaving up to half the population of her city of Norwich dead, and killing up to an estimated 200 million  people in Europe, 
Eurasia, and North Africa. It would take centuries for Europe to return to pre-Black Death numbers.

    The second was the Martyrs of Memphis: Constance, Thecia, Ruth, Francis, Charles Parsons, and Louis Schuyler. In August 1878 yellow fever invaded Memphis, Tennessee for the third time in ten years. Two hundred people died each day, and when the worst was over ninety percent of the people had contracted the disease, 5000 people had died.

    These two examples tell us that we have been here before and will be here again. In our lifetime alone we have already seen SARS, AIDS, Polio, Swine Flu, more.

    And what this present epidemic calls us to, is hospitality. For in the years to come–and I mean years-is a crisis of grief.

    In Albert Gilbert’s recent opinion piece in The New York Times, “The Grief Crisis is Coming” he estimates that for every death from Covid, nine people are bereaved.

    Beyond grief is the emotional toll of the past sixteen months–students home alone, families separated, and the fear people are experiencing.

    We are called to remember our mortality day by day with unflinching realism, shaking off the sleep of denial. We are called to show hospitality and care to every person we encounter and to ourselves.

    Julian in her words, “all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well,” call us to a hospitality shaped by and need to respond to–grief, loss, trauma, and dislocation. It will have the power to change, convert, and challenge us in ways we can not even begin to imagine. It will be rooted in hope and prayer. It will befriend death, death has no power over us. And through it all we will continue to meet the Risen Christ, present inall who come to us, bringing us his promised “Peace!” Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

———————————

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

———————

The Inner Spirit!

November 26, 2021

The Inner Voice!

“Heaven and earth will pass away but my word will not pass away.” Lk. 4:21-29

I sit at my desk and look around my room, and my walls are filled with paintings, crosses, diplomas, two Bibles: one on my desk, which is from my twenty-fifth anniversary signed by supporters, people I have known through all these years and the other on my nightstand, a combination of the Bible and Book of Common Prayer given to me one day as I was walking down the street twenty-six years ago, by a fifteen-year-old runaway, which was  “creatively acquired” as a thank you gift. In my briefcase is one given by Sister Helen Prejean.

When I die my friends Matthew, Carla, and Jessica will clean this room thinking they are looking at clutter to be discarded.  The reality is this clutter speaks to a time in church camp, late one night around a campfire where I felt my heart “strangely warmed” and from that moment I was propelled into ministry, and that Spirit has guided me through the years of ministry.

It is this voice that propelled my aching body out of bed at two a.m. this morning to respond to a call from a young man in the Haight who had been beaten up. I found myself getting blood on my hands bandishing his wound, and his blood was the blood of Christ.

My call has been to keep lit the flame of the candle that has been entrusted to me to make the world less dark. Preceding me were Glenda, Louie, Keenan, and many others. And there will be those to follow me.

All of us looking inward to the Spirit that guides us are called to find the candle of making the world less dark. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

————————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

“Life is short.

We do not have too much time to gladden the hearts of those who travel with us.

So be swift to love.

Make haste to be kind.

And the peace of God–Father, Son, and Holy Spirit-will bless you and be with you always. Amen”

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Giving Tuesday has become an international celebration of giving. This year, #GivingTuesday will once again show the power of communities coming together to support the causes closest to our hearts.

We have three days for shopping and getting deals- Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. Giving Tuesday is a day for giving back. People all over the world participate in this annual event to remember the “reason for the season.” This year, Temenos Catholic Worker will be participating to ensure we can continue to be out on the frontlines of faith-based advocacy for climate, street youth, and human dignity. Our goal is to raise $2,000.

St. Francis and his friars went out on the roadside asking for alms to fund their work. Just like him, we are in solidarity with the poor and marginalized, we care for creation and raise consciousness on the need to hear “the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.” We need your support to do it!

Help us raise awareness about our goal by sharing your support on social media and using the hashtag #GivingTuesday to get your friends and family involved.

The Paradox of Faith!

November 24, 2021

The Paradox of Faith!

Luke 21:12–19

English Standard Version

12 But before all this uthey will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to vthe synagogues and wprisons, and you xwill be brought before ykings and zgovernors for my name’s sake. 13 aThis will be your opportunity to bear witness. 14 Settle it therefore in your minds bnot to meditate beforehand how to answer, 15 for cI will give you a mouth and dwisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or econtradict. 16 You will be delivered up feven by parents and brothers3 and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. 17 gYou will be hated by all for my name’s sake. 18 But hnot a hair of your head will perish. 19 By your iendurance you will gain your lives.

——————————————-

We live with paradoxes. Many people see Thanksgiving as one that celebrates the conquest of the Americas. and do not celebrate, on the other hand, Thanksgiving was created by Abraham Lincoln as a means of unifying our country. The story of the Pilgrims is a myth. For me, Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate life and give thanks to God for the sacredness of life.

The second paradox is of faith.  People are always seeking proof of God, they want to know that God exists. The reality is that God is silent most of the time. The prayer of Thomas Merton tells us of his experience:

“Lord it is nearly midnight and I am waiting for you in the darkness. I know nothing of you and am waiting for you in the darkness, and the great silence…The darkness is enough.”

Merton accepts the love of God on faith, in defiance of all apparent evidence.

He speaks for me, for God is silent, and yet I believe in defiance of that unbelief, for I see God in the eyes of the homeless, and in the suffering of each person I come in contact with.  We all suffer, we all feel pain.

We find God in our pain, and in so doing God will be there with us. And in working with those most vulnerable we find God in our blessing and caring.

Tomorrow two volunteers and I  will hang on  Haight and Polk with those who are most vulnerable and in each person, we will find a blessing far more than we give, for God is present in each one of them.

God is a blessing!  May God bless you! Happy Thanksgiving!

——————–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

“Life is short.

We do not have too much time to gladden the hearts of those who travel with us.

So be swift to love.

Make haste to be kind.

And the peace of God–Father, Son, and Holy Spirit-will bless you and be with you always. Amen”

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Giving Tuesday has become an international celebration of giving. This year, #GivingTuesday will once again show the power of communities coming together to support the causes closest to our hearts.

We have three days for shopping and getting deals- Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. Giving Tuesday is a day for giving back. People all over the world participate in this annual event to remember the “reason for the season.” This year, Temenos Catholic Worker will be participating to ensure we can continue to be out on the frontlines of faith-based advocacy for climate, street youth, and human dignity. Our goal is to raise $2,000.

St. Francis and his friars went out on the roadside asking for alms to fund their work. Just like him, we are in solidarity with the poor and marginalized, we care for creation and raise consciousness on the need to hear “the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.” We need your support to do it!

Help us raise awareness about our goal by sharing your support on social media and using the hashtag #GivingTuesday to get your friends and family involved.

The Eye of the Beholder

November 22, 2021

The Eye of the Beholder

“He looked up and saw rich people putting their contributions into the Temple treasury. He also saw an impoverished widow putting in two tiny copper coins. 

“I am telling you the truth,” he said, “This poor widow has put in more than all of them. They all contributed into the collection of their plenty, but she contributed out of her poverty, and gave her whole livelihood.” Luke 21:1-4

——————-

Transport yourself to the  Jerusalem Temple and what do you see? Jesus centers on the poor, the little ones, and sees a woman who gives all she has. 

Jesus centering his eyes on the poor woman tells us his standard is different from the majority of people. It is not about how famous, or how much money we have but in the love, we give that counts in his eyes.

Jesus calls us to turn our eyes to the tents, the blankets, and see the faces of those who have nothing. He calls us to stop labeling others as “Homeless”, and call them friends. I have often envisioned finding myself on the street, dirty, in rags, and seeing people that I know simply pass by not seeing me.  I would be labeled as homeless.

The call is to stop looking for the government to solve the problems and do something ourselves little by little. This morning I gave a lady food for her Thanksgiving meal, my prayer is that someone will pass on that giving to another and as people are fed, housed, provided mental health care, and most importantly love, behold the healing of our world.

This morning I wrote a thank you note to a gentleman who has given $5.00 a month for years, another to a lady who has given $20.00, and many more, those small gifts are feeding many kids this week on Thanksgiving, it is little by little.

As I pulled my clothes from the dryer and folded them this morning, I smiled thinking of how nice it was to finish a task. To complete something. For in working with people we never see completion until the Reign of God, arrives.

So this Advent Season simply let our goal be to help others little by little. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

———-

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

A Dangerous Advent Prayer

November 21, 2021

A Dangerous Advent Prayer!

Luke 21:35-38, 34-36

Christ the King

This will be my 28th Thanksgiving, and Christmas in San Francisco. I began my ministry on a street filled with bars, and prostitution, now Polk is gentrified, and Haight is a sort of camouflaged gentrification.

I now am dealing with diabetes, injuries from attacks, and depression at times. See all as what Paul calls thorns in my flesh.

In our last hard storm several weeks ago, my phone rang, and a young man was stranded at Ocean Beach, where he had been camping. Shane was terrified. I drove out, and there he was on the beach with raging waves flowing back and forth. The water was a living thing, spitting and hissing like a snake. The wind carried my voice away. I was stunned by the power that swirled around me, in that instant I knew in walking toward him we both could be swept away. He saw me coming and rushed into my arms and we ran to safety.    

    In these months I have often felt like what is the use, I am a failure, just call it quits.

Yet here I stand at the edge of Advent with the resolve to run forth into the wind and raging waves. Praying for the grace to see not Christ as a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, but as the Son of Man clothed in power and glory in the midst of chaos and confusion.

    The call is not to run away, but to shake the world until God’s reign comes in glory. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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

“Life is short.

We do not have too much time to gladden the hearts of those who travel with us.

So be swift to love.

Make haste to be kind.

And the peace of God–Father, Son, and Holy Spirit-will bless you and be with you always. Amen”

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Giving Tuesday has become an international celebration of giving. This year, #GivingTuesday will once again show the power of communities coming together to support the causes closest to our hearts.

We have three days for shopping and getting deals- Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. Giving Tuesday is a day for giving back. People all over the world participate in this annual event to remember the “reason for the season.” This year, Temenos Catholic Worker will be participating to ensure we can continue to be out on the frontlines of faith-based advocacy for climate, street youth, and human dignity. Our goal is to raise $2,000.

St. Francis and his friars went out on the roadside asking for alms to fund their work. Just like him, we are in solidarity with the poor and marginalized, we care for creation and raise consciousness on the need to hear “the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.” We need your support to do it!

Help us raise awareness about our goal by sharing your support on social media and using the hashtag #GivingTuesday to get your friends and family involved.