Peniel, March 2019

February 26, 2019

Journal of An Alien Street Priest

On Ash Wednesday we will walk along both Polk and Haight Streets carrying ashes for anointing for any one, but in particular those who live on the street. We  will have their heads turned  away, some will be express their anger at us, but the anger is not at us, but at the Church for its attitude toward homelessness, and many will have been abused by priest or laity, and others will receive the ashes, and the prayers with up lifted heads, tears in their eyes and thankfulness. Last year one woman, wrapped in her sleeping bag, whom I had never met, screamed at me, “Where are you when I need food, and a place to sleep in your f..king fancy robes?” Painful, yes, but it is a question that we all should ask ourselves, ‘Were you there when they crucified my Lord?’ on the streets, in the battlefields, in the environment?”

So I invite us this Lent to consider fasting from simply hanging with our tribe, those we feel safe with, and moving out and pouring ourselves  out to those we walk by each day, those who anger us , and whom we think are different from us. To let go of grudges and fears. Give a kind word, some food, a blanket, a pair of socks, take to a movie—fast from our fears.

Mary Oliver gives us a poem entitled “Moments” which I personally will meditate on every day this Lent:

“There are moments that cry out to be fulfilled.

Like, telling someone you love them.

Or giving your money away, all of it.

Your heart is beating, isn’t it?

You’re not in chains, are you?

There is nothing more pathetic than caution

when headlong might save a life,

even possibly your own.”

Let us fulfill our moments while we still have time.

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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Do You Want to Fast This Lent?

Words of Pope Francis

  • Fast from hurting words and say kind words.
  • Fast from sadness and be filled with gratitude.
  • Fast from anger and be filled with patience.
  • Fast from pessimism and be filled with hope.
  • Fast from worries and trust in God.
  • Fast from complaints and contemplate simplicity.
  • Fast from pressures and be prayerful.
  • Fast from bitterness and fill your hearts with joy.
  • Fast from selfishness and be compassionate to others.
  • Fast from grudges and be reconciled.
  • Fast from words and be silent so you can listen.

Lenten Devotionals

Each Wednesday during Lent we will be sending out on our blog a reflection on a part of this years “Tenderloin Stations of the Cosmic Christ”. We are inviting any of you who would like to take sometime during the week to reflect and pray with us.  There will be some questions for reflections. If you would like to respond by email, snap chat, or face book, or phone, you are invited to.

Schedule For Lent

March 6: Ash Wednesday, Noon–?: We will distribute Ashes to people who are homeless and otherwise on Polk Street. If you are interested in participation please call.

April 18:Holy Thursday: Moving Eucharist: Distribution of Holy Communion on Polk and Haight Street with Food 6:00 p.m.-? Join us.

April 19:  Noon-2:00 p.m. Holy Friday, “Stations of the Cosmic Christ(adaptation from work of Bishop Marc Andrus and Fr. Matthew Fox) We will walk through the Tenderloin remembering that Christ is crucified in each person we see on the street, and where we are asked: “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” One thing we will be doing differently is carrying sandwiches with us so that we can give to people on the street.

Easter Sunday,11:00 a.m.–? April 21: We will celebrate Easter with a Eucharist in Golden Gate Park and give a meal of Easter Eggs, (boiled) with fruit.

WE ARE BEGGARS:

Due to our illness, the death of several donors, and the retiring of a number of people our offerings are down. We are giving out 1000 pair of socks a month, feeding people every day snacks, and hot meals twice a week, our primary focus of pastoral and sacramental care are a part of our daily life, so please consider us in your giving.

Donations are tax deductible, and may be given through the mail at the address above or through pay pal on our web site or simply through pay pal.

I  always write a thank you note for your gifts. I often receive notes are emails saying, “Do not waste a stamp.”  Our thank you notes are not just acknowledgments but come from our heart.   I joke that I am a “southern boy” raised with the gene of writing thank you notes, and that is partially true, but in truth I am very appreciative. I do not feel that any gift is complete without a thank you note, and so know it is never a problem, or time consuming, but a joy to acknowledge your gift. RS+

Thank you!

TWENTHY FIFTH ANNIVERSARY

“Home Coming”

October 4, 2019

St. Luke’s Episcopal  Church

6:30 p.m.

“No One is An Enemy or Stranger, I get along with All.”

Siri Guru Granth Sahib

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Witness Against the Death Penalty:

Wednesday, March 13, we will beginning our witness against the death penalty at the Earl Warren Office Building at noon . This is sponsored Franciscans Against the Death Penalty.

Philip Workman Memorial Banquet

May 9, 2019, 12 Noon

Civic Center Plaza

We will remember those who are on death row, and that justice is best sought through mercy rather than vengeance. We remember Philip Workman because he is an example of how one man can be transformed in his life’s journey.  Philip was executed on May 9, 2007 for a murder that occurred decades earlier, despite doubts about his guilt.  During those years on death row his life evolved into one of service to fellow inmates and to people outside the walls.  Philip puts a human face on the death penalty. His last act was to have his  final meal of pizza given  to the homeless, we will honor Philip giving out pizza to the homeless, around Civic Center.

Come, let us celebrate with loud voices of praise to the God of many faces.  Let us celebrate the promise of the glorious liberation, we have through the love of God, however God comes to us.

The Winter of Our Lives

February 25, 2019

The Winter of Our Lives!

Today I wrote in my private journal, something I would like to share:

    “The liturgy today speaks of the winter of our lives, ‘when we too experience the winter of our lives may we find courage to let go and trust in your guiding, warming light.”

I feel like I am in the winter of my life, I am growing older, no longer the young foolish kid, and slowing down. My bones ache, I get tired so easy, and there are days I have to simply rest for hours. My fears of disability, of being incapacitated, and being alone, terrify me. My fears of being pushed out to live  on the street, terrify me. I have a fear that if I become disabled I will find myself in some nursing home alone.  It has been a dark winter.

Relationships are always in flux, and I realize my tendency to form

unhealthy relationships  when I am ill, and the tendency to push people away as well.

It has been a dark winter.

Time and time again through the years I have wrestled with God, he reminds me, that ultimately all I have is him, and ultimately it is only him.  So each day I take minute by minute trusting in God, ever so weakly, but trusting.”

My birthday is in March.  People ask why I do not reveal my age, and the reason is we judge people by their age.  When I was a teen pastor, I was “too young”, later “you are to old to dress like you do,” so I have instructed those in charge of my final arrangements to only give my birth year at my memorial service and upon my plague where my ashes will be placed. We judge to much. I have a friend whose dad would never reveal his age, and when he died working full time at 101 people were shocked.  That is why I never reveal my age, it is not important to talk about, it is what is in us, our feelings, our fears, and our wishes that are important.

   

Our lives change and evolve as we grow older, and my prayer is that your life as well as mine grow in the love of God and humanity, and all of creation.

    Henri Nouwen wrote:

“Birthdays need to be celebrated. I think it is more important to celebrate a birthday than a successful exam, a promotion, or a victory. Because to celebrate a birthday means to say to someone: “Thank you for being you.” Celebrating a birthday is exalting life and being glad for it. On a birthday we do not say: “Thanks for what you did, or said, or accomplished.” No, we say: “Thank you for being born and being among us.” Fr. Henri Nouwen

Each year I celebrate sometimes a hundred birthdays with my kids and with older people, and each celebration is for saying: “Thank you for being born among us.” 

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

415-305-2124

Living on the Borderlands–Up the Mountain of Hope–Feast of Transfiguration

February 23, 2019

Living on the Borderlands–Up the Mountain of Hope-Feast of the Transfiguration

Description of faith

“11 Faith is the reality of what we hope for, the proof of what we don’t see. The elders in the past were approved because they showed faith.

Acts of faith by God’s people

By faith we understand that the universe has been created by a word from God so that the visible came into existence from the invisible.

By faith Abel offered a better sacrifice to God than Cain, which showed that he was righteous, since God gave approval to him for his gift. Though he died, he’s still speaking through faith.

By faith Enoch was taken up so that he didn’t see death, and he wasn’t found because God took him up.[a] He was given approval for having pleased God before he was taken up. It’s impossible to please God without faith because the one who draws near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards people who try to find him.

By faith Noah responded with godly fear when he was warned about events he hadn’t seen yet. He built an ark to deliver his household. With his faith, he criticized the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes from faith.”

Mark 9:2-13

Last night I attended a book signing for The Art of Dying Well   with the author Katy Butler. The book is really lit, just awesome. As I sat there I realized I really did not fit, in the sense that my life is lived on the borderlands, in a world that this tribe of people does not know or understand. I really do not fit in any tribe, and that is by choice. I walk on the thin line, of entering various tribes, but always separate like my street kids, my lost boys. People who care for me get angry when I do not seem to listen and want to be pulled into their tribes–largely for protection and for being cared for. But I realize my calling has always been to live on the borderlands.

For example I have found myself struggling with various people over what it means being a catholic worker–I do not have a live in community, I live alone, my community are those I serve, I hang out with everyone whether they be in the government etc, I have a non-profit, etc. Temenos does not fit the stereotypical model of a catholic worker. The reality is that when I formed Temenos, it was formed as a structure for me to do pastoral ministry, under the tenants of Dorothy Day–living simply, personal-ism, etc.  I am a pastor to every one, in particular  to people on the street. My ministry is one of Word and Sacrament.  Being a pastor is not being in a church building, but in the words of John Wesley: “All the world is my parish.”

I walk the borderlands with people who have no access to great medical treatment, to food, to clothes. I walk with the kids who live and die on the street, the one percent that are not reached by social services.  I walk with Susan, who laid in the Park in the rain last week, she has breast cancer, she goes and waits for hours to see her doctor, and now has given up. As the pain in creases she will wait in the emergency room for hours and will probably die on the street;  she uses street drugs to numb her pain, I hung out with Bob, who suffered with cancer for years, and died in his tent. Housing was impossible for him to find.

I walk the borderlands, and as I get older, as I struggle with surgery, and health issues at times, I am afraid of being alone, but what am I learning is to live by faith.   Only by faith. It is in that faith that I walk each day, and climb the Mountain of Hope. It is that  faith I preach with few words, but preach with every fiber of my being, to others. For only by faith can we climb the Mountain of Hope and find our true home. 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

Put Away the Sword

February 22, 2019

Putting Your Sword (Facebook, Twitter, Snap chat, You Tube)  Away!

I Sm 26:2, 7-9, 12-13, 22-23; I Corinthians 15:45-49; Luke 6:27-38

Luke 6:37-38 Common English Bible (CEB)

37 “Don’t judge, and you won’t be judged. Don’t condemn, and you won’t be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good portion—packed down, firmly shaken, and overflowing—will fall into your lap. The portion you give will determine the portion you receive in return.”

David spares Saul’s life, it is noteworthy, but not unusual. In an ancient Babylonian epic Gilgamesh had done has much. These changes of behavior can not be explained because vengeful tribalism is the overriding theme that leads to  vengeful behavior. Today in our instant age of communication we see it presented in our our newspapers, television programs, and social media, 24/7. It is not new. We see it on our streets, in our schools, our businesses, wherever human beings congregate. 

But there is more to human behavior than just this vengeful behavior. We are more than just animals. Research has shown that we are hardwired for compassion. Young infants as old as 42 minutes mimic their mothers expression and love. Carl Jung tells us that we seek  to relate with compassion to that which is our “other”. The challenge is to find the divine presence in our “our other.”

Today we are hidden from each other through our on line media, our living situations, we are separated, we do not interact. Our opportunities for dialogue and coming together with others comes at the dinner table, in talking together, in social situations, in the give and take of interacting we come to respect each others differences. We are so tempted to use the shield of indifference, the stab of negativity, or the guillotine of sarcasm.

We are tempted to use as an excuse that we are simply “homo sapiens,”  “animals” who can not help ourselves, and than we have  I Corinthians to remind us that we bear the image of the “earthly one”, and the “heavenly one”. Jesus calls us to be our best. He calls us to quit judging; give without expecting reward; resist cruelty and stupidity,  and in our time  the added benefits of science has shown us that the measure we give will be returned to us in chemical bodily responses, perpetuating the cycle of generosity.  God has created our bodies to respond to our generosity.

It is hard work, we have to be willing to take the risk, to give of ourselves, and in so doing we are rewarded, and those around us reap rewards. 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

Put Away Sword–face book, twitter–

February 22, 2019

Putting Your Sword (Facebook, Twitter, Snap chat, You Tube)  Away!

I Sm 26:2, 7-9, 12-13, 22-23; I Corinthians 15:45-49; Luke 6:27-38

Luke 6:37-38 Common English Bible (CEB)

37 “Don’t judge, and you won’t be judged. Don’t condemn, and you won’t be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good portion—packed down, firmly shaken, and overflowing—will fall into your lap. The portion you give will determine the portion you receive in return.”

David spares Saul’s life, it is noteworthy, but not unusual. In an ancient Babylonian epic Gilgamesh had done has much. These changes of behavior can not be explained because vengeful tribalism is the overriding theme that leads to  vengeful behavior. Today in our instant age of communication we see it presented in our our newspapers, television programs, and social media, 24/7. It is not new. We see it on our streets, in our schools, our businesses, wherever human beings congregate. 

But there is more to human behavior than just this vengeful behavior. We are more than just animals. Research has shown that we are hardwired for compassion. Young infants as old as 42 minutes mimic their mothers expression and love. Carl Jung tells us that we seek  to relate with compassion to that which is our “other”. The challenge is to find the divine presence in our “our other.”

Today we are hidden from each other through our on line media, our living situations, we are separated, we do not interact. Our opportunities for dialogue and coming together with others comes at the dinner table, in talking together, in social situations, in the give and take of interacting we come to respect each others differences. We are so tempted to use the shield of indifference, the stab of negativity, or the guillotine of sarcasm.

We are tempted to use as an excuse that we are simply “homo sapiens,”  “animals” who can not help ourselves, and than we have  I Corinthians to remind us that we bear the image of the “earthly one”, and the “heavenly one”. Jesus calls us to be our best. He calls us to quit judging; give without expecting reward; resist cruelty and stupidity,  and in our time  the added benefits of science has shown us that the measure we give will be returned to us in chemical bodily responses, perpetuating the cycle of generosity.  God has created our bodies to respond to our generosity.

It is hard work, we have to be willing to take the risk, to give of ourselves, and in so doing we are rewarded, and those around us reap rewards. 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 Art of Dying Well By Katy Butler

February 20, 2019

The Art of Dying Well: A Practical Guide to the End of Life

By Katy Butler

Katy Butler presents a great book on preparing for our deaths early, and how we can die well.  In our society many do not see death very often. One funeral director told me that more and more people simply pay for the disposal of remains and do not come for a memorial service. We are a death denying society.  Butler seeks to bring us to facing death, and preparing for death. She offers the following advice:

1. Have a vision. Imagine what it would take for you to die in peace.

2. Stay in charge. Be in charge of your treatment, do not be passive in working with your doctor.

3. Know the progress of your illness. Work with your doctor in seeing how your illness will progress and in what stages.

4. Find your “tribe”, your group of friends and arrange care givers. We will not always be in control, we need to socialize and develop close relationships. I know for example I can not count on what family I have left. Last year I had five eighteen year old friends who followed through and took care of me when I could not take care of myself. They were my “tribe”.

5.  Take command of your space. Work on having a space you feel welcome in to die, surrounded by items that make you comfortable.

6.  Clean House. Talk to people, contact them, make peace with them, ask them to forgive you, as you forgive them, and say good bye.

7.  Think of death as a rite of passage. See death as but one stage on your life’s journey. Get in touch with your spirituality.

Katy Butler will be at Books Inc. at Opera Plaza in San Francisco at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, February 22, 2019.

Great book!

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

415-305-2124

Unfolding and Uncertain Journey

February 20, 2019

The Unfolding and Uncertain Journey

A blind man is healed

“22 Jesus and his disciples came to Bethsaida. Some people brought a blind man to Jesus and begged him to touch and heal him. 23 Taking the blind man’s hand, Jesus led him out of the village. After spitting on his eyes and laying his hands on the man, he asked him, “Do you see anything?”

24 The man looked up and said, “I see people. They look like trees, only they are walking around.”

25 Then Jesus placed his hands on the man’s eyes again. He looked with his eyes wide open, his sight was restored, and he could see everything clearly. 26 Then Jesus sent him home, saying, “Don’t go into the village!”

    The man in our story tells us when he first begins to see,  and when he is  asked if he sees people, “They look like trees, only they are walking around.” This is our lives. We struggle to see clearly, and it is much easier  have black and white answers. In that struggle we develop all sorts of ways of segregating ourselves from each other, and in the process we judge one another,  and hurt ourselves.  The truth is success is a phantom, for only in walking in the grey areas and seeing our lives as a part of the great scheme of God’s plan can we truly be comfortable in our own skins.

“I am often asked, “Tell me a success story,” and the only answer I have is found in some lines from T.S. Elliot’s rich, challenging, mystical poem, “Little Gidding”:

“And what you thought you came for

Is only a shell, a husk of meaning

From which the purpose breaks only when it is fulfilled

If at all. Either you had no purpose

Or the purpose is beyond the end you figured

And is altered in fulfillment.. .”

                        Our purposes are always “beyond the  end we figured.” What is unfolding, lotus-like around us is a kaleidoscopic design to which every generation and every life add rich colors. Success is a phantom, trust in God to work “all things to his purposes,” is real.

In the next pages we will hear stories of twenty five different lost boys, lost from the system, lost from parents, from themselves, but never are they lost from God, and it is my story of sharing my journey on the borderlands with them  and in so doing, we find a home in God. This is the story of all of us.” except from Hustling on the Borderlands With the Lost Boys.” by Fr. River Sims.

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

Fr.

 

Wisdom Walking

February 17, 2019

Wisdom Walking: Pilgrimage is A Way of Life

Gil Stafford

Fr. Stafford, an Episcopal Priest, writes of our lives as a pilgrimage. He uses walking long distances, particularly in Ireland, as a symbol of that pilgrimage.  Walking for Stafford is a way in which to pilgrimage in his own life.

Stafford sees our pilgrimage as one that is past, present, and future, and we walk into our understanding of God in our life. He talks of all aspects of his life, and of how as we become more transparent in our journey we become more vulnerable to ourselves. We must expose the realities of our darkness, the good and the bad.

Stafford points out that death is “always present in life whether in the first half or in the second half,” and that only living with death as present can we truly live our lives and be real. I live with death all the time, I hold the hands of people who are dying physically, and emotionally, I have experienced my own near death experiences, and live with the reality that someone might kill me, and as I age, I see death more clearly. The Angel of Death and I are becoming good friends. Only in facing death, pain, and hurt, can we truly become vulnerable and alive. It is only in embracing our faults, our pain, and being open and vulnerable that we can truly grow and develop and embrace others.

As I read through the book I identified with Fr. Stafford. My pilgrimage has been, is, and will continue to be in the “borderlands”, where in the words of Loren Eisley, “The World, I have come to believe, is a very queer place, but we have been part of the queerness for so long that we tend to take it for granted.. .One must seek, then, what the solitary approach can give–a natural revelation.” My queer pilgrimage has been a natural revelation, in living with myself, and youth who are live in the “borderlands.” It continues to be a revelation, and I hope will continue to be in eternity.

We conclude with the words of Gil Stafford: “And I have learned that God, the divine, :YHWH, the ground of all being, the unspeakable name, whatever name you call the eternal one, loves me, you, and all creation, both in presence and absence, as we walk our muddy, mist-covered, uncertain, and yet creative pilgrimage. The natural revelation continues as long as we are willing to never take this queer world for granted. Please keep walking the wisdom way.”

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

415-305-2124

 

Book Review

February 17, 2019

The Disfiguration of Nature: What the Caring for the Environment is Inherently Conservative By James G. Krueger

James Krueger presents the thesis that issues around environmental  issues has been clouded by all the “ism’s”, and that people should come together leaving aside their view points for the common goal of the preservation of nature. 

For example in the state election five years ago  where there was a proposition to end the death penalty we were asked to pass out flyers supporting the democratic candidates. By doing so that would eliminate many votes, and in the end it failed by a few votes.  I refused to use those flyers and made my own because I did not want people to consider their vote based on the issue of the wrongness of the death penalty.

Krueger is right that the issue around the environment is fractured by political and points of view around all the “ism’s.  But where I disagree with him is in his own approach to using Scripture to condemn Queer rights and abortion rights.

Jesus says to us: “You shall love the Lord your God, with all of your heart, your mind, and your strength,and your neighbor as yourself.”

Our approached to the environment and all issues should be based on love of our neighbor, an approach in which we do not judge, but where we meet in the middle on issues that we do not agree on, and agree to disagree. But where we fight for the conservation of the environment.

Krueger comes across as very judgmental on certain segments of humanity, and in so doing, he loses site of the reality that the preservation of the environment is about the respect of all of life. The environmental issue takes second place to his on theological and moral points of view.

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

Turning Our Woes Around

February 17, 2019

Turn the Woes Around!

“But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. But woe to you who are filled now, for you will be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will grieve and weep. Woe to you when all speak well of you, for their ancestors treated false prophets in this way.” Luke 6:17, 20-26

Happy are you who have housing, rich in money or power, in gifts of  time and talent, because you can do so much for the homeless, the poor, the mentally ill, and lift the weight off of their shoulders;  happy are you only if you have the mind of Christ, and recognize that you can not do what you will with what you have, because you are stewards of your gifts, which you hold in trust. Only if you employ your power for peace in all relationships, bring wisdom and  love to all of creation, your compassion to heal, and your hope to angst and hopelessness .

Happy are you who are full now, well fed, content, because you now have strength to feed the hungry, to touch empty stomachs with compassion, to house the homeless, to walk with the drug abuser, and those who are dying. Happy are you if you have the mind of the hungry, the mind of Christ and are uncomfortable when your brother or sister cries out in vain for justice or love. Happy are you only when  you are empty, and experience your homelessness from God. Happy are you if you are full and experience your own emptiness. Happy are you if you feel like an alien in a strange land!

Happy are you if you can laugh now, and bring that joy to everyone around you, and happy are you if you can laugh at yourself, if your world does not revolve around you, your needs, and your latest need. Happy are you  if you can find joy in all of God’s creation, in the rain, the new growth, the birds, all of God’s creatures. ..in the presence of the Triune God within you.

Happy are you if you can let go of the chains that bind you to yesterday–your past sins, your past hopes, that imprison you in your small self. Happy are you when you live in the presence, and let go of the future.

Happy are you when the Spirit flows-and you are gloriously free to live, to love, to serve. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org