The Growing Good in the World

December 22, 2019

 

The Growing Good in the World!

“Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz. Ask a sign of the Lord your God. . .”Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold the virgin shall conceive and bear a son and shall call his name Emmanuel”. Isa. 7:10, 14. ESV

    This verse is read from the Bible that is autographed by my many friends and sometimes enemies, who have had faith in our ministry through the years. There is a story with each signature. We have fought, hated, and loved each other, but when it comes down to it we are faithful to each other, and we are faithful in our own way to  the One who goes before us into Galilee.

    On the margins of this verse I have written, “Faith keeps us firm in our commitment to love God and our neighbor. With out faith we sink deep into quick sand.” Without faith I would have been dead along time ago, for in season and out of season, I see Jesus before me, leading me into Galilee.

    Those who autographed this Bible are symbols of that faith in which I behold the face of Jesus. Each step of the way he  says, “Follow me!”. When I am asked, “Are you ever in danger?”, my only answer is, “Never”–for I am following Jesus, he is all that matters, and I see Galilee ahead.

    George Elliot wrote: “The growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”

    My tomb at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church will be unvisited, and after a while all of the tombs of those who signed my Bible, too, will no longer have visitors, but in living faithfully in our unhistoric acts we have given the world, a good that continues to grow in the faces of those whose lives we have touched.

    On this Sunday before Christmas let us sing: “Glory to the Father, the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen! Amen! Amen!”

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

415-305-2124

Brothers and Sisters

December 21, 2019

WE ARE All BROTHERS AND SISTERS1

Matthew 25:31-46

In our parable Jesus points out that we choose our own judgment in the way we treat our brothers and sisters. When we turn our backs on others, we close ourselves off from relationship and from true life, we become dead.

I have chosen to use my Christmas money given this year as a personal gift to have an urn prepared. It will sit on my desk  as a means of reflection on:

First, our time is short. No matter how hard we try, we have only a certain amount of days. And so we want to use every minute to remember that:

“Life is short.

We do not  have too much time to gladden the hearts

of those who travel the way with us.

So be swift to love.

Make haste to be kind.

Be kind, feed , nurture , provide comfort, and be a brother, even to our enemies.

Secondly it is a reminder  that our  call, our  task in life is simply to listen, to walk with others on the journey, the rest is in the hands of God, for He  is the Divine Therapist, She is in the driver’s seat:

“The purpose of the divine therapy is the healing of the roots of all our problems and to transform our attitudes and, indeed, the whole of our human nature into the mind and heart of Christ. —Thomas Keating”

And so the urn will be a reminder that life is short, we are all brothers and sisters, and to “make haste” and be kind. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

415-305-2124

How Can This Be?

December 20, 2019

How Can This Be!

Luke 1:26-38 English Standard Version (ESV)

Birth of Jesus Foretold

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed[a] to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”[b] 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”[c]

35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born[d] will be called holy—the Son of God. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant[e] of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

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    A therapist friend gave me some advice as I began this ministry, so long ago, in the mists of time, “You will be standing in the middle of a rail road, and will have twenty three trains coming at you, and remember, look to the Light.”

    The trains are always coming, and in looking to the light I remember the people I sat with during the fires in Santa Rosa, and simply listened to, and in them I saw the Light; A friend in Marin was telling me of the the loneliness she experienced during the black outs, late at night with no light to be seen  any where, and yet she found comfort in the Light; there is a family in grief, whose son has died, and we will have his memorial service in January, they look to the Light. I am wrapping the treats that will be handed out on the street, and as I encounter each day so many that all they have is the clothes they wear-and they are ragged–we look to the Light.

    So “How can this be?” The only answer I have found is in the cross that hangs over my desk, and the Light that shines from it.. Look to the Light! Find strength and hope. Look to the Light!

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

415-305-2124

Learning from the Language of Dreams

December 18, 2019

LEARNING THE LANGUAGE OF DREAMS!

“. .the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. .Matthew 1:20”

    John Sanford tells us that “Dreams are God’s forgotten language.” Dreams put us in touch with a form of communication that is both deeply personal and universal at the same time. They remove the chaos from our vision and open our vision to fullness.

    Mary is pregnant in a society where out of wed lock pregnancy leads to death, and Joseph was going to put her aside, but God opened up the fullness of his vision, and Joseph married her. God moves beyond our faults, and works  miracles.

    One of my favorite scripture verses is found in Philippians where Paul shares he is “working out his salvation.”  We are working out our salvation and will continue to work out our salvation in eternity—we do not suddenly become “perfect little angels.” Last night a friend  on snap-chat was praising me for a gift I had given him, and we  reminded him we were not “perfect”, and he replied, “hell no, you are a f. . k up like me, that is what I like about you.” And as I look at the tattoos on my arms I see those who spent their lives “working out their salvation,” and continue to do so in eternity. They too were “f. .k ups”, but they learned from their dreams.

    St. Francis, play boy, racist, warrior, whose experience with God  shaped him into an example  of love in a society where there was little love or faith; Damien of Molokai, loved lepers, accused of sleeping with women; Dorothy Day, had an illegitimate child, not the most charming woman in the world, and yet she loved the poorest of the poor, Treyvon Martin, a black kid, murdered, and in that death  became a symbol of the evil of racism, and hope for many; Matthew Shepherd, a queer kid, murdered, and in his death symbolizes homophobia at it’s worst, and raises the issue of equality for all; Juniper Serra, Franciscan, who in his time was a symbol of compassion; none of these people were perfect, but they were all “working out their salvation,” and in doing so touched the lives of many. Each “learned from their dreams.”  They all had their dark side, but the light shined through their lives. None of us are “perfect little angels,” we are all “working out our salvation.”

    Today I look around San Francisco, and see Glide, St. Anthony’s, St. Boniface, St. John’s, and many more who are “working out their salvation,” none perfect, but so many lives have been changed through their work.

     The institutional churches are under fire for being irrelevant, out of touch, and harbingers of abuse, and yet as Dorothy Day said, “The Church is both a whore and our Mother.” God works through her human followers to bring light into the dark. She leads us in “working out our salvation.” None of us are “perfect little angels.” Let us “learn from our dreams.”

    And so in this next week, as we “Slough towards Bethlehem,” let us treat everyone around us, as we wish to be treated, for in our own way, we are all “working out our salvation.” Treat each one kindly! Let us dream our dreams of justice, and love! Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

“Lord, give me a heart that helps people realize their dreams and the wisdom to understand my own. Grant me the discernment to understand the language of my soul and the ways you guide me through my dreams. Through them, may I find healing, wholeness, and guidance in my life. Amen.”

   

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

415-305-2124

Eulogy Virtues and Resume Virtues

December 17, 2019

Eulogy Virtues and Resume Virtues

“The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the sign of David, the son of Abraham. (Matthew 1:1)

In his book The Road to Character David Brooks demonstrates a difference between “resume virtues, and “eulogy virtues”.

Resume virtues are those qualities we develop to get a head in the world;  while Eulogy virtues are qualities of the inner world of character that shape not just what we do but who we are as people and how we want to be remembered.

Brooks argues these virtues are rooted in  the internal tensions between Adam 1 (the first man) and Adam 2. Adam 1 wants to conqueror the world, Adam 2 wants to obey a calling to serve the world. .While Adam 1 asks how things work, Adam 2 asks why things exist, and what ultimately is our purpose. .Adam 1’s model is success, Adam 2’s experiences life as a moral dance. His motto is “charity, love, and redemption.”

Two years  and three months ago my life, in trying to be  both Adam 1 and Adam 2 came crashing down around my head, when friends walked away over my choice to be a pastor to a young man who is now on death row; and my shoulder was injured, and I found myself alone, accept for two or three friends, it crashed.

After that I brought all the aspects of my life together, and was open about my total ministry with rich, poor, homeless, and people of all ages, and  my friend Matt worried that I was too open about the way I lived my life.   

I decided to play no more games of trying to get money, gain friends, by not sharing the values that shape and guide my life. 

For example people would ask me to give an example of someone who is a “sucess” story, from my ministry, success being off the street, with an excellent job, and I can find one or two, but  any more I am blunt– success is being faithful, and success is on how the person feels about him or her self, which can not be measured.   I do not try to please. I walk each day seeking to be faithful, that is success, God does the rest.

Last night on the t.v. show All Rise Simone Missick in her staring role as the judge is faced by a review board as a result of some of her actions on the bench. She concluded by saying, “I do things differently, act outside the box, with compassion as my guide, but act within the law.”

Dorothy Day acted outside the box with actions of compassion and love, and that is the way I live my life. My ministry is my life, I am a priest, one  can not separate the two, and I seek with all of  my heart to love, to care for people without the artificial  boundaries of race, creed,  age, political inclination, religion or lack there of. I make no judgments, I maintain both firm personal and professional boundaries.  

Today or tomorrow I will vist a lady, who has had surgery on Nob Hill; this weekend I will go to see Star Wars with several of my junior high friends, white and hispanic, and than celebrate an 18 year old’s birthday who is hispanic  in two weeks; This afternoon I am visiting a senior citizen in a retirement home, who is black; last Saturday I went to a concert with some middle age white friends. Sunday going out with two hispanic adult friends for dinner. All these are my friends, all are a part of my ministry. After Christmas I am visiting a person on  death row.  I have never been  married or really had an enduring romantic relationship in order to be available to everyone.

 During  my final Clinical Pastoral Education Evaluation,

the supervisor in her review stated:

“You have a choice, to serve the few, or the thousands”, I chose the thousands with no regrets.

Recently I stood before the crib, No. 45 where my ashes, will be placed  at St.Luke’s, and reflected on my mortality. When the last chapter of my life has been written, how do I want to be remembered? My prayer is that of Adam 2. “Life is a moral dance,” let us dance with all of our might.

“Lord, help me to remember my days are short and that ever day counts. Amid the passing things of this world, grant me the wisdom to choose well, to choose life, and to choose you. Through your grace, transform the Old Adam within me in to your own image and likesness.”

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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Father 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 River of Fire

December 16, 2019

The River of Fire

“A river of fire poured out of the throne.” Daniel 7:9

A number of years ago we were giving a presentation on our work, and a lady afterward, said to us: “You scare me, I see in your eyes an intense flame burning, it scares me.”

We pray the “flame” still burns, as a stream in the “river of fire”, the fire of Jesus burning as he calls each one of us into caring for the least of these our brothers and sisters.

We remember a young man who one night asked for a dollar, and we took him to dinner, and some years later sent an email thanking us, “You saved my life, I was going to commit suicide, but you cared enough  to spend that time with me, I felt loved.”

We remember  coming home, on a rainy night, finding a thirteen year old standing at our door with a note. His mom was  out on an all night “date” (making money as a sex worker), and asked us to let him stay. He shared during the night of several of his “grand pa’s” with whom he shared a bed, and we called child services. His mother later took a shot at us. Last year  we received a note thanking us– he was getting married, and had graduated college.

This morning as we walked to down the street we gave out twenty plus pairs of socks,  candy bars, talked with people;

We are a spark, a very small spark, of that “river of fire.”

Jesus is the great questioner, he calls into question our values, pushes us to live  our lives in caring for others, without judgment.

Jesus of Nazareth has pushed us, has set us on fire for many years now to walk these streets, to be present through Temenos Catholic Worker to the “least of these our brothers and sisters.”

We walk the streets that “transform every ordinary day into a series of quick questions and ever incorrect answer risks to a beat down, shooting or pregnancy,” we walk these streets where Jesus says to each person, “You are loved, you are valued, and you are not judged, “Come unto me.”

We ask you to journey with us on the “river of fire” and give from the depths of your heart. For each of you is a spark in the river of fire.

 We thank you for your care this past year, your kind words, and the appreciation you have shown to us. We thank you for bringing your spark into the flame of the river of fire.

In Jesus, Street Person and Rebel,

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

Temenos Catholic Worker, 501 c3, funds are tax deductible

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

Divine Therapy

December 15, 2019

Divine Therapy

 Isaiah 35:1-6; James 5:7-10; Matthew 11:2-11

“The purpose of ordinary psychotherapy, as I understand it, is to help a person lead a normal life when he or she is hampered by psychological problems. The purpose of the divine therapy is the healing of the roots of all our problems and to transform our attitudes and, indeed, the whole of our human nature into the mind and heart of Christ. In other words, to introduce us through grace into the interior life of God. This involves a transformation of our attitudes, faculties, and bodies so that we can receive the maximum amount of the transmission of divine life that is possible given the limits of human nature.” Fr. Richard Rhor

Yesterday my friend Kevin introduced us to his new girlfriend, and left to park the car. When he returned, he asked: “Did you weird her out?” At one time that would have hurt, because we know that  in the eyes of most people we are weird in the way we live our life. We live as the the book of Hebrews says “outside the gate.” We seek to enter into divine therapy, as described Fr. Rhor, “In other words, to introduce us through grace into the interior life of God.” Pope Francis describes divine therapy in another way: “Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy. These words might well sum up the mystery of the Christian faith.”

In our Scriptures for today love becomes real in the actions of healing, and the work of salvation begins with mercy. The medicine of forgiveness heals wounds.

Yesterday as we attended the Golden Gate Men’s Chorus Christmas Concert, for the first time without my friend Vicki, we shed a lot of tears, for  she was present, reminding us of to forgive everyone, the greatest lesson she help teach us through these years. Vicki stated through the years she was not a believer, but her actions said something else, she loved this crazy priest, she forgave everyone, she gave of herself to others–she personified Christ in her life.  Also reminding us in that we can be joyful and yet grieve and suffer, as Henri Nouwen describes:

“Joyful persons do not necessarily make jokes, laugh, or even smile. They are not people with an optimistic outlook on life who always relativize the seriousness of a moment or an event. No, joyful persons see with open eyes the hard reality of human existence and at the same time are not imprisoned by it. They have no illusion about the evil powers that roam around, “looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8), but they also know that death has no final power. They suffer with those who suffer, yet they do not hold on to suffering; they point beyond it to an everlasting peace.” Fr. Henri Nouwen

So this third week of Advent as we look at the Virgin Mary, and see the pain and yet joy in her eyes let’s take time to share our joy and our pain with someone, let’s be real, let’s forgive, and give ourselves and others the “The Gift of A New Beginning.” Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

415-305-2124

 

Staying Put With Questions

December 14, 2019

Staying Put With Questions!

“Staying put with it–that’s what God requires. Stay with it to the end. You want be sorry, and you’ll be saved.” Matthew 24:13-14 (The Message)

Since I was a young guy people have raised the question: “You ever lose your faith?” Last year during my recovery a friend would asked a number of times, “You still believe, don’t you?”, which frankly aggravated the hell out of me.What I questioned was the inability of people to see the obvious pain.

When I was nine my mom and I would drive to the T.B. sanitarium in Mt. Vernon, Missouri, where my dad had been placed, suspecting of having T.B. through the Ozark Mountains. He was there for testing, because of his symptoms, and T.B. was seen as leprosy at that time;  an aunt had died in a sanitarium in Arkansas, separated from her family, before I was born of T.B., we would always began our journey with prayer, I remember seeing my dad on his knees all of his life in prayer. And he gave thanks to God, when it was found out he had contracted an infection from being a butcher. During that time two things occurred–my distrust, and hatred of large institutions, and my fervent belief in  prayer and in God. Both have never wavered, and both have grown stronger.

Lisa Sharon Harper writes: “Although I have not had a home church since 2015, I have gone to church a lot in the years since. My most potent times of worship and communion have happened while locked arm and arm with Jesus followers as we prepared ourselves to present our bodies as living sacrifices on the front lines to protect God’s image: in Ferguson, Charlottesville, South Africa, Brazil, Australia, Seattle, Chicago. And in D.C., a small group of friends without a church are becoming church for each other, as we break bread, drink wine, and consider the implications of brown Jesus together. We- the church-are being re-formed. And it is good.”

The questions I struggle with are about how human beings can be so inhuman to one another, and not care for one another; how institutional churches can be so segregated, and turn a blind eye to the homeless outside their door. 

And I am afraid a lot of rejection, being shunned, set aside, I am depressed this time of year as I see hundreds on the streets, and personally am reminded by Sam Portaro “To enter Advent we leave fear for faith behind.”

And so this Advent my Church is found in the young people on the street, giving them gifts, talking, laughing, and partying with them; in my young friends who smoke dro, party, and simply enjoy life, in the midst of a world that ignores them, in the fourteen and fifteen year olds who want me to hang out at the mall with them, and  in the eighty one year old who hangs out on the street driving  me nuts chattering, and  the ton of people I pass on the street begging for money and giving them socks instead, and sometimes being cussed.  The Church is found in the fifty or so young people who snap chat me with their fears, or simply just wanting to talk, they are lonely.

I have questions, and most importantly fears of being rejected by people for the way I do ministry, and misunderstood as a result of those fears, but I know I will:.

Give God your (my) fear, which is something that God does not otherwise have. Give God your (my) fear, however it’s wrapped up. That’s your (my) Christmas gift for God. Open your heart and open your hands and offer to God your clutching fear, which may be the very thing that makes room within your soul for the gift of God’s provision to face whatever it is that is coming. ‘Stay with it to the end. You want be sorry, and you’ll be saved.’ Matthew 24:14

-Br. Curtis Almquist

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

415-305-2124

Whiners

December 14, 2019

Whiners!

“How can I account for this generation? The people have been like spoiled children whining to their parents, “We wanted to skip rope, and you were always too tired, we wanted to talk, but you were always too busy.’ John came fasting they called him crazy. I came feasting and they called me a lush, a friend of riffraff. Opinion polls don’t count for much, do they? The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” Matthew 11:16-19 The Message

    “These are the best of times, and the worst of times,” said Charles Dickens, in other words not much changes. This past week I have been spat upon, cussed, criticized continuously, told I was not present, as I have moved listening to the number of people I have lost count of; On snap chat, Facebook, and text, the same. Today as I moved down the street to the post office people grabbed at me wanting to talk, touching, and whining at times. “These are the best of times and the worst of times.”

    I was told by  several former donors they stopped giving because “you don’t do anything to solve the problem,” and I smiled and thanked them; “These are the best of times, and the worst of times.”

    My friend Reverend Greg Weeks introduced his article this week with this quote:

“Earlier this month, Nancy Pelosi had a heated exchange with a reporter who asked if she hated President Trump.

“As a Catholic, I resent your using the word hate in a sentence that addresses me. I don’t hate anyone,” she said, adding that she prays for the president.

This is an admirable statement, and certainly is in line with Christian teaching. However, what’s interesting is that just before that profession, she’d called the president a coward, among other things.”

    “The proof is in the pudding!” The proof that Jesus is talking about is to love our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus ate with his enemies, he challenged them,  and he loved them, and even as they nailed him to the cross, he said, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

    “These are the best of times, these are the worst of times,”  but when we walk in love, as Jesus walked, they are always the best of times, because not only is our outward environment a safe place to be, so is our inner environment, we are at peace with ourselves.

    Give of yourself to people this next week, simply listen, without judgment or giving your opinion, be present to them! Even when they spit in your face–for it is still fulfilling to give of one’s self!  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

A Light Burns in the Darkness!

December 12, 2019

 

A Light Burns in the Darkness!

Luke 1:26-47

    On December 9, 1531, the indigenous civilization in central Mexico was in ruins. The Spanish had conquered the Aztec empire a decade earlier and the population was decimated by the causalities of war, and small pox. One poet wrote: “You have killed our warriors, you have burned our cities, and now you tell us our gods are not true. If that be true, why should we live? Let us die?”

Into that environment the Virgin Mary appeared to a Mexican named Juan Diego, dressed as an indigenous woman and in colors that spoke to the heart of the native spiritual heritage with these words:

    “Listen and hear well in your heart, my most abandoned son, that which scares you and troubles you is nothing. Do not let your countenance and heart be troubled. Do not fear that sickness or any other sickness or anxiety. Am I not here, your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and my protection? Am I not your source of life? Are you not in the hollow of my mantle when I cross my arms? Who else do you need? Let nothing trouble you or cause you sorrow?”

    Early one morning, after a night of working the streets as a whore, a young man sat in the Cathedral in Los Angles, tired, angry at the male god who he accused of  putting him on the street; and in those moments he stepped into line with the procession of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and heard her words–and he knew, he felt as he did the first time his heart was strangely warmed, and he heard God call him to preach! Here was the the feminine representative of the God of the New Testament, who now touched his life again.

    Yesterday, that not so young man, drove in the midst of wealth on Butter-field Road, from a basically all white school, to the middle class environment of San Rafael, and then to the streets of San Francisco.

    Depression over whelmed him, as he viewed hundreds sleeping on the street with little hope; being ignored by the crowds that passed them by; the story of Lazarus and the rich man, ran through his mind; there is that great divide–so where is the hope? Has he misread his God again?

    As he celebrated his friend’s 18th birthday, the depression lifted, for in this first generation youth, whose parents, came from the southern hemisphere one could see Our Lady of Guadalupe and hear her words:

Listen and hear well in your heart, my most abandoned son, that which scares you and troubles you is nothing. Do not let your countenance and heart be troubled. Do not fear that sickness or any other sickness or anxiety. Am I not here, your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and my protection? Am I not your source of life? Are you not in the hollow of my mantle when I cross my arms? Who else do you need? Let nothing trouble you or cause you sorrow?”

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

Our Thanks to the people of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and our friends in recovery who wrapped our Christmas gifts this year!