Father River Damien Sims, 2019


Anniversary Sermon

On a hot humid Marin wood night last August we were   playing “Capture the Tiger” with some friends around 1’O Clock in the morning. As we ran from the woods  into a clearing, we stopped as a full moon opened up the darkness into a beautiful arcade of light, and we observed thousands of fire flies, climbing a ladder towards heaven. It was a magical moment!

A friend once asked me, “What is your legacy going to be?” and in those moments in the school yard in Marin Wood, our legacy was clarified, which together we share.

We see it in the faces of the thousands of young men and women whose lives we have encountered on the streets  of San Francisco. The fire flies will continue to swarm after we are gone, and like them we will pass on, but our legacy continues.

Darrell Smith reflects: “‘Clarity comes in living’.  If we really want to understand something–if we really want to get something inside us, we must be willing to live it out.” And watching those fire flies describes how we are living out our legacy. And this legacy has become your legacy as well..

First our legacy is that of a clown. Many times people laugh at us with curiosity as we wear a colored clergy shirt with jeans, or another style of pants, or wear a black clergy shirt with multi-colored pants, for we never  ever wear all black.  For us the collar is a symbol of our call to preach the Word, and Administer the Sacraments, but on the dark side for thousands, it is a symbol of sexual abuse, and darkness;, and yet  that collar is a symbol of the best in us, and our  desire is to remind others of that goodness. We are a clown in our everyday dress, for we have found that being a clown is what truly being diverse means. We are all different and so we need to celebrate our diversity.

Secondly, together we administer the Word and Sacraments. Each week on Wednesday, all of us as the living Great Cloud of Witnesses, join together in Golden Gate Park where as your representative we celebrate the Eucharist with homeless young men and women; every hospital bed we sit beside, every person who pours their heart out in pain to us, you are present, every memorial service, baptism, and wedding that is celebrated or conducted, your presence surrounds us. 

In the food we offer we are doing far more than simply giving a meal, we are preparing the Eucharist. For in preparation we pray the Eucharistic Prayer, and our food becomes the Body and Blood of Christ. Our food becomes the living Bread.

St. Francis was once asked “When do you preach the gospel?” and he replied, “I preach the Gospel, using as few as words as possible,”, and that is what we do, we preach with our actions, we preach with our presence late at night. We preach with being available twenty four hours a day.

Dallas Willard tells us: “No one has ever been argued into the Kingdom of God, We are loved there.” And we have found that as Carter Heyward says, “Vulnerability. . .is the willingness and ability to be seen as well as to see, to be touched as well as to touch. Vulnerability is the giving up of control.” We pray that we may be like the Velveteen Rabbit in the end to be so ragged that we are truly human, and one with Jesus in service.

Finally, the day will come, when we will pass on into eternity, our ashes will be placed in No. 45 in the St. Luke’s   columbarium  and in our present season it is either a blessing or curse to have that number, so you can argue over what it means for us  to be buried in that space and keep our  service   lively, and our legacy will continue in the fire flies of the thousands of lives we have touched, and the lives they will  touch.

Thank you for sharing this legacy with us, and thank you for tending to this fire fly on our journey.

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164



“For the Garden is the only place there is,

but you will not find it

Until you have looked for it everywhere

and found it no where that is not a desert.”

W.H. Auden

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